Colin Firth toned down 'callous' 1917 scene

Colin Firth

Colin Firth toned down the "callousness" of his character in Sam Mendes's new First World War movie 1917 as he thought the film was brutal enough.

The actor has a brief but important role, playing the general who sends two young soldiers, portrayed by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines.

Originally, his scene was due to show his character preparing to take high tea after sending the youngsters off to almost certain death, but Colin felt that this was unnecessary.

"The military establishment's indifference to the wellbeing of these two young men was abundantly clear without that kind of emphasis," he told The Guardian. "Or making it about the callousness of one particular general.

"The mission the boys are sent on is one of brutal necessity, a tragedy compounded, of course, by the fact that the war itself was not. One could empathise with the powerlessness and terror of young men who had no say in their fate, acting on decisions made by old men."

Sam based the film on his grandfather Alfred's experiences during the war, which he fought in after joining the army at just 16 years old.

"He just couldn't believe what he found," the director said of his grandfather's war tales. "His stories weren't about bravery, but how utterly random it all was."

As he was small, Alfred was often sent out on dangerous messenger missions, which helped inspire the film.

"That image of that little man, cut adrift in that vast, misty landscape, really stayed with me," the Skyfall filmmaker added.

1917 debuted in cinemas on Christmas Day.

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