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Watership Down stars share childhood memories of original film

Digital Spy (UK) logo Digital Spy (UK) 10/12/2018 Cameron K McEwan, Megan Davies
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Watch: Watership Down trailer [Digital Spy]

BBC One's new all-star adaptation of Watership Down is coming to TV screens this Christmas to traumatise us all over again, and it seems even the stars of the latest version weren't immune to the original film's horrors.

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Based on the book by Richard Adams, Watership Down follows a group of rabbits from Sandleford Warren as they flee the destruction of their home, and the new BBC version stars the incredible voice acting cast of X-Men's James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult, Ben Kingsley, former Bond girl Gemma Arterton, The Crown's Olivia Colman and Star Wars' John Boyega.

And, speaking to Digital Spy and other media, McAvoy (who plays Hazel), Hoult (Fiver) and Arterton (Clover) all opened up about their first experiences with the original film.

a herd of sheep standing on top of a grass covered field: James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult and Gemma Arterton reveal how they were left traumatised by the original Watership Down film. © BBC James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult and Gemma Arterton reveal how they were left traumatised by the original Watership Down film.

"I hadn't read the book, I'd only seen the film – it absolutely traumatised me," Arterton shared.

"I think that was my prevailing memory of it. It was great revisiting it and getting into it, and reading the book, as an adult and seeing there was so much more to it than just violence."

James McAvoy added that he read the book in his 20s when he was in drama school, but shared that his first memory of the story itself came as he watched the film with a friend when he was younger.

"My first memory of it was sitting next to a friend of mine from school, and he'd come to my house to hang out and have dinner, and we ended up watching Watership Down," McAvoy explained.

a herd of sheep standing on top of a grass covered field: Watership Down [EMBARGOED UNTIL 10PM UK TIME TONIGHT, THURSDAY 1 NOVEMBER] © BBC Watership Down [EMBARGOED UNTIL 10PM UK TIME TONIGHT, THURSDAY 1 NOVEMBER]

"I was watching like, 'Watership Down is fantastic', and I looked at him and he was crying. I was like, 'You alright mate?' And he was like, 'I want to go home!'

"I loved the original movie," he added.

And as for Nicholas Hoult, he revealed that watching the film definitely left an impression on him after he watched it (probably) too young.

"I had like flashing images of [the film] imprinted," he said. "I watched it very young, I watched things with my older brother, so I watched them when I was way too young to be watching them, so it had definitely imprinted on my mind."

During the chat, James McAvoy also revealed that he was wearing a Watership Down t-shirt when he was offered the part, so you know he's a huge fan of the work. In fact, he was even wearing that t-shirt at the press screening too.

James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult are posing for a picture: James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult at Watership Down screening © Mike Marsland/WireImage - Getty Images James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult at Watership Down screening

"I was actually – when I got the email from Rory [Aitken, executive producer] saying, 'How do you feel about doing this?' – I was actually wearing my Watership Down t-shirt at the time," he said.

"I took a selfie of myself and I was like, 'Check it out man, this is crazy!'"

Watership Down will air on BBC One this Christmas.

Related: Digital Spy's 25 best TV shows of 2018 [Digital Spy UK]


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