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`I went to prison with 250 men' On the set of ITV drama POW, Amelia Curtis was the only woman among 250 British hunks. She talks about being one of the lads...
Date: Oct 5, 2003
Publication: Sunday Mirror (London, England)
By: Deirdre O'Brien.
`I went to prison with 250 men'
Being the only woman among 250 men sounds like a girl's dream come true. Especially when those 250 include some of the finest talent Britain has to offer. That's talent of the thespian variety of course - in the shape of actors James D'Arcy, Patrick Baladi, Matthew Rhys and Joe Absolom, to name but a few.
That's what happened to actress Amelia Curtis when she found herself sent to Lithuania with the cream of male British telly totty, to film the WWII drama series POW.
Amelia was nervous of assuming such minority status. `But I needn't have worried. It was brilliant. The boys were very protective and I felt very looked after. In fact, I became an honorary lad. I adopted an alter ego, and became a South London wide boy called Jay. That's what the boys all started calling me. It was our little joke.' And was it pleasant to have so much eye candy to feast upon? `Well I can see they are all handsome, but I just felt I'd acquired about nine or 10 brothers,' she says.
POW tells the story of a German prisoner of war camp during WWII. Amelia, 31, plays Alice Driver, the British wife of a German commandant charged with supervising 250 British POWs. The series was filmed on a specially constructed model of a camp outside Vilnius - authentic and fully functional down to the latrines, coolers and tunnels the men are secretly constructing in their attempts to escape.
The countryside outside Vilnius is beautiful, and the cast made the most of their time off between filming.
`The thing about boys is they're always doing stuff, so I ended up joining in, and doing all sorts of activities,' says Amelia `I played table tennis with them, they'd set up a football league, Joe used to bring his golf clubs into work every day. I went bowling, I played pool, one day I even went fishing. We rowed out on this lake in the middle of a thunderstorm. I remember thinking, "I musn't complain, I mustn't be too girlie", though I was turning blue with cold.'
However, there's one extra curricular activity Amelia wasn't invited to share. According to her, Vilnius is `very lively and fun'. So lively, in fact, it's being hailed as the new stag weekend capital of Europe - a status acquired thanks to its 100 or so lap dancing clubs and bars. (Incidentally Waterworld - advertised in Air Lithuania magazine - has private rooms with wipe-down seats.) The word is that some of the cast took full advantage of the facilities, with Joe Absolom, in particular, admitting to splashing out on the Lithuanian lovelies.
Understandably, Amelia wasn't keen to join in. `No! I didn't go to any lap dancing clubs. I did hear the boys talk about them, but I thought they were joking.' Maybe not quite one of the lads then.
Amelia - who's had parts in EastEnders (as Carla, who took Bianca's driving test for her) and as a psychologist who meets a very sticky end in the Hollywood horror film FeardotCom - was desperate to try a period drama.
At first, though, she found it difficult to empathise with Alice. `The story is Alice met her husband about seven years before the war, when he was on a walking holiday in Britain, fell in love, married him and moved to Germany. Then of course, war breaks out and she is living as a German in a country at war with her home nation. It's hard to imagine someone in that situation. `Alice is just a woman who loves her husband. But she also loves Germany. She believes in the great possibilities, especially economic, that Hitler's ideology seemed to promise. To begin with, a lot of people were blinded by that. But she isn't aware of the Holocaust - that will come later.
`Alice is hated by the POWs, but there's a softening later on, when she goes to work in the prison hospital. She remembers her roots then, and the men see she's not a bitch,' Amelia explains.
Perhaps one of the reasons Amelia was so oblivious to her handsome co- stars is because, two years ago, she married the (very handsome) actor Vincent Regan, who has starred in Rescue Me, Messiah 2 and 40. So what did he make of his missus going on location with 250 blokes? `He just laughed. He's actually friends with quite a few of them.
In fact, he was in Malta filming Troy at the time. He's playing Eudorus, one of Achilles' generals.' So that would be the Achilles played by Brad Pitt, would it?
`Yes, I went to visit Vinnie when he was doing a scene with Brad, and I was introduced. I said, "Hello". Brad said, "Hello, how are you?" and that was it really. I ran away, I wasn't very brave I'm afraid. And I was so excited about seeing Vinnie I really wasn't bothered about anything else.'
So if she's not even interested in Brad Pitt, it's no wonder her co-stars didn't get a look in. `They're all lovely, but they're just boys. They are my mates, but no one compares to Vin.'
POW starts on 10 October on ITV1