The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’s cast on what makes Guy Ritchie so unique

The cast of The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare sit and stand on a boat together.
Daniel Smith / Lionsgate

Guy Ritchie loves to play the hits. Ritchie’s films are often fast-paced, with evocative characters, sharp dialogue, and intertwined storylines. This kinetic style has been the backbone of Ritchie’s 25-plus-year career. While the English auteur has a successful franchise (Sherlock Holmes) and billion-dollar grosser (Aladdin) on his résumé, the crime capers and action comedies — Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and The Gentlemen — are examples of Ritchie at his best.

As one of the leading voices in “dudes rock” cinema, Ritchie is back with another entertaining ensemble movie, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Inspired by true events, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is an espionage action comedy about Winston Churchill’s first special forces organization in World War II. Churchill’s ragtag team of misfits, led by the dynamic Gus March-Phillipps (Henry Cavill), are brash, cocky, and violent. Yet, that’s exactly the mindset Churchill needs for a team about to embark on a secret mission to defeat the Nazis.

In the film, Babs Olusanmokun and Alex Pettyfer star as Richard Heron and Geoffrey Appleyard, two integral members of Churchill’s team. Below, Olusanmokun and Pettyfer spoke to Digital Trends about Ritchie’s distinct filmmaking style and the secret to working on projects with large ensembles.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Digital Trends: I want to start with these characters. In every Guy Ritchie movie, his characters are so cool. They seem very fun to play. If you could take your character from Ministry and place him in any Guy Ritchie movie, what would you pick?

Babs Olusanmokun: Oh, I like that. You go, Alex.

Alex Pettyfer: Me? You’ve been in multiple Guy Richie movies! [laughs]

Olusanmokun: [laughs] Yeah. If I could, I go to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. I’d go to Snatch. I’m very, very happy with this one. Yeah, I would start off in The Minister of Ungentlemanly Warfare, which is what you need to get out and go see right now. Yeah, those are the films that I would pick.

Pettyfer: You know what? There’s a similar sensibility between The Ministry and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Alex Pettyfer holds a gun in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.
Daniel Smith / Lionsgate

That’s what I would’ve picked.

Pettyfer: Incredible wit and humor. I feel like I would love to put [Geoffrey] Appleyard in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie. To just have a little taste of that …

Olusanmokun: Espionage.

Pettyfer: [turning to Olusanmokun] Espionage. You took the words right out of my mouth.

[U.N.C.L.E.] would be a seamless fit for both of your characters.

Pettyfer: It’s actually one of my favorites of his [Ritchie].

I think it’s aged great.

Pettyfer: It’s a fantastic film.

I don’t think people appreciated it at first. 

Pettyfer: Look at the great films. Fight Club. People were walking out of Fight Club. Films, sometimes, do not fit in the timeslot that they have been allocated. Years go by and then people are much more appreciative of these films.

Olusanmokun: Absolutely. People catch up, essentially. [Underappreciated films like Fight Club age] like fine wine.

The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2024) Official Trailer - Starring Henry Cavill

Guy has this very distinct style. The characters are clever. The dialogue is very witty and sharp. Alex, I’ll start with you. Does it take time to adjust to that style and get into the rhythm [of the dialogue]?  

Pettyfer: There’s a very unique way that Guy works. It’s very spontaneous. He is creating such a fantastic support system for you. When you are there, he is like a conductor. That’s all I can describe him as. Obviously, he’s an auteur, but he’s a conductor of the dialogue. He sits there with you for a good part of the morning and you are going through it and changing it.

Olusanmokun: Changing. Rewriting. [laughs]

Pettyfer: By the time you get there, there is such a fluidity, but also a spontaneity, that it just kind of fits. Yeah, it’s very fun.

Babs, you’ve worked with Guy before. Is there anything from your previous experience that you brought to this film? Is there something you learned [on Wrath of Man] that you could apply to this [Ministry]?

Olusanmokun: No. I think this was quite different because, in Wrath of Man, my guy was a bit more stoic. Took care of things behind the scenes. This guy [Heron] is upfront, you know. Front and center. He’s in a bit more of this movie.

Pettyfer: Basically, Babs is saying he’s the leader of the crew. [laughs]

Olusanmokun: [laughs] In a way, there was an energy and responsibility I feel that I brought to it, and I loved that [Guy] had that trust in me. Like Alex was saying, reworking [the script] every morning. The first few days, I was like, “OK. This is going to be something.” But eventually, you realize you have to trust in the process and just let things go, knowing that you’re ready for whatever Guy comes up with. That was a beautiful thing to experience on this project.

A man sits in a booth and listens to a headphone.
Dan Smith / Lionsgate

Is there a secret to working on large ensemble projects? It sounds obvious, but everyone has to be on the same page. An audience can spot when the team doesn’t feel together. Alex, was there something on set you guys did to build trust?

Pettyfer: I think that when you have an ensemble, the expectation of the cast comes from the leader. Obviously, Guy and Henry Cavill set such a precedent in the way they conducted themselves on set. The way they are so inclusive. It becomes a full collaborative experience.

I think when you are “an artist,” and you are working with people that have such an amazing work ethic, there’s nothing you can do but bond because you all have a common goal, which is to make it the best movie you can possibly make. That’s a kudos to the captain of the ship, Cavill. He’s the hardest-working man, beyond talented, and set a real precedent.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is now playing in theaters.