lain Glen on his new film Fools ofFortune, Forsyth Hardy‘s new book Scotland In Film and Tie Me
Up.’ Tie Me Down.’.
INDEX: 18 LISTINGS: WEEK ONE 24 WEEK TWO 26
With his impressive performance in the new film adaptation ofWilliam Trevor’s Fools OfFortttne. Iain Glen adds to his string of emotionally demanding film and stage roles. Trevor Johnston tracks down the acclaimed but reclusive Scots actor.
lain Glen is not the easiest of people to get hold of. Touting the local interest angle I‘d been trying to arrange a piece with the craggy Edinburgh-born actor for several months via several different projects. Finally. Palace Pictures at length persuaded him it would be a good idea if he talked to me about his and their latest offering Fools OfFortune. Such is Glen’s reticence however. that talk is all he was prepared to do. Although we were both in London at the time. the interview was to be conducted on the phone rather than in person.
The previous time I'd come across him. things were a little different. He was on stage at the Glasgow Film Theatre. a broad grin on his face as he brandished the Silver Bear he'd just won at the Berlin Film Festival for his performance in director David Hayman‘s Scottish-made debut feature The Silent Scream. having turned in some extraordinary work playing real-life convicted murderer turned Barlinnie poet and artist Larry Winters. ‘That was a, very emotional night.‘ he recalls in unmistakably soft tones. ‘Perhaps I'm romanticising the place because I‘m so disaffected with London at the moment. but I feel my heart is very much back there. There‘s great humour and a love ofcommunication that you just don‘t get down here.‘
Having finished his degree at Aberdeen University and picked up an Equity card through Borderline's autumn 1982 touring production of Brecht's Arturo L'i. Glen initially headed south to pursue his training at RADA. and Silent Scream excepted he'd only previously returned to Scotland for a couple oftelevision jobs (Neil Gunn‘s Blood/unit. an early Taggart). However unhappy he might appear with life in London. he admits he‘s needed to base himself there to build the work up to the award-winning level of achievement he's now reached.
Following on from the triumph ofSilent Scream (due for an October release) and the ‘incredible
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adventure’ of Bob Rafelson's African exploration epic Mountains ()f The Moon. (.ilen‘s third high-profile film this year is Pat (‘al O'Connor‘s screen version ofWilliam Trevor's tragedy-strewn lrish family saga. ‘I wanted to investigate innocence to a degree.‘ Glen reflects on his decision to accept the part of Willie Quinton. the lynehpin ofthe narrative as the film chronicles the effects ofturbulent events during the Twenties‘ Civil War years on the subsequent generations. At timesone feels that director O'Connor’s over-elaboration dissipates the power ofvery‘ strong material (a returning Julie Christie is especially noteworthy as his decay ing alcoholic mother). but the actor himself has no doubts ofthe validity ofthe film‘s efforts.
‘I thought the way the script looked at 'l he Troubles in Ireland. not from a political point of view but examining the emotional level. was a very creative route into how things begin and how they affect people. You know. you can get very involved in mere acting exercises. but for me: even if it's not as overt as Fools (ill-ornate or Silent Scream. to contribute to a project you feel has something to say is what I look for in my work. But it‘s hard to find that. because there simply aren‘t many films being made you'tl actually vs ant to be a part of.‘
This level of commitment is readily apparent in much of his work. most obviously. for example. in Fools ()fl'ortune's scenes ofdistressing emotional intensity where Glen creates moments ofgenuine screen electricity. For a man who claims inarticulacy (‘I find it difficult to recreate and speak about things I‘ve worked on in the past because I'm always looking to get lost in the next one'). he is illuminating on the process ofsuch high-powered performances. ‘lfyou work in a way that you have to have silence around you or you're approaching real emotional pitches. I‘ve always ween very impressed with the way crews respond. I never quite know how I get into it on set. but I've never felt afraid or cmbarassed to give it ago. be it breaking down or whatever.‘
llis total immersion in his work to the exclusion ofall else is probably the pritnc reason for his refusal to court the publicity machine. a situation that's likely tocontinue. ‘ls it shyness or laziness”? I do ask myselfthat. but I suppose it just doesn't come easily for me and I've very little will to change that. If I was a stronger person I'd make the decision not to do publicity at all. [don't want to make it difficult for anyone. but you‘ve got to be true to what you feel.‘ l'tmlv (’l ltH'lllllt' I I5) opens (Ill/1U ()tlt'ims (finer ‘H (UNI l-ftllnlmry’t (HI l't'ltlttv ln’Ju/y'. J The List 13 -- 2(thin IWU15