Kelly Macdonald on the ‘unbelievable’ true story behind new film Operation Mincemeat

Virgin Radio

11 Apr 2022, 11:44

Stephen Mulhern and Kelly Macdonald at Virgin Radio

Stephen Mulhern and Kelly Macdonald at Virgin Radio

Actor Kelly Macdonald joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about starring alongside Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen in Operation Mincemeat. She also spoke about how she landed her first role in Trainspotting, and why she didn’t watch Line of Duty.

British WWII film Operation Mincemeat lands in cinemas this Friday (15th April). It is based on the remarkable true story of how intelligence officers plotted to break Hitler’s deadly grip on Europe by passing off a dead homeless man as a British officer who was travelling with secret documents when his plane crashed.

Kelly told Stephen Mulhern, who is in this week for Chris: “It’s one of these things that you can’t believe, you know? If it was an original screenplay, you would think, ‘Well, this is ridiculous stuff,’ but it actually happened in 1943, this World War II story of deception.” 

Of the “unbelievable story”, she added: “It’s about one of the ways we won the war. Basically, I keep thinking about it as kind of like a writer's room. MI5 got together and they were thinking of ideas to try and trick Hitler, because the Nazis believed that the Allies were going to invade Sicilly, which they in fact did do, but the Brits wanted them to think that we were actually invading some other territory.” 

Kelly plays Jean Leslie, a smart, resourceful MI5 secretary who worked closely with intelligence officers alongside Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen). She said: “A lot of women were given more roles than they had before the war, because all the men were off fighting, and so women became an integral part of lots of different industries.  And so Jean befcome part of this team that are creating this fiction to sell to the Nazis.

“She was a real secretary but she’s sort of an amalgamation of the women around the office.”

With the film set to hit cinema screens later this week, Kelly told Stephen: “I’m really proud to be part of it. I love an ensemble film, and it’s just a great ensemble. And John Madden directed it, who’s just amazing. He’s an icon.”

Last year, the Gosford Park and Boardwalk Empire star played DCI Joanne Davidson in the sixth series of Line of Duty. The finale had the largest television audience for a drama in Britain since modern records began almost 20 years ago (16 million viewers), but Kelly didn’t watch it! She told Stephen: “It was too many people. I couldn’t cope. I almost had a nervous breakdown. I was a mess. It was too much!”

The award-winning actor’s first job in the industry was famously in the iconic 1996 movie Trainspotting. She told Stephen that she landed the role having never been to drama school. “Trainspotting was my first audition and my first job,” she said. “It was an open casting call for the part of Diane, so I went along to that, thinking about drama school because I had an interest.” 

She added: “It wasn’t just I walked in off the street, going ‘What’s all this then?’”

During Kelly’s visit to Virgin Radio, she told Stephen that one of her sons is into magic, which prompted Stephen to do a magic trick for the star actor. You can watch it below:

Operation Mincemeat is in cinemas this Friday 15th April.

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or  catch up on-demand here.