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Jeremy Irons is the spitting image of Neville Chamberlain in Munich

Jeremy Irons, 72, transforms into the disgraced former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in new images from Netflix’s thriller Munich: The Edge Of War

  • The film, which is based on Robert Harris’ acclaimed 2017 novel, sees him take on the role of the politician in the midst of a notorious trip to meet Adolf Hitler
  • Irons can be seen sporting Chamberlain’s distinct handlebar moustache in first look images from the film
  • Chamberlain was forced to resign in 1940 after the UK declared war on Germany a year earlier
  • Munich will be released in select theatres in the United States in December and on Netflix on January 21

Jeremy Irons is the spitting image of former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in new images from his upcoming Netflix thriller Munich: The Edge Of War.

The film, which is based on Robert Harris’ acclaimed 2017 novel, sees the actor take on the role of the politician in the midst of a notorious trip to meet Adolf Hitler in Munich in Germany, mere months before Europe was plunged into war. 

New snaps from the film show Jeremy under intense scrutiny during his visit to the country, with much of the Cabinet convinced the trip is a recipe for disaster.

Dark: Jeremy Irons is the spitting image of former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in new images from his upcoming Netflix thriller Munich: The Edge Of War

The images shows Jeremy sporting one of Chamberlain’s distinct handlebar moustaches, while he is deep in conversation with his fellow politicians.

These include Sir Nevile Henderson (Robert Bathurst) and Sir Horace Wilson (Alex Jennings), as well as civil servant Hugh Legat (George MacKay).

Chamberlain can also be seen delivering a radio broadcast, reassuring Britons there is always ‘hope’ while the war is yet to begin.


Dark: The film sees the actor (left) take on the role of the politician (right in 1939) in the midst of a notorious trip to meet Adolf Hitler in Munich in German

Heart-stopping: The film focuses on British civil servant Hugh Legat (right played by George MacKay) and diplomat Paul von Hartmann (left played by Jannis Niewohner)

Danger? One image shows Jeremy speaking to his fellow MPs in Parliament, ahead of a trip which was supposed to bring ‘peace in our time.’ only for Germany to begin war months later

Another image shows the politician speaking to his fellow MPs in Parliament, perhaps the moment he famously declared ‘peace in our time,’ after supposedly signing an agreement with Hitler.

The upcoming movie is adapted from Robert Harris’ critically-acclaimed 2017 spy thriller of the same name and is set to be released on Netflix in January 2022.

Harris’ 12th thriller novel documents former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s notorious ‘peace for our time’ trip to Munich, Germany, in September 1938 to meet Adolf Hitler. 

It shows him in a far more favourable light than he is usually portrayed by opponents of appeasement, casting him as a formidable, almost heroic figure.

At odds: Civil servant Legat was tasked with acquring a secret document revealing Hitler’s true plans for his country, during Chamberlain’s trip to Germany

While Jeremy is no doubt one of the film’s biggest stars, Chamberlain is not the focal point of the film.

Munich follows Hugh Legat, a private secretary to Chamberlain, and Paul von Hartmann, who works at the German Foreign Ministry and is a secret member of a resistance group against Hitler. 

The two men were close friends at Oxford and haven’t spoken in years, but with Europe on the brink of a second war and an emergency meeting in Munich, Hugh and Paul’s paths cross once again as they navigate political subterfuge.  

Dramatic: Chamberlain’s Germany trip ultimately proved pointless, as Hitler invaded Poland just one year later, kick-starting the Second World War

Speaking out: Chamberlain can also be seen delivering a radio broadcast, reassuring Britons there is always ‘hope’ while the war is yet to begin

1917 actor George MacKay will play the role of Hugh Legat with Inglourious Basterds actor Martin Wuttke playing Adolf Hitler.

Other stars involved in the project include The Crown’s Erin Doherty and Allied’s August Diehl.    

What happened in Munich 1938? 

Former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain travelled to Munich, Germany, in September 1938 to meet Adolf Hitler in a ‘peace for our time’ trip. 

The two leaders met at the now-infamous Munich conference – between Britain, Germany, Italy and France – during which the European powers agreed Germany could take de facto control of Czechoslovakia.

On his return to Britain a day later, Chamberlain landed at Heston airport, West London, to rapturous applause and waved the signed agreement in the air.

He stated the document was ‘symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again’.

In words that would come to haunt him just a year later he announced: ‘My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is “peace for our time”.’

Chamberlain wrongly believed the agreement would mean an end to Germany’s expansion plans across the continent.

But Hitler did not keep the promises made, and, a year later, derided the agreement as just a ‘scrap of paper’.

He invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany two days later and the Second World War began.

Mr Chamberlain was forced to resign in May 1940 and was succeeded in office by Winston Churchill. He died in November 1940.

 

Talking about Irons taking on the role of Chamberlain, author Harris said in a statement: ‘It’s great to see an actor of Jeremy Irons’ stature playing Neville Chamberlain. 

‘This will be the first time a major movie has gone beyond the cult of Winston Churchill and tried to show Chamberlain in a more sympathetic light.’ 

