'The King's Man': Rhys Ifans on twisting history with 'fantastical' take on Rasputin (exclusive)

·Contributor
·3 min read

Watch: Rhys Ifans discusses twisted take on Rasputin in The King's Man

Rhys Ifans embraced the opportunity to deliver a "fantastical interpretation" of Rasputin when he played the mystic in Matthew Vaughn's action movie The King's Man.

The film, which portrays the origins of the Kingsman organisation, offers twisted takes on numerous historical figures as it depicts a fictionalised spin on the events of the First World War.

Ifans told Yahoo that Rasputin, who served as a "healer" for Tsar Nicholas II, was the perfect historical person to examine from a skewed perspective.

Read more: Rhys Ifans brings madness in The King's Man trailer

"So much of what we know about Rasputin is based on hearsay and myth and legend. He was one of those figures who generated his own mystique and kind of thrived on that," said Ifans. 

Rhys Ifans portrays a version of Russian mystic Rasputin in 'The King's Man'. (20th Century Studios)
Rhys Ifans portrays a version of Russian mystic Rasputin in 'The King's Man'. (20th Century Studios)

He added: "So it does lend itself to an interpretation, and a fantastical interpretation. 

"That's what we went ahead and did, with the add-ons of Matthew's crazy brain and this amalgamation of martial arts and Cossack dancing. 

Read more: The real history behind The Death of Stalin

"But a lot of what you see about Rasputin in the film is factual. Things like his awful table manners. He very rarely ate with a knife and fork. He really did eat like a hungry brigand. 

"He did have a kind of hypnotic component to his person, and he was arguably a real healer. He convinced the most powerful family in Russia that what he did worked and it must have worked for some time. 

The real Grigori Rasputin was assassinated in 1916. (Pictures From History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The real Grigori Rasputin was assassinated in 1916. (Pictures From History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

"I think for Rasputin, the interesting thing was keeping up what other people applied to him. That's in a sense what we do as actors, which is why I think he's interesting. 

"There's a performative element to Rasputin which intrigues us all because we're all quietly getting away with murder socially."

Read more: Matthew Vaughn planning seven more Kingsman movies

The King's Man takes an irreverent approach to the history of the First World War, with Tom Hollander portraying a triple role as King George V, Tsar Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany.

Hollander said he was "fascinated" by Vaughn's approach to historical depictions, despite some initial misgivings about whether everything would gel.

"I thought it was bold and original and brilliant. I wasn't quite sure how he would make it work, but I think he does," he said.

Tom Hollander plays three roles, including King George V, in 'The King's Man'. (20th Century Studios)
Tom Hollander plays three roles, including King George V, in 'The King's Man'. (20th Century Studios)

Hollander added: "When you're in it, you're sort of trying to play the reality of the scenes most of the time. 

"When the director is making the film, editing it, layering it with music and tone and colour and focus changes, you suddenly realise what you're part of. Tonally, it has a unique, Matthew Vaughn bravura thing going on."

Read more: Taron Egerton discusses his Kingsman future

As well as Ifans and Hollander, the cast of The King's Man includes Ralph Fiennes as the architect of the Kingsman organisation, with Gemma Arterton, Djimon Hounsou, Harris Dickinson and Matthew Goode also appearing.

The King's Man arrives in UK cinemas from Boxing Day.

Watch: Trailer for The King's Man

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting