A young Bradford actor has sampled the horrors of life in First World War trenches – on the set of Steven Spielberg’s new film.

Philip Hill-Pearson, 23, plays a British soldier in War Horse, Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling novel about a young Devon farmhand who braves the trenches to find his beloved colt, Joey.

The stage version became one of the biggest hits in London of recent years and has transferred to Broadway.

The star-studded cast includes David Thewlis, Emily Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Philip, of Clayton, wore an original First World War uniform for scenes filmed in Weybridge, Surrey, last week.

He said: “It’s an unbelievable set; they’ve dug loads of trenches on a huge airfield.

“There were about 1,000 people on set, including hundreds of extras.

“We filmed scenes in ‘no man’s land’ when the horse gets caught in a trench and British and German soldiers are trying to get its attention.

“It had rained heavily the day before and the crew had to get all the water out. I had about five layers of uniform on, and a helmet, and knowing a real soldier had worn them in that war was surreal.”

Philip said he learned a lot working with the Oscar-winning director. “He had a huge team around him but he gave us direction and spoke to us. It’s amazing seeing him at work – the set was massive and there was so much going on.”

Philip, a former pupil of Queensbury School, added: “He saw tapes of my audition and gave me the role. I’d previously auditioned for the lead role in the stage version of War Horse – I had five auditions and got down to the final three.”