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I will be grunting and groaning in a studio all day to redub sex scenes; EXCLUSIVE: PORAGE AD STAR GETS HIS OATS.

Byline: INTERVIEW By THOMAS QUINN

RORY McCann shakes his big square head in wonder. Only a couple of years ago he was painting the Forth Road Bridge, suspended by a rope a hundred feet above freezing water every day.

But next week the up and coming star of Channel's The Book Group - and the face of the sexy Scott's Porage Oats ads - has got a very different job to do.

He's got to pretend to be having sex. Again. But not the actions this time - just the sounds.

"Can you believe it?" he asks me. "One of the scenes of me in bed with this girl that we did, well some plane passes above our heads just as we are coming to climax apparently.

"So I have to go and re-dub the sound. I'll be in a studio all day making grunting sounds and groaning.

"I've never done anything like that before, but it's all good experience isn't it?"

Glaswegian Rory, 34, a gentle giant at 6ft 6in tall, has quickly got used to this sort of demand since locking his paintbrush away in a cupboard for the last time and embarking on a career as an actor.

This series of The Book Group is far raunchier than before, and has been rewarded with C4's coveted 9.30pm Friday slot after Friends.

The first episode included an explicit gay love scene involving Glasgow wide boy Rab and the erotic use of olive oil.

The raciness and wit of the series, written and directed by Glasgow-based American Annie Griffin, should make it a big hit.

That would be a just reward for Rory, who admits he's found the going tough since becoming an actor full-time.

Before filming the Book Group and BBC series Rockface he'd only had eight days filming last year.

By the end of the year he'd also filmed the TV drama State Of Play with Kelly McDonald.

"I'm just hoping I'll get more work lined up soon," he says. "Because at the moment I haven't really got anything in the diary.

"In the whole of 2001, I had just 20 days filming. How do you survive on that?"

Rory, who lives in Glasgow with his doctor girlfriend Hazel, will soon hit the big screen alongside Ewan McGregor and Peter Mullan in Young Adam. Appearing alongside such a stellar cast was a tremendous break.

"Working with Peter, and Ewan and Tilda Swinton was great for me. We went out socially, got to know each other and had a great time," he says.

"It was a really small part though. I'm sort of a friendly uncle to a young child who features in the story - and Ewan sleeps with my wife.

"But he sleeps with everyone's wife in this film, so no shame there.

"It proved to me that acting is what I really wanted to do though."

At school Rory was teased for being skinny, but at 17 he got a job as a lumberjack and developed enough muscles to shut the bullies up for good. He took up rock climbing - which remains his great passion - and started taking work in film and TV to earn extra money.

He appeared in Willow alongside Val Kilmer, and the BBC comedy Para Handy before beating 400 other hopefuls to the Scott's Porage Oats ad role. Then he met Book Group writer Annie Griffin and she wrote the role of Kenny, the hunky paraplegic wheelchair racer, with him in mind.

His performance has charmed the critics, won him a Scottish Bafta, and impressed his co-stars in the quirky comedy.

But Rory has reservations when it comes to his forthcoming role in Rockface.

As an experienced mountaineer, he was a natural for the drama set around a mountain rescue team.

But he rolls his eyes when recalling the plot line: "Within about ten seconds I have a dreadful accident, they have to cut my leg off and I'm in a wheelchair again.

"I'm not sure if it's a case of being stereotyped. I hope not. But I had to take the job. I'd only worked eight days that year until then."

Not that he's complaining - especially if he never has to do any more painting or lumberjacking.

"Yes, with a bit of luck the paint brush and chain saw can stay in the cupboard," he laughs.

reporters @mirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

BIG BREAK: Rory's happy to put his bridge-painting days behind him; FAMOUS: Rory in Scott's ad; GROUP THERAPY: Rory with the girls from Channel 4's Book Group
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Interview
Date:Jan 31, 2003
Words:756
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