If you followed our coverage during the filming of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., you know we're in for an action-filled thrill ride come next January. That's when the Guy Ritchie helmed picture is set to be released, with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer playing two spies working together despite their differences. U.N.C.L.E. is based on the popular 60s TV show by the same name. We were lucky enough to catch up with actor Dan Westwood, who worked in the film that was mostly shot in and around London. He gave us an inside look at what it was like to work on U.N.C.L.E. and got us even more excited (if that's possible) about what we can expect to see on the big screen.
They sent a brief out to a bunch of casting agents, who put forward their most appropriate selections. Production then sift through the shortlists & choose the best candidate for the role.
How long did you work on the film and what role(s) do you play?
I worked on & off on the movie for around 2-3 months, early on as a costume double for Henry Cavill, then for the most part, as an Italian armed guard with my trusty MP5!
Did you get to go on location and what was your favorite scene to shoot?
Yes, we were on location for a good month or so, a lot of night shoots also, then back up to Warner Bros. Leavesden, for work inside the studios for the final few weeks. I can't disclose any of the plot or specific details about certain scenes for obvious reasons, but I did get to fire my machine gun a lot! Which is a release in itself.
You worked with Henry in some of the scenes, what can you tell us about that experience?
I've never worked/filmed in the US, so I can only speak for my experience within the British film industry, but it's very civilised, reasonably quiet on set so people are able to hear themselves think, and very industrious!
The principle actors are usually quietly going over their lines to themselves, while everyone else is bustling about setting up the next shot etc, so it's a little like a bee-hive, and works along the same hierarchical/pecking order system! -- Director dictates to assistant director, who filters info through to 1st AD, who in turn passes on info to 2nd & 3rd ADs, and so on, til everyone is in the loop! above all, they were all great to work with & there was always a relaxed & positive atmosphere on set.
Oddly enough tho, Henry was 3 years below me at school! So I vaguely remember him as a small shy 13-14 year old!! My, how he's grown...
Image by Giulia Gravili
What stood out for you when you saw Henry bring Napoleon Solo to life?
The funny thing is, you guys get the advantage of great sound etc when you watch the movie. However, on set you can almost barely hear them speak as we don't have the advantage of a PA system!! So everyone has to be very quiet as the mics will pick up the slightest peripheral noise, and honestly sometimes you rarely hear a word spoken between 'action' & 'cut'! -- One thing that very much stood out for me on this movie however, was the level of tension and suspense! hopefully, at the very least it'll keep y'all on the edge of your seats!!
How would you describe the mood on set and are there any candid or funny stories you'd like to share?
It was a great set to be a part of, and I guess often the approach or attitude of the director very much sets the tone on set, and being Guy Ritchie, it seemed very relaxed and laid back, yet professional & industrious. I think that's possibly the best environment in which to get the best out of people! - I've been on sets in the past, where the director has either been in a bad mood, or is just having a bad day! and it really does filter down through their subordinates, which can make the atmosphere very tense indeed, on occasion! however no such problems on U.N.C.L.E. As you probably know, there's a lot of downtime/waiting around on film sets, while they set up shots etc, so a bunch of us made a short movie, within the movie, entitled "Dudes that play darts" - I can safely say it'll never see the light of day!!! however it provided much amusement for us, a bunch of dudes dressed as Italian guard, just playing darts for our own amusement! I think you probably had to be there...
There seemed to be several scenes involving stunts during filming including a boat chase with Henry and Armie, did they do their own stunts and what about yourself?
Yeah, there's a fair bit of action in the movie, so it should be a white-knuckle-ride at times! - edge of your seat stuff. There are obviously always stuntmen involved throughout and in certain shots, but Henry & Armie did do the majority of their own work. I certainly didn't have a stunt double, so it's definitely me & my MP5 poppin' off!!
Can you tell us what kind of preparation went into playing your role since it's a period piece that takes place in the 60s?
I can only speak for myself, but I remember the series from the '80s when I was a young kid growing up, and I've always been a fan of Robert Vaughn! so I brushed up by watching a whole series of the original U.N.C.L.E to get the tone, and a good feel for it. The only other preparation for me was physical, as I had to grow my hair out a little & turn up clean-shaven each day, which is rare for me in itself!!
We saw dozens of cars from the era used during filming, did you get to ride in any of them and what was that like?
Yes, there were a lot of old cars, some in great nick, knocking about the set! I didn't get to ride in any of them personally, but I'm sure they look more comfortable than they are!! we're spoilt with luxurious car interiors nowadays! - it's sobering sometimes on set, as you'll turn a corner, and it's like walking back into 1968! - the attention to detail is colossal, and everything stands-up perfectly for the era, even under very close inspection.
What was it like working with director Guy Ritchie?
As mentioned in brief earlier, awesome! he's a very nice, laid back & friendly guy, so that filtered through to the atmosphere on set, which was great. He really seems to value outside input, so for this reason, I think he gets the best out of people.
What kind of film should fans look forward to seeing when U.N.C.L.E. makes its big debut?
Well it's not for me to say! it's entirely open to your own interpretation really... but expect some great acting, superb direction, action, tension, suspense & some huge whizzes and bangs for good measure!!
What is next for you and will we see you at the U.N.C.L.E. premiere early next year?
Haha! Well I'm hoping my invite is in the post, I guess we'll have to wait and see, won't we?!
For me, it's been a great year so far since I wrapped on U.N.C.L.E, playing one of Michael Fassbender's closest, most feared warriors in Macbeth, coming to cinemas early 2015. I'm also a bushy-bearded soldier who tries in vain to assassinate Angelina Jolie in Maleficent, which we finished filming summer '12! finally due for release next month... I played a US marine, core 40 Baker company in Brad Pitt's tank crew in the movie, Fury, an untold story of an isolated tank crew behind enemy lines during WW2, due for release end of '14. I'm a Spanish armed guard to Sean Penn, in The Gunman, also out later this year. Currently working on the new series of 24, being shot over here in the UK, as the US President's bodyguard & secret service #1. Lots of continuity & dialogue til July, as wherever the president (William DeVane) goes, I go! which has been great to work on thus far. Also brief appearances in movies coming soon, such as- Frankenstein (James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe), The Secret Service, Paddington Bear - the movie, Moby Dick - In the Heart of the Sea, and Guardians of the Galaxy!
Previous movies include- Snow White & the Huntsman, Zero Dark Thirty, James Bond - Skyfall, Fast & Furious 6, World War Z, Jack Ryan - Shadow Recruit, The Monuments Men, and more. Not forgetting appearances in some good ol' gritty British TV dramas! such as Law & Order UK, Legacy, Endeavour, Mr. Selfridge, Call the Midwife, Top Boy, The Guilty, Critical, New Tricks, Black Mirror, and many more.
Some very promising stuff in the pipeline, but not as yet at liberty to disclose any of it!! so follow me @dpwestwood on twitter for the latest vague updates on my weird & shallow existence!!!
Thank you for enduring me & entertaining my seemingly-never-ending waffle.
Much love, greetings & salutations to you all!
Above all, enjoy U.N.C.L.E!!!
Is this man busy or what?! - we are so grateful to Dan for talking to us about The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as we wait for its release. We'll be looking for the Italian guard shooting up the sets when the film hits theaters ;) U.N.C.L.E. is now in post-production and with promo around the corner look for updates as we get them. Thanks again Dan!