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STEALING THE LIMELIGHT; Exclusive Heist role set to shoot Dougray Scott to fame on American TV.

Byline: By Rick Fulton

DOUGRAY SCOTT is about to become a huge star on American television as a thief and admits as a child he also used to steal ... sweets.

The Scot, who was born in Glenrothes, Fife, exploded onto television sets across the US this week as the lead character in Heist - which is being touted as the new 24.

Commentators across the Atlantic are predicting the role will catapult the 40-year-old to the top ranks of stardom.

In the series Dougray plays Mickey O'Neil, the mastermind behind a gang of thieves who set out to rob three jewellery stores on Beverly Hills' ultra-expensive Rodeo Drive.

For Dougray - who first found fame in British television series Soldier Soldier - the part looks certain to be his big breakthrough.

He claims researching his role was also very enlightening.

Dougray said: "As a child I stole a few sweets from the local sweet shop, but I knew nothing of this world.

"We have this consultant who was allegedly involved in the world of crime for many years and he's given me lots of information. I had all these questions - How do you prepare? How much money do you need? Who do you tell? Who do you I not tell?" I Dougrayis joining the I ever-swelling ranks of Brits making it big on TV Stateside. Hugh Laurie won a Golden Globe as a grumpy American doctor in House, Parminder Nagra has become one of the main actors on ER and Dominic Monaghan and Naveen Andrews are in the principle cast of Lost and have been joined by Scots actor Henry Ian Cusick in the second series.

London-born Wentworth Miller is also the star of latest hot American show Prison Break.

For Dougray the showboating part in Heist will make up for missing out on the part of Wolverine in X-Men back in 2000.

He lost out on even more stardom because he was playing his top movie role so far in Mission: Impossible II and filming had run over.

But now it seems he'll become a household name in America because of television - not film. For as well as Heist, he'll also play Moses in US mini series The Ten Commandments, which starts next month and also stars Lost's Naveen Andrews.

Dougray split from wife Sarah Trevis in 2001 and they have two children, eight-year-old twins Eden and Gabriel.

While intensely private, his family are everything to him, and he was only able to do Heist - his first venture into television in the States - because they could come too.

Dougray, who is believed to be dating his Mission: Impossible 2 co-star Claire Forlani, said: "I live in London and my family is there, so that was the only concern I had about signing on for a series.

"I love being a father, it goes without saying but I don't love to bring that side of my life into the public arena.

"I would turn down work if it kept me away from my family for too long a time. But once I figured out how to bring the family out everything else fell into place. The network and the producers were very accommodating."

The show, which began this week, centres on a pack of professional crooks who are organising the heist of a lifetime - to simultaneously rob three of the