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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

‘The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’s Guy Ritchie Threw Out the Script

The Big Picture

  • Collider’s Steve Weintraub speaks with
    The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
    castmates Cary Elwes, Eiza González and Babs Olusanmokun.
  • The trio talk about Ritchie’s unique film style and reuniting with their film family on the set.
  • They also discuss the true story behind the movie, why Ritchie was the perfect director to adapt the screenplay, and tons more.

Besides his mastery of the crime thriller, director Guy Ritchie (Snatch) is well known for his unpredictable filmmaking style on set, and for the ensemble casts he assembles. The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare reunites Ritchie with previous collaborators like Eiza González, who will be in his upcoming film The Grey, Babs Olusanmokun (Wrath of Men), Cary Elwes (Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre), and Ministry‘s lead, Henry Cavill (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.). It was also another opportunity for these actors to flex their acting chops on set, where Ritchie often favors more improv over scripted dialogue and scenes.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun: Maverick), tells a rip-roaring account of what’s credited as the first-ever special ops mission during World War II. Spearheaded by Winston Churchill, Elwes takes the reins on this operation in the movie and rallies together a suicide squad of sorts to go behind enemy lines and “set Europe ablaze.” The ragtag team of combat experts comprises Cavill’s Gus March-Phillips, Alan Ritchson‘s (Reacher) Anders Lassen, González’s Marjorie Stewart, Olusanmokun’s Heron, Henry Golding (The Gentlemen) as Freddie Alvarez, Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike) as Geoffrey Appleyard, and Hero Fiennes Tiffin (The Woman King) as Henry Hayes.

In this interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub, Elwes, González, and Olunsanmokun discuss continuing their Guy Ritchie “summer camp” with Ministry, where they shoot on location across the globe and get to see their film family again. They talk about the day the director completely threw out the script and share tips on how to prepare to be unprepared. The trio also talk about the true story behind the movie and why Ritchie was the perfect director to adapt it.

You can watch the conversation in the video above, or you can read the full transcript below.

ministry of ungentlemanly warfare poster

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

The British military recruits a small group of highly-skilled soldiers to strike against German forces behind enemy lines during World War II.

Release Date
April 19, 2024

Guy Ritchie , Paul Tamasy , Eric Johnson , Arash Amel

Black Bear , Toff Guy Films , Jerry Bruckheimer Films


COLLIDER: Let me start by saying congrats on the movie. It’s weird to say a movie is fun when it involves so much killing, but it’s Nazis, so fuck it.

BABS OLUSANMOKUN: That’s what I said.

I’m being completely serious. I’m down with all the Nazis getting killed.

OLUSANMOKUN: Absolutely.

The Guy Ritchie Summer Camp Continues

“It now feels like a field trip because we’ve been all around the world.”

Guy Ritchie movies
Image by Federico Napoli

So [Eiza], I have to start with an individual question for you. I know you do some other work, but recently, when did you decide to just work for Guy Ritchie?

EIZA GONZÁLEZ: [Laughs] Since he told me to. I was ordered to only work for Guy Ritchie, but I’m not the only one. They both worked with Guy before, as well. I just feel like I’ve done back-to-back-to-back with him, which is pretty intense, but in the best way possible. You know what? I’m sure it was the same for you guys, it’s so nice to go back to set and see Max Keene and Ed [Wild], our DP, and Loulou [Bontemps], and all our family. It now feels like a field trip because we’ve been all around the world. We just came from Egypt, and then we shot this in Turkey, and we shot another one in Spain. So, I keep joking that it feels like summer camp. You go back every year to summer camp. It’s like, “We’re in a different summer camp.” It’s like, “Oh my god, what are we doing at this summer camp?” It’s really fun.

Rule of Thumb With Guy Ritchie? Prepare to Be Unprepared

“Be ready to throw it all away.”

One of the things I want to touch on is the fact that Guy works very differently than a lot of other directors in the way that you show up on set. What you’ve prepared might not be what you’re shooting, and dialogue may changeand by “it may,” I mean it will. So, talk a little bit about what it’s like working for Guy. On this film particularly, what was maybe the biggest thing you expected to film and say versus what you actually did and said?

CARY ELWES: It always ends up being better because Guy is very intuitive. He loves actors, and he’s very keyed into dialogue, as you know. So, he’ll hear it on the first rehearsal, and he knows instantly what works and what doesn’t. He encourages us all to be very flexible and loose, and you’ve got to show up that way and just be prepared to not be rigid about the scene or your character or what you’re prepared for, because it can all change.

GONZÁLEZ: I think for us [González and Olusanmokun], because we were the first — we filmed at the beginning of the movie for two weeks straight before anyone else — it’s always a little daunting being the one that starts the show or the movie because you sort of set the tone for a lot of things. So there was a lot of pressure in that sense. But what I learned in this particular film is there’s never enough over-preparing, meaning I was very happy that I prepared the accent for so long. Because for a big chunk of time, I was preparing the scenes and the dialogue with the accent, and so at one point, I was like, “I think I should just expand and learn the rules of the accent and whatnot.” And thank the Lord I did because on the day, like zero of the dialogue that was written on the original script made it.

OLUSANMOKUN: I was there.

Babas Olusanmokun listens to a wiretapping device in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
Image via Lionsgate

GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, he was there. Then you just have to adapt. I would have been screwed. So, overly preparing in advance is a great point, but also on the day, just being open to being adaptable and getting the scene in the right place it needs to be.

OLUSANMOKUN: Be ready to throw it all away. It leaves you free to take in what Guy then gives you.

Guy Ritchie Is the Perfect Director To Tell This Unbelievable Story

A lot of people aren’t going to realize this is based on a true story, but it’s also like the first special forces mission. Basically, everything about this is incredible. There’s not enough adjectives. Can you sort of touch on the fact that some characters are made up, but a lot of the characters are very real?

ELWES: Well, Churchill, because Hitler was using guerrilla warfare against the British and our allies, he felt it was important that we take the same fight to the enemy, but he got a lot of pushback from politicians and from his cabinet and from the army and the Navy. They were like, “No, we can’t have these kinds of rogue missions taking place without them being officially sanctioned.” And Churchill was like, “No. No, I’m not going to go through all the paperwork and the red tape, otherwise it will never get done.” So he gave the character I play, Gubbins, basically a free hand to say, “Just do what you need to do but go and set Europe ablaze. Take the fight to the enemy in the way that they’re taking it to us.” And he did.

GONZÁLEZ: It’s nice to honor the efforts of people that gave their lives for their country. That’s always an honor.

Marjorie wielding a rifle in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
Image via Lionsgate

OLUSANMOKUN: For a big chunk of the world.

GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, exactly. For the world. So, we’re just honored to bring this story to light, and bring information, but also joy and fun, and show that they were dynamic human beings. We think of war in such a bleak way, and they’re also having to find levity in those moments and entertain themselves. It’s nice to see the comradery of the boys because they live and breathe with each other all the time. So, that dynamic and that fun and the inside jokes, it’s really nice to see fleshed out human beings with real personalities. That’s also so nice that Guy Ritchie gets to tell the story because he knows how to give people personalities and characteristics and define them as an individual versus just blending them all at once.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is now in theaters.

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