Colin Firth plays Greenfields Board member in submarine thriller

Colin Firth plays Greenfields Board member in submarine thriller
4th July 2019 James Calnan
Board member David Russell on set with Colin Firth

Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth plays a Greenfields board member in a new thriller charting the doomed attempt to rescue the crew of a Russian submarine.

KURSK – the last mission, released on 12 July, tells the true story of the attempt to rescue the crew of a Russian submarine, which sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea 19 years ago.

David Russell, who joined Greenfields Community Housing’s Board in September 2018 and sits on our Audit Committee and Governance & Remuneration Committee, previously served in the Royal Navy and was the first UK Trident submarine Commanding Officer.

As Deputy Flag Officer Submarines, he was responsible for leading the UK effort to rescue the submariners. His key role in this tragic incident which attracted global interest, is depicted in the film by Firth, perhaps best known as Mr Darcy in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones film trilogy and King George VI in The King’s Speech.

Danish Director Thomas Vinterberg adapted Robert Moore’s bestseller ‘A Time to Die’ to tell the tragic story which resulted in the loss of 118 men.

The film focuses around a fictional character on board the submarine, his desperate wife and the families of the crew, and the frustrated attempts of the Royal Navy (led by David), and other nations to help the Russians.

Sadly, it was only a week after the incident that the offer of help was finally accepted but by then it was too late. It became clear the submarine was completely flooded and the men who had survived the initial explosions were no longer alive.

David, who is Chief Executive of the Harpur Trust in Bedford, was involved in the production of the film from the outset, meeting up with Colin Firth on a number of occasions to help him prepare for the role and during the filming.

He said “My role was really to advise on the script and set and ensure that the technical language and the practicalities of life in a submarine were as realistic as possible.

“It was a fascinating experience to see how a movie is put together and how the work of actors, camera men, make-up artists, lighting and sound engineers and everyone else involved are brought together by the director.

“The movie is not a documentary, but it does stick to the broad messages in the book and it is a moving portrayal of a very sad event, which has resonances for today.”

The film has attracted significant media interest and David has already been interviewed by journalists in Lisbon where he attended the premiere, as well as French television and the Times, Telegraph, Daily Mirror and Daily Record here in the UK.

He said: “The movie obviously brought back memories of the event itself. We were determined to do our best to offer help and bring the resources Royal Navy to try and save the Russian crew.

“As submariners ourselves, we knew the dangers they faced and the understood the feelings of anguish of their families. I cannot be certain we could have rescued the trapped men, but we were desperate to try and it was extremely frustrating that political considerations prevented the Russians accepting our help. Perhaps that is the real tragedy of this story.”