The film takes place in 1940, and it chronicles the escape of some multi-national prisoners from a Siberian gulag who take us on a 4,000-mile journey through harsh terrain and five hostile countries.
Colin Farrell and Ed Harris were both ready to take on the mission for acclaimed director Peter Weir.
"Eastern Europe in the winter--it's not the tropics," said Farrell.
"You prepare yourself mentally and physically to get involved with something like that. If it had been another director directing this, I probably wouldn't have done it," said Harris. "You know you're in the hands of a really great filmmaker, so you have a certain confidence going in and a trust factor."
To play this role convincingly, Farrell worked with a language coach for four hours every day, perfecting his Russian dialect while learning some Russian history along the way.
"Russian--there's something so evocative about that language, about that accent," said Farrell. "Accents are, either they bring you into the character or they keep you away from the character. And when I felt the Russian in my mouth when we were working on it, it started to affect my physicality and the way I expressed myself facially. It really did. It was unconscious."
"The Way Back" also stars Jim Sturgess and Saoirse Ronan. It is in theaters and is rated PG13.