Firth says role was ‘immense experience’

Colin Firth arrives at the Maltings''Screen adaptation of Eric Lomax book the Railway Man premieres in Berwick alongside a behind the scenes photography exhibit

Colin Firth arrives at the Maltings''Screen adaptation of Eric Lomax book the Railway Man premieres in Berwick alongside a behind the scenes photography exhibit

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Academy-award winner Colin Firth says playing Second World War veteran Eric Lomax has been an “immense experience”.

The King’s Speech Oscar winner admitted that he initially hesitated before accepting the role, worrying that it might be too big a responsibility to take on.

“Then I read the script and knew I had to do it,” he said.

Firth, who was in town for the first screening of The Railway Man at The Maltings, said: “As actors, we’re very much on the inside looking out, and when I look back over a film it’s the experience of making it that dominates my memory, rather than the finished product.

“This film has been an immense experience, compared to anything that I have ever done.

“It’s not just what happened to Eric, it’s a testament to storytelling itself.

“The fact that Eric was able to publish that book is incredibly important. It’s why we are all here. The story is still going on and somehow we’ve entered into it and become part of it in a way.”

When he was initially cast as Eric, Firth travelled to Berwick to meet with the man himself.

The former prisoner of war wasn’t at all star-struck, only realising that the man playing him “must be someone famous” after seeing Firth’s picture on the front page of the Daily Telegraph. But for Firth it was a momentous occasion.

“I haven’t had any experience which is equivalent to this,” he said.

The two men built a relationship based on mutual respect and admiration.

“Meeting Eric was useful, of course, but it was so much more than that,” Firth insisted. “It’s not just like making another film