Star of new Netflix series The Queen Cleopatra warned he could die ahead of brain tumour surgery
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One of the stars of the new Netflix show The Queen Cleopatra has opened up about being diagnosed with a brain tumour after filming wrapped on the controversial new series.
Welsh actor Craig Russell took on the role of Marc Antony as he joined star Adele James in the series, which has sparked backlash for its portrayal of Cleopatra as a Black woman.
Russell was feeling fit and healthy during production, but towards the end of last year he began to exhibit behaviour that was out of character.
His vision and hearing were getting worse, and he was suffering severe migraines.
“Just before Christmas, I walked into the spare room and I couldn’t remember how to get out,” Craig recalled to The Mirror. "There was only one door, it wasn’t as if I had multiple exits to choose from."
The actor went to the doctor and was told he was going blind in his left eye. He was sent for a CT scan, which revealed a mass in his brain.
Doctors believed the tumour, which was the size of a lime, had been growing for 15 years and it needed to be removed immediately.
“I got a call to say: ‘We need to get this out ASAP’,” Craig said. “It was totally unexpected. I was very teary when I told my wife, Kate – and that they didn’t know if it was cancerous or not.
"But she was amazing, saying, ‘we will win this’.
“I was warned I could die during the procedure because it was so complicated. But if it wasn’t removed, it could cause seizures and strokes," he added.
Craig feared the risks, but 'had to do it' for his wife and two children.
He underwent the surgery in March, two months before The Queen Cleopatra arrived on Netflix.
Surgeons spent six hours removing the back of Craig’s skull which had been 'touching the tumour', before putting his head back together with 55 staples.
After he woke up Craig learned the tumour had been benign, but he had to return to hospital when his wife noticed there was fluid coming from behind his staples.
"The doctors realised there was a large swelling on my head. Fluids had started to build up inside," he said.
Craig was told to move around as much as possible, so he stared going on daily walks, lifting weights and eating anti-inflammatory foods.
"It worked, because when I returned, my surgeon told me the swelling had gone," he recalled. "I was over the moon.”
Two months on from the surgery, Craig has started to feel more like himself.
He will still need to undergo an MRI scan every six months for the next decade, but he's grateful for all the support he received throughout the ordeal.
"I am so pleased I was feeling fine during the making of Queen Cleopatra," the actor said. "Playing Marc Antony was amazing, he’s an incredible character.
“I am so grateful my GP sent me for a brain scan. If she hadn’t, I might not be here now – I could have had a seizure while driving the children to school. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”
Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@russandchips / Netflix
Topics: TV and Film, Netflix, Health