Glasgow’s Global Visitors: Beyoncé Knowles

Name: Beyoncé Knowles
Born: 4th September 1981 in Houston, Texas, USA

Credits include: Austin Powers In Goldmember, Dreamgirls, Epic

Reason for visiting Glasgow:

Beyoncé is best known as a recording artist, having enjoyed success in the group Destiny’s Child before going on to an even more lucrative solo career, however she has also taken on a number of film acting roles. Her first notable role was as Foxxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers In Goldmember and another comedic part came in The Pink Panther opposite Steve Martin. Dramatic features that she has appeared in include Dreamgirls, Obsessed and Cadillac Records, in which she played singer-songwriter Etta James.

Her Glasgow encounters to date have been of the musical variety, most recently performing two nights at the SSE Hydro as part of her Mrs Carter world tour – she spent some days in the city rehearsing prior to the concerts too. Prior to these 2014 engagements she sang at Braehead Arena in 2003.

Stunt Double: World War Z

Back in June 2013 I reviewed World War Z here immediately after viewing it in the cinema, however it has always been my intention to give the film its own “Stunt Double” post on the blog in line with other such productions.

There’s not a huge amount to add to what I already wrote about the movie in my review, but to summarise Glasgow’s screen presence in World War Z: As has been well documented, the city doubles for Philadelphia and while CGI is employed to increase some building heights to American standards, landmarks like City Chambers and the Cenotaph remain untouched and instantly recognisable; What starts as a seemingly innocent case of traffic congestion on Cochrane Street descends in to chaos – reeling from an explosion in the direction of Buchanan Street, Brad Pitt’s Gerry rarely has time to draw breath before an out of control bin lorry violently clears the road of vehicles before coming to an abrupt halt at the corner of George Square; Gerry drives his petrified family through the path that has been cleared by the truck, swerving into the square where a moment of distraction leads to their Volvo’s collision with an ambulance; the family evacuate the car and see first-hand the carnage of people being attacked by the undead; Gerry commandeers an RV on George Street and the family make their break for freedom; as the military declares that Philadelphia has fallen we see a final, striking, aerial shot of George Square teeming with running figures.

Two updates that I do have to provide about World War Z from my perspective are:

–          My review was not particularly positive – largely due to very high expectations and some disappointment about the stark difference between the film and the book. However I have watched the movie again – more than once – and it has grown on me. While the main set pieces perhaps don’t sit too comfortably alongside each other, they do in the main each possess good individual qualities – from the classic American action of Philadelphia to the family drama on the aircraft carrier and the edge of the seat tension in the World Health Organisation facility.

–          I attended a Glasgow Film Festival 2014 event entitled “Film/TV Locations: Scotland on Your Screen” at the Centre for Contemporary Arts. The discussion, chaired by Nicola Balkind, covered many productions from both the small and big screen but due to its so far unsurpassed scale World War Z was naturally a key talking point – particularly with panellists Jennifer Reynolds (film commissioner at Glasgow Film Office) and Brodie Pringle (locations manager at Creative Scotland). Ms Reynolds introduced a Glasgow Film Office video about World War Z – now used to help sell the city as a filming location – which highlighted the numbers associated with the production’s spell in the city: 12 filming days, 94 local crew employed, over 500 extras employed, over 100 action vehicles, 14 city centre streets closed, 8,500 bed nights, £3.6 million spent locally. Furthermore it was stated that a subsequent survey of businesses in the area affected saw the majority report a positive impact on trade, while only five complaints regarding inconvenience were received. And the Glasgow World War Z experience was also credited as directly influencing the Fast & Furious 6 team to film in the city.

Glasgow’s Global Visitors: Elijah Wood

Name: Elijah Wood

Born: 28th January 1981 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA

Credits include: The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The RingEternal Sunshine Of The Spotless MindGreen Street

Reason for visiting Glasgow:

One of the happier real-life stories to come out of Hollywood in recent years has been the warm friendship that blossomed between the hobbit portraying co-stars of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan.

In December 2010 Glaswegian Boyd married his long term partner Ali McKinnon at Oran Mor, on the corner of Great Western Road and Byres Road. Both Wood and Monaghan attended the wedding. Elijah Wood was photographed by press walking up Byres Road with Billy Boyd and his son Jack, and on the steps of the venue with the other actors.

