There's only one

Robert Carlyle

He's nothing if not versatile is ROBERT CARLYLE, which is why

after the family friendly delights

of THERE'S ONLY ONE JIMMY GRIMBLE, he'll be back playing the headcases. Words: Catherine Bromley

ROBERT CARLYLE IS IN THE MIDDLE OF A hectic afternoon‘s grilling by the press. ()ne film crew has just packed up outside the small room in Edinburgh’s Caledonian Hotel where Carlyle is holding court only for another to rapidly set up in its place. Surprisingly relaxed. wearing a loose fitting shirt and working his way through a pack of American Spirit cigarettes. he prepares himself for. in his words. ‘the variations and permutations of the same questions‘. More than understanding. though. he admits that we ‘can't be expected to come up with original questions‘ and so it‘s on the crest of a giant wave of relief that we ease into the routine.

Appropriately enough it seems that Carlyle himself is at the crest of a wave all of his own making. He first meandered onto the big

screen ten years ago in Ken Loach‘s RifllRaff

and now. as one of the few Scottish actors to make his name in Hollywood. Carlyle can afford to be choosy with the projects he accepts. Last seen as the dastardly villain in the £73 million Bond film. The World Is Not Enough. he has distanced himself from Hollywood blockbusters and returned to Scotland to appear as former football star turned disillusioned school coach. Iiric Wirral. in John Hay‘s £3 million project. There 's Only One Jimmy Grimble.

Although famed for his hard boy roles. the psycho Begbie in Trainspotting. the rabid scouser Albie in Cracker and the raving cannibal of Ravenous. Carlyle has demonstrated enormous versatility through the years. And it‘s with Eric Wirral that Carlyle delivers one of the most understated and developed character studies of his career. Granted. the psychos have made their impact. but Carlyle is keen to stress his wide-ranging appeaL

‘One of the softest characters I‘ve played was Gaz in The Full Monty and I’d say that‘s the one that‘s possibly had the biggest impact. I think I’ve been fortunate in my career that I‘ve been able to play different sides of the spectrum. I mean if you ask most people over 50. they‘ll tell you Hamish Macbeth and again there‘s something very soft and gentle about that guy. But Trainspotting obviously the l8 to

8 THE LIST 24 Aug—7 Sep 2000

,_,. ‘11..“ 'Bullying is something that's quite a problem for hundreds of thousands of kids, so it's nice to do something for them.’

25-year-old generation at that time. I‘ll always be remembered by them for that. so it just depends on who you're speaking to. I don't feel so far that I‘ve put myself into a corner in any way. In a sense that's what Grimble is all about. just to get away from that again: (Irimble and the character of Eric Wirral is very soft and very gentle. It‘s nice to explore both worlds.’

Having extensively researched the part of Eric Wirral and added his own reading of the role to the script. his performance and indeed the film as a whole gently develops into a quietly moving experience. When I describe (irimble as a very life-affirming film. charting as it does the transformation of a bullied teenager who discovers a pair of magical football boots that turn him into a football star. Carlyle is quick to agree. ‘You know it's a weird thing because I‘ve been speaking to

journalists for the past couple of weeks about this and it's almost as if

they‘re a wee bit ashamed to say that.‘ he laughs. ‘We‘re very used to the Americans pulling the heartstrings and violins and this film doesn’t do that. but I think you are moved by this wee guy‘s plight. or the plight of a lot of the people in the film.‘

He adds: ‘When I read the script. [just felt for this kid. I’d never seen a film with the subject of bullying. It’s been dealt with in television but not really in film and I thought it was kind of a worthwhile thing to do. It‘s something that‘s quite a problem for hundreds of thousands of kids in this country. in any country. So it's nice to try and do something which is for them. Another thing was I wanted to do a family film. a true family film. This wee film is the kind that can be shown at Christmas time and it’s lovely to be part of something like that.‘

That's not to say that Carlyle is turning soft on us. In his next film he stars alongside Kiefer Sutherland in a harrowing World War II POW drama. To End All Wars. Beyond that. Carlyle is due to start filming 51st State in September with Samuel L. Jackson. in ‘an unashamed action comedy‘. Set in Liverpool. the film is about a chemist. played by Jackson. who has the formula for the new Ii and arrives in Britain to peddle his wares. And Carlyle's role‘.’ Well. as he says himself: ‘It's back to being a headcase again.~

There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble, goes on general release Fri 25 Aug. See review, page 17