A young reporter is visited by her ex-bosses who know she's been working undercover to blow the whistle on their corrupt organisation. 50 strokes of the tawse should ensure her silence.
We were coming up to the end of Alex's shoot with us, and we wanted to make it a big deal. I'd talked to her earlier in the week about scene ideas and proposed ending on a nastier, edgier scene than we'd done previously, with Tom and I playing the bullies who gang up on and intimidate her. Everyone in the UK was talking about Murdoch's phone hacking scandal at the time, and so a whistle-blowing scenario seemed like a good place to start.
"I'm not sure," said Alex, "I don't generally enjoy playing scenarios where my character is defeated or silenced."
"Okay, that makes sense. But would you feel the same way if your character won in the end? Not just morally, I mean, but in terms of actually getting the better of the bad guys?"
"Hrm," she said. "Let me think about that."
So she did, and we talked some more, and on the day, she said she was good to go ahead. We were all nervous going into it, and the dialogue proved tricky for all of us (look out for the forthcoming behind the scenes video to watch all our many, many flubs). While we were cut between takes of the opening conversation, Alex asked, "When you get started, are you guys going to use physical force? Because that would be hot."
Yes. Yes we were.
The resulting scene turned out far more intense than I had anticipated. Tom's and my characters are just relentlessly nasty, in a horribly smug, self-satisfied way. We hadn't planned a total number of strokes, and I was shocked when I came to count them and realised that Alex had taken a brutal 50 strokes with my two most severe leather tawses. No wonder she was shedding real tears by the end.
Alex Reynolds is an incredible talent, and her courage and conviction make her a perfect match for the role of the idealistic, determined whistleblower. This is one of my more edgy films to date, and I only cast performers I trust completely in this sort of scenario. Alex played it with a combination of sympathetic vulnerability and inner strength that blew me away.
Photography: Nimue Allen