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Bringing America's sweetheart back to life; RISING STAR PICKED TO PLAY WOMAN WHO CREATED HOLLYWOOD BUT DIED A BOOZY RECLUSE; Actress gives silent movie legend new voice.

Byline: Bill Caven

She lived the Hollywood dream - yet her remarkable story has never made it on to the silver screen before.

Mary Pickford was an award-winning actress whose starring role in more than 50 silent movies made her one of the first to be nicknamed America's Sweetheart.

Now Aberdeen-born actress Sophie Kennedy Clark has been chosen to portray the three-times married screen star whose final days were tragically blighted by boozing and wild parties in her magnificent Hollywood mansion.

Sophie plays the lead role in new movie The First, which chronicles the life of the former child star who quit her home in Canada to find fame and fortune during the early days of Hollywood.

It is testament to her growing reputation that the daughter of Gaelic singer and actress Fiona Kennedy - and granddaughter of singing legend Calum - has been chosen to play the controversial screen siren.

Speaking during filming in America, Sophie said: "I find The First very inspirational because I'm playing Mary Pickford, a woman who started Hollywood with Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

"It's been inspiring learning about what she created in the time when women couldn't even vote or have abortions.

"What she created is unrivalled - still to this day there's only been one female studio head since her."

The 26-year-old is also thankful that her latest role will not leave her family squirming in their cinema seats.

One of her earliest performances was in a movie about sex addiction, in which she starred alongside Hollywood stars Uma Thurman, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Shia LaBeouf.

Even the poster campaign for Nymphomaniac left her fearing she would be disowned by her family.

She added: "I was hoping they wouldn't see it as it was a bit embarrassing. Then I was like, S**t, they've seen it, I don't think Santa is going to becoming this year!'" Her movie CV is growing rapidly, having appeared alongside Johnny Depp in vampire film Dark Shadows as well as Judi Dench in the much-acclaimed Philomena. Sophie admits to being blown away by the acting legend, gaining a great deal of inspiration and guidance from her.

She said: "I didn't actually have any scenes with her but I got quite a lot of time with her and just seeing the way she moved around the set and the way she interacted with people was a really beautiful thing to watch.

"Just the way she is with people - she is luminous and she has those eyes that go straight through you. She is a darling woman to be around."

Playing alongside Sophie in The First is another Scot, Angela McCluskey, who was born and raised in the east end of Glasgow.

Possibly best known for her remarkable singing voice, she also happens to be godmother to pop star Lily Allen and Game of Thrones star Alfie Allen.

A former pupil at the RSAMD and London's Guildhall Drama School, Angela initially chose to embark on a singing career, even earning a Grammy nomination, before being coaxed back into acting recently.

She has previously appeared alongside Clive Owen and is in line for a major Broadway role.

New York-based Angela also spoke of her delight at being involved in the Mary Pickford movie - and the chance to team up with Sophie as her mother Charlotte.

She said: "It is such a powerful and remarkable story of a woman who was a legend, not only in Hollywood but generally across the American movie scene.

"It was a real delight to work with Sophie and we had a lot of laughs, not least because the American film crew couldn't understand our Glaswegian accents most of the time.

"Most of the filming took place just before Christmas and it was extremely intense. Some of the scenes were shot on the set where both Westwood and Deadwood were made."

Although no final date has bee finalised for the release of the film, it is widely expected later this year.

Born Gladys Mary Smith, Mary became the first legendary silent film actress before also working as a producer.

Having changed her name, the screen siren co-founded United Artists with Chaplin and Fairbanks Sr, who became her second husband.

Fans adored the celebrity couple, who regularly threw lavish parties at their Hollywood mansion.

Mary retired from the screen in 1933 to concentrate her efforts on becoming the most powerful figure in the American movie world.

She became a recluse in later life, eventually dying from a stroke in 1979 at her home in California.

In the words of journalist Herbert Howe in a 1924 Photoplay magazine: "No role she can play on the screen is as great as the role she plays in the motion picture industry.

"Mary Pickford the actress is completely overshadowed by Mary Pickford the individual."

Sophie on a role after hit films Sophie's big break came in 2010 playing the oldest daughter of David Tennant in TV series Single Father. She then did theatre work in London before appearing in Dark Shadows in 2012. She went on to star in Philomena and Nymphomaniac in 2013 and The Danish Girl in 2015.

a It has been so inspiring learning about what she created. Mary is a legend


TALENTED In Dark Shadows in 2012

IN BIG DEMAND Sophie, above, in Philomena and, right, in Nymphomaniac in 2013

HIGH-FLIER Actress Mary in her heyday HONOUR Sophie plays Mary in movie

LEAD LADY Sophie loved playing movie icon Mary Pickford Picture Camera Press/ Paul Stuart

PIONEERS Mary with Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks in 1920 and, above, on set with Chaplin. Right, on film magazine covers
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 11, 2017
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