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Viewers are calling Jack O'Connell 'one of finest actors of generation' for role as drunken unhinged war hero

Jess Hardiman

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Viewers are calling Jack O'Connell 'one of finest actors of generation' for role as drunken unhinged war hero

Viewers are calling Jack O’Connell ‘one of the finest actors’ of our generation after his portrayal of war hero Paddy Mayne in Steven Knight’s new WWII drama.

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O’Connell stars in SAS Rogue Heroes as Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blair Mayne – also known as ‘Paddy’ - who was a real-life war veteran known to sport a ‘volatile and complex’ personality, with little respect for authority.

Born in 1915, Mayne became one of the British Army’s most highly decorated soldiers after joining the Special Air Service (SAS) at the age of 25 in 1941, having been recruited from a prison cell.

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His bravery on the battlefield even earned him four Distinguished Service Orders (DSOs), the Legion d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre.

Paddy Mayne. Credit: BBC
Paddy Mayne. Credit: BBC

Viewers have had nothing but praise for 32-year-old O’Connell for bringing the character to life in the new drama – with many calling on him to win a BAFTA Award, or even be considered for the new James Bond.

The actor was previously known for featuring as James Cook in Skins, along with other credits in the likes of This is England, Eden Lake, ‘71 and, more recently, BBC miniseries The North Water.

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One person tweeted: “Watching SAS: Rogue Heroes confirms my long-held belief that Jack O’Connell is one of the finest actors of my generation. Could be a long-shot for Bond in my humble opinion.”

Someone else wrote: “If Jack O'Connell doesn't get a Bafta for his role as Paddy Mayne in SAS Rogue Heroes there's something wrong with the world.”

Jack O'Connell and Connor Swindells in SAS Rogue Heroes. Credit: BBC
Jack O'Connell and Connor Swindells in SAS Rogue Heroes. Credit: BBC

A third added: “SAS Rogue Heroes is the best bit of telly I’ve watched this year by far! Jack O’Connell as Paddy Mayne was cracker. Also using metal and punk music for the soundtrack was the RIGHT DECISION.”

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A fourth said: “Watching SAS Rogue, Jack O'Connell [auditioning] for the next Bond.”

O’Connell, who is from Alvaston in Derbyshire, had to perfect Mayne’s Belfast accent for the show, having turned to a dialect coach for help.

Speaking to LADbible recently, he recalled how he had ‘daily vocal sessions’ with his coach, who is from Belfast.

“It was a no brainer working with him,” he said, adding that there were a number of other aspects to bear in mind when it came to characterisation.

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“And then I think another factor was also precisely where in Northern Ireland is he from?,” O’Connell continued.

“And the fact that he's quite a learned man, Paddy Mayne - he practiced law at one stage.

“So, you know, that offered me some great steerage.”

Credit: BBC
Credit: BBC
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Creator Steven Knight also told us: “It's a really interesting character driven true story, where the truest bits are the weirdest bits. And it was just irresistible.

“So I just tried to do justice to what really happened, and tried to base it on the characters and the fact that these were people who would not thrive in peacetime.

The series is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now. Credit: BBC
The series is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now. Credit: BBC

“And war comes along, and suddenly what they do and what they've got is what's required, so it's really fascinating.”

He continued: "This group of very young men in their early 20s, took themselves off, they didn't take orders, and decided amongst themselves to conduct a campaign against the strongest army in the world at the time," he said.

"And they succeeded.

"And all as a writer you have to do is tell the story, I think. You've got to get into the characters, but these characters did this. This is all true."

He added: "And so all I think you have to do is stay true to the madness of it."

Watch SAS Rogue Heroes on Sundays at 9:00pm on BBC One, with the whole series also available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: TV and Film

Jess Hardiman
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