Churchill: Jonathan Teplitzky’s Drama of Iconic UK Leader, Starring Brian Cox

The wartime drama Churchill presents a challenging and intimate portrait of the UK’s iconic statesman Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the days before World War II’s D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.

Even as nearly one million Allied soldiers are secretly assembled on the south coast of Britain, poised to invade Nazi-occupied Europe, Winston Churchill is fearful of repeating his mistakes from World War I. He is faced with criticism from his Allied political opponents and only the support of Churchill’s brilliant, dedicated wife Clementine can halt his physical, mental and spiritual collapse and inspire him to greatness.

With the depiction of this untold story of Winston Churchill’s political and personal conflict in the week leading up to D-Day, Churchill accomplishes its goal of showing him in a new, triumphant light.

The film is directed by Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man, Marcella) from an original screenplay by British historian Alex von Tunzelmann (Medici: Masters of Florence) in her feature debut.

The film is produced by Nick Taussig and Paul Van Carter of Salon Pictures (Guv’nor, My Name is Lenny), along with Piers Tempest of Tempo Productions (The Journey, The Wife) and Claudia Bluemhuber of Silver Reel (Under the Skin, A Hologram for the King).

The cast of Churchill is led by Brian Cox (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Coriolanus) as the legendary Winston Churchill, Miranda Richardson (the Harry Potter franchise, The Crying Game) as the Prime Minister’s wife and confidant Clementine, John Slattery (Spotlight, TV’s Mad Men) as General Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied D-Day operations, and Julian Wadham (The Iron Lady, The English Patient) as British military commander Field Marshal Montgomery.


Behind the iconic figure and rousing speeches that people immediately identify with Winston Churchill, stood another man. That second Churchill was a man who, over the course of his life and career, was respected as an officer in the British army and then as one of his country’s great statesman, but one who also had to face military failure and political ridicule. The dichotomy of Winston Churchill was that, for all his famously measured caution, cogency and diplomatic savvy, he also displayed an impulsive and bullying personality. Indeed, he could be fearful, obsessive and subject to bouts of depression.Churchill explores this lesser-known side of the great Prime Minster–a man who remained utterly focused on his duty while coping with extreme doubt and severe depressive episodes-at a moment when the fate of the world depended on him. It offers the heretofore untold story of Churchill’s personal struggle with his own demons and fears on the eve of D-Day, a pivotal Allied campaign he initially opposed that would prove to be the turning point of World War II.

In revealing the full measure of the man and his depths, Churchill also offers one of the screen’s richest studies of Churchill’s wife Clementine, who had wed Sir Winston in 1908 and was married to him until his death in 1965. A lively woman of beauty and distinction, intelligence and character, “Clemmie” is here presented to be the strongest member of the Churchill household (during the week leading up to D-Day, at least). While the domineering Churchill is seen to be a handful to cope with, particularly with when his bouts of depression are accentuated by his penchant for drinking, Clementine proves to be proud and unflinching in her support of the herculean tasks her husband sets out to accomplish.

With the production of Churchill, journeyman Brian Cox, who over the course of his career has portrayed such notable evil men as Hermann Goering and Joseph Stalin (as well as the fictional Hannibal Lecter), takes on the role of one of the 20th Century’s true heroes. In portraying Winston Churchill, the award-winning performer and Royal Shakespeare Company associate artist joins the long list of actors who have played Britain’s most celebrated leader, including Albert Finney, Brendan Gleeson, Rod Taylor, Timothy Spall, Richard Burton (twice), John Lithgow, Michael Gambon and even Christian Slater. For his work on the film, Cox gained some 20 pounds, shaved his head, practiced Churchill’s distinctive jutting lower lip and got down to business while wrapping his lips around a number of Cuban cigars and sporting a slightly weathered Homburg hat, two of the late PM’s trademarks.

Though the story of Churchill is set in Southern England near the coast of the English Channel, the production was shot in Scotland and based at Castlebrae in Edinburgh. Principal photography commenced in mid-May, 2016, and continued for five weeks at a number of Scottish locations, including Glasgow City Chambers, the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Newhailes estate and Calton Hill in Edinburgh and Yellowcraig Beach in East Lothian. The production’s build and green-screen stages were located at Livingston, in between Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Scottish locations proved to be perfect stand-ins for such real-life locales as Chequers, the Prime Minister’s official country residence in Buckinghamshire, and Fort Henry, the wartime bunker in Dorset on the English Channel coast where Churchill, Eisenhower, Montgomery and King George VI observed troops as they prepared for the D-Day landings.

Director Teplitzky was no stranger to the area having filmed The Railway Man starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman in Edinburgh and East Lothian back in 2012. Churchill marks his return to feature films after working on the popular television series Indian Summers and Marcella.


In June, 1944, the Allied Forces stand on the brink of the greatest invasion of history: D-Day and the landing on the beaches of Normandy, France—the first step in the campaign to free Europe from the tyranny of Nazi Germany.

But even as close to one million Allied soldiers are secretly assembled on the south coast of England preparing to invade Nazi-occupied Europe, Great Britain’s iconic Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Brian Cox) struggles with the decision to embark on the operation. Fearful of repeating, on his disastrous command, the mass slaughter of more than 500,000 soldiers during World War I’s Battle of Gallipoli in 1915, he is terrified that if the D-Day landings fail, he will be remembered as the architect of the war’s greatest carnage.

As D-Day approaches, Churchill—exhausted by years of war, plagued by depression and obsessed with fulfilling historical greatness—finds himself at odds with his fellow Allied military leaders-turned-political opponents: U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower (John Slattery) and British Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery (Julian Wadham). Meeting with Churchill in the days preceding the planned invasion, the two grow increasingly frustrated by the fearful and fatigued Churchill’s reluctance to invade and attempts to stop the operation. It is only with the intervention of King George VI that Churchill agrees to move forward with the invasion, with the two discussing the possibility of observing the D-Day landings aboard an operational cruiser.

It is Churchill’s brilliant and unflappable wife Clementine Churchill (Miranda Richardson) who keeps him strong during those dark and possibly dire days. By injecting into her husband ever more confidence, courage and conviction—and acting as both an emotional blanket and a personal sounding board—“Clemmie” halts the exceedingly unwell Winston’s physical and mental collapse, inspiring him to become a true hero of his age and Britain’s most celebrated leader.