Billy Connolly says he is prepared to make an acting comeback - playing a character with Parkinson's

Sir Billy Connolly has revealed he would consider making a TV or film comeback - despite declaring that his stand-up days are behind him due to the impact of his Parkinson's disease.

Billy Connolly says he would be interested in playing a character with Parkinson's disease in a TV or film acting role.
Billy Connolly says he would be interested in playing a character with Parkinson's disease in a TV or film acting role.

The legendary Scottish comedian, who also won acclaimed for roles in The Big Man and Mrs Brown, said he would be open to offers for roles, despite withdrawing from live performances

Speaking during a visit to his native Glasgow, the 77-year-old said he would even be interested in playing a character with Parkinson's, which he was diagnosed with seven years ago.

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He said he had been bemused by the continued interest in his decision to call a halt to live performances, which he initially announced in November 2018, adding that he believe it was because comedians never normally announce they are "retiring."

Connolly, who was unveiling a new collection of his own artwork in the city, revealed that his wife Pamela was keeping him active by negotiating "secret" deals for projects, including TV documentary series.

He revealed that he had decided to tone down the amount of swearing in a recent book bringing together his classic live routines.

Connolly's acting career goes back nearly half a century to when he appeared in The Great Northern Welly Boot Show, a stage musical he co-wrote and performed in at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1972.

His last major acting role saw him play a grandfather with terminal cancer, which he made shortly after being diagnosed with Parkinson's and prostate cancer in the feature film What We Did On Our Holiday, which was made with David Tennant and Rosamund on location in the West Highlands.

Connolly's other screen roles include The X Files, Muppets Treasure Island, Indecent Proposal and Brave, and the American sitcoms Head of the Class and Billy.

Asked whether he would consider returning to acting, Connolly said: "I'd maybe act again if a nice thing came up. I don't have anything in mind, but I'd definitely mull it over if I was asked. I like doing it.

"I had a brilliant time making What We Did On Our Holiday up at Gairloch, apart from the midges. ****** hell. They were the worst I've ever experienced them."

"I went to a thing at Downing Street for a Parkinson's charity. I met a writer there who wanted me to play a guy with Parkinson's in a film. I said 'sure, I'll do that.'

"But I think the whole project has fallen through now."

Connolly said he was amazed he was still making headlines about "retiring" from stand-up comedy - despite revealing he had given up touring well over a year ago.

Connolly kept performing live for another three years after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, from which he has made a full recovery, and Parkinson's on the same day in 2013.

"It's strange that people keep making big headlines out it when I said a year ago. I think people think that retiral is an explosive decide, whereas it meant nothing to me. The reaction has been was amazing. Maybe it's been because nobody ever retired before.

"I feel as if I'm as busy as ever, but it's weird because I've been managed all my adult life. People tell me where to go and which plane to get on and I just go.

"My wife keeps things secret from me. She keeps doing deals for TV series and things like that. She keeps me active."

Connolly said had decided to cut down the amount of swearing in his book, Tall Tales and Wee Stories, by around two thirds after reading the manuscripts of his routines.

He added: "The publishers went back to the records and jotted all it all down. It was amazing.

"But I had to take a lot of the swear words out. I didn't realise I had gone through such a sweary process. I was shocked by the sheer amount of it. It just didn't sit right, it was overdone. Maybe it was just the fact that the reading of it was different to listening to it.

"I got criticised for swearing at the time by absolutely everybody. Even my roadies would say to me: 'I thought you were over the top tonight.'

"I found it amazing doing live shows latterly because I was speaking the truth about myself. It was good fun - there was no hang-up to it."

Connolly said he would be in Glasgow until Sunday, but would be giving the Old Firm game in the city a wide berth.

He said: "I don't go to them anymore. There's an atmosphere and I don't like, the bigotry.

"I stopped going to Old Firm games about 15 years ago. There's a side to them and the songs they sing which is not good.

"I've made fun of it (the bigotry) and had fun with it over the years, but it's not funny. I haven't a clue if it will ever change. It's something that you can't study. I don't choose to dwell on it.

"It's the dark side of Scotland. Glasgow doesn't have the only bigots in Scotland, I can assure you."

Connolly, who flew into the UK last week from the United States, said he was unconcerned about the impact of the coronavirus but admitted he was as "bewildered" as anyone at the spread of the virus.

"It's very weird. It seems like it's not really happening. There's no ambulances screening off with victims. It's kind of strange.

"America is even weirder. You can't even get tested for it. They seem to hold the economy in more importance than people there.

"I'm not concerned. Maybe I would if there were ambulances screeching up the street or people were being grabbed and hustled away.

"I don't know what is going on. Everybody seems bewildered. Even the experts seem bewildered on the telly."

Connolly was in Glasgow to unveil the latest in a series of artworks he has created in recent years, including a sculpture based on one of his drawings, of a God-like welder, which was inspired by his days working in a Clyde shipyard.

Connolly said: "I've been interested in art almost my whole life, ever since I saw Salvador Dali's painting of Christ of Saint John of the Cross in Kelvingrove when I was about 10.

"I remember the impact it had on me very clearly. He has chosen to paint him from a very weird angle - the drama of it was amazing and I remember being overcome by the strength of it.

"None of my teachers encouraged me to draw at school. I was rotten at it.

"I first started drawing about 15 years ago in Montreal, in Canada. They had this really icy rain that you only seem to get in Canada and really nips your face. I was in my hotel for hours and wanted to go walking.

"On the way back, I noticed there were two shops opposite the hotel - a pet store and an art store. I was only in the pet store for a few minutes. When I went into the art store, to justify my presence I bought a sketch book and some pens and I've never looked back.

"Some days I'll draw for hours and hours, other times I'll not draw for days on end. I just get fulfilled by it. It's very healthy to keep making things. John Byrne does it every day, for eight hours. I'll keep doing it, on one level or another."

"I've not really got a strong work ethic. I'd rather look out the windae. I spent my whole school days looking out the windae."

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