Search for Gaelic actor for historic film ends in Scottish snub

THE search for a Gaelic-speaking boy to star in a Hollywood blockbuster has ended in Ireland after the film's makers failed to find a suitable Scottish youngster.

Confusingly for purists of the language both Irish and Scottish Gaelic is to be spoken in the forthcoming historical drama The Eagle of the Ninth.

The decision has been attacked by the SNP's Westminster Gaelic spokesman as a "snub" to the Scottish tongue – and by the national Gaelic development agency as "disappointing."

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Director Kevin Macdonald launched a major search for a boy to star in the 15 million historical epic alongside Channing Tatum, Donald Sutherland and Jamie Bell – and with a good speaking part.

But embarrassingly for the Scottish Gaelic movement – which has received millions of pounds to revive the language – a young Irish-speaking actor won the part in the movie, which is about a Roman legion that disappeared in the Highlands.

Now, instead of the native Scottish tongue being spoken by Seal Boy in The Eagle of The Ninth – it will be Irish Gaelic, something distinctly different. But it is also believed that other members of Seal Boy's tribe – who were recruited from auditions – will be speaking Scottish Gaelic.

A spokesman for Brd na Gidhlig – the Gaelic development agency – said:

"It is very disappointing. We have shown in all the numerous Gaelic programmes and films that there is plenty of young Gaelic-speaking talent out there.

"We are disappointed the film company never approached us for help. There is a big difference between Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic." Ironically it is unlikely that either language would have been spoken in the area at the time the film is set – with the Pictish tongue most likely to be heard.