2nd Lt. Jack Rose
Co-stars: Damian Lewis, Sophia Myles, Jason Priestley
From the press pack:
Colditz, starring Damian Lewis, Sophia Myles, Tom Hardy, Jason Priestley, James Fox, Laurence Fox and Timothy West, is a powerful new drama telling the story of three prisoners of war who embark on a dangerous journey which will change their lives forever.
Filmed in London and the Czech Republic, Colditz is a two-part co-production between ITV and Power.
Three soldiers form a bond as they escape a POW camp at the beginning of the Second World War. Two of them, naïve Jack Rose (Tom Hardy – Layer Cake, Black Hawk Down) and by-the-book Tom Willis (Laurence Fox – Island at War, The Hole), are caught by the Germans and taken to a Gothic castle on the Polish border, OFLAG 4C – a forbidding prison known as Colditz. The third, ruthless and self-assured Nick McGrade (Damian Lewis – The Forsyte Saga, Bankd of Brothers), gets away.
McGrade arrives in London where he joins MI9, the organisation responsible for assisting escapes, under the direction of Lt. Col. Fordham (James Fox – Sexy Beast, Cambridge Spies) and escape gadget designer Richard Warren (Timonthy West – The Alan Clark Diaries, Bedtime). When he gives news of Jack Rose’s capture to the prisoner’s beautiful girlfriend Lizzie (Sophia Myles – Thunderbirds), a fateful love story begins.
Rose and Willis try every means possible to escape from Colditz, with the help of fellow POW – Canadian airman Rhett (Jason Priestley – Beverly Hills 90210, Tru Calling) and society artist Sawyer (Guy Henry – Bright Young Things). When McGrade finally discovers that Jack Rose has successfully escaped, he faces a grave decision – to lose the love of his life or tell Lizzie that Jack is dead and inform the Germans of his rival’s whereabouts in a cruel attempt to seal his fate…
‘This is a fresh take on a classic story,’ says Andy Harris, executive producer and controller of drama and comedy for Granada. ‘It is an ambitious production which will combine the drama of war, the Secret Service, and the most haunting prison in Europe’s history with a both touching and thrilling love story.’
Justin Bodle, executive producer and CEO of Power, added: ‘This is an epic, action packed, event mini series which highlights the thrilling and ingenious escape attempts from the legendary POW camp in Germany. I am delighted that we have on board some of the most talented young actors in Europe. With the 60th anniversary of WW2 approaching next year, it is a fitting time to undertake a project of this scale.’
Inspired by Henry Chancellor’s book Colditz, ITV’s Colditz blends facts about extraordinary escapes of the Second World War and fiction, weaving a powerful love story into the drama. Stuart Orme (William and Mary, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Lost World) directed this two-part drama.
Episode 1 Synopsis (VERY SPOILERY):
Jack Rose (TOM HARDY) is in love. His imminent departure for Germany at the start of the Second World War, however, means he must leave behind the beautiful Lizzie Carter (SOPHIA MYLES). Deliberating over whether or not to ask for her hand in marriage, Jack quickly dismisses the notion, not daring to believe that she would say yes so soon into their whirlwind romance. It is a decision he will live to bitterly regret.
Several months later, Jack is trapped in a German P.O.W. camp and, along with fellow soldiers Tom Willis (LAURENCE FOX) and Nicolas McGrade (DAMIAN LEWIS), has planned an escape. The get away is a success and the three escapees spend several days attempting to get to the Swiss border. Tensions soon appear between Willis and McGrade, who repeatedly clash about which direction to take. Clinging to a photo of Lizzie as though it were his lifeline, Jack’s only concern is to get back to her. Exhausted and hungry, the men reach the border and attempt to bypass the border guards with near-fatal consequences. Both Willis and Jack are caught. McGrade escapes with a daring run for a train as it crosses the viaduct to freedom. Before they are separated, Jack begs McGrade to find Lizzie for him and tell her that he will come home to her soon. As he surrenders and is knocked out with the butt of a gun, Jack’s precious picture of Lizzie falls from his pocket.
Hours later, Jack and Willis arrive at a sinister looking castle called Colditz – a P.O.W. camp for persistent escapers. They are told that it will be their home for the remainder of the war. After their hostile welcome from the Germans, in particular the ice-cold Ullman (WERNER DAEHN), Jack and Willis are thrown to a bleak, comfortless room. They befriend fellow inmates Hugh Venning (ROBERT WHITELOCK) and Rhett Barker (JASON PRIESTLEY) and waste no time in sussing out their surroundings. Despite the odds stacked against them – the castle itself is said to be escape-proof and each station within a 20 mile radius is manned – they set about planning their escape.
