Hurtwood would have been delighted to have had one ex-student starring alongside Austin Butler, Barry Keoghan, and Ncuti Gatwa in the new Hanks and Spielberg’s 9 part war saga ‘Masters of the Air’, premiering today on Apple TV+. To have two Hurtwood alumni in this epic production seems greedy, but we are delighted that both Ben Radcliffe and Theo Bhat star in this sister to 2001’s ‘Band of Brothers’ and 2010’s ‘Pacific’.
'Masters of the Air’ tells the story of the American 100th Bomb Group as they take to the skies on their campaign to free Europe from Nazi occupation. Quite simply, productions rarely get bigger than this. According to the Financial Times ‘Behind the cameras, feted directors such as Cary Joji Fukunaga and Dee Rees make the most of a budget comparable to that of a small nation’s defence expenditure (reports suggest a total budget of $250 million).’ The series is tipped by many critics to be the one to watch this January with The Guardian proclaiming ‘Masters of the Air’ to be ‘2024’s first series that you rewatch entirely before the year even ends’ and The Times making the series its ‘Pick of the Week’.
Ben is overjoyed to be acting alongside so many top names in the industry, stating “On Masters, I’m around Austin Butler, Callum Turner, Barry Keoghan, and you’re constantly watching these guys and trying to read their habits and techniques. Acting, to me, is basically a form of confidence, and after nine months on the set with them, that was the best I’d felt about my acting.” (The Gentleman’s Journal).
It would be understandable if this Hollywood whirlwind made it difficult for these young actors to keep their feet on the ground, but they have not forgotten to give credit to their alma mater which was the vital catalyst in launching their careers. Ben stated “Hurtwood House played an immense role in my career. I took part in all of the school shows. The most notable was the Christmas musical where I played Kenickie in Grease. This was not only one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life, but it gave me the opportunity to perform in front of talent agents, leading to a meeting with Waring and McKenna agency who I have now been signed to for many years”. Similarly speaking to Theo this week he was proud to proclaim “Hurtwood played a vital role in opening the doors of creativity for me. Had I not pushed myself out of my comfort zone with the support of my Drama teachers at Hurtwood, I am not sure I would believe in myself today.” He added “Being in the Hurtwood Film Academy gave me a good understanding of what it was like being behind the camera which also helped me to develop my acting skills”.
It seems like yesterday that Ben and Theo walked through the doors of Hurtwood for the first time and we are so proud of what they have achieved. To quote Doug Quinn, Head of Performing Arts at Hurtwood: “Ben and Theo were the ultimate Hurtwood boys. Generous of spirit, talented and hard working. The triple threat! It is no wonder that they have both gone on to such creative and fulfilling success”. While Ben and Theo are bound for superstardom, meanwhile at Hurtwood Doug and his dedicated team are busy training up the next generation of actors who might well find themselves acting alongside them or even our Oscar nominated Emily Blunt one day soon. Watch this space!