THE Isle of Skye is preparing for more big-screen stardom after being lined up as a location for a blockbuster version of Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender.
Hundreds of extras are being recruited for the latest telling of William Shakespeare’s play, which will feature Fassbender, star of Oscar contender 12 Years of Slave, in the lead opposite French Academy Award-winner Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth.
Male recruits for the film, which is being directed by Australian film-maker Justin Kurzel, are being urged to grow their hair and beards for the seven-week shoot, which will also take place on location in England, including Hankley Common in Surrey – which stood in for Scotland in the James Bond film Skyfall – Cambridge and Oxford.
The producers of Macbeth, who have won financial backing from movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s company, have pledged it will tell the story of a “fearless warrior and inspiring leader brought low by ambition and desire”.
Several spectacular location shoots in the north of Skye are believed to be in the pipeline. Macbeth, which is receiving £200,000 worth of support from arts agency Creative Scotland, is the latest in a series of major films to use the islands.
The production, which will be based in Portree, has been confirmed months after Skye had a starring role standing-in for 18th century Japan. A group of sword-wielding warriors was seen galloping across the island in the Samurai epic 47 Ronin, which starred Keanu Reeves.
Director Ridley Scott filmed – and set – part of 2012 sci-fi thriller Prometheus, his long-awaited Alien prequel, on Skye, using the Old Man of Storr.
The Quiraing area was featured in Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron.
The first ever Gaelic-language feature film, Seachd – The Inaccessible Pinnacle (2007), was produced on Skye by islander Chris Young. He went on to work on The Inbetweeners and was at the centre of controversy after Bafta refused to put Seachd forward for an Academy Award.
The following year, the film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book Stardust, with Claire Danes, Michelle Pfieffer, Sienna Miller and Robert De Niro, was shot in various locations on Skye, including the Fairy Glen.
A major indoor studio has been created inside a warehouse in Cumbernauld, while key locations have included Doune Castle in Perthshire, which Historic Scotland agreed to close for several weeks to accommodate filming.
Janet Archer, chief executive of Creative Scotland, said: “We are delighted to support Justin Kurzel’s film, working in partnership with See-Saw, Film4, StudioCanal and the entire film-making team to produce this adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard – arguably two of the more most inspiring and daring actors of our time.
“The Scottish film industry works hard to promote Scotland’s world-class talent, film locations, facilities and services.
“We encourage the international film industry to come and film in Scotland and it’s great to see productions of this stature making use of everything we have to offer.”