Meanwhile, lady-killer McGrade is living the highlife in Switzerland and has no intention of leaving. As far as he is concerned, his war effort is over. But a bar brawl over a woman secures his imminent return to England – he has worn out his brief welcome. McGrade is drafted into MI9 in London, a secret service created to assist escaping P.O.W.’s. Promoted to lieutenant, he is quick to realise the power of his new position and locates Lizzie – he has a promise to keep. She is in the Air Raid Personnel and works in a crisis centre with close friend and room mate, Jill (EVE MYLES). McGrade’s intention is to find her and offer reassurance that Jack is alive but, on first sight, he is smitten. His well meaning gesture is rapidly loaded with ulterior motives.
Back at Colditz, a self-style ‘escape committee’ has formed, including Jack, Willis, Barker, Venning and fellow inmates Barnes (JOSEPH BEATTIE) and Hewitt (LUKE NEAL). They have discovered an old, disused latrine and establish that the pipes connect to the main sewers, which reach out underneath the castle walls. All they have to do is crawl along them. Barker has bribed German guard Meisner (ARMIN DILLENBERGER), who has a gambling problem, to turn a blind eye on the night. Making it through the pipes, Meisner signals that the coast is clear. But just as the men scramble out, the Germans are alerted to the escape. Caught red-handed and then mentally tortured with a mock execution, ringleaders Jack and Willis are thrown into solitary confinement for a month.
Solitary takes its toll but the pair are more determined now than ever to find a way out of Colditz. Much has changed at the prison while they have been locked away. There are now hundreds of prisoners of all nationalities in the castle. Jack and Willis see this as a golden opportunity to bring all the ‘talents’ of the escapees together and get to work hatching another escape plan.
New inmate Sawyer (GUY HENRY), who is a famous artist, is vital to have on side for his forging skills. Jack also desperately wants him to draw a portrait of Lizzie. Sawyer, a loner, finally relents, draws the picture and agrees to help with the plans, though makes it clear he is not interested in escaping himself. Months of hard work faking documents and uniforms and making the vital get-away equipment follow. Barker’s ongoing deal with Meisner is crucial and the men plough every last belonging they have into the cause. But unbeknown to all, Barker has a dark secret and is cashing in on the deal for himself, in desperation to get the morphine he has become so addicted to since taking it to ease the pain of horrific bullet wounds. Consequently, he is supplying less then agreed to his comrades for their worldly possessions.
At last they are set to go. In fake German uniforms, they are to walk through the German compound and out through the main gate, coinciding with the arrival of Willie, the local electrician. Painstakingly negotiating their way towards the gate, the men become tantalisingly close to freedom. But at the last minute, the Germans raise the alarm. With guns pointing at them from all directions, they have no choice but to abandon the operation. During the commotion, Willie leaves as usual and the gates close behind him. Later at the castle, the discovery of Willie, beaten and gagged, reveals that it was in fact Sawyer who had driven off in Willie’s van to freedom. It is another month in solitary for Jack and Willis.
Meanwhile, back in London, McGrade has promised Lizzie that he will locate Jack’s whereabouts. Armed with the information she is desperate to hear, he uses this as the perfect excuse to spend time with her. It is obvious she is drawn to him but she is devoted to Jack, making McGrade only more determined to seduce her. Spotting Lizzie in a bar one evening, he seizes the opportunity to spend the evening with her. The atmosphere between them is electric and, sensing that she is on dangerous ground, Lizzie quickly leaves. McGrade insists on walking her home and they get caught in the thick of an air raid. He convinces Lizzie to stay out in the open and feel ‘life pounding away inside’ as bombs fall around them. Caught up in the terror and exhilaration of being in the heart of the explosions, McGrade grabs Lizzie and passionately kisses her. At first, Lizzie melts in to his arms but suddenly pulls away. Confused and consumed with guilt, she runs off, leaving McGrade alone amongst the chaos.
MI9 have received word that Sawyer has escaped from Coldiz, bringing Jack’s shadow down on McGrade. The fear of losing Lizzie now is too much for him to contemplate. He has no choice but to take drastic action and fakes a notice from Jack’s regiment informing MI9 – and Lizzie – of his love rival’s death.
Episode 2 Synopsis (STILL SPOILERY):
Morale at Colditz is at an all time low. Parcels arrive for the prisoners containing useless gifts from unknown senders which do little to help. In total frustration, Jack smashes his gift of a vinyl record and Willis spots a meticulously folded paper protruding from the shards of plastic. It’s a map. Realisation dawns that these are no ordinary gifts. The prisoners soon dismantle the others and find that each ingeniously conceals vital get-away equipment. Things being to look up.
