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Excerpt from Evening Standard Article

...Because British actors are not as high-glossed as their American counterparts, they are far more castable in "ordinary" realistic roles. Damian Lewis (Hearts and Bones), Dexter Fletcher (Lock, Stock) and Marc Warren (The Vice) bring an authentic characterisation to their roles, bolstered by their ability to research their parts from the actual people they play. Fletcher, for example, forged a close friendship with Sergeant John W Martin whom he plays in the series.

"The more I spoke to John," recalls Fletcher, "the more I realised that we were telling a real story. We had a serious responsibility. We owed it to these men to produce something more than sentimental schlock." Similarly, Lewis found his real-life character, Major Richard Winters, now 83, modestly helpful. "He's been more than generous to me, sent me stuff," says Lewis. "Though he doesn't find it natural to talk intimately about his experiences in the war. Heroes are defined by their actions."

In pursuit of authenticity, the cast were required to go through a form of basic training that few of them would have had to endure before. Captain Dale Dye, formerly of the US Marines, whose combat experience in Vietnam and Beirut stands him in good stead as Holly-wood's leading military adviser, was brought in to turn his rookies into authentic-looking soldiers. Under Dye's remorseless guidance, the actors were put through a gruelling two-week, 16-hour-day boot camp during which they behaved in character and where no modern slang or language was permitted, which is akin to a Mike Leigh rehearsal period crossed with an assault course. Precision and accuracy reigned in all things, down to the smallest details of terrain (earth was moved around the Hatfield site to replicate to the inch the height of the hills of each area of combat), weapons and uniforms - each of which had the correct number of stitches. Of the 2,000 uniforms, only the American dress uniforms are completely original. It is not possible to duplicate that particular cloth today so real uniforms were found. In real life, the French used American surplus uniforms, so by changing buttons and insignia, the authentic US uniform was recreated.

Of the several directors entrusted with individual episodes, Brits David Leland and Richard Loncraine emerge with distinction. Filming began on 3 April 2000 and wrapped on 24 November 2000. Eight months is a long time for a film shoot. But a short time for a war.


Source: Evening Standard
Date: 4th October 2001