Belfast Telegraph

Testament star tells of support

Alicia Vikander tonight confessed she was daunted meeting Shirley Williams for the first time, but she found her to be a great support for her role in Testament Of Youth.

The 26-year-old Swedish actress stars in the big screen adaptation of the famous memoir of Baroness Williams' mother Vera Brittain, documenting her experiences of the First World War and the men in her life who she lost.

Anna Karenina star Vikander and the Baroness were joined on the red carpet in London's Leicester Square by co-stars Kit Harington, Taron Egerton, Colin Morgan, Jonathan Bailey and director James Kent.

Brittain was studying English Literature at Oxford university when the war broke out and she delayed her studies to work as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse.

Her fiance Roland Leighton, played by Game of Thrones star Harington, two other close friends Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow, and her brother Edward Brittain MC were all killed in battle and she went on to be a strident antiwar campaigner.

Vikander said of meeting the baroness: "It was daunting. I was invited for tea in the House of Lords and met her there.

"We sat down for two hours and she shared her memories and thoughts about her mother.

"We talked about the book, the letters; the correspondence between her mother and the people she had lost.

"She even came out on a visit on set in Oxford with a big part of the rest of her family, so they were a great support."

The baroness admitted she had not wanted the book to be made into a film at first, but she is delighted with Vikander's performance.

She said: "My first reaction was 'Oh no, I don't want them to.'

"But I then saw more of what they were doing and the approach they were making to it.

"I think it's a wonderful film, I think they've done a marvellous job, and I particularly think one the loveliest things is the fact they've brought in five new young actors, who are extremely good and also get on so well with one another. It's really lovely to be with them.

"I met Alicia before and she's a marvellous actress, but also all the boys that play the young men are really very good actors as well."

Harington, best know for playing Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, said he hoped the film would bring Brittain's story and campaign against war to a wider audience.

He said: "I hope that's what I can bring to it - that some Game of Thrones fans will come and see this. I hope young people will come and see it anyway because of their interest in the First World War. I think thy should come and see it.

"It's a good old fashioned weepy, and it's also got something to say."

Testament Of Youth also stars Taron Egerton, Colin Morgan, Dominic West and Emily Watson. It opens in UK cinemas on Friday January 16, 2015.

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