Stephens is just pleased his character, General William
Dodd, is a swordsman and not a dancer. "I love all
that swashbuckling stuff. I've done quite a lot of fight
scenes in my time and I really enjoy them. As with dancing,
sword fights are all about choreography. The irony is,
I can do a complicated fight scene but I can't dance to
save my life!
"Logically I should be able to do both but I suppose
I'm just not as interested, whereas if you put a sword
in my hand I know what I'm doing. Dramatically, in both
theatre and film, it is so important, as important in
some instances as dialogue. So it is worthwhile working
hard at it because when it works well it looks amazing.
I grew up watching those old movies like the Three Musketeers
and even the old Errol Flynn movies where you have these
wonderful sword flights up and down stairs. In reality
sword fights were brutal, horrible and only lasted seconds
but we have stylised them for television."
is no stranger to elaborate fight scenes having played Bond
baddie Gustav Graves in Die Another Day. But he says: "It's
all about making these characters as different as possible.
We see Dodd and Sharpe meet as younger men at the start
of the film so we know the history to their relationship.
I think the great thing about Dodd is that he has a sort
of charm, an appeal. He's not just this horrible vicious
man, he has a dry humour."
was drawn to the character from the first reading of the
script. "It has everything that is required for Sharpe
– a bit of melodrama, romance, fighting, but it is
couched in well-researched history and I was impressed by
the script because yes it is camp in parts but the history
behind it is correct which I liked.
fact is British soldiers were frustrated. They were good
soldiers but there were getting nowhere, whereas if you
had money you could buy promotion. So many of them decided
to go over to the other side, to fight for one prince or
another, train up his army to fight against the East India
Company and make ten times the money, get the women and
live a wonderful life. There are many examples of soldiers
doing this and even taking up a new religion, becoming Hindus
his character Toby says: "He is ambitious and he has
an axe to grind. He's fairly psychotic anyway but I think
he feels very bitter about the way he has been treated by
the British army. I think Dodd was a very good soldier who
was kept in his place. He didn't have money and therefore
couldn't get into the British Army so he ended up in the
East India Company and even they managed to keep him down.
What's great about playing a historically correct character
like this is you can understand where they are coming from.
You don't just play psychotic; you can see what made him
like that and portray a complex personality."
wasn't the first time Toby had filmed in India. Last year
he made the movie The Rising. It was wonderful to go back,"
he says. "The great thing about playing the baddie
is you get more time off because they want to keep you in
the background more. So whereas on my last visit to India
I saw very little of the country, this time I travelled