FEATURE ROBERT CARLYLE
because this was never an actor who was in the game for the glamorous lifestyle. The cinema and television roles he takes on. the whole essence of his theatre company - everything points to a man who passionately believes that art has a wider. more worthwhile function than throwaway entertainment. It’s this seriousness of purpose that colours his gentle. thoughtful personality in real life and fuels his almost obsessive defence of his personal arena.
‘One of the most important things regarding
any project for me is that it has some kind of
social worth or value.’ says Carlyle. ‘If it educates me. then hopefully it’s going to leave an imprint on the people who see the film subsequently. and that can only be a good thing. You’re constantly educating yourself and continually becoming more aware of the world and your place within that world.’
Carlyle is now established on this politicised ‘circuit’ (as he calls it) of filmmakers and actors — a like-minded repertory company on a UK-
‘When people address you in the street, it’s always by a character’s name. And I suppose I’ve got to be
happy with the fact that it’s a big range of people — some will shout “Hamish”, some will shout “Begbie”, some will shout “Albie”.’
wide scale — filled with people like Jimmy McGovern. David Hayman. Ken Loach. and Antonia Bird. He recently learned up with filmmaker Bird for the third time (after Safe and Priest) for a London-set thriller called Face.
‘lt’s a fundamental thing for me to try to get as far away from the previous character as possible,‘ he says of his role as a Cockney gangster. ‘Yeah. I’d be dishonest if I said the accent wasn‘t part of it. Obviously that was an advantage, a shortcut to get out of this stereotype thing that is always possible for any Scottish actor.’
One of his more unlikely eo-stars in Face is Damon Albarn — unlikely. that is. until you consider that Albarn has been playing the part of the Cockney lad in Blur for years. ‘Och. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.‘ Carlyle agrees. ‘I mean. he’s a really nice guy and he was totally respectful ofthe whole thing. He went to East l5 Drama School for a short spell. but got pissed off with it. so he does have a theatrical background. Antonia was clever because the size of the part was just right: he’s there. but he’s surrounded by actors who will help him out. And so the guy felt totally confident about it.’
Perhaps the Trainspotting factor has still to really kick in for Carlyle. although there have been a couple of offers from America — which he dismisses as ‘la-la-land’. The only benefit he can see from his heightened media presence is that it might encourage some cinema-goers who wouldn’t know Nicaragua from Nicorettes to drop into a Ken Loach film.
‘I hope so. I hope so.’ he says. ‘It would be
great if that happened because it’s such an important subject for people to know about. I hope people will see posters for Carla 3' Song and say. “Oh. that’s the cunt that was Begbie — I want to go and see it.” ’ Carla 's Song opens at the Showcase and Odeon at the Quay in Glasgow, the Cameo and UC I in Edinburgh, and the UCI Clydebank on Fri 3 I Jan.
8 The List 24 Jan-6 Feb 1997
Robert Garlyle: the story so far
In the after training at ' Glasgow’s RSAMD. Robert Carlyle took stage roles with TAG. 7:84 Scotland and Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre. With Raindog Theatre Company. which he co-founded. his directorial credits include Conquest ()f The South Pole, One Flew Over The Cuckoo is Nest and Wasted. Early television roles took in Taggart and The Bill. while David Hayman gave him his first big screen outing in Silent Scream.
(l99l) Real life experience on building sites helped form the character of Stevie. whose eyes are opened to the dangerous seams in the construction trade in Ken Loach’s ensemble piece.
Safe ( I993) On one level. Nosty is a dreadlocked psycho extorting fellow homeless youngsters in Antonia Bird’s hard-hitting TV drama. but Carlyle turns his self—destructive urges into a poignant cry for help.
Being Human (I993) His sole foray into big budget Hollywood. he features as a pagan priest chasing Robin Williams across prehistoric Scottish hills in Bill Forsyth’s five-story flop. 4 .
Cracker: To Be A Somebody (1994) Pushed a over the edge by his father‘s death and the 5’; llillsborough disaster. Albie shaves his head and brings to an end the promising career of Christopher Eccleston's ambitious cop. Billsborough.
PrleSt ( l994) A more tender turn as the gay lover of Linus Roache's tormented clergyman. but those naked. same sex love scenes caused a furore in America.
Hamish Macbeth ( l995) With a wee puff of dope and a cute little dog at if his heels. the kind-hearted Highland cop managed to subvert the shortbread-box image of Scotland and TVs police show format. Third season is on the way.
60 NOW (I995) Jimmy McGovern co— scripted Paul Powell’s own story of Nick. at young man facing up to the physical and emotional problems brought on by severe multiple sclerosis.
Trainspotting ( 199m Begbie. the dangerous wee hard man. neatly and naflly turned out. dismissive of the whole drugs culture. But did the pastel colours and flashy jewellery hide a homosexual crush on Renton‘.’
Carla’s Song t I996) Bus driver George falls in love with Nicaraguan refugee
Carla when she’s in need of help in Glasgow. but first-hand experience of her trouble-torn country puts pressure on their relationship. Carlyle is one of the few professional actors to be chosen for a second lead role by Ken Loach. ’
Face ( l997) He and Blur's Damon Albarn are part of an East End gang who pull off a dangerous heist in London. then set out to discover the traitor in their midst. Rumours say that Carlyle kept up the Cockney accent 24 hours a day.
The Monty (I997) Facing up to life on the dole as one of a group of five ex-steelworkers in Sheffield. Carlyle might have strayed upon a Boys Front The Blue/(stuff for the 90s.
potting . . .
’g M. b-
. . . and sotter round the edges as Hamish MacBeth