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Sam Claflin talks challenge of playing quadriplegic Will in 'Me Before You'

"It was a very emotional journey for me, as well as being very physically demanding," Claflin told UPI.

By Karen Butler
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Sam Claflin talks challenge of playing quadriplegic Will in 'Me Before You'
Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke arrive on the red carpet at the "Me Before You" world premiere on May 23, 2016 in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, June 1 (UPI) -- British actor Sam Claflin admits playing a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic in the romance Me Before You was one of the most physically challenging roles of his career.

"[Emilia Clarke and I] were both fortunate enough to have quite a lot of time prior to Day 1 of filming where we would rehearse and talk through scenes and I was able to get used to the wheelchair and, I guess, practice restricting my movement," Claflin told UPI in New York recently.

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"I stopped becoming aware of it eventually, but I had to make conscious decisions not to move. I was constantly thinking, as well as trying to remember my lines and do all that. I was constantly reminding myself: 'Don't move, don't move, don't move, don't move. Keep your hands still. Keep your leg, keep your foot still. Don't move your leg too much.' My brain was sort of going into hyper-drive. It was tough for all of us for different reasons. It was a very emotional journey for me, as well as being very physically demanding."

Set in contemporary, rural Britain, the film casts Clarke as Lou, a bubbly young woman hired to care for handsome, wealthy Will, an adrenaline junkie left paralyzed when he was hit by a motorcycle outside of his apartment building. Just as Lou melts bitter Will's heart and they begin to positively influence each other's world views, Lou learns Will had earlier made a heart-breaking pact with his parents whereas he agreed to try to adapt to his disabilities for a certain amount of time and, if he couldn't be happy, his mother and father wouldn't stop him from ending his life with the help of doctors in Switzerland. Lou then embarks on a campaign to convince Will life is not only worth living, but that he should spend his with her.

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Co-starring Jenna Coleman, Brendan Coyle, Charles Dance, Matthew Lewis, Janet McTeer and Joanna Lumley, Me Before You opens nationwide Friday.

Claflin, 29, is best known for his work in The Hunger Games and The Huntsman film franchises.

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