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The Surprising Military Connection That Helped Prep Tom Hopper For SAS: Red Notice - Exclusive

Tom Hopper has a lengthy acting résumé featuring a couple of standout roles — most notably Luther Hargreeves on The Umbrella Academy and Dickon Tarly on Game of Thrones – that made him a shoo-in for a high-action flick like the recently released SAS: Red Notice.

Directed by Magnus Martens, SAS: Red Notice is a gripping action thriller full of characters with intriguing psychological profiles. Hopper stars as Declan Smith, a special forces operator in the British Army, alongside Sam Heughan, who plays Tom Buckingham. The two might be on the same team, but their motivations are different. Buckingham is clearly on the side of the law, while Smith is driven by opportunity, putting his loyalty to both friends and colleagues in question.

While Hopper may not have been a serviceman himself, he's always had a solid curiosity about that life. That intrigue began at home, as Hopper's father was a military man.

How Tom Hopper's dad helped him play Declan Smith

"My dad was in the force. He's always been into military books. I have read some of the ones that he'd recommended to me," Hopper explained to Looper in a recent exclusive interview.

Hopper came to the movie with the knowledge he obtained from his father — and then found another person to provide valuable, experience-based information in Andy McNab, a former special forces operative who penned the book Red Notice, from which the movie is derived. 

"I'd heard about him growing up, and I'd read a lot of his books. For me, it was amazing meeting him. I got to ask Andy all these questions that have been on my mind for years and get a proper insight into what it's like inside the special forces, as well as the politics involved and how certain guys in the regiment are looking to get out and into the private sector because there's more money in that," Hopper said.

Getting these firsthand accounts gave Hopper a lens through which he could look at Declan, gaining vital intel on the character's thoughts and actions. "There is actually some corruption on the inside of it [the special forces]. So, for me, the personal story of Declan is as a soldier on a journey to get out, but then having this moral struggle he'd never expected to have when Tom gets stuck on a train with terrorists when all Declan wants is to have a better career for himself," explained Hopper. "That's where I found his main struggle, and I thought, 'This is a really interesting character.'"

See how Tom Hopper put all his research to work as Declan Smith when SAS: Red Notice starts streaming on Tuesday, March 16.