June 24, 2023


Local Hero: Why the iconic Scottish environmental film was decades ahead of its time (Anthony Frajman, 6th June 2023, BBC)

As it happened, Puttnam and Forsyth had their eye on Lancaster to star in the film from get-go. "The first thing that Bill had said to me when he delivered the screenplay was, 'I'd like Burt Lancaster to play Happer," says Puttnam. While securing Lancaster was crucial for the film's international appeal, this proved extremely difficult as the star's salary took up half of the film's budget. It took a year of negotiating to get him on board.

Despite considering stars such as Michael Douglas and Henry Winkler for the role of Mac, Forsyth was set on casting Peter Riegert as the oilman who experiences an awakening and succumbs to the charms of the rugged Scottish landscapes. For the key part of Oldsen, the local guide who escorts Mac around Ferness, Forsyth chose Peter Capaldi, a then fresh-faced Scottish actor just out of art school, with no credits to his name.

Another integral element of the film is the score by Scottish-born Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler, who Puttnam suggested to Forsyth. While it is regarded as a key component of the film, underscoring shots of the Scottish coastline and the Northern Lights, it almost never came about.

"I heard his (Dire Straits) album Making Movies. So, I wrote to him, I got a letter from his manager who said, 'Oh, that's really, really interesting'. I got Mark and Bill to meet, Bill didn't like Mark's music, so it was a very tense meeting. But Bill liked one track, Telegraph Road. So, I managed to have a meeting where the only track we talked about was Telegraph Road. And, in the end, they got to like each other and they got to work together," says Puttnam.

Posted by at June 24, 2023 12:00 AM