The old Russian Orthodox priest gathers his gold embroidered robes about him and utters the sermon that contains a secret code designed to activate Russian sleeper cells living covertly in the United States, thus setting off a perilous chain of events on both sides of the Atlantic.

Then the priest took off his robes, pulled off his beard and headed home to Abbots Langley.

German-Russian actor Erich Redman, who moved to the UK 20 years ago, has a small but vital part in Kenneth Branagh’s latest film, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which stars Chris Pine, Keira Knightley and Kevin Costner.

“I was only filming for one day,“ says the Abbots resident, “but my priest was crucial for the plot – he activates the Russian agents and they start doing their naughty things.

“He hasn’t got a name, he’s just called the ancient priest – and I do look ancient! They gave me a big grey beard, I look about 65. But the costume was amazing, made with silver and gold fibres, I think they must have shipped it from Moscow or St Petersburg. I think it was more expensive than my fee!“

Erich had to brush up on his ancient Russian for the part, which was filmed at the Church of St John in South Hatfield, chosen to represent a church in Michigan, USA.

The film’s biggest stars were filming in New York at the time, but Erich got to work closely with director and star Kenneth Branagh, which he very much enjoyed.

“He was a really nice guy,“ says Erich, who has also had parts in Rush, Saving Private Ryan, Captain America: The First Avenger, Charlotte Gray and The Illusionist.

“He was a little bit grumpy in the morning, but by midday he was absolutely charming. You can tell he’s an actor because he knows how to make you comfortable. He shot most of the scenes from the back of the church but for my close-up he came closer and gave me a nice compliment on my acting, which was very sweet.“

  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is on general release