Jason Isaacs "s***" himself when he was handed a gun in an audition.

The 57-year-old actor was trying out for the role of Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom in 1997's 'Con Air' - a part which eventually went to John Malkovich - and decided to improve and use a pencil as a weapon, but both he and director Simon West were left horrified when a camera assistant passed him a real firearm to use instead.

He recalled to Collider: "I auditioned for Simon West, the master of action set pieces, 30 years ago, whatever it was when he made 'Con Air'.

"He very oddly made the decision to give the part to John Malkovich instead.

"But I remember, at this audition, I went in. There's a guy who's operating a camera. He's pointing at you. You go to read the scene, and the scene was the character holding somebody up with a gun.

"So, I grabbed a pencil and I said, 'I'll use a pencil as a gun.'

"The camera assistant, operating the camera, went, 'Hold on. Hold on a second. Here, grab that,' and held out a gun to me.

"I s*** myself, obviously. He went, 'Look, you're cool. The safety's on.'

"My voice shot up three octaves. I went all Jerry Lewis, and I went, 'Oh, my God! It's a real gun!'

"I remember Simon being as wide eyed as I was. He'd been working with this guy for however long and didn't know he had a gun tucked in his belt."

Jason has reunited with Simon on 'Skyfire', in which he plays Jack Harris, a businessman who builds a luxury resort on an active volcano, only for things to go badly wrong.

And the British actor admitted it was a filmmaking experience like nothing he'd ever had before because it was a Chinese production and he was unable to "connect" with many people on set.

He said: "Being surrounded by Chinese people making a film, when you don't speak any Mandarin or Cantonese, where everybody apart from Simon and the director of photography is speaking a different language all day, was like being deaf or something.

"I couldn't connect to anybody, apart from in the scenes when I'm meant to connect."