The Inverse Interview

Guy Ritchie Blows Up History

The stars of The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare uncover the hidden figures of World War II.

Eiza Gonzalez as Marjorie Stewart in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
The Inverse Interview

Eiza González was not drawn to The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare due to the size of her role. “If you saw the script, the character was this small,” the actress tells Inverse, pinching her fingers together. In the film, González plays Marjorie Stewart, an actress, singer, and model who also dabbled in espionage during World War II. In real life, Stewart lived on the margins of history, playing pivotal roles in operations that remain classified to this day. The version of Stewart that González plays in Ministry could have easily followed suit — but Guy Ritchie had other plans.

“There’s no one I’ve met in my life that knows more about British history,” González says of the director behind Sherlock Holmes, Snatch, and The Gentleman. “He really made her ginormous. He made her larger than life, and I think that it’s because Guy is so well-educated and well-versed in this world.”

From the outset, Ministry presents itself as a fairly subversive historical remix. This is a film about the hidden heroes of WWII, and though beefcakes like Henry Cavill and Alan Ritchson are the face of the operation, the real engines of Ministry are González (3 Body Problem) and Babs Olusanmokun (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds). They play MI6 agents embedded on Fernando Po, a Nazi-occupied island off the coast of Cameroon. This is where Ministry is largely set, telling the story of a rag-tag team that eventually becomes Britain’s first special ops unit.

Ritchie’s latest is based on a see-it-to-believe-it true story, following an off-the-books mission orchestrated by Winston Churchill in the dark days of WWII. Our team’s “ungentlemanly” tactics were some of Britain’s most valuable assets, the last real line of defense after Nazi Germany conquered most of Western Europe and the United States was still waffling about joining the war.

A handful of characters — like Cavill’s Gus March-Phillips and Ritchson’s Anders Lassen — were based on real figures, but Ritchie takes creative liberties with others, like Olusanmokun’s Richard Heron. And that instinct also allows Ministry to play with our expectations of war thrillers, spotlighting characters and locales that we don’t normally associate with the genre.

Inverse spoke to of the actor’s behind The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare smaller roles to reveal how they worked with Guy Ritchie to push his WWII movie into bold new territory.

“We were shooting our own movie, really”


Like González, Olusanmokun started off with a relatively minor role. The actor was nonetheless intrigued by the opportunity to explore a different aspect of the war, as Ministry spends a great deal of time in Nazi-occupied Africa. We get to see how the continent was affected during World War II, and meet Black characters — fictional or otherwise — that played pivotal roles in the war effort.

“That was brilliant for me when I first read the script,” Olusanmokun says of this change in perspective. “It was just taking account of the fact that Black men and women had fought for the British Empire in World War I; that the British West Indies Regiment participated in that war. The film does a good job of having those that are usually hidden within these stories out there, so hats off to Guy Richie.”

As Agent Heron, Olusanmokun serves as González’s partner in crime. He’s been embedded in Fernando Po for years, setting up a successful trade business and gaining the trust of the Nazi officials based there. In that regard, he’s not totally unlike Humphrey Bogart’s character from Casablanca. That makes González’s Agent Stewart a quasi-tribute to Ingrid Bergman — and her rapport with Heron, while professional and platonic, is one of many that gives Ministry its momentum.

That’s likely because the actors got so much time to work things out with Ritchie.

“Guy, Babs, and I started the film together,” González says. “We shot straight three weeks without anyone else, and so we kick-started the tone of the film.”

“It was a lot more intimate,” Olusanmokun adds. “It was like we were shooting our own movie, really.”

The James Bond of it all

Cary Ewles in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.


Ministry is essentially split into two separate stories. One half of our team, led by Cavill’s March-Phillips, travel from Britain to Fernando Po to sabotage Germany’s U-boats (the submarines that gave Hitler the edge throughout the war). Stewart and Heron, meanwhile, are tasked with distracting Heinrich Luhr (Til Schweiger), the Nazi officer overseeing operations on Fernando Po.

Stewart’s main role is to seduce the most dangerous Nazi official, and there’s a sense that the character lacked depth in the initial script. But Ritchie and González worked hard to make sure she was more than just a “Bond Girl” or a damsel. You’re never in doubt of Stewart’s capability, even when the stakes feel higher than ever. Her role in Ministry is just as active and important as Heron’s or March-Phillips’ — which is pretty crucial in the grand scheme, as she’s the only female character in the main cast.

González, a self-proclaimed history buff, dove deep into women’s role during WWII. “If you really think about it, women were quite the James Bonds of it all,” she says. At a time where men prioritized brawn and brute force, women were playing subversive, pivotal roles behind enemy lines. “There’s a lot of women that passed as other things like actresses or dancers. They were really the ones who were infiltrating.”

It was through conversations with the director that Marjorie began to grow as a character.

“I was sitting with him and he’d be like, ‘Yeah, women were so dynamic and they would do this and that and this and that.’ He got really inspired by her, and the more that I was game to play and push it further, the more he got excited,” González says. “That’s where we started adding what women really did in that era.”

“I could see the engine running”

González compares her time on a Guy Ritchie set to summer camp: “I’m just honored, honored, honored to keep working with him.”


Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare marks Olusanmokun’s second film with Ritchie. He appeared briefly in the director’s Wrath of Man, but Ministry gave actor and director another chance to watch the director more closely.

“I could see the engine running,” he says, comparing Ritchie’s split-second calculations behind the scene to the workings of a machine. “Seeing him find the language of everything in the moment was really wonderful.”

González, on the other hand, first connected with Ritchie in Ministry. Since filming that, however, the actress has teamed up with the director twice over. She’s now in the midst of her third Ritchie production, Apple’s Fountain of Youth, and relates the experience now to going back to school or summer camp.

“I am endlessly grateful with Guy,” González says. “He has backed me up and believed in me in a way that very few people have, ever… I’m just honored, honored, honored to keep working with him. He could ask me to be a rock in the background of a film and I would do it for him in a heartbeat.”

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare opens in theaters on April 19.

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