Stot_t making sense

Whether playing an Irish gangster or a Scottish cop, Edinburgh’s

KEN STOTT wants his characters to ring true. Just don't ask him about doing bird.

‘.'.'<:r<:s: Brian Donaldson

l)on‘t heliere what you hear ahout pigeon-l'aneiers. 'l‘he)‘ ma) not he the humane and lo\'ing littllVitltlills they‘ve heen eraeked up to he. Martin ('ahill. one ol the most notot'iotts l’igures in the Dublin underworld of the 80s. is one sueh man.

‘When l was a kid there \\ ere a eouple aeross the haek from us \\ ho kept pigeons and one ol‘ them would take great delight in shouing Us hon he \\otl|d \\ ring their neeksf reealls lidinhurgh- horn aetor Ken Stolt. \\ ho plit'll'tl}s (’ahill in the BBC Northern Ireland lilm kit/(ills ('irv/e. ‘I don‘t knotx uhether he aetuall} did it or not. but \\ e were horrilied at the eruelt} that he seemed eapahle ol. I don’t think that keeping pigeons is neeessaril) an image ol tenderness.‘

lie/hm (ire/v is \xritten h) Kieran l’rendi\ ille and direeted by l)a\id Blair who has worked \xith Stott hel'ore in lit/ting ()\‘('I' The :lxt/Hm and .l .llug'x (iume. 'l’he leature-length lilm is a largel} .s_\‘mpathetie look at ('ahill. the areh enem} ol hoth the IRA and the state \xho relused to pin} along \xith the rules laid down h} either. What he \\as not out eommitting the largest art thel‘t in Irish liisltil') (£30m north ol paintings stolen lrom the Beit ('olleetion in (‘ount_\ \Vieklou in “)86) or inl‘lieting erueili\ion on those \\hom he tell \\ ere hetra_\ing him. he \\ott|d he in his shed tending to his \x'inged friends or taking them out to the eoast l'or exereise. ('ahill’s stor_\ has heen preViousl} told in John Boorman's l‘NX liltn 'I‘ht' (iv/Haul.

Stott‘s perl‘ormanee is another leather in the eap ol‘

an aetor \\ hose stock is rising \xith eaeh sueeessi\ e role he takes on. His resume ineludes pla_\ ing the eop in Slut/low (irurt'. a trainer opposite Daniel l)a)— l.e\\is in The limvr and a l'i'ustrated sales rep in Iii/ting ()l‘r’l‘ ’l'lu' gist/Hm. lle ean eurrentl} he seen in l'l‘\"s harrouing drama about the dead|_\ side ol the se\ ilttltlslt‘} 'l'ln' like.

These roles. like the man himsell. tend to he largel} serious and thoughtlul. Rather than

102 THE lIST ~2 3-4, '98“?

'When I was a kid there were a couple who kept pigeons and one of them would take great delight in showing us how he would wring their necks.'Ken Stott

Dove lovin’ criminal: Ken Stott as Martin Cahill in Vicious Circle

rigourousl} researehing his roles. Stott looks \xithin

himsell‘ to diseo\ er the emotional truth o!" a seene or


'Sometimes it's hest just to tell the truth.’ he sa_\s. "l‘he lk‘sl and littit'est option is to he _\(llll\L‘ll and lo reaet in a \\a) that _\ou might normall) reaet. .\ simple straight attitude is prohahI} the hest path to

\Vith ('ahill. Stott \\as keen to a\oid a [Nil'll'tl_\ill which required him to go oil to the historieal doeumentation and spend hours poring o\ er pages.

‘You'd think that there‘d he a huge amount ol‘ researeh to he done on a eharaeter that L‘\L‘t‘}l7t)tl} kllti\\s :1 little hi1 ahout or has a stor_\ ahout.‘ he sa}s. 'But \\ e \\ eren't doing a hiopie, me new tr_\ittg to eapture the spirit ol~ the eharaeter. ll. _\ou're not earel‘ul. _\ou ean researeh something into oh|i\ ion and instead ol‘ ereating openings l'or _\ourse|l _\ou ean ereate ohstaeles. \Ve \\ ere eertain that \\ e did not \\ant to produee an ahsolutel} laitlil'ttl approaeh to the eharaeter. \\hetlier [ill}\lC'illl_\ or mentall). .-\rtistie ehoiee is \xhat matters and drama is ultimatel} the major aim.’

Ken Stott just ean't stop hitting that target again and again.

Vicious Circle, BBC1, Tue 9 Feb, 10pm. The Vice, Scottish, Mons, 9pm.

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