British actor Jamie Bell was forced to overcome his fear of horses after signing up to play a slave in historical adventure THE EAGLE.
Bell was filled with dread at the prospect of having to climb into the saddle for the role, so he began intensive equestrian training ahead of the shoot to master horse riding.
He says, "I had never ridden a horse before and had developed a general anxiety towards them.
"I knew the horse riding in the film was going to be hard because we were going to be riding along some very narrow ledges. I started training on a horse for about six weeks, three lessons a week."
The Billy Elliot star credits his trainer with putting him at ease around the horses and showing him the ropes, adding: "Two weeks after the first lesson, I was trick riding and had found a comfort and a delight at being around these animals. When you have to deliver pages of dialogue and access emotion, you need to be able to forget you're riding a horse and my training helped me to achieve that."
Bell even managed to convince an American movie studio executive visiting the set in Scotland that he was a pro.
He recalls, "That guy was so impressed. He thought that I had been riding for 10 years."