Glaswegian Paul Brannigan, who plays Robbie in Loach’s new bittersweet comedy, said he was cast in the film after he was spotted carrying out football coaching sessions as part of a community initiative.
Speaking at a press conference in Cannes today, where the film is one of 22 in competition for the Palme d’Or top prize, Brannigan said: “Things were tough, I had no money.
“It was Christmas time, and I got a loan which I wanted to pay back, and I thought, well, if I make a couple of hundred quid, that will see me through.
“Hands-up, I would say they probably saved my life.
“I had nowhere to turn... who knows what I’d have done for money.”
The Angels’ Share tells the story of Robbie, a jobless youth who has been in and out of jail and, after becoming a father, he becomes desperate for a way to break the cycle of violence and finds it in the Scottish art of whisky-making.
Brannigan said the story was one he was “very familiar” with, as were “thousands of other kids” in Glasgow today.
His role helped him get noticed and he has recently starred in a film with Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson.
Brannigan told reporters that after The Angels’ Share he would continue trying to build his career and would carry on football coaching, but added: “After this I’m unemployed, that’s just the way it is.”
Loach, who in 2006 took home the Palme d’Or prize for The Wind That Shakes The Barley and is not known for his comedy, said he and scriptwriter Paul Laverty did not write and direct the film so as to control the humour, but told the true stories of the characters.
“In moments of deep crisis there will be some silly thing that will make you have a giggle inside,” he said.
“We don’t live in a sort of mono-emotional world, our whole experience is part-comedy, part-tragedy.”