Belfast Telegraph

Morpurgo amazed by fluke meeting

Best-selling War Horse author Michael Morpurgo took a role as an extra in Spielberg's movie version - and was amazed to find himself acting alongside the grandchild of one of the book's inspirations.

By an incredible fluke, the granddaughter of one of the First World War veterans to whom he dedicated his moving tale 30 years ago had also been given a minor role unknown to producers.

The new film - which stars Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch - is being tipped as a huge hit when it is released in the UK early next year.

The critically acclaimed story is set against the backdrop of the First World War and tells of the bravery, loyalty, and the extraordinary bond between a young recruit and his horse, Joey.

It was inspired by talking to people in The Duke of York pub in the remote village of Iddesleigh, Devon, not far from his home, about their experiences of the War.

They included Captain Arthur Budgett, who along with Wilfred Ellis and Albert Weeks received a dedication in the children's novel.

Morpurgo revealed he had his extraordinary coincidence when Spielberg had invited him and his wife, Claire, to be extras during filming in Castle Combe, Wiltshire.

"They invited us along and we got up in our costumes playing early 20th century farming folk, and we decided - because you had to have a back story - that the only person I know from that era was Captain Budgett.

"So I would be Captain Budgett and the squire, and she would be my third wife, because he had three wives, so that's what we did.

"We did our bit and we were then just standing there, after it was all over, and this girl comes up to us and she's about 17 and she's one of the extras and she said 'I don't want to disturb you sir, but I really felt I must introduce myself because I am the granddaughter of Captain Budgett'."

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