The King and I: Young star shines at pre­miere

Lead­ing ac­tor says movie not a tool to be wielded for in­de­pen­dence

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By BRIAN FER­GU­SON brian.fer­gu­son@scots­man.com

Hol­ly­wood ac­tor Chris Pine poses with Ed­in­burgh school­girl Josie O’brien, ten, on the red car­pet for last night’s Scot­tish pre­miere of Out­law King. O’brien plays Mar­jorie – the daugh­ter of Pine’s Robert the Bruce – in the £85 mil­lion film.

Hol­ly­wood star Chris Pine de­clared that he did not want his new Robert the Bruce epic to be “wielded as a tool” for Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence as he un­veiled the Net­flix film in Ed­in­burgh.

The Amer­i­can ac­tor, who fol­lowed First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon down the red car­pet at the film’s Scot­tish pre­miere, de­scribed the film “as a med­i­ta­tion on one man’s de­sire for power, for au­ton­omy and an end to tyranny”.

But Pine, who said he had spo­ken to a num­ber of his­tory pro­fes­sors dur­ing ex­ten­sive re­search which in­cluded a visit to Ban­nock­burn, said he be­came con­vinced the Scot­tish hero was a “tricky” and “Machi­avel­lian fig­ure,” whose early al­le­giances were hard to pin down.

Out­law King, the big­gest Scot­tish film of all-time, also re­ceived the big­gest ever pub­lic sub­sidy, of £1 mil­lion, de­spite be­ing bankrolled by Net­flix, which will launch the film on 9 Novem­ber.

How­ever the ex­ten­sive lo­ca­tion film­ing, which spanned 45 lo­ca­tions around 65 days, was thought to be worth £17.5m for the econ­omy, with huge tourism spin-offs ex­pected when the film is launched.

Pine com­pared the dra­matic land­scapes used in Out­law King, in­clud­ing Glen­coe and the Isle of Skye, to those fea­tured in the Lord of the Rings block­busters.

Asked what he thought Scots would make of the film, Pine said: “It’s dif­fi­cult for me to speak for any­one in Scot­land. I hope they en­joy it. I don’t think your coun­try has ever looked more beau­ti­ful.

“I hope the char­ac­ters are com­pelling and the ac­tion is ac­cu­rate in its bru­tal­ity. I didn’t set out to make a film that would be wielded as a tool for Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence.

“It’s a med­i­ta­tion on one man’s de­sire for power, for au­ton­omy and an end to tyranny.”

Asked if thought the film would help the in­de­pen­dence cause, Pine said: “That’s just not what I get paid to do. I get paid to tell sto­ries.”

Pine said he re­alised the enor­mity of the role meant he had to do “due dili­gence” by re­search­ing ex­ten­sively on what mo­ti­vated his char­ac­ter.

“From all I could gather, in try­ing to pin down why he did what he did, this was a man who was very opaque and neb­u­lous.

“Wil­liam Wal­lace seemed a bit more straight­for­ward, but I liked the fact he wasn’t straight­for­ward and his al­le­giances couldn’t be pinned down, at least in the be­gin­ning. He kisses the ring of Ed­ward, he re­lin­quishes his army and he ac­cepts de­feat, but quite soon af­ter that he be­gins his lit­tle moves in guer­rilla war­fare.

“You can see a man test­ing the wa­ter. I took that as some­one who was Machi­avel­lian in na­ture. He was bid­ing his time.

“I liked the thought­ful­ness of that. I tried to find out specif­i­cally what drove him, but re­ally failed, de­spite all the re­search I did and all the his­to­ri­ans I spoke to. He is con­tin­u­ally a neb­u­lous fel­low in my mind. He seems to me to be a very tricky fel­low. I be­lieve that he felt he de­served to be king.

“I prob­a­bly be­lieve there was a self­ish part of him that didn’t want to free his land from tyranny. Like all men, he was no saint, I’m sure, but beau­ti­fully com­plex and hu­man, just like the rest of us.

“It was ex­cit­ing to come to Scot­land to work on a Scot­tish film that was set in Scot­land. I was ex­cited to swing swords, get on horses, get dirty and have fun.”

The cast of Out­law King in­clud­ing Chris Pine, sec­ond right, direc­tor David Macken­zie, cen­tre, and young Ed­in­burgh star Josie O’brien, front

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