EIFF: Not enough Scots films made to keep me here, says Robert Carlyle

Robert Carlyle with wife Anastasia Shirley in Edinburgh earlier this week. Picture: Dan Phillips
Robert Carlyle with wife Anastasia Shirley in Edinburgh earlier this week. Picture: Dan Phillips
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ACTOR Robert Carlyle has bemoaned the state of Scotland’s film industry, claiming it is preventing him from working in his home country.

The Trainspotting, Full Monty and Carla’s Song star said he would happily spend “the rest of his working days” in Scotland.

However, the US-based actor, speaking at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, said the country was simply not making enough movies anymore.

The last year has seen a huge number of stars, including Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt, James McAvoy, Halle Berry and Scarlett Johansson filming in Scotland, with the new Batman and James Bond movies featuring scenes shot here.

While a relatively large number of big-budget productions visited Scotland over the last year, few are being financed from Scotland and there is just one home-grown feature screening at the festival.

Carlyle, a patron of the film festival, agreed to host a Q&A along with director Marshall Lewy after having to pull out of a flagship Bafta “in person” event at the weekend while he was recovering from an operation to remove a polyp from his nose.

Carlyle, who said it was a huge honour to be asked to show his latest film, California Solo, at the event, has won acclaimed for his performance as a washed-up former rock star – a role apparently written for him by the film’s director, Lewy. Carlyle’s character is a Scot living in self-imposed exile and trying to scratch a living on a farm outside Los Angeles.

He was asked at the event why he did not make more films in Scotland, having spent the early part of his career working with directors including Danny Boyle and Ken Loach on Trainspotting and Carla’s Song respectively.

Carlyle said: “You go where the work is as an actor. I would love nothing better to spend the rest of my working days in Scotland. But we just do not make enough films in this country for me to do that.”

Carlyle, who shot to fame with hard-men roles in Trainspotting and TV drama Cracker, said he would “love” to work with Irvine Welsh again in future. “I would be crazy not to,” he added.

He also praised Loach, who has won plaudits for another Scottish film, The Angels’ Share, which the Edinburgh festival missed out on, but was a huge hit at Cannes earlier this year.

Carlyle told the audience how his latest character was partly based on his experience of friends in the British music industry that he met in the 1990s. Paul Weller was even slipped into the script in tribute to a long-standing friendship.

However, Carlyle, who plays a hard-drinking ex-guitarist in the film, revealed he is nowadays virtually teetotal, saying he was “afraid of alcoholism.”

He added: “I saw it happen to a lot of other people … I hardly drink anything at all myself.”

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland said about 15 films were being shot in Scotland each year, adding around £25 million to the economy.

She said: “Not only do we welcome feature film productions from across the world, we also invest in productions developed and made here.

“Film and television are international businesses and producers will go where there is good infrastructure, incentives and tax benefits and incentives.

“We would love Mr Carlyle to work more in Scotland but he’s done a fantastic rob in raising the profile of Scottish talent internationally.”