Harris is a former BBC journalist who wrote about politics before writing his first novel, Fatherland, in 1992, which was made into a film. 

The next one, Enigma, starred Kate Winslet. Daniel Craig was in the television series of the next book, Archangel, about modern Russia. 

Since then Harris has written stories set in the Vatican, the City of London, 19th-century France and a trilogy based around the ancient Roman politician Cicero.  

Former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain travelled to Munich, Germany, in September 1938 to meet Adolf Hitler in a ‘peace for our time’ trip. 

The two leaders met at the now-infamous Munich conference – between Britain, Germany, Italy and France – during which the European powers agreed Germany could take de facto control of Czechoslovakia.

On his return to Britain a day later, Chamberlain landed at Heston airport, West London, to rapturous applause and waved the signed agreement in the air.

He stated the document was ‘symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again’.

In words that would come to haunt him just a year later he announced: ‘My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is “peace for our time”.’ 

Chamberlain wrongly believed the agreement would mean an end to Germany’s expansion plans across the continent.

But Hitler did not keep the promises made, and, a year later, derided the agreement as just a ‘scrap of paper’.

He invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany two days later and the Second World War began.

Chamberlain was forced to resign in May 1940 and was succeeded in office by Winston Churchill. He died in November 1940. 

Munich will be released in select theatres in the United States in December and on Netflix on January 21. 

EXCLUSIVE: ‘The silly old man with his umbrella’ who SAVED Britain: Author Robert Harris behind new Netflix film Munich says Neville Chamberlain is a ‘convenient’ scapegoat for WWII… but his ‘shrewd’ Appeasement deal with Hitler bought UK vital time to arm for war

By Harry Howard, History Correspondant for MailOnline 

  • The Munich Agreement ceded the Sudetenland region of what was then Czechoslovakia to Hitler 
  • Was hoped the concession would be enough to avoid Europe-wide armed conflict after months of tensions 
  • Hitler rode roughshod over the deal the following year by annexing all of Czechoslovakia and invading Poland 
  • Chamberlain was ridiculed domestically for attempting to appease Hitler in a deal that failed spectacularly 
  • Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Mr Harris said Chamberlain’s policy was ‘shrewd’ and bought Britain time

Right up until he shot himself on April 30, 1945, the defeated Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler regretted the deal he struck with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in September 1938.

The famous Munich Agreement, which was also signed by France and Italy, ceded the Sudetenland region of what was then Czechoslovakia to Hitler in the hope that the concession would be enough to avoid Europe-wide armed conflict after months of tensions caused by Germany’s territorial ambitions. 

But the deal also destroyed Hitler’s plans, because he had been preparing to use the issue of the Sudetenland – which had been taken from Germany in the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War –  as a justification for war. 

Instead, the pact forced him to hold back and he was left so furious that it is claimed he said soon after Chamberlain had returned to Britain: ‘If ever that silly old man comes interfering here again with his umbrella, I’ll kick him downstairs and jump on his stomach in front of the photographers.’

Whilst Chamberlain told the British public afterwards that he believed it was ‘peace in our time’, Hitler rode roughshod over the deal the following year by annexing all of Czechoslovakia in March and invading Poland on September 1.

Right up until he shot himself on April 30, 1945, the defeated Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler regretted the deal he struck with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in September 1938. The famous Munich Agreement, which was also signed by France and Italy, ceded the Sudetenland region of what was then Czechoslovakia to Hitler in the hope that the concession would be enough to avoid Europe-wide armed conflict. Above: Chamberlain holds his umbrella as he stands next to Hitler whilst meeting German general Wilhelm Keitel in Munich

It was that last act of aggression which was the final straw even for the peace-loving Chamberlain, who declared war on Germany on September 3.

Chamberlain went on to be ridiculed domestically for attempting to appease Hitler with a deal that ultimately failed spectacularly and even now his name is synonymous with the toxic policy of appeasement. 

Now, upcoming Netflix drama Munich – The Edge of War, which is an adaptation of a novel by English historical fiction writer Robert Harris, paints Chamberlain in a more sympathetic light.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline on Thursday ahead of the film’s release in January, Mr Harris said that although it is ‘convenient’ to scapegoat Chamberlain, the delay to war which his ‘shrewd’ Munich Agreement brought gave Britain vital time to rearm for when conflict did eventually come. 

As a result, he said Chamberlain left Britain ‘quite strongly defended’ with ‘hundreds’ of Spitfires and the backup of the newly-invented Radar air defence system when he resigned as Prime Minister in May 1939.

Hitler was left so furious that it is claimed he said soon after Chamberlain had returned to Britain: ‘If ever that silly old man comes interfering here again with his umbrella, I’ll kick him downstairs and jump on his stomach in front of the photographers’. Above: Hitler and Chamberlain pose for a photograph in September 1938

Now, upcoming Netflix drama Munich – The Edge of War, which is an adaptation of a novel by English historical fiction writer Robert Harris, paints Chamberlain in a more sympathetic light. Above: English actor Jeremy Irons is seen in character as Chamberlain next to Hitler, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and French PM Daladier 

Set during the run-up to the signing of the Munich Agreement, Netflix’s new drama stars Jeremy Irons as Chamberlain and George Mackay as his fictional civil servant aide Hugh Legat.

