Highly acclaimed Bo’ness actor Andrew Rothney is starring in NT Live’s Small Island which will be streamed at selected cinema screens across the UK later this month.
The former Bo’ness Academy pupil and student of Falkirk Youth Theatre has become a famous face on both TV and in film in recent times for roles in BBC 1 hit drama, The Victim, Shetland, Outlander and Mary Queen of Scots.
The 31-year-old played the part of King James I in the Hollywood blockbuster, alongside Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie – an exciting role by all accounts, but for Andrew, the most poignant part for him was filming scenes in Blackness Castle, near where he grew up.
“I live in Glasgow and I’m in London a lot for various things so it was really nice being back home to shoot Mary Queen of Scots,” he said.
“It was nice too to be able to tell Saoirse and the rest of the cast that this is where my roots are and show them where my family is from – my gran actually just lives right next to the castle and my aunties stay closeby too.”
Andrew has played a number of challenging parts in his time and his latest role as
cold, racist husband, Bernard in Small Island is no different.
The hard-hitting play, based on Andrea Levy’s Orange Prize-winning novel of the same name, takes the audience on a journey from Jamaica to Britain, through the Second World War to 1948 – the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury.
The dialogue explores three intricately connected stories – Hortense yearns for a new life away from rural Jamaica, Gilbert dreams of becoming a lawyer, and Queenie (wife of Bernard) longs to escape her Lincolnshire roots. Hope and humanity meet stubborn reality as the 40-actor play traces the tangled history of Jamaica and the UK.
Andrew said: “To do a show like Small Island with everything going on politicially around us at the moment is a really humbling and amazing experience.
“Bernard is very buttoned up and repressed. He goes off to war and comes back a very damaged person with horrible racist views.
“It’s quite a challenge to project that on stage – to be so visceral and say such horrendous and offensive things which are sure to shock the audience. In order for me to play such a complex role I always try to understand the character’s behaviour – but not excuse it in any way.
“In these times it is easy for us to be a bit binary about certain things and about people’s views but I try to think about where their hatred comes from.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career to have been able to play such challenging, complex characters and I feel very grateful for that.
“It’s been a privilege to have been involved in Small Island and I also feel really proud that this will be shown at the Hippodrome in Bo’ness, the town where I grew up.
“I know my gran Wilma is also very proud of that and she’ll definitely be going along to watch it there.”
Small Island will be streamed at Bo’ness Hippodrome and Cineworld in Falkirk on June 27 at 7pm.
For more information on Small Island or NT Live visit www.ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk