Michael Raymond-James brought to life one of the biggest moments in the lead up to the American Revolution on Monday night's "Sons of Liberty."
As Paul Revere in the History mini-series, the actor recreated the Midnight Ride. But, Michael told Access Hollywood the real pressure related to recreating the famed historical event (where Revere rode to Lexington, Mass., to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming to arrest them) had to do with mastering his horse.
"You don't sort of focus on the enormity of it. It's just, 'This is the scene we're doing today. This is the portion of the story that we're telling today,' and it just has to be as real and as honest as the other ones. If there's any more pressure, it's having to ride a horse at a full gallop and hit a mark and also not run over any of the Romanian extras while you're on this horse, you know what I mean? So, those are the sort of pressures I was more concerned with… not hurting anyone, including myself or the horse or any of those things," Michael said. "I mean, I'm from Detroit, so I didn't have a ton of experience on horses before this, but I went to Romania a month before everyone else to do a lot of horse training and stunt work stuff, which was so huge just to be able to give me the confidence that it looks like I know what I'm doing, even when I might be a little bit unnerved."
During that month prep work, and while filming, Michael said he grew so comfortable working with his four legged friends that he looked for more horse action.
"We had an incredible, incredible stunt team and horse wranglers that were so crucial in teaching me, so I put my confidence and my trust in them," he told Access. "To be honest, aside from the galloping in a crowd and hitting a mark and things like that, I actually felt really comfortable on the horse and was sort of pushing for more horse scenes because I enjoyed it."
Beyond the physical training, Michael is clearly well versed in Revere, whose own letters helped inspire the Boston-flavored accent the actor used in "Sons of Liberty."
"Paul Revere wasn't [educated] in the way that Sam Adams and John Hancock and John Adams were. Those guys all went to Harvard and Paul Revere was more of a street guy, so when he would write letters, he was very well spoken, but he would spell words phonetically," Michael said.
"And so there's very real evidence, that he had this – what we would consider today, a thick, townie, Boston accent," he added.
One of the lighter moments in Monday's second installment in the three part mini-series showed Michael, as Revere, having a little fun at the Boston Tea Party. As Ben Barnes' Samuel Adams stood on the ship's bow, silently challenging the Redcoats to take action, Michael – as Revere -- was first to dump those British tea crates into the harbor.
"He had a little bit of swag, I guess is what we would say today, you know? He was an in your face operator who constantly had his hands in everything," Michael said. "One of the things that I found interesting about Revere was that he was such a huge joiner. He was a member of all these different groups and he saw himself as both an artisan and a gentleman at the same time, which was a new idea about class at that time. He was a member of groups that were strictly upper class gentlemen types, but he also learned to speak some Irish -- the Gaelic – and was able to commiserate and hang and be comfortable in the circles of lower classes of Boston at that time, so he ran in so many different circles. He was able to really kind of be the connective tissue between so many different groups of people and that's what allowed him to operate as really like an intelligence operative."
The mini-series, has also exemplified Revere's bravery. At the conclusion of Part 2, Revere encouraged Sam Adams and John Hancock to flee Lexington, before he put himself on the line as a diversion.
"Sam Adams was an incredible politician; he was an incredible writer and a natural leader. He was galvanizing support for years with the articles he would print in newspapers and the speeches that he would give. He was a natural born leader. He was such an important linchpin for the entire thing that in those moments, the fear was if they cut off the head of the snake, the rest of the body dies and so, protecting Sam was critical and if something happened to him, if he became a martyr of sorts, then that propaganda would only be able to go so far before the loss of his voice would've proved deadly to the mission," Michael said of why Revere was willing to put his life on the line for Adams. "So, protecting him and protecting his voice and the fact that he was just such an important linchpin -- so many people were just enchanted with this man and his words, and his honestly, his -- how [do I] say this? The guy had huge balls, you know what I mean, to be able to say the things that he would say at that time. And we tried to capture a little bit of that. … His bravery, his courage -- those are kind of things that would've been irreplaceable to the cause. … Protecting Sam Adams was protecting the cause."
As "Sons of Liberty" has rolled out on History, it's brought a freshness to the tale, a mixture of history and historical fiction. The cast – Michael, Ben, Rafe Spall (John Hancock), Henry Thomas (John Adams), Ryan Eggold (Dr. Joseph Warren) – have a lot of chemistry, something that likely was helped by the time the men spent together bonding while shooting in Romania.
"We were out there for so long that there were plenty of weekends, there were plenty of days where they were shooting stuff that didn't involve us and so… there were certainly many a trip to a tavern for a cheeky pint or two," Michael said. "There were races at the go-kart track. … There was a go-kart track at this mall in Bucharest that we would go to. We went a couple times. I've been kicked off the track for good for crashing the go-kart twice, but I was winning, so at least I have that."
"I got my go-kart airborne once. It was a blast," he added. "Just a lot of a great memories. That summer in Bucharest will always be sort of special to me."
The final installment of "Sons of Liberty" kicks off on Tuesday night at 9/8c on History.
-- Jolie Lash