Legat and his old friend Paul von Hartman (Jannis Niehwohner), a German diplomat, both travel to Munich for the conference and end up being engulfed in a web of political subterfuge.

Hitler, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and the then French prime minister Édouard Daladier are all depicted in both the novel – which is just called Munich – and the new Netflix drama.

The trailer, which was released this month, shows the chilling moment that von Hartman encounters Hitler, who demands ‘where are you going?’ as he tries to leave the room at a formal dinner.

The film also recreates the meetings between the world leaders at the conference, including the moment that Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini and Daladier pose together for a joint photograph.

Speaking of his view of the agreement, Mr Harris said: ‘The common view of Munich is that Hitler was bluffing and managed to without a shot being fired get all that he wanted from this kind of weak appeasing Prime Minister.

‘In point of fact, the history very much suggests that Hitler really wanted to invade Czechoslovakia, he didn’t just want the Sudetenland, he wanted to wipe out Czechoslovakia full stop.

Whilst Chamberlain told the British public after the Munich Agreement was signed that he believed it was ‘peace for our time’, Hitler rode roughshod over the deal the following year by annexing all of Czechoslovakia in March and invading Poland on September 1


Speaking exclusively to MailOnline on Thursday ahead of the film’s release in January, Mr Harris said that although it is ‘convenient’ to scapegoat Chamberlain, the delay to war which his ‘shrewd’ Munich Agreement brought gave Britain vital time to rearm for when conflict did eventually come. Right: The cover of his 2017 novel, which is called Munich

‘He found himself laying out demands which Chamberlain was able to meet.’

He said that Hitler was left ‘very angry’ with the deal and continued to argue right up until weeks before his death that Germany should have gone to war in September 1938.

Mr Harris’s novel features Hitler’s desperate statement in February 1945, when he said: ‘We ought to have gone to war in 1938, September 1938 would have been the most favourable date.’

Because the Sudetenland’s population was mostly made up of three million Germans, many in Britain did not see any issue with Germany’s takeover of the territory.

It meant that, if Britain had gone to war rather than striking the deal in Munich which handed Germany the Sudetenland, Chamberlain would have found it much harder to convince the British people that it was the right thing to do.

By contrast, there was overwhelming backing for Britain’s decision to declare war in September 1939 after Germany’s invasion of Poland.

‘So it is not only that it [the Munich Agreement] gave us time to equip the air force with spitfires and the radar defence that saved us, it is that it gave us the moral advantage,’ Mr Harris said.

Adolf Hitler greets British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at Munich in September 1938. Chamberlain hoped that striking a deal with Hitler would avoid war

‘And also, in 1939 we had the backing of the empire, Canada and Australia and so on, which we would not have had if we had tried to fight in September 1938. Britain really would have been on its own.’ 

‘I can understand why everyone has heaped so much blame on Chamberlain, it is very convenient,’ he added.

‘Chamberlain’s policy was a failure, he said everything he believed in was in ruins. It was a noble effort in many ways and quite a shrewd one.

‘What’s the point of just repeating the same old story? Churchill knew that for him to look good, it was necessary for Chamberlain to look bad.

‘Chamberlain left the country quite strongly defended. He did actually declare war on Hitler after guaranteeing Poland.

‘I think it is quite important for a country not just to repeat comforting myths but to look at reality.’

Chamberlain’s replacement as PM, Winston Churchill, was one of the fiercest critics of Chamberlain’s appeasement policy.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Adolf Hilter and his interpreter Dr. Paul Schmidt meet in Berchtesgaden, Germany

After the PM hailed the success of the Munich Agreement in 1938, Churchill warned him that he had a choice between ‘war and dishonour’ but because he had chosen the latter ‘you will have war’.

Chamberlain’s downfall as PM came after the failure of the Allied campaign to defend Norway against Hitler’s rampaging forces.

When Churchill took over in Downing Street on May 10, Chamberlain remained as leader of the Conservative Party and adopted the position of Lord President of the Council in his former rival’s War Cabinet.

However, his ongoing presence in Government prompted attacks from both Labour and the Liberal Party, who wanted him to leave frontline politics altogether.

Fierce criticism came from the press, with a polemic titled Guilty Men –written by a trio of journalists which included future Labour leader Michael Foot – selling more than 200,000 copies.

It accused Chamberlain and his government of failing to prepare adequately for the prospect of war with Germany.

The tome called for the removal of Chamberlain and other ministers they deemed responsible for Britain’s failures in the first months of the war.

However, by July 1940, the critics’ calls were answered in a different way: when surgeons discovered that Chamberlain was suffering from terminal bowel cancer.

Whilst his doctors initially concealed the terrible news from him, Chamberlain was forced to leave Government when he was beset by repeated bouts of severe pain.

Whilst his formal resignation as Lord President of the Council came on October 3, he had told Churchill in September that he wished to step down.

Then, on November 9, Chamberlain passed away and Churchill paid tribute to him in the House of Commons.

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