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BAZ BAMIGBGOYE: Why Jack O’Connell is going rogue with the SAS 

Jack O’Connell will star in a mammoth new BBC series about the fearless fighters who were the founding members of the Special Air Service, better known as the SAS.

The drama — SAS: Rogue Heroes — written by Steven Knight, who created Peaky Blinders, is based on Ben Macintyre’s 2016 book of the same name. It told how the force was set up during WWII when Winston Churchill called for a unit prepared to use ‘butcher and bolt’ tactics, while carrying out undercover work.

The SAS escapades were described by Macintyre as The Dirty Dozen meets The Great Escape.

O’Connell will portray one of the original members, Paddy Mayne, whose exploits on and off the field of battle alone are worthy of a television series.

Jack O’Connell (pictured) will star in a mammoth new BBC series about the fearless fighters who were the founding members of the Special Air Service, better known as the SAS

Rogue Heroes will focus on the band of brothers who were turned into an elite commando unit that unleashed havoc on the enemy. Pictured: O'Connell in Money Monster

Rogue Heroes will focus on the band of brothers who were turned into an elite commando unit that unleashed havoc on the enemy. Pictured: O’Connell in Money Monster 

O¿Connell is a good fit to play Mayne. The 30-year-old has a ruggedness that will help him capture the soldier¿s air of danger

O’Connell is a good fit to play Mayne. The 30-year-old has a ruggedness that will help him capture the soldier’s air of danger

However, Rogue Heroes will focus on the band of brothers who were turned into an elite commando unit that unleashed havoc on the enemy.

They operated behind German lines, sabotaging ships, planes, tanks and fuel depots. In one raid, Mayne was credited with destroying 47 aircraft.

The series is still being cast, but so far those joining O’Connell in combat include Alfie Allen, who played Theon Greyjoy in Game Of Thrones; Connor Swindells, best known as Adam Groff in Netflix series Sex Education; and up-and-coming young actor Jacob McCarthy. 

O¿Connell will portray one of the original members, Paddy Mayne (pictured), whose exploits on and off the field of battle alone are worthy of a television series

O’Connell will portray one of the original members, Paddy Mayne (pictured), whose exploits on and off the field of battle alone are worthy of a television series

The drama ¿ SAS: Rogue Heroes ¿ written by Steven Knight, who created Peaky Blinders, is based on Ben Macintyre¿s 2016 book of the same name

The drama — SAS: Rogue Heroes — written by Steven Knight, who created Peaky Blinders, is based on Ben Macintyre’s 2016 book of the same name

Rogue Heroes will be directed by Tom Shankland, who made episodes of The Serpent, the BBC crime mini-series starring Tahar Rahim, Billy Howle, Jenna Coleman and Ellie Bamber, which has become a huge hit on BBC iPlayer.

(Rahim is in the running for a Golden Globe on Sunday, for his scorching performance in feature film The Mauritanian.)

O’Connell is a good fit to play Mayne. The 30-year-old has a ruggedness that will help him capture the soldier’s air of danger. The Derby-born actor has already filmed another mini-series, The North Water, based on Ian McGuire’s gripping novel, set in the 1850s, about a brutal six-month voyage on a whaling ship. In addition to battling the elements, those on board must also deal with a psychopathic killer in their midst.

The series was made by See-Saw Films and the BBC, and cast and crew endured harsh climate conditions during filming in the Arctic.

The six-part Rogue Heroes will begin shooting next month.

he series is still being cast, but so far those joining O¿Connell in combat include Alfie Allen

Connor Swindells, best known as Adam Groff in Netflix series Sex Education

The series is still being cast, but so far those joining O’Connell in combat include Alfie Allen (left), who played Theon Greyjoy in Game Of Thrones and Connor Swindells (right), best known as Adam Groff in Netflix series Sex Education

Up-and-coming young actor Jacob McCarthy (pictured) has also been cast in the new series

Up-and-coming young actor Jacob McCarthy (pictured) has also been cast in the new series

Watch out for . . .

Thuso Mbedu, Joel Edgerton, Lily Rabe (The Undoing), Chase W. Dillon, Sheila Atim and Peter Mullan, who are among those starring in director Barry Jenkins’s ten-part adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel The Underground Railroad, about the terrible human cost of slavery in the decades before the Civil War.

The story hurls us into the life of Cora Randall (Ms Mbedu), who flees the Georgia plantation where she was born into slavery in a bid for freedom. 

