STEVEN Cree can smile now about his sliding doors moment, a point in his life in which his acting career appeared to be sailing inexorably towards oblivion.
At 36, the Kilmarnock-born actor has a list of career credits that’s longer than election promises. Cree has a pivotal role in this summer’s Churchill biopic and a CV that includes film roles in the likes of 300: Rise Of An Empire and Maleficent, and a decade of high-profile TV parts in dramas from Lip Service to Shetland, from Outlander to Vera and Silent Witness. Yet as we will discover, he almost blew the chance to make his mark in the business before it all really began for him.
But first up, Cree talks about Churchill, a Jonathan Teplitzky-directed historical drama set during the 24 hours before D-Day: the Normandy landings which took place on June 6, 1944.
With Brian Cox in the lead role as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Cree plays Captain James Stagg, the meteorologist who predicted the crucial time for the D-Day landings. “I had no idea of the impact Stagg, who grew up in Dalkeith, had,” says the actor, “but when I read about him I was fascinated and really excited. Stagg, who was awarded an OBE, was in contact with Eisenhower [the future president who was then supreme commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces] and advised when the weather would break and when to launch. This was a huge part of the landings.”
Cree loved his time on set and on location in Scotland, and working alongside fellow Scot Brian Cox, who looks to be entirely convincing in the film. Cree too looks remarkably like his 1940s character.