HE is one of the most infamous characters in history, a ruthless dictator who caused the deaths of millions of innocent people.

So for Walkden-born character actor David Bamber, playing Hitler in the new film Valkyrie was not a role to be taken lightly.

The modest thespian describes his part as “a grand cameo” — but his performance has been praised by critics.

David appears opposite Tom Cruise, who plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a Nazi officer who was part of a plot to kill Hitler.

“I watched a lot of footage because I was playing someone real, someone iconic,” David said. “It’s a responsibility playing someone like that but it’s not gratuitous to have him in there because they were trying to kill him.

“I had a hairpiece, a prosthetic nose, padding — you end up wondering why they asked you to do it because you’re completely changed.

“In the end you’re delivering a script written by two Hollywood scriptwriters. The way the script worked they didn’t want to show a lot of Hitler, it’s more about the people around him and he’s the spider in the middle of the web.”

David attended sixth form at Farnworth Grammar School and studied at Bristol University before going on to train at RADA.

He has appeared in numerous films and programmes, including Rome and Pride and Prejudice, but this is the first time he has worked on a film of this scale — and opposite someone as famous as Tom Cruise.

“He’s terribly nice, and he was very sociable — very friendly, very enthusiastic and not aloof at all,” he said. “He knows what he’s doing in front of a camera, which is very interesting to see, he’s very good.

“He brought his caterers with him too which was wonderful, we all ate this fantastic food.”

Valkyrie, which is released tomorrow, details a plot to kill Hitler by planting a bomb in his war room. Also among the cast are Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Terence Stamp.

David, who used to sell programmes at the Octagon theatre while he was in sixth form so that he could see the plays for free, says he has not yet been asked by his hometown theatre to appear in any of their productions.

“I don’t seem to do a lot of work up North but it would be nice to come and spend more time up there,” he said.