1917 actor George MacKay jumped on the Succession train and now he’s obsessed

George MacKay Munich - The Edge of War Netflix

In Munich – The Edge of War, George MacKay plays Hugh Legat, a British civil servant who becomes a reluctant spy in an attempt to prevent Hitler from going to war.

Frederic Batier / Netflix

This story is part of I’m So Obsessed (subscribe here), our podcast featuring interviews with actors, artists, celebrities and creative types about their work, career and current obsessions.

There are an incredible number of World War II movies that try to capture the heroism, tragedy and inhumanity of what happened. The new Netflix film Munich – The Edge of War has a slightly different take and shows the events leading up to the war. The story is told in a classic thriller format but with espionage welcomingly colored in practical realism instead of clever James Bond or Jason Bourne set pieces. Munich – The Edge of War is a reminder of how easily a dictator can amass power and influence over a nation. 

Based on the book Munich by Robert Harris, the film takes place in 1938. Europe is on the brink of war. Adolf Hitler prepares to invade Czechoslovakia, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain chases after a peaceful solution.

Hugh Legat, a private secretary to Chamberlain, has to meet with his old friend and former classmate Paul von Hartmann, who now works for the German government. The two become reluctant spies trying to expose a Nazi secret that could avert war.

George MacKay, who you might know best from such films as 1917, Captain Fantastic and Defiance, plays Legat. On CNET’s I’m So Obsessed podcast, he explains how Legat and von Hartmann weren’t based on actual people. He described the two characters as diplomatic pioneers akin to legendary duos like John Lennon and Paul McCartney or Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Their goal is to minimize Hitler’s power.

“My character wants to do it via a peace process and support Chamberlain. And Paul wants to do it because he doesn’t trust Hitler to keep to his word, and so he’s trying to depose him,” said MacKay.

The film features Jeremy Irons in a brilliant turn as Neville Chamberlain. MacKay shared what it was like witnessing Irons’  performance.

“He does that amazing thing of being so specific with his portrayal of Chamberlain,” said MacKay. “Working with Jeremy, you learn it’s all about specificity. He’s a real stickler for detail. There was this beautiful flow when we got into a rhythm with each other. And that sort of enjoyment came out of playing back and forth.”

During our interview, MacKay shared how his life morphed after being in 1917, especially after the film won three Academy Awards. He also discussed the important role his parents, who were designers in the theater, played in his life and how he is obsessed with the show Succession.

“I just think it [Succession] is kind of genius,” said MacKay. “Some of these characters are so abhorrent, and you’re so drawn in by them. It’s kind of genius of how that happens.”

You can watch Munich – The Edge of War on Netflix starting Jan. 21. Listen to my full interview with MacKay in the podcast player at the top of this article. Subscribe to I’m So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Connie Guglielmo or I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about their work, career and current obsessions.

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