Lizzie is at home being comforted by Jill. She is devastated by news of Jack’s ‘death’ and drowns her sorrows in alcohol. They hear the distant rumble of aircraft approaching, and for the first time ever, Lizzie simply does not care. As bombs begin to fall nearby, they realise it is too late to take cover. The house opposite takes a direct hit and Jill suffers the force of the blast. Pandemonium breaks out but there is no movement from the girls.
McGrade charges along a hospital corridor and finds Lizzie by Jill’s bed – she is alive but in a very bad way. Lizzie is an emotional wreck and, on seeing McGrade, breaks down. He is quick to comfort her. Before logn, comfort turns to passion and Lizzie finally gives into her lust for her knight in shining armor.
At Colditz, an escape via the weekly rubbish truck is being prepared. Willis discovers, however, that the French are devising the same getaway. The only way to decide who goes is to toss a coin. Willis loses – the strain of captivity with no end in sight is now clearly getting to him. The arrival of an x-ray machine at the castle to scan the gifts does not help matters. Jack and his fellow inmates set about making dummy parcels to swap with those the German’s plan to x-ray, but it’s complicated – the post room lock is impossible to pick. Eventually locating a locksmith amongst the prisoners, the swap is arranged. The picking of the lock is successful in facilitating a roof-top escape plan but, before it is realised, the lockpicker falls to his death from the roof. The death sends shockwaves through the prison and it is solitary for another month for ring leaders Willis and Jack. Having exhausted virtually all possible escape plans, the frustrations of imprisonment begin to get the better of Jack.
Sawyer has finally arrived at MI9 after months on the road. He is shocked by the news of Jack’s death. When Sawyer sees Lizzie with McGrade, he instantly recognises her from the portrait he had drawn for Jack. Some time later, another Colditz escapee, Venning, arrives at MI9 and is equally shocked to learn of Jack’s death, telling Sawyer that he left him alive and well. Sawyer becomes suspicious and decides to investigate how and when Jack actually died through official records. Yet there are no records of his death. He immediately writes to Jack with his suspicions about McGrade.
Jack, a shadow of his former self, has lost interest in everything. Even escape. But his horror at the contents of Sawyer’s letter jolts him to action. Having excluded himself from the latest escape plans, he is told by an incensed Willis to ‘wait his turn.’ Unbeknown to Willis, Rhett has offered Jack his help out of pity for his plight. Jack surreptitiously listens in on Willis’s plans and Barker points him in the direction of Willis’s hidden escape kit. When the moment is right, he steals the kit and makes his escape. German gunfire breaks out, alerting the prisoners to the getaway in progress. They are shocked when they realise it is Jack but cheer his escape for freedom. Willis is devastated.
Word gets back to MI9 of Jack’s escape. McGrade’s option is to try and sabotage Jack’s escape route. Sawyer, now wise to his charade, insists that he help his friend back to England himself. Recognising Sawyer as his biggest thread, McGrade confronts him late one night on the deserted streets of London. The conversation soon turns violent and McGrade stabs Sawyer. McGrade flees the scene leaving Sawyer dead and Jack’s fate back firmly in his hands.
Jack’s long, tiresome and dangerous escape is plagued by set backs and near death experiences. It is about to get worse as McGrade’s sabotage antics stop at nothing. It is no coincidence that Jack’s safe house is raided by Germans who proceed to slaughter the entire family who are hiding him.
Back at home, McGrade asks Lizzie for her hand in marriage. He insists that they leave England for America immediately to start a new life, far and away from the memories of war-torn London. Lizzie is dumbstruck but quickly warms to both ideas – she is now in love with McGrade and wants to be with him, regardless of where in the world that might be.
Barker’s morphine dealer has been discovered by Ullman. Barker’s addiction forces him to make a deal of a different kind in order to secure his supply. Meanwhile, Willis, Hewitt and Barnes are putting the final touches to yet another escape plan. This time Barker has bowed out, leaving them to it. With the escape in progress, they finally make it to the end of the tunnel they have been digging for months, only to find Ullman standing between them and their freedom. The shame of divulging the plan to Ullman in return for drugs, and knowing that he will soon be found out when the men are returned to Colditz, is too much for Barker to bear. High on morphine, he commits suicide in the bathroom of his dormitory. Willis, back in solitary, is a broken man who believes he will never again experience the sweet taste of freedom.
News of Sawyer’s death and the loss of Jack’s safe house filter through MI9. No one knows if Jack is alive or dead. McGrade arouses suspicions in one of his colleagues, Ellways (CHARLES EDWARDS), and he decided to investigate further. In the meantime, an exhausted and malnourished Jack has miraculously made it to the British Embassy in Stockholm. The team at MI9 are elated. McGrade must act now or he will lose Lizzie forever.
TOM HARDY PLAYS JACK ROSE
Who is Jack Rose?