Starring Role: The Wee Man

The Wee Man was shrouded in controversy from the outset, as true crime films so often tend to be. The story of Glasgow gangland figure Paul Ferris, the film was refused assistance from Strathclyde Police due to the force’s troubled history with the man and his associates. As a result the feature could not be shot in Glasgow, with London streets standing in for the Blackhill estate and other parts of the city – an irony about this 2013 film, given that the last couple of years have seen Glasgow recognised as a logistically easier substitute for London, Philadelphia and San Francisco in other productions.

The Wee Man 6Despite the absence of principal photography in Glasgow, there are establishing shots of the city throughout and where possible local touches – such as Barr and Irn Bru logos on shops and Tennent’s beer taps in the pubs – have been added.

The Wee Man follows Ferris’ life from childhood through his formative years as a teenager and into troubled adulthood, where a culture of crime results in much bloodshed. Indeed there are some fairly violent scenes in the movie.

Martin Compston takes on the role of Ferris, leading a strong cast that includes fellow Scots John Hannah, Stephen McCole, Denis Lawson, Clare Grogan and Laura McMonagle. Irish actor Patrick Bergin also appears as the notorious “Godfather” Arthur Thompson, with Rita Tushingham playing his wife – coincidentally named Rita.

Glasgow’s Global Visitors: Snoop Dogg

Snoop DoggName: Snoop Dogg (born Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., and also known as Snoop Doggy Dogg and Snoop Lion)

Born: 20th October 1971 in Long Beach, California, USA

Credits include: TurboTraining DayStarsky & Hutch

Reason for visiting Glasgow:

Another visitor to Glasgow who is primarily a musician, Snoop Dogg nonetheless has a healthy number of movie roles under his belt alongside his career as rapper and singer-songwriter. It is a varied movie CV too – from appearances in dramatic features like Training Day to comedy roles in the likes of Scary Movie 5 and voiceover credits including Turbo and Arthur And The Invisibles.

Snoop Dogg is no stranger to Glasgow, having played numerous gigs in the city including engagements at the O2 Academy (2005 and 2010) and the SECC (2011). Reports from his 2005 visit talk of him hosting an after party at Blanket nightclub and staying at the Radisson Hotel. Furthermore he is a noted fan of Celtic Football Club – at one point having expressed an interest in investing in the club – and to round up his love for Glasgow Snoop Dogg was quoted by the Daily Record in 2012 as saying “…I love British Indian restaurants, man – but the best one I ever had was in Glasgow. The food blew me away, man”.



Movie Glaswegians: Craig Ferguson

Screenshot (1)Born in Stobhill Hospital in Springburn on 17th May 1962, Craig Ferguson’s life journey so far has taken him through the worlds of music, acting, writing and stand-up comedy to become one of America’s best known talk show hosts. Alongside regularly interviewing the biggest names in Hollywood, he retains an active movie career of his own.

Raised in Cumbernauld, both the North Lanarkshire new town and the city of his birth appear to have remained close to his heart across the miles – where he now resides in California as the host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. This was no more evident than in 2012 when Ferguson brought a host of Hollywood names to both Glasgow and Cumbernauld to record a week’s worth of The Late Late Show episodes. During these broadcasts he showcased Glasgow rock band The Imagineers to the massive American audience and this trend for highlighting Scottish talent has continued as recently as last week, with the Daily Record reporting that he had booked Glasgow’s Roddy Hart and his band The Lonesome Fire to appear on the show in Los Angeles. Scottish guests on The Late Late Show are a regular occurrence and as noted previously on this blog one show saw Ferguson and friend and one-time band-mate Peter Capaldi recall tales of wild times on Havelock Street.

Between his time in the band Dreamboys with Capaldi and his Late Late Show tenure which began in 2005, notable chapters in Craig Ferguson’s career included appearances in London’s West End, at the Edinburgh Fringe and on television shows including the BBC sitcom One Foot In The Grave and the USA’s The Drew Carey Show.

His film career includes both writing and lead acting credits on the movies The Big Tease (1999) and Saving Grace (2000), with the former set in both Glasgow and Los Angeles. More recently he has been a popular choice for voicing over animated movies, with Brave and the forthcoming How To Train Your Dragon 2 among such credits.