Actors get lessons in swordsmanship

THE sword master who taught Brad Pitt to fight like a Trojan has been putting actors through their paces at the Mercury Theatre.Richard Ryan spent most of last year choreographing fights for Troy, a Hollywood blockbuster about the ancient Greek love story between Paris, Prince of Troy, and Helen, Queen of Sparta.

THE sword master who taught Brad Pitt to fight like a Trojan has been putting actors through their paces at the Mercury Theatre.

Richard Ryan spent most of last year choreographing fights for Troy, a Hollywood blockbuster about the ancient Greek love story between Paris, Prince of Troy, and Helen, Queen of Sparta.

When Paris steals Helen away from her husband, King Menelaus, it is an insult which sparks off an enormous battle between the united tribes of Greece and the Trojans.

In the film, due to be released in May this year, Brad Pitt, plays Achilles, a Greek who fought against the Trojans to steal Helen back from Troy.


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Mr Ryan, an actor and teacher at the Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts, said Pitt did all of his own fight scenes, although he fought against stuntmen in some of the bigger battles.

"Brad Pitt is possibly one of the most gifted actors physically I've had the fortune to work with. He works incredibly hard," said Mr Ryan.

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In Troy, he worked with other top actors including Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings) who plays Paris, Eric Bana (The Hulk) who is the mighty Prince Hector, and Brendan Gleeson (Gangs of New York) who stars as King Menelaus in the film.

Mr Ryan worked on the film from March until December, at Shepperton Studios, London, Malta and Mexico, where a hurricane blew down the walls of Troy.

Mr Ryan was fight director at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, yesterday helping actors prepare for their production of Macbeth.

"I was working here doing Private Lives when I found out I'd got the job on Troy," he said.

"I always like working here. It's just such a positive administration. They're trying to bring in new improved standards and make it a really good place to be."

The fight director started off as an actor. He had a good stage combat teacher at drama school and in his first plays in the profession he had several fight scenes.

When he was in between acting jobs, he used to assist with stage combat at drama school and gradually found himself teaching more and more, until he decided to get the appropriate fencing and martial arts qualifications to register as a fight director. Troy was the first film where he had the role of sword master.

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