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Boris Drubetskoy

Played by Aneurin Barnard

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Boris is the only son of Anna Mikhailovna and the apple of her eye. While he winces at her schemes for his advancement, he also reaps the rewards – winning an impressive position on the Russian Tsar’s staff in the campaign against Napoleon. A distant cousin of the Rostovs, Boris has grown up around the family as a friend for Nikolai and perhaps even a suitor for Natasha.

Interview with Aneurin Barnard

Had you read War & Peace before you got involved in the adaptation?

No I hadn’t but as soon as I was involved in the project I read it. It’s great writing but it’s a hell of a task! There’s so much information there!

The book is a great read though and I was happy that I had to put my time into reading it. I took a lot from it actually. Normally if I’m doing anything for an adaptation, I try and stay away from the original works but with this there was a lot of knowledge to be gained from reading it.

Tell us about this adaptation of War & Peace…

One thing that surprises me always is that as soon as you step back 100 years, people expect that people lived a completely different way. But people are people and nothing has changed really. Power was the thing a lot of people were trying to strive for, wealth and survival. It’s the one thing that really hit home with me from reading the book and then filming this, it’s a huge survival story of people just trying to live and get by. It was happening then and it’s still happening now.

Tell us about Boris…

Boris is the son of Anna Mikhailovna, who Rebecca Front is playing. He is a very ambitious young man. He doesn’t come from the most wealthy background – of course there’s different levels of wealth within War& Peace – so he wants to make himself known to people and seem important. Throughout War & Peace he rises in stature, mostly through military ranking and a lot is from his mother pushing and asking favours from lots of different people.

One of his first relationships is with Natasha, who is very naively convinced that they’re engaged. I’m not sure how much he believes they’re engaged as she doesn’t have enough money for a start! She grows into this beautiful young woman and every man is after her and it’s too bloody late. He’s lost his opportunity.

It was a lot of fun to play – to be this cocky, ambitious, power-driven young man who isn’t scared to talk to anyone or sleep with anyone!

What were the locations you filmed at like?

The greatest gift you get as an actor is you get to travel around and see different parts of the world. We were in Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia and I’d never been to any of these places before. In my young career I’m very quickly being able to see the world but doing something I love. Some of the places we filmed in were connected to the actual people that are within the story of War & Peace, so it almost felt like you were walking in their shadows. Especially when you put the costumes on. It was also amazing to meet the local people, for whom the book is a historical piece of work and something they are proud of. Retelling that story is a very respectful process to be a part of.

What was it like working with the rest of the cast?

There was a great community within the cast. There were a lot of the big scenes that everyone was in and we could all mingle with one another, the young and the old. It felt like you had a great support. There were so many different people with different knowledge, which kept it fresh. It was just a pleasure to work on such a big epic story with people of such credibility.