The former gangster who nearly quit own movie

Paul Ferris with actor Martin Compston. Picture: Robert Perry
Paul Ferris with actor Martin Compston. Picture: Robert Perry
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FORMER gangland figure Paul Ferris today admitted he was almost forced to walk out of the movie based on his rise through the Glasgow underworld because it was so close to the truth.

• Former Glasgow gangster Paul Ferris admitted film based on his life was difficult to sit through

• The Wee Man was “a reminder of much darker side” of Ferris’ past

The reformed gangster said the memories of his bloody feuding with arch-rivals and the “trigger mechanisms” for burst of violence as a youngster were difficult to sit through.

He told a press conference held to mark the launch of star-studded film The Wee Man that he would not be making “a penny” from the film.

But he revealed that any profits would be shared between the families of several murder victims shown in the film.

He insisted a key part of the script - which sees a young Ferris exact vicious revenge after an attempted rape of a young woman and then slip into a spiral of violence - was based on a true incident. But he admitted he was already locked into a cycle of violence at the time.

Ferris said he was “pleasantly surprised” with the final movie, but added: “It was a reminder that there was much darker side to me in the past.

“There was a horrible hatred, it was a demonic sort of thing, and there was an outlet of violence.

“At one point watching the movie, I needed fresh air. I didn’t watch to give the wrong impression to the audience that were in there with me, that I was walking out for some other reason, but it felt like an emotional rollercoaster for me.”

Martin Compston, the star of the film, who appeared at the media launch alongside the once-feared figure who inspired it, along with director Ray Burdis and co-stars Laura McMonagle and Stephen McCole, insisted he had no doubts about taking on the role.

He added: “Obviously, being a west-coast boy, I grew up with the story of Paul Ferris as you would read about him in the papers. It was a cracking part to get. I was chuffed to be involved with the film.”

Burdis denied the film’s depiction of violence was irresponsible and said the guilt of Ferris over the murder of Arthur “Fat Boy” Thompson had been left ambiguous for “artistic” reasons.

Ferris was famously cleared of the murder after what was then the longest running criminal trial in Scottish legal history.

He said: “I don’t mean this flippantly, but I was making a film as opposed to a documentary.

“I’m very proud of the film. People may have their opinions about it, but i think the cast have delivered superb all-round performances.

“I think it will have wide appeal, like The Krays did. I always get it thrown at me that I am glamorising violence, but when you make a film about a subject it tends to glamourise it.”

The brutally violent drama charts Ferris’s rise to prominence in the city’s underworld from the days when he was bullied as an 11-year-old in the city’s Blackhill area.

Burdis, producer of The Krays, mounted an outspoken attack against Strathclyde Police and Glasgow City Council last week claiming he was forced to shoot “The Wee Man” in London due to their opposition to the film.

John Hannah, Denis Lawson and Clare Grogan also star in the film, which is going on release across Scotland on Friday.