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Aneurin Barnard as Boris Dubretskoy is the #WarandPeace Character of the Day

Aneurin Barnard & Rebecca Front as mother and son

“Thanks to Anna Mikhaylovna’s efforts, his own tastes and the peculiarities of his reserved nature, Boris had managed during his service to place himself very advantageously. He was aide-de-camp to a very important personage.  …  He had become thoroughly conversant with that unwritten code with which he had been so pleased at Olmutz and according to which an ensign might rank incomparably higher than a general, and according to which what was needed for success in the service was not effort or work, or courage, or perseverance, but only the knowledge of how to get on with those who can grant rewards, and he was himself often surprised at the rapidity of his success and at the inability of others to understand these things. In consequence of this discovery his whole manner of life, all his relations with old friends, all his plans for his future, were completely altered. 
page 524, War and Peace

He made friends and sought the acquaintance of only those above him in position and who could therefore be of use to him. 
page 524, War and Peace

I wouldn’t know Anuerin Barnard if he was sitting next to me but the handsome Welsh actor has a fair amount of British telly experience so I expect Im in the minority. He stars as Boris Dubretskoy, the dashing young soldier the young Natasha Rostov (Lily James) is absolutely dotty over. Since he doesn’t come from great wealth, his mother makes it her business to get him well-situated. In Tolstoys novel Boris more than manages to take advantage of it, as evidenced in the excerpts above. I was struck by how dismally modern a character he is; manipulative, a real user. But as Barnard points out, theres nothing inherently modern about that kind of cunning and grasping personality. Heres what he told the BBC about Andrew Davies adaptation.

 One thing that surprises me always is that as soon as you step back 100 years, people expect that people lived a completely different way. But people are people and nothing has changed really. Power was the thing a lot of people were trying to strive for, wealth and survival. It’s the one thing that really hit home with me from reading the book and then filming this, it’s a huge survival story of people just trying to live and get by. It was happening then and it’s still happening now. 
Boris is the son of Anna Mikhailovna, who Rebecca Front is playing. He is a very ambitious young man. He doesn’t come from a background of great wealth– of course there’s different levels of wealth within War& Peace – so he wants to make himself known to people and seem important. Throughout War & Peace he rises in stature, mostly through military ranking and a lot is from his mother pushing and asking favours from lots of different people. 
“It was a lot of fun to play – to be this cocky, ambitious, power-driven young man who isn’t scared to talk to anyone or sleep with anyone!” 
Barnard on playing Boris in War and Peace

War and Peace makes it debut tonight, January 18th, on Lifetime, A&E and the History Channel here in the US. The UK has already seen episode three so be wary of spoilers. You wouldn’t want to completely ruin Tolstoy’s 150 year old classic for yourself, would you?

#WarandPeace trailer