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‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Star Jamie Dornan on Playing Anti-Nazi Hero in ‘Anthropoid’

Jamie Dornan was welcomed to Karlovy Vary by festival president Jiri Bartoska (right)

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic — “Fifty Shades of Grey” star Jamie Dornan was among the guests at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival Thursday, where he presented his next movie project “Anthropoid,” which begins filming in the Czech Republic next month. He was joined by the movie’s director Sean Ellis, who previously helmed critically-lauded crime drama “Metro Manila.”

Dornan plays Jan Kubis, one of two real-life Czechoslovak resistance fighters who assassinated leading Nazi Reinhard Heydrich, one of the architects of the Holocaust, during World War II. The role of the other assassin involved in the killing, code-named Operation Anthropoid, is to be played by Cillian Murphy.

“These were just normal guys who were fighting for something they fiercely believed in,” Dornan said at a press conference. “A lot of that work, thankfully, is done for me on the page (of the script by Ellis and Anthony Frewin). All the human flaws and all the things that make him a tangible person, the everyman you can relate to are on the page, which is great. They’re heroes in the sense of what they did, but very much on the page you see that they are flawed, and have very human aspects to them that would hinder trying to carry out an exercise like this.”

Dornan contrasted the way he prepared for the role with his approach to the part of serial killer Paul Spector, who he plays in crime series “The Fall.” “There are things about Jan that will make sense to me more personally rather than having to really dig too far. He’s a man with a mission to carry out, and it’s a mission for the right reasons. It’s not someone like Spector who is murdering people just for no good reason… This is murder in a sense, but it’s for a greater good,” he said.

Dornan said that he could relate to Jan’s character, which gave him the motivation to take the role. “You always need a drive in everything you do and a reason to tell the story. As an actor, you’ve got to have something that drives you every day on the set,” he said. “Could there be any stronger drive needed than the opportunity to assassinate someone so horrific? There’s nobody in the world now who can’t see that Heydrich was evil… So to have that, to bring that to work every day, I’m so excited about the idea of having that as my drive.”

The assassination of Heydrich led to brutal reprisals in Czechoslovakia, but Dornan said that in his eyes it was the right thing to do. “Ultimately, I think it sent a very strong message to show that the Czech people were up for a fight and weren’t willing to be treated in that way. For me, I see it as a very heroic act. I think if I was in that position myself, I probably would have done the same thing. I have a strong understanding of why people see it the other way, based on events afterwards, but for me personally, I think they ultimately had to do what they had to do,” he said.

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