FEATURE PETER CAPALDI
It’s a wonderful life
With the dust only just beginning to settle on PETER CAPAlDl‘s ()scar. the Scottish actor is regaining his sense of perspective. He speaks to Kathleen Morgan.
or someone who has just been catapulted into the world of Oscar winners. Peter Capaldi is sounding rather tetchy. Days after the golden award was thrust into his sweaty palms under the gaze of a worldwide television audience of about a billion people. the actor is desperate to inject some reality back into his life.
That has involved beating off a string of
journalists he believes are determined to wrap his achievement in tartan. The fact that Capaldi's directorial debut Fran: Kctﬂta’s It's A Wonderfer Life attracted a coveted Hollywood accolade is utterly divorced from the small matter of his Scottish roots. Anyone who dares suggest otherwise is likely to feel the rough edge of a nippy sweetie.
‘Scottishjournalists want your Scottislmess to be what people love. but it’s in a kind of kitsch way.’ says Capaldi in an impeccable Bishopbriggs accent. ‘lt’s liberating to be Scottish. and also to be appreciated as a creative person.’
Behind his reluctance to play the Scottish card. Capaldi is immensely proud of winning the award for best short live action film with Fran: Kaﬂta — a black comedy starring Richard E. Grant and Capaldi’s wife [Elaine Collins. Funded by the Scottish Film Production Fund and BBC Scotland. the 25-minute Tartan Short has attracted not only a lump of metal for his London mantelpiece. but the attention of Hollywood executives. craved by any aspiring filmmaker. It is not the blissful memory ofthirty seconds of fame Capaldi relishes. but the prospect of directing a full-length feature film. Without the tartan bows.
In the days before his Oscar-winning performance at the Los Angeles event. Capaldi was busy touting the script for Moon Man -— ‘a sort of film noir comedy fantasy.’ Days afterwards. he believes he has bagged a deal which could see his dream become a reality. Until it is signed and sealed. he is unwilling to divulge the details. but he stresses his commitment to using Scottish actors if — when — it goes ahead.
Capaldi is in no doubt where his loyalties lie. They are certainly not rooted in a dewy-eyed devotion to Scotland. ‘I would like to do a large section of the filth in Glasgow. but I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to do that.‘ he says. ‘1 will certainly use a large number of Scottish people. but my loyalty is to the project. It‘s a bit difficult to be curtailed by meaningless nationalistic instincts. I don‘t see the point in filming something in Glasgow when it’s more economic to film it somewhere else.‘
Tough talking from the 33-year-old actor who in 1983 captured the heart of a nation in Bill Forsyth’s gentle comedy Local Hero. The film that put the north-east ﬁshing village of Pennan and its public phone box on the cinematic map. also proved a turning point for Capaldi. An
14 The List 2| Apr-4 May 1995
Peter Capaldi: ‘lt‘s liberating to be Scottish, and also to
aspiring Forsyth. who decided he was a safe bet and plunged him into the role of the blundering ()ldsen. ‘l was thrown in at the deep end. doing something I had wanted to do five years before.‘ says Capaldi. adding in typical monotones: 'lt was scary.‘
It was also a triumph for someone who had been rejected for drama school in London and had gone to Glasgow School of Art instead -- a move that pleased his parents. w ho believed his career prospects had improved as a result. "l'hcy
It is not the blissful memory of thirty seconds of fame Capaldi relishes, but the prospect of directing a full-length feature film. Without the tartan bows.
always supported me. but were worried for me because they were just ordinary folk.‘ say s Capaldi. ‘You move into a world they don‘t understand -— it saddens and hurts them because it‘s not as if they can talk to someone who might be able to get you a wee job somewhere. They really wanted me to go to art school and do the drama on the side like any other responsible. normal person.‘
()n Oscar night. Capaldi‘s family w as no doubt relieved he had chosen to ignore his responsible. normal impulses and pursue a career in filth. Since his often hilarious face was launched on the big screen in Local Hero. he has had a few memorable. if sporadic successes. In 1988. he was John Malkovich’s Machiavellian side-kick in Dangerous liaisons and in l‘)‘)2. he wrote and starred in the wonderfully frustrating feel—good mov ie Sufi lint, llrm/ Winn/(la 2' Based
be appreciated as a creative person'
actor. Capaldi had caught the eye of l unashamedly on hiso‘wn Italian—(ilasgow family
background. it captured the agonies and ecstasies fell by anyone who has made a long. nostalgic journey from London to Glasgow. .r\sk (‘apaldi about his roots and you are likely to get a scathing reply. 'l’eople would rather like
to imagine you have a family with the mother
cooking spaghetti] he says. When pushed. he reveals his Italian grandlather moved to Glasgow from a village south of Rome: ‘He started off as a shepherd. Ilis business was vagrancy and he moved into ice cream.‘
(‘apaldi has lived in London for eleven years. but wants to move back to Glasgow with (‘ollins and their young «.laughter. He will do so when he feels he can tap into the film world and make money. without having to apologise his home address. for now. he is still dealing with what he regards as the patronising attitude rampant in London television and film circles — something he escaped from briefly in l.os .-\ngeles. 'Your .‘s'cottishness is not an issue thcref he says. ‘l’eople are not discreetly saying you should be going off making a wee Scottish tilm people don't want to see. whereas in London. there's an instinctive agenda.’
It has not been easy so far. ('apaldi freely admits there have been mistakes along the way. l:ii':.’el_V obscured h} a lack of media interest: ‘i\’o wants miserable mediocrity' For a few people in the ('apaldi household and in the film industry. his most recent achievement was a complete surprise. Bishopbriggs or Beverly Hills—bound. (Tapaldi sounds like he is capable ofa few more like it. .1 Peter (tum/(ll stars in Runway (luv. a comedy hv the [WC i
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