These are not your history professor’s founding fathers. With their chiseled jawlines and devil-may-care gazes, History’s “Sons of Liberty” — John Hancock (Rafe Spall), John Adams (Henry Thomas), Paul Revere (Michael Raymond-James) and Joseph Warren (Ryan Eggold) — skew more Versace model than early American revolutionary. Then there’s Sam Adams, the Harvard-educated statesman, master of propaganda and Boston Tea Party champion. In real life Adams was a stout 50-something in the 1770s; here he’s played by Ben Barnes, 33, a dashing London-born actor.
Filmed near Bucharest, with the Romanian countryside standing in for the colonies, “Sons of Liberty,” a three-part mini-series which began Sunday, is “historical fiction, not a documentary,” its producers say.
“What the writers wanted was the spirit of revolution,” Mr. Barnes said of the creative license taken with his character. “And certainly he was a very spirited and motivated man, defaulting on collecting taxes on people’s behalf in a Robin Hood way.”
Mr. Barnes is no stranger to such heroes, having swash-buckled as Prince Caspian in the “Chronicles of Narnia” movies and in “Seventh Son,” opening in theaters Feb. 6, as Thomas Ward, a fighter of supernatural evil. “All the best stories, no matter how simple at their core, present you with almost unanswerable questions about how you choose to live your life and why,” he told Kathryn Shattuck by phone from his home in Los Angeles. These are excerpts from their conversation.
Q. You’re familiar with this slice of American history from the British perspective, but did anything during filming surprise you?
A. I had no idea that Sam Adams, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock had literally been in the same room at one point, plotting how best to go about achieving their goals. I think you assume they’re from slightly different eras if you are like me and don’t know any better.
Next month you’ll be seen in “Seventh Son.” More swordplay?
Yes, Jeff Bridges plays this fantastically grizzly, grumpy but also quite broken fighter of evil, and Julianne Moore is this beautifully dramatic and saucy witch. It’s about the battles within every individual between goodness and evil, and the debate between destiny and free will.
How did you get into acting?
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SOURCE: N.Y. Times