Many movies portray the acts of bravery from World War II, and “Walking with the Enemy” tells us another story of Nazi resistance.
“Walking with the Enemy” is a fictional story based on the real life accounts of Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum, a Jew who impersonated a Nazi officer in Hungary and saved the lives of many Jews from Nazi persecution during World War II.
Director Mark Schmidt made his directorial debut with Jonas Armstrong, Hannah Tointon and Ben Kingsley in the starring roles.
Earlier this month, Latino-Review had an exclusive telephone with Jonas Armstrong on his role playing this Jewish hero. We discussed about the research of his role, developing the accents and working on the set. And Armstrong even gave us a tease about his character in the upcoming “Edge of Tomorrow” with Tom Cruise.
“Walking with the Enemy” is currently in theaters in limited release.
Read the interview transcript below.
Latino-Review: What attracted you to the script for this movie?
Jonas Armstrong: The subject at hand really. I’m really interested in the world wars and obviously the character was very interesting in the front of it. I was able to have the opportunity to speak German.
Latino-Review: Did you do any background research into Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum?
Jonas Armstrong: Not necessarily on the man himself. But, I did research on what happened during the second World War in Hungary. I wanted to go there with fresh eyes in other words. I wanted it to play it in a more refreshing approach towards the character.
Latino-Review: So how authentic is the story according to your research?
Jonas Armstrong: I really did the research afterwards. It took some dramatic liberties about the story. A lot of the events did take place definitely. He did acquire Nazi uniforms, but not necessarily in that manner of fashion [like in the movie]. He did portray a Nazi officer. Ultimately, he did attended Nazi rallies and saved a whole bunch of people.
Latino-Review: Did you visit any of the memorials like the Arrow Cross’ Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial in Hungary?
Jonas Armstrong: Yeah, I went to Hungary and went over there. So four days, I’ve visited the Glass House, to the Jewish quarters, and even went to the memorial by the banks of the Danube. I did my research and I’ve visited the places, but not while filming. I had four days off so I rummaged the places myself. It was good so I could relate to that film.
Latino-Review: So what was it like after doing this movie and then visit these memorials yourself?
Jonas Armstrong: It was very informative and just made it more real. You have to honor and approach it more delicately. I was very aware of it. That’s why I made the trip to experience the opportunity to relax and honor the man [in the movie]. So I made the journey on a personal level.
Latino-Review: Tell me about speaking in the Hungarian accent and speaking German in the movie? How did that go for you?
Jonas Armstrong: It was okay and it was quite accessible to me. We had a lady come over from Hungary and we worked on the dialect there without making it sound too corny or Nazi. It was not a self-hindrance to have that. We had discussions before about having the whole film speaking in English, but with a specific accent and a specific pronunciation.
The hardest part was to speak in the Hungarian dialect and then switch into a German dialect. How was the audience supposed to know the difference in the dialects? I was in the opinion that I should have spoken with these different accents. It was very helpful for me to have as an actor for the character.
Latino-Review: What about speaking German? Did you spoke German before?
Jonas Armstrong: No, I just learned it.
Latino-Review: Wait, a sec. For all the German dialogue, you learned it yourself?
Jonas Armstrong: I’ve learned the whole language. I got the Rosetta Stone and learned it over three months.
Latino-Review: Oh, wow. Did you have to do any stunts in the film? And were they difficult?
Jonas Armstrong: We did have to do a few [stunts]. It’s only the stuff we can do without endangering ourselves. I think the biggest stunt in the film was when we had to jump off the bridge. It was the first day of filming. Most of the scenes were done by stuntmen. There weren’t any huge stunts. Some things were like getting on the train and jumping off the train.
Latino-Review: So was it exciting to jump off the bridge? Pretty exhilarating?
Jonas Armstrong: It wasn’t me doing it! It was a stunt double. [Laughter]
Latino-Review: Did you wished you did it?
Jonas Armstrong: Well, we did get to swim through the river. That was good enough for me. I didn’t need to jump off the bridge. I have to say it was the first day of filming. I kind of wanted to that.
Latino-Review: So what was the most difficult thing you had to endure on this project?
Jonas Armstrong: I’ve decided to myself to having to keep throughout the film. I didn’t want to approach the character with low energy. He was always on the forefront with full of energy. It was to keep that approach and be very active for the main character. There were no rigorous events or day-to-day chores in the movie. It was just the case of I get up and got to keep that energy going to go to work the next day.
Latino-Review: How was it to work with your co-star Hannah Tointon and did you get to meet Ben Kingsley at all?
Jonas Armstrong: No, I didn’t get to meet Ben during the filming. So I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting him. But, I did train with his eldest in London therefore there was the connection there.
Latino-Review: What about working with Hannah?
Jonas Armstrong: Yeah, it was great. We’re still friends and keep in touch. She was very brilliant and very talented actress. It was great to work with her.
Latino-Review: How about working with Mark Schmidt? I understand this is his first movie as a director.
Jonas Armstrong: It was great. He was very passionate on what he wants. He got the story and put it on paper. And then he wanted to make the story into a feature film. I remembered when I talked with him it was a long process to get this done. He was so happy when the film came to fruition.
Latino-Review: Funny thing is I have your “Robin Hood” TV series on DVD right next to me. I enjoy that TV series very much. I understand you do a lot of television. Since this is a movie, do you rather prefer television or do you want to do more movies?
Jonas Armstrong: It’s more or less the same thing. Some people think that doing films is easier since it’s in less time. But, it’s all the same thing to me.
Latino-Review: Great. I understand you have a few projects in the works. One of those projects is the “Edge of Tomorrow” with Tom Cruise. Could you tell me about your role in that movie?
Jonas Armstrong: [My character] comes across as an individual in the squad as a part of those wrongdoers and misfits in the army. He becomes a part of the squad in the film. I play a character called Skinner. My face has been popular for playing British football for a living. So it’s quite different for me.
Latino-Review: Awesome. Thanks for the interview.
Jonas Armstrong: Thanks very much man.
“Walking with the Enemy” is in theaters today in limited release.