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Robert Carlyle

Robert Carlyle

Stone Of Destiny, Summer

Total Film

December 2008

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Born-and-bred Glaswegian Robert Carlyle has travelled far and wide to ply his thespian trade – from Eastern Europe (Eragon) to South Africa (24: Redemption) and back again. But the actor would prefer to stay on home shores now that he has three “wee ones” to look after. He managed to keep close to his brood on his latest films, Summer and Stone Of Destiny, which were shot, respectively, in the Midlands and Glasgow, “around the corner from where I live”.

How did you get involved in Summer?
I acted together with director Kenny Glenaan years ago – 20 years ago I think. He offered me something three years ago that didn’t happen. So when he sent me this, I replied within a day. I enjoyed the script so much.

You play a man who’s had a disappointing life being a carer for his wheelchair-bound best friend. What appealed about Shaun?
It’s playing your own age, 47, playing that age of man. You understand that life can pass you by. I’m blessed in that I’ve got a very full life but I can imagine very easily being on the other side of the coin. That story moved me. He’s another salt-of-the-earth character.

Is there any challenge left in those roles for you?
A few years ago I did think long and hard about it: is this what I do? It was an epiphany moment for me because these characters can be seen as a sequence of self-portraits in a way. Just a slightly different life and a slightly different road taken…

That also includes Begbie… Did he cast too big a shadow on your career?
No, the opposite. It opened up a lot of stuff for me. Of course I got offered every psycho going, but it’s just important to try and pick through them to find the authentic ones.

Did you snub a lot of Hollywood nutjob roles?
Yeah, and I still do. Because, like I said, a lot of these are self-portraits, sketches of me in another life. And that only holds when its believable. When it goes too far, when this guy’s just killing people for the sake of killing them, that’s when I’ll back out.

Is doing something massive like a Bond movie still appealing to you or is it a case of been-there-done-that?
A bit of both. But, quite honestly, if I could find gold nuggets like Summer – a couple of them a year – I would be more than happy.

Is it hard leaving your three kids behind to go off for a job?
It’s getting harder. Jobs used to take me away for three or four months. I couldn’t do that now. Even four weeks in South Africa on 24 was hard. When I got back, Ava, my oldest – she’s six – came up and put her arms round me and said, “I really missed you Daddy.” And Harvey, my wee boy, came up and said, “I love you Daddy.” Fuck, I’m going to cry...

Are any of your kids’ names inspired by actors?
I worked with a director in Ireland called Pearse Elliot and I’ve always liked that name. It’s the Irish spelling and it also comes from Patrick Pearse, who was one of the heroes in the 1916 uprising. So it’s got a bit of history, a bit of balls about it. Harvey and Ava are just names that came along – although they sound theatrical. I’m not upset that Harvey Keitel and Ava Gardner get mentioned all the time.

Stone Of Destiny has a nationalist theme. Will we ever see an independent Scotland?
Who can tell? Personally, I find the whole notion of nationalism difficult. That’s not to say I’m not a very proud Scot but I don’t need a political party to wave that flag for me.

Are you up for doing Porno if it comes off?
Certainly. Tomorrow. He’s the only character I would ever play again. I think there’s mileage in that guy, there’s more laughs to be had.

Who would Begbie be now?
I don’t think he’d change at all. He’d be hurtling downhill badly. The scene in the book where Sick Boy posts him a load of gay porn... it’s worth doing the film just to play that. Five minutes of Begbie slashing his cell up – I’d pay money to see that myself. Given Ewan McGregor’s eternal reluctance, do you think Porno will ever happen? I would say that it’s doubtful. But never say never. I’ve never said never. Only one of the boys has said never. So we’ll see.

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