It’s a bone-chillingly cold day on the set of A Robber’s Tale, but it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when crew members are tasked with clearing the location, a farm on the outskirts of Leeds, of fallen snow.
This is, after all, supposed to be a summer’s day with scenes showing the immediate aftermath of the biggest robbery in the country’s history - the Great Train Robbery, which took place in the early hours of August 8, 1963.
“Apparently, it was the coldest August here in history, so we’re not detracting too far from 1963,” says Luke Evans, who plays chief protagonist Bruce Reynolds.
Despite his unremarkable outfit, a blue boiler suit, the Hollywood actor rolls up to the dilapidated farmhouse looking debonair, his dark hair combed in period style.
Evans’s co-stars, Martin Compston and Paul Anderson, have even called him a Cary Grant lookalike.
“That’s not bad,” says the 34-year old Welshman, laughing cheekily. “You know, I’m often described as looking like old Hollywood stars.”
His demeanour suits his character, given that Bruce Reynolds was regarded as a charismatic figure.
“He was a super-sharp dresser and had his own tailors. Even when everybody else was slovenly dressed, he always had his tie perfectly positioned. He was the whole package,” the actor notes.
The film begins with a previous robbery at Heathrow Airport in November 1962, and then shows how Reynolds assembled and led the gang that targeted the August Bank Holiday mail train from Glasgow, running off with £2.6million (the equivalent of over £40million today).
“It wasn’t supposed to be that amount of money and, while all the other boys were excited about it, Bruce was thinking, ‘Well this is all well and good, but how are we going to get the money back to London and get it clean?’ He was always one step ahead of the rest of the team.”
The drama also details the fall-out from the coshing of the train driver, Jack Mills, and why, within days of the robbery, the gang’s safe house had to be evacuated and all those involved were forced to go on the run.