The thing with any character is that you find them out as you go along in many ways. So far [during filming], I think he’s honest, honourable, straight forward, responsible, reliable, trustworthy, gentle, kind, thoughtful, tactful, mindful – an ordinary human in extraordinary circumstance really. He has to get back to London for a very specific reason – to be with Lizzie. So a lot of his focus in Colditz is internal, on an imaginary world. The changes Jack goes through from the beginning to the end are enormous. A situation like a war would change one’s attitude to life incredibly I think.
What attracted Tom to the part?
I’ve never played a straight lead before. I’ve only ever played tortured characters and villains and angry young men – rent boys, addicts…that sort of thing. I even played a woman once! It’s very interesting for me to work on a character like Jack Rose. I almost feel as though I’m not supposed to be here, because I don’t feel the hero or very ‘normal’!
I enjoyed the scene where I beat Willis up because (laughs)…just because really! It was nice to flip the lid on Jack’s character and smack another character about a bit – that’s what I’m used to! But it was nice to take on the classic British officer, not to mention an opportunity to get banged up in Colditz – it’s every boy’s dream in many ways, to do a war movie or period movie about something which has actually happened.
Is Tom someone who would have tried to escape from Colditz, or would he have sat his time out and waited for the war to end?
I have absolutely no idea whether I would try to escape or not. I’m a bit of a professional coward, so probably not. But then again it was a duty for these boys to escape. It’s a group of people living together in very extraordinary circumstances, which are hard for us to imagine.
And Tom rarely stopped researching for the role…
You sort of work it all out as you go along so there are a lot of things going on each day of the shoot – each scene has its own little story. I’m constantly reading the script, reading as much research as I can get in and looking through the costumes and props, trying to inhabit the story. My old drama teacher was in the film Colditz so he told me I could ask him for any advice on how to smoke cigarettes and lie on bunk beds and so on (laughs).
Tom only filmed a few scenes in London with his fellow characters in the story’s central love triangel – Nicholas McGrade (Damian Lewis) and Lizzie Carter (Sophia Myles) …
It’s always terrifying to drop in on a set where people know each other and have been working together for about three weeks, especially when you haven’t acted in front of any of them before. It’s like dropping in on a black slope when you’re used to going on the nursery slops in many ways. Damian’s a very good actor and so is Sophia so it was a daunting challenge to be honest.
I’ve worked with Damian briefly before – I think he covered my head up with a blanket on my first job when I died in Band of Brothers! So it was nice to finally work with him properly. I used to work at the Almeida when he was there too, so I’ve been on his heels for a bit. I’d love to work with him again actually – he’s a real character!
I’ve never worked with Sophia Myles before and it’s always an odd one when you have a physical relationship with another actor, be it sexual or violent or intense intimacy, to just meet them that morning and the next thing you know you’re in bed together or you’re discussing a relationship. I’m quite shy around people at the best of times but I felt very comfortable working with Sophia. She’s very intelligent, very sharp and very instinctive – it was a pleasure.
Although Tom and Laurence Fox became friends during filming, Tom isn’t sure that Jack and his comrade Willis have such an easy friendship…
Laurence is barking! Laurence is absolutely fantastic and wonderful to work with. But I’m not sure that Willis is a good friend of Jack’s…I think they’re put together out of circumstance and a friendship is forged. It develops as they go through things together but ultimately they were put together as opposed to came together. It’s quite a warped relationship in many ways but then that’s reflective of the time – they’re officers, they’re British, they’re in prison together, they’ve escaped before together… With any relationship there’s something that you take from the other person. And Jack and Willis have something to offer each other.
Laurence Fox on working with Tom:
Working with Tom is great – he’s imaginative, he wants to get the most out of everything, he demands that you get right into it and nothing is wasted. I work well with him because we both enjoy that sort of thing… really getting into it. We’re totally different though. We’re almost about as different as you’d get in most ways but we get on really, really well. During filming in the Czech Republic, we had good Playstation marathons together, which kept me out of the bar!
Damian Lewis on Tom:
…Also, it was not only a pleasure to work with such lovely actors, but also such talented actors. I’d always resented Tom Hardy for turning up on Band of Brothers and getting the girl – in fact, the only girl in a cast of hundreds of smelly men! I, on the other hand, spent eight months with my face squashed up against someone else’s backside in one sodden trench after another. And it looks like Tom might have got the girl again…damn his eyes…
Francis Hopkinson, series producer on the casting:
Like Lizzie, Jack Rose is also innocent and has to grow up very fast during the war. Tom has a wonderful vulnerable quality which he was able to use to embody that journey. …And the great thing about Tom and Laurence is that they are the same age as the people who really did go off to war as well, which gives their characters added authenticity.