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In June 2010, he was cast in the lead role of the 2011 Steven Spielberg film War Horse. The film was an adaption of Michael Morpurgo's novel, also entitled War Horse. Spielberg revealed that he had been looking for an unknown actor for War Horse, stating: "I looked at hundreds of actors and newcomers for Albert – mainly newcomers – and nobody had the heart, the spirit or the communication skills that Jeremy had. " The casting process lasted for two months, with Irvine auditioning several times a week. Irvine was asked to read a section of the War Horse script on camera in order to check his West Country accent. In an attempt to prepare himself for the role of Albert, Irvine took up weight training and gained approximately 14 lbs. of muscle. He also underwent two months of intensive horse riding. He spent so much time recreating the Battle of Somme scene in the film that he ended up contracting trench foot. For his work in the film, he was nominated for the London Film Critics' Choice Award for Young British Performer Of The Year and Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer.