Highlands & Islands

The Eagle actor Jamie Bell 'typecast' as tribesman

Actor Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell in The Eagle. Pic; Focus Features/AP
Image caption Channing Tatum, left, and Jamie Bell in a scene from The Eagle

Actor Jamie Bell's casting in a new film was partly due to his links to the ancient tribe his character represents, the movie's director has said.

Bell plays slave Esca in The Eagle, which opens in UK cinemas this month.

Director Kevin MacDonald said Esca's tribe, the Brigantes, once lived in the actor's native north of England.

Scotsman MacDonald joked on BBC Radio Scotland's Movie Cafe that Bell was typecast as a Brigante in the Roman Legion film because of the connection.

The director, who grew up near Loch Lomond, said the decision to cast an American in the lead role as Roman soldier Marcus Aquila was also deliberate.

He said Hollywood films of the 1930s and 40s cast English actors as Romans, drawing a link with the British Empire while Americans were given roles as freedom fighters.

MacDonald said: "It made sense back in the 30s, but who is the empire of the world today? The empire is Amercia. It is culturally dominant."

The director said Channing Tatum, who plays Aquila, also had the look of a "marine, or GI in a small fort" in Afghanistan's Helmand Province.

The Eagle also stars Donald Sutherland and Mark Strong and is an adaption of a book by Rosemary Sutcliff about the mystery of the missing Ninth Legion.

Some of the scenes were shot around Achiltibuie and Old Dornie, near Ullapool. Locals also had roles as extras.

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