Ralph Fiennes has been obsessed with bringing Shakespeare’s anti-hero Coriolanus to the screen ever since he played the human killing machine on stage.
A decade later, the actor is directing the movie, as well as playing the central role.
He has persuaded Serbian special forces soldiers – many of them built like brick outhouses – to, essentially, play themselves.
They brought their tanks, too. Fiennes has set his film about warring tribes, biting political ruthlessness and a mother’s ambition for her son, in modern times and some of the scenes look like the end of an empire.
That’s thanks to cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, who worked on the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes The Barley and Paul Greengrass’s Green Zone.
Coriolanus has been shooting on locations around Belgrade. As well as using the army and local actors, Fiennes has been able to attract an A-list cast.
Gerard Butler has agreed to play Coriolanus’s rival Tullus Aufidius and Vanessa Redgrave will be his fierce mother, Volumnia.
But I’ve been told that Redgrave is extraordinary in the role. Brian Cox takes the part of canny senator Menenius and Jessica Chastain plays the senator’s wife.
James Nesbitt, John Kani, Paul Jesson and Mona Hammond tackle other leading roles.
Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow pops up as an evening news broadcaster, and singer Will Young has a cameo as a TV reporter.
Actually, Young has a wider role behind the scenes – he is one of the film’s executive producers.
He and Fiennes became friends after meeting last year.