Huntingdonshire War Horse stars on course for Bafta glory

STARRING in a Hollywood �blockbuster is the stuff of dreams for most people. But for one Huntingdonshire man – and four of his horses – the dream turned into a big screen reality when he was approached to appear in Steven �Spielberg’s latest box office smash, War Horse.

Harvey, Scott, Comet and Boy all appear in the Bafta-nominated movie with owner David Lawless.

This First World War adventure tells the story of the unbreakable bond between Albert and his beloved horse Joey, sold at auction and sent to the battlefields of France.

Mr Lawless’ four horses are all Shire horses and are owned by his company, Waldburg Shires, based at New Farm, in Alconbury Weston.

They were specifically chosen for War Horse because of their placid and �amenable natures, which makes them easier to handle on set.

Father-of-two Mr Lawless, 36, said working with the legendary Hollywood director was an experience he would never forget.

“He was very definite in what he wanted and closely involved with everything,” he said.

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“He would tell us exactly how he wanted us to stand, which way to face, and exactly how to act.

“It was very challenging at times. �Getting so many horses to do exactly what you want can be tricky – filming can take so long and the animals have a mind of their own.”

Filming involving Mr Lawless and his horses took place over two days last August in Castle Combe, Wiltshire. The village was taken over by cast and crew and transformed into early 20th century Devon.

The scene which stars Mr Lawless and the four horses features at the beginning of the film where Joey is taken to auction by Albert’s father, and sold.

“You can see the horses clearly in the auction scene,” he said, “and when I watched it on Friday I thought I spotted myself, but I’d have to watch it again on DVD to make sure.

“I was really impressed with the film. There were some epic scenes on the �battlefields where there must have been more than 100 horses running around. I think they did a really good job.”

Mr Lawless is no stranger to �film-making himself, having appeared in both of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films and �acting as David Walliams’ body-double in the forthcoming release of Great Expectations.

But he said working with Ritchie was a different experience to working with Spielberg.

“With Guy you could have banter,” he said, “with Steven Spielberg you didn’t dare.”