Action film shot in Blackness

A MAJOR new action thriller starring screen legends Bob Hoskins and Malcolm McDowell is being filmed at a Lothian castle.

The producers of Doomsday are using Blackness Castle near Linlithgow for key scenes in the futuristic movie.

The film's plot centres on a deadly plague called the Reaper Virus, which kills hundreds of thousands of British citizens in 2007.

In desperation, the Government evacuates as many survivors as it can from the infected area, then builds a wall to quarantine the remaining population.

But 30 years later, with the wall still up and the victims all but forgotten, the virus breaks out again. The authorities send in a crack team of operatives, led by Major Eden Sinclair, to retrieve a cure by any means necessary.

She is played by Rhona Mitra, from TV shows Nip/Tuck and Boston Legal, who is currently on location at the castle - along with Clockwork Orange star McDowell and British actor Adrian Lester, who featured in Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow.

However, Bob Hoskins - who plays a character called Bill Nelson in Doomsday - is not filming in West Lothian.

Both the interior and exterior of Blackness Castle will feature in the film, and fight scenes are being played out at the ten-day shoot - which started yesterday.

The building, which will appear on screen as an unnamed Scottish castle, has been closed to the public for a fortnight to allow the shoot to go ahead.

Nick Finnigan, Historic Scotland's filming and events manager, said: "In view of the size and scale of the production, the decision was made to grant the film crew exclusive access to the castle for a short period. We look forward to welcoming visitors back to Blackness Castle when it re-opens on May 14."

Doomsday is written and directed by Neil Marshall, whose previous work includes The Descent and Dog Soldiers.

Other cast members include Sudanese actor Alexander Siddig, recently on screen as a reformed villain alongside Kiefer Sutherland in 24, while Sean Pertwee is also thought to be joining the cast.

National Lottery funding was secured by the producers to ensure some filming of the international feature took place in the UK. Scottish Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson was also involved from the outset.

Other scenes from the movie are being filmed in Cape Town and Glasgow.

Celia Stevenson of Scottish Screen said: "It is thanks to the close relationship we have with Historic Scotland and the Glasgow Film Office that we have pulled this off in face of fierce competition from other countries keen to attract such major filming."

Scotland's forests, mist-covered hills, isolated castles and stately homes are currently proving a massive hit with film makers.

Built in the 15th century by one of Scotland's most powerful families, the Crichtons, Blackness Castle was once a garrison fortress and state prison.

Ben Carter, VisitScotland's area director for Edinburgh and the Lothians, said: "Films are a major draw for visitors and it is great to see another major movie being shot in the Lothians.

"'Set jetting' is an increasingly popular trend, which sees film fans from around the world travelling to the locations where their favourite films were made."

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