Cary Elwes Reveals His Family Connection to “Ungentlemanly Warfare”: 'This Is a Deeply Personal Project' (Exclusive)

Elwes' grandfather worked for the man he portrays in the film during World War II

<p>Doug Peters/Variety via Getty</p> Cary Elwes at the photo call for

Doug Peters/Variety via Getty

Cary Elwes at the photo call for 'The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare'

Cary Elwes has a surprisingly personal connection to his latest film, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.

In an exclusive joint interview with his costars Babs Olusanmokun and Eiza González, the Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning star, 61, revealed why he was the perfect choice to play Brigadier "M" Gubbins, the man personally chosen by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to run the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in Guy Ritchie's action-packed World War II thriller.

"My grandfather was actually recruited by the character I play in the film," Elwes says. "He was dropped into Albania in 1943 to create a partisan brigade to fight the Italians and the Germans."

The Princess Bride actor grew up hearing stories about serving in the war undercover from his grandfather, Neil “Billy” McLean.

<p>Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty</p> Cary Elwes

Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty

Cary Elwes

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"He would regale me with stories when I was a kid, and he was my real-life hero. So, this is a deeply personal project for me," adds Elwes.

Elwes was wrapping up filming 2023's Operation Fortune with Ritchie, 55, in Turkey and asked about the director's next film. The Sherlock Holmes director began telling Elwes about The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare and the SOE.

"I said, 'Just a little, small pointer, My grandfather was in SOE.' And he goes, 'What?' Right then and there, I said, 'I got to be in the movie.'"

<p>Lionsgate</p> Elwes as M in 'The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare'


Elwes as M in 'The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare'

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In Elwes' mind, his participation was mandatory.

"I said, 'I got to do it.' And that was that," he adds, joking that the serendipitous situation "puts the
'dink' in coinkydink."

In the film, Elwes' character M selects Henry Cavill's Gus March-Phillips to run what's called Operation Postmaster, the mission at the center of the film in which a small group of specially trained soldiers took on German forces. The film is based on a true event from recently declassified files of the British War Department. It's adapted from the book The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: How Churchill’s Secret Warriors Set Europe Ablaze and Gave Birth to Modern Black Ops by Damien Lewis.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare in theaters April 19.

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