Sons of Liberty humanizes legendary historical figures

Ben Barnes speaks to Imagine TV Network about his role as Samuel Adams in the miniseries Sons of Liberty and how his on-screen cousin John Adams is different from him.

Words by Imagine TV Network

A three-episode television drama that explores the rise of five young men who later changed the course of history, Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) tells Imagine TV Network that his portrayal of Samuel Adams was based on an inscription he saw in Boston. "I tried my best to have scenes that showed that he was absolutely incorruptible... not to be bought and not afraid of anything."

Image credit: HISTORY

Though he found the script exciting, he admits that he did not know much details about the real-life figure he was going to play but recalls the moment he saw the statue of Samuel Adams erected in the town square.

"Beside the statue it says 'Samuel Adams, a statesmen incorruptible and fearless,' and I thought that was a very exciting jumping off point for this character," he remarks. Even though there had been other retelling of America's War of Independence, he says that the miniseries focuses on the build-up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Image credit: HISTORY

He shares that it began from "a rebellion in the shadows," adding that it shows how the revolution "bubbled up from nothing" and how the rules and laws put in place by Britain led to widespread dissatisfaction. It was doubly exciting, he says, to know that the elements of romance and spy intrigue that was present in the television drama were also documented historical events. "I think it took this handful of people to persuade everybody that they were being mistreated and something [had] to be done about it."

Playing the role of a charismatic leader with a penchant for mischief, Barnes' Samuel Adams is joined by four other young men -- John Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock and Dr. Joseph Warren. These five men, who started out with harmless testing of authority, would later lead an underground protest movement and became guerrilla warriors.

Played by Henry Thomas (Betrayal, Big Sur), John Adams is Samuel Adam's cousin. "[He] is a much more litigious character, more academic and intellectual and trying to find the legal solution to all the problems," Barnes say of Thomas' character. Rather than spilling blood, he says John prefers to fight in the courtroom and concurs his on-screen cousin is more politically-savvy and able to manipulate both the people and the government.

Knowing that some of the most famous people from history were alive at the same time and working towards the same goal was an incredible thought, he says. "You've got George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Adams, John Adams, John Hancock and Paul Revere... in the same room at the same time."

Image credit: HISTORY

Barnes shares that his favorite scenes were with Rafe Spall, who plays John Hancock, because their characters were very different and they took different approach to achieving their goals. "They saw the world from such different perspectives... when they first met," he says, and adds that even though they saw things in black and white, they managed to find middle ground.

Sons of Liberty premieres on HISTORY (StarHub TV Channel 401) at 9pm on 25 May 2015 and the last episode airs on 27 May 2015.



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