RECORD-BREAKING, BAFTA-winning, Oscar-nominated film Atonement was the biggest British film of 2007 – and a Huddersfield student was there to experience its creation.
Peter Gordon, 20, is in the second year of BA (Hons) Drama degree at the University of Huddersfield.
He had a bit part as a British soldier in Atonement, the big-screen adaptation of Ian McEwan’s acclaimed novel.
And today he relived his days rubbing shoulders with the stars.
The film, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, is a romantic tragedy set during the Second World War.
Peter became involved in the project in August 2006, while still at college.
Beach scenes supposedly set in the 1940 evacuation at Dunkirk are actually filmed in Redcar, North Yorkshire – about 10 miles from Peter’s native Middlesbrough.
He joked: “I was almost offended when they told me why it was being filmed there – it’s the closest they could find to the 1940s look!”
Peter applied for a place in the film after an appeal for actors, and spent three days on set, working up to 13 hours each day.
He said: “It was a great experience. I might be a bit biased but I really like the film.
“It’s the only one that’s ever brought me to tears. I was sitting in the Odeon in Huddersfield crying my eyes out.
“I guess because I was in it I felt more involved.”
There were downsides, though.
Peter said: “The costumes were really authentic – itchy and cumbersome, and very stiff and mechanical in the way you move.
“They must have been hard to fight in. I don’t think anyone can really appreciate what it was like to be there.”
Peter was given a ‘short back and sides’ army haircut and had makeup applied for everything from cuts and bruises to mud under his fingernails.
Working with the Arden Theatre Group, which is funded by the Arts Council, Peter has a history of playing villains – including Fagin in Oliver! and ‘alcoholic rapist’ Eric Berling in Bradford writer J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls.
But he enjoyed his small, more positive role in Atonement.
Peter said: “Seeing actors like James McAvoy up close you realise how good they are.”
However, Peter sees his future more on stage than screen.
He said: “I’d like to be part of a travelling theatre group, or maybe directing or teaching.
“But I could never be bored in any area of acting – I love it.”