As an internationally sought-after actor, Britain’s Stefan Boehm is a storyteller. With every project he takes on, he aims to engage and entertain audiences while portraying an authentic and believable performance. Every nuance of his character is rooted in the story, and that dedication directly translates to his acclaimed work on hit films like Override and Dead Ringer and popular television shows such as Lucky Man and Line of Duty, to name a few
There is no denying that Stefan has an impressive resume, and his work on the 2020 Netflix series The Liberator was a true highlight for this illustrious actor. The Liberator is a Netflix Original, true story war drama covering one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. On July 10, 1943, a unit from Oklahoma composed of Native Americans, Mexican Americans and Dust Bowl cowboys, most of whom couldn’t drink together in the same bars back home, landed in Sicily and endured a brutal 500-day trek through Nazi-occupied Europe. The Liberator is based on the true story of those men, a group of soldiers known as the Thunderbirds. Its stars include Michael Landes (Cruel Summer, Final Destination 2), Bradley James (Merlin, Underworld: Blood Wars) and Martin Sensmeier (The Magnificent Seven, Westworld) and was written by Jeb Stuart (The Fugitive, Die Hard).
“I love stories that are or feel true and The Liberator was based on real events and an actual US army regiment in WWII who went on to be one of the most decorated in the military. This is the type of story that is not often told and it’s important to shine a light on their heroism. A lot of the skill required in telling true stories is tasked to the writer because you also need to entertain and engage an audience for many hours whilst staying in line with what actually happened and respecting the people involved,” says Stefan.
In the series, Stefan plays the pivotal character of Major Mueller, a sympathetic and intelligent German who masterminds a cease fire to halt further bloodshed. For Stefan, playing an “enemy” that was actually an understanding man who happened to be on the wrong side of the war due to his heritage was instantly intriguing. It also required a very nuanced and subtle style of acting, and Stefan was up for the challenge. He wanted to have the audience feel for his character, despite being on the enemy side, bringing a softer side to Mueller. This can often be challenging, especially having to portray the authenticity of war in front of a green screen, but Stefan truly captures the heart of Mueller.
“I think the key aspect with these stories where there is obvious ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is to remember that everyone is human and each one of these soldiers has a family, loved ones and their own fears and emotions,” says Stefan.
The biggest challenge when filming was having to portray a German character. Stefan worked tirelessly to get the accent right, and even learned his lines in German. It was a large amount of work with a tremendous amount of studying involved, but in the end it paid off.
“The fact that it was based on a true story also added extra resonance to the production as all the actors were aware that they had to do a service to the real soldiers who fought and died in those battles and to tell the story in a respectful way. There was also a high level of camaraderie on this shoot as you might expect with a war story, as there were literally battalions of American and German soldiers,” Stefan describes.
The Liberator premiered on Netflix in November 2020 where it marched into the top 10 shows within a week, and top 5 in the United Kingdom. On top of this, it took home The Brando Award Winner at The Red Nation Film Festival 2020. The success is humbling for Stefan, who really just wanted to do his best to honor the soldiers he and the rest of the cast were portraying.
“I think for a lot of actors, writers, directors and producers, one of the main priorities is that the work gets seen by an audience, and with a Netflix Original you know you are going to get a global audience and one that you could probably never reach with a traditional region by region Theatrical Release roll out strategy. So much hard work, resources and a huge team goes into making a feature film or series that it makes it all worthwhile when the project finds an audience. I am very proud to be a part of The Liberator,” he said.
Stefan is going onto develop further projects with Director Grzegorz Jonkajtys, who directed four episodes of The Liberator. Be sure to keep an eye out for what’s to come.
Photo by Earl Wan