Movie Glaswegians: Rory McCann

Rory McCannBorn in Glasgow on 24th April 1969, online accounts of Rory McCann’s background indicate that his initial line of work before turning to acting was a green fingered one. He was reportedly a landscape gardener and studied at the Scottish School of Forestry.

But he has since moved on to grace our screens – big and small – in a wide variety of productions. At a height of 6’6″, the actor’s stature has perhaps influenced a number of his castings – from poster boy for a porridge firm, to Timothy Dalton’s lumbering henchman, to formidable warrior in a leading international television series.

The porridge job – appearing in a television advert for Scott’s Porage Oats – was McCann’s first acting role and the leading international television series is a reference to his role as Sandor Clegane in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

His first film role was in 2000’s Pasty Faces, partly set in Glasgow, and another city-set feature – Young Adam – also had his name on the credits. He has had particular success with films of a historic and fantasy nature, such as AlexanderBeowulf & GrendelSolomon Kane and Clash of the Titans, but has found himself equally at home in comedies. The aforementioned henchman role was his monosyllabic performance in Hot Fuzz, and in Sixty Six he was on the other side of the law playing a policeman.

Studio Time: Hallam Foe

hallam foe 2hallam foeThere is a handful of actors who are neither Glaswegian or Scottish, but who have nonetheless found themselves working on films in Glasgow on more than one occasion. Emily Mortimer (Dear Frankie, Young Adam) is one, Bob Hoskins (Doomsday, Unleashed) another. Then there is Jamie Bell – the Teesside-born actor who first shot to fame at a young age in Billy Elliot. As previously documented here, Bell spent time in Glasgow during the production of The Eagle and more recently was in the city to shoot the forthcoming Filth. Like The Eagle, 2007’s Hallam Foe features Jamie Bell, was directed by David Mackenzie and used the fantastic Film City Glasgow in Govan as a production base and to shoot some scenes.

Bell plays the titular character in this charming and quirky film and is joined by a strong cast that includes Sophia Myles, Ciaran Hinds (who made his acting debut on stage in Glasgow), Jamie Sives, Claire Forlani and – no stranger to this blog – Ewen Bremner. Hallam is a somewhat troubled young man with a penchant for spying on people and serious stepmother issues following the death of his mother a couple of years previously. He leaves his father (Hinds) and the stepmother (Forlani) behind in their countryside home and heads to Edinburgh, where he spots and follows hotel HR executive Kate – who happens to be a dead ringer for his late mother – and ends up being employed by her. As the film progresses we see the eccentric Hallam come of age in various ways.

While all outdoor scenes and key indoor scenes were filmed in Edinburgh and Peeblesshire, studio filming for parts of the movie took place at Film City Glasgow, and in the DVD commentary David Mackenzie mentions that a staircase seen as the entrance to Kate’s Edinburgh flat is in fact in Glasgow.

Starring Role: Young Adam

young adam 2young adamyoung adam 3Young Adam is a 2003 film with a strong cast headed by Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan and Emily Mortimer. It is directed by David Mackenzie, who also directed the previously featured Perfect Sense as well as some other movies with Glasgow ties that Glasgow on Film will look at in the future.

Two things stand out about Young Adam: a fair amount of sex takes place in the film, including a particularly messy scene involving McGregor, Mortimer and the contents of a kitchen; McGregor is involved in two different strands of the film and the viewer is presented with quite a twist when the link between the two becomes apparent. In fact GoF will not go into too much detail in its synopsis so as not to spoil the movie for any readers who have not seen it.

Set in 1950s Scotland – primarily along the route of the Forth and Clyde canals between Glasgow and Edinburgh but with some scenes taking place in Glasgow itself – the film follows central character Joe (McGregor), who stays on a barge with his employer Les (Mullan) and Les’ wife Ella (Swinton). The film opens with Joe and Les discovering the dead body of a young woman in a river and throughout the film there are references to the resultant investigation and court case – Glasgow’s citizens are quite appalled by the apparent murder, but Les seems proud of his part in the story and almost feels like he is entitled to celebrity status for finding the body. Les for the most part shows affection to Ella but she is disillusioned with their marriage and ends up in a number of passionate encounters with Joe, ultimately leading to separation from Les and the latter’s departure from the barge. We are also made aware of a serious relationship between Joe and Cathie (Emily Mortimer).

