1985

Passing Glory

Passing Glory was the first film I ever worked on. I was still a student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow when I got the part. I had been allowed some time off my final year to make my theatre debut in Macbeth and Macbeth Possessed at the Tron theatre in Glasgow, and whilst I was still performing in the plays I was asked to go and meet the writer/director Gilles McKinnon. He is a really amazing man and I really loved his energy and his script. The character of Rab felt very different to anything I'd played before because in drama school plays I had only swanned around drawing rooms and French windows carrying a tennis racquet doing a plummy English accent.  I had never played anyone my age, and never anyone from Scotland.  Also Rab was from Glasgow and I wasn't, and I felt at the time a strange pressure that in some way I wasn't going to get those sorts of working class Glasgow boy type roles because I was not viewed that way. I guess I was viewed that way because I actually wasn't that way -  I was working class alright but had been brought up in a very rural area in the east of Scotland and had an East Coast/Highland accent due to my parents.  Of course now, looking back on it, having played in loads of films doing loads of different accents, I feel stupid for being cowed in this way. But hey, I was 20 and still a student.

The shoot was very exciting. Passing Glory was Gillies' graduation film from the National Film and Television School (NFTS) and so the crew was made up of a lot of his fellow students, who were really interesting and made my first experience on a movie set a special one.  Everybody really cared about the film, they were really passionate.

I knew Fiona Chalmers a little bit before the shoot and I had seen Ida Schuster in loads of plays at the Citizens' Theatre (where it was my dream to work one day) so I was a little in awe of her, but she soon made me feel really comfortable and we got on like a house on fire.

The film also taught me a lot about the Spanish Civil War and how so many lefties from Scotland had gone over to fight for freedom, for the very notion of political and social freedom.  I wish we had that spirit and fire nowadays.

Passing Glory premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1986, and I remember going to see it and being shocked at how my nose arrived on the screen about 30 seconds before the rest of my face! It was the first time I had seen myself in a cinema and it wasn't easy.

I nearly worked with Gillies several years later when he made a film of a play I had done, The Conquest of the South Pole, but sadly the dates didn't work out. He has made some really stunning films and I am so happy and lucky to have worked with him on my first film, one that I still realy like and am very proud of.