Thuso Mbedu (pictured), Joel Edgerton, Lily Rabe (The Undoing), Chase W. Dillon, Sheila Atim and Peter Mullan, who are among those starring in director Barry Jenkins¿s ten-part adaptation of Colson Whitehead¿s Pulitzer-prize winning novel The Underground Railroad, about the terrible human cost of slavery in the decades before the Civil War

Thuso Mbedu (pictured), Joel Edgerton, Lily Rabe (The Undoing), Chase W. Dillon, Sheila Atim and Peter Mullan, who are among those starring in director Barry Jenkins’s ten-part adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel The Underground Railroad, about the terrible human cost of slavery in the decades before the Civil War

Jenkins (who won an Oscar for writing the movie Moonlight) told me filming ended before the pandemic, but he and his editing team were forced to work remotely to finish it. 

‘If you have a very robust computer at home, you can work,’ he said. Though he admitted that at times, WFH did involve ‘banging my head against the wall a little bit’. 

A trailer released yesterday looks as if the head-banging did the trick. The Underground Railroad will stream on Amazon Prime on May 14.

One night in LA that could change the movie landscape for women

Oscar-winning actress Regina King (pictured) will be part of history in the making at the Golden Globes on Sunday. After years of being left out of the reckoning, three women, including King, will compete for the Best Director honour

Oscar-winning actress Regina King (pictured) will be part of history in the making at the Golden Globes on Sunday. After years of being left out of the reckoning, three women, including King, will compete for the Best Director honour

Oscar-winning actress Regina King will be part of history in the making at the Golden Globes on Sunday. After years of being left out of the reckoning, three women, including King, will compete for the Best Director honour.

Her big-screen directorial debut, One Night In Miami, about a meeting in 1964 between Muhammad Ali (when he was still known as Cassius Clay), Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and sports-star-turned-actor Jim Brown, is really a love story, about the bond between the four men. The kind of love that emerges out of deep respect.

Eli Goree, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Leslie Odom Jr and Aldis Hodge portray the powerful foursome who have gathered in a Florida motel after Clay beat Sonny Liston to become world champion.

The meeting really happened. But the conversation that ensued in the picture (based on Kemp Powers’s stage play), when the quartet chew over and argue about their views on what it means to be black in America, is imagined.

King has been acting on screen for three decades — appearing in everything from Jerry Maguire to Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk (her Academy Award-winning performance gave the film its heat).

Her big-screen directorial debut, One Night In Miami (pictured), about a meeting in 1964 between Muhammad Ali (when he was still known as Cassius Clay), Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and sports-star-turned-actor Jim Brown, is really a love story, about the bond between the four men

Her big-screen directorial debut, One Night In Miami (pictured), about a meeting in 1964 between Muhammad Ali (when he was still known as Cassius Clay), Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and sports-star-turned-actor Jim Brown, is really a love story, about the bond between the four men

She’s got comic chops, too (on display in Miss Congeniality 2 and Legally Blonde 2). And she’s done powerful work on television, in shows such as Watchmen and American Crime. 

All that work in front of the camera has helped her to understand what she needs from her actors when she’s behind it. She encouraged her cast to follow the ‘rhythm of the dialogue’; and reminded them that they had to embody the men they portrayed, because ‘they were not doing impersonations’.

London-based Ben-Adir (who gives one of the best screen performances of the year) took that advice to heart. ‘Kingsley was never not listening to Malcolm’s speeches,’ King recalled. ‘He was living with so much information that he became him.’

The transformation was physical, as well as mental. Ben-Adir (who ‘naturally has a more athletic body’, as King put it) shed several kilos to achieve the lean, lanky look of the civil rights activist.

The meeting really happened. But the conversation that ensued in the picture (based on Kemp Powers¿s stage play), when the quartet chew over and argue about their views on what it means to be black in America, is imagined. Pictured: One Night in Miami

The meeting really happened. But the conversation that ensued in the picture (based on Kemp Powers’s stage play), when the quartet chew over and argue about their views on what it means to be black in America, is imagined. Pictured: One Night in Miami 

All that work in front of the camera has helped her to understand what she needs from her actors when she¿s behind it

All that work in front of the camera has helped her to understand what she needs from her actors when she’s behind it

The director shows off Ben-Adir’s new streamlined silhouette to good effect in one pivotal scene. When I mention it, she laughed and said: ‘If I had five dollars for every woman who said they appreciated that moment, I’d have a nice little vacation cheque to go and enjoy.’

At times, she added, directing her talented young stars felt like being ‘a sort of sports coach’.

As part of the record tally of women nominated in the Best Director category of this year’s Golden Globes, King will be up against Emerald Fennell, for her fabulous Promising Young Woman, and Chloe Zhao, for her incredible Nomadland.

King’s film has arrived at a time when black lives are being debated like never before — though she said those conversations are nothing new in the black community.

She said she likes to think her film explores the vulnerabilities of all men, of all shades. I, for one, am looking forward to more movies that carry the credit: A Regina King Film.

One Night In Miami is available on Amazon Prime Video.

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