Young Adam is a well produced film – as mentioned above, the twist in the tale certainly took GoF by surprise. Excellent use is made of the filming locations and Glasgow shines as a bustling postwar city where industrial decline was yet to fully set in. In one scene in particular, where Joe and Cathie meet outside a book shop, St. Andrew’s Street is transformed into a 1950s set with the level of attention to detail that as viewers we experience regularly for period pieces set in the likes of London and New York, but not so often for portraying a Glasgow of yesteryear.

Welcome To 2013!

First of all, a very Happy New Year to all – hope 2013 brings you everything you wish for.

Today Glasgow on Film is taking the opportunity to look forward to what promises to be a vintage year for cinema exposure, and to share hopes and wishes for what else can come the city’s way…

Coming Soon

2011 and 2012 were big years for movie production in Glasgow – 2013 sees the fruits of the film-makers’ labours hit the big screens, and it is hard to remember any other time when so many Glasgow linked features were due to come out. And what a variety of movies too – see below for the releases that are coming our way in 2013.

Cloud Atlas:Already released in the USA (and in fact due for DVD/Blu-Ray release there on 5th February), this ambitious production hits British cinema screens on 22nd February. Based on a 2004 novel by British author David Mitchell, this is a German production written and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. The film’s official synopsis reads: “…Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future”. The movie is set in multiple places and times and as such, filming took place at locations across Europe including Dusseldorf, Edinburgh, Majorca and of course Glasgow. Glasgow was used for the filming of two scenes – one set in 1970s San Francisco and involving Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving and Keith David (filmed around the Bothwell Street/St Vincent Street area, this involved a car crash and gunfire); the other scene was filmed further along St Vincent Street and involved Jim Broadbent leaving a mocked up tailor’s shop in what appears to be contemporary (or 20th Century) London. As became something of a habit in 2011, GoF went along for a “nosey” at the San Francisco scene filming and managed to spot Hugo Weaving and – from a distance – Halle Berry. Look out at 1.11 on the trailer below for a very fleeting glimpse of this scene.

The Fast And The Furious 6: The latest instalment in this long running series of road-based action movies, starring Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, is released in cinemas on 24th May. It has been indicated that the setting for this movie (previous The Fast And The Furious films were set in the USA and in one instance Tokyo) will be London and while much of the filming took place in the capital, Glasgow and Liverpool lent their streets and tunnels as stunt doubles for a couple of scenes. The scene shot on Glasgow’s Cadogan Street did not involve any of the film’s actors, however there was a car chase involving some impressive stunts – including a Metropolitan Police car being flipped into the air. Better captures of the action can be found on YouTube, but here anyway is GoF’s rather primitive footage of some of the vehicles setting off.

wwz 13World War Z:Mentioned here before, the 2013 movie that is perhaps most highly anticipated by Glaswegians. Released on 21st June, the feature that saw George Square transformed into Philadelphia has Brad Pitt travelling the globe as a United Nations employee while the nations of the world struggle against a zombie pandemic. Here once again is the trailer, with Glasgow featuring heavily at the start, and one of GoF’s set photos.

Others to look out for, with release dates still to be confirmed, are: Under The Skin – Scarlett Johansson became a familiar sight in Glasgow, shooting this movie about a seductive alien; Filth– another Irvine Welsh novel turned into a movie, this one starring James McAvoy and Jamie Bell; Not Another Happy Ending – a romantic film starring Karen Gillan.

Hopes For 2013

Glasgow on Film hopes that all of the above films will be successful, further inspiring confidence in the city as one of the world’s leading movie making locations. It would be great to see even more productions come to Clydeside – the reputation is definitely out there now so who knows who will roll into Glasgow next. Perhaps 2013 will be the year that a new studio complex in Govan is given the green light – if so that will lead the way for a very bright future for the movie industry in Glasgow.

In the meantime Glasgow on Film looks forward to continuing to catalogue everything that links the city to the big screen. Later this week subjects will be as diverse as Glasgow’s appearance in The Fourth Protocol, visits by Mila Kunis, Ardal O’Hanlon and Bruce Willis and the movie appearances of Tony Roper. And coming soon a look at many more films including Young Adam, Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy, NEDS, Red Road and The Angels’ Share.

Thank you for visiting and once again, a very Happy New Year!