As we come to the close of 2012, cinema commentators would surely all agree that this has been a huge year for one Jeremy Irvine. Still only in his early twenties, he began the year as the star of Steven Spielberg’s highly anticipated “War Horse”, which became an Oscar-nominated hit, and closes it as the star of British director Mike Newell’s “Great Expectations”.
Set in the 1800’s, he plays Pip, a poor country boy who, through the kindness of an anonymous benefactor, goes to London to become a gentleman, in the hope of winning over the beautiful but cold-hearted Estella (Holliday Grainger). “With all the abuse he’s taken over his life, a lot of adaptations have made Pip quite a passive character” Irvine explains. “But what David Nicholls has done with the script is make him ambitious, almost ruthless, and driven towards what he wants.”
As the actor says, there have been many adaptations of the beloved Charles Dickens book before, however he asserts that this version of the story is different. “We see a lot more of the sinister, violent side of Pip’s past” he says. “The audience isn’t shielded from that violence, we see it first-hand. There’s something quite unnerving about that.”
Irvine stars opposite an awesome cast which includes Robbie Coltrane, Helena Bonham-Carter and Ralph Fiennes. “It’s a bit of a dream come true” Irvine enthuses. “I have scenes with all of those actors and to come in every day knowing you’re about to work with someone like Helena is fantastic.” He also has some very kind words for his co-star, Grainger. “She’s fantastic, it’s very hard to get the role of Estella right but I think she’s struck a great balance between the sympathetic and hard parts of the role.”
Finally, he’s had a stellar year which has seen him work with some of Hollywood’s biggest names, has it all sunk in yet? “Not really” he laughs, “I’ve been very lucky to have had these three films (he also starred in romantic drama “Now Is Good”) come out so close together and be so well received. It’s been wonderful.”
What did James think?
Director Mike Newell’s adaptation of “Great Expectations” is certainly familiar, with the style and story not differing greatly from many other adaptations. However the film is executed so confidently you can’t help but be swept along. This is helped by a truly impressive cast which is topped by Bonham-Carter as a wonderfully gothic Mrs Haversham. This version of the story is perhaps nothing new, but it will be a fine rendition for lovers of the world of Dickens.
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