2023 has been a busy and successful year for British actor Ben Radcliffe, who has previously demonstrated his versatility as the lead in CW's Pandora, Netflix drama Anatomy of a Scandal opposite Rupert Friend and Sienna Miller, in fantasy drama The Witcher, as well as dance comedy Cuban Fury. Now Ben is back on our screens with two significant roles as Captain John D. Brady in the highly anticipated Apple TV's Masters of the Air, produced by Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks and as fighter pilot Freddie Hooke in the Disney+ short film The Shepherd alongside John Travolta. 5ELEVEN Magazine sat down with Ben to discuss his experience filming with some of the biggest names in film and television, the hard work and dedication that led to where he is today, and some of his future goals.
Words by Charlotte Coquelin.
I have noticed your recent Armani collaboration on Instagram. Do you enjoy working with fashion brands?
It was my first time, and I was very involved with the creative process with the Armani team, which made the experience very enjoyable. I would like to do more if the opportunity comes!
Your character in Masters of the Air is from New York. How did you practice your accent?
John is from Upstate New York. Actually, we were really fortunate on this production as we had a special "boot camp" with intensive accent practices and dialect coaches alongside flying training because many of the scenes are filmed in planes. I got lucky as some of my peers had very specific and difficult accents to master, and I was already confident with my character's accent as it wasn't my first time playing a character with this accent.
Jacket by Goldsmith Vintage. Jumper by The English Difference. Trousers by E.L.V Denim. Shoes by Grenson.
How was it working on such a big production?
It was the biggest production I have ever been a part of! The experience was really immersive, they had built this world, and we had LED screens. It made the acting really easy as the decors were so realistic. The planes we were shooting in were actually moving around, so the simulation was astonishing. The amount of people on set also was really impressive. Some days, we had five hundred extras playing next to us! It felt really real! It was the opposite of the other type of acting where you are in a studio by yourself pretending this decor is around. I had this experience on another movie set which was much more difficult.
The movie seems to be taking place in very cold temperatures. How were the conditions on set?
It was either way too hot or way too cold on set, as we filmed for almost a year. We started in summer all the way to winter. The outfits we were wearing in the planes during the summer shoots were meant for very cold weather, so the conditions were intense either way, but the costumes had built-in tubes to pump cold water through for us to cool off after each scene. Every movie I have ever filmed was always shot under very cold temperatures, so I am really used to it; it's part of the job!
Did you enjoy working with Austin Butler and Callum Turner?
I met both of them on set. It was an amazing experience working with such talented actors. The call sheet included four hundred talents, so I really got a lot of new friendships established on this set. We spent nine months together!
Masters of the Air is based on a book. Did you know about it?
Yes, it's a very long book! I didn't get a chance to read it all, but I definitely read the chapters that involve my character. I always try to remember that the book and the script are two distinct things, and I always want to honour the script. The book is based on a true story; Captain John D. Brady existed, so I did a lot of research to understand my character. The good thing about this movie is that it is exceptionally historically accurate.
Jacket and vest by Nanushka. Trousers by Wax London. Shoes by Grenson. Necklace by Dinosaur Designs. Sunglasses by Akila
You also just shot the Shepherd with John Travolta, directed by Iain Softly; it is also based on a book written by Frederick Forsyth that tells the story of a young Royal Air Force pilot facing death while flying home for Christmas.
Yes, it's a much shorter book!
In an interview, we heard John Travolta say that the book changed his life. How was that shooting experience?
It was incredible; everyone involved was really passionate about this movie, and working with John Travolta was really stimulating. He really loves the story as it's a very personal narrative for him as what happens in the play The Shepherd happened to him in 1992. He used to own a plane and almost crashed because of a similar electric malfunction. John read the book thirty years ago and wanted to turn it into a movie where he played my part, but he got cast in Pulp Fiction instead, so he produced it later and cast me in his role and played the older man who helps me.
Shirt by Garbstore. Jumper and coat by AMI. Jeans by E.L.V Denim. Shoes by Grenson.
You have played two different pilots in two big upcoming movies. What is a role you are looking forward to playing?
I want to stay away from planes now! More seriously, I would love to do more action movies. I can't stay still, and I did a lot of gymnastics in my youth, and I enjoy the adrenaline that comes with doing stunts. I love it when acting feels like a performance.
On your Instagram, you shared a fun video clip you and your friends directed. Do you enjoy being behind the camera? Could you see yourself doing it more often?
That would be a dream to make more films with my friends. This project you saw is exactly what I like creating: light, amusing, not-too-serious projects. We got to fly a big team of dancers to film this clip in Bulgaria. It was the first time I had some funds and a real team to create my vision. It's the most fulfilled I have ever felt, so I hope I get to do more of it in the future!
The Shepherd is available to watch now on Disney+ and Masters of the Air is coming to screens on AppleTv in January 2024.