When you head to the theater to see The King’s Man, there is one character you’ll be dying to talk about: Rhys Ifans’ Rasputin. Beyond that, his “confrontation” with Ralph Fiennes’ Duke of Oxford is the scene that will be living rent-free in your head for days to come.
Writer and director Matthew Vaughn was eager to include the character in this prequel film. “I’d always been obsessed with Rasputin, for all the wrong reasons.”
While the cast included some action veterans, the genre was new to Ifans. “Unlike Djimon [Hounsou], I was, shall we say, an action virgin…” This led to regular gym visits to prepare for the role. “We had to get to a level of fitness, not just strength, but just stamina, to basically complete a working day.”
Ifans reports that the scene with the Duke and Rasputin took over two weeks to complete. “Matthew, in yet another light bulb genius moment of his came up with quite possibly one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard. He came into the stunt room one day and went, ‘Russian dancing, martial arts…mix ’em up.”
That collaboration between Vaughn and the stunt team resulted in a choreography for Rasputin that had a “looming, hypnotic presence,” according to Ifans, that resulted in “the sense that he would dance his adversaries to death, that everyone Rasputin kills has a drunken smile on their face having been spun around the room, and then killed almost in rapture.”
Rasputin devouring a Bakewell tart would seem far less taxing than the dance-fighting choreography he had to complete, but according to Ifans, he was feeling ill effects from that as well. “After the sixth Bakewell tart, I was looking for the HR woman,” he laughed. “I felt like a foie gras goose that day.”
Music helped to create another layer of madness in the scenes with Rasputin. “It’s not just 1812 [Overature], it’s got a little bit of Swan Lake, and a dabble of The Nutcracker is in it as well,” says Vaughn. “It was sort of like a mash-up of Tchaikovsky. It was gonna be that, or Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’.” Strangely, when you see the scenes in question, including Boney M feels like it might have worked just as well.
You can catch Infan’s Rasputin in The King’s Man, which is in theaters now.
About The King’s Man
As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, one man must race against time to stop them. Discover the origins of the very first independent intelligence agency in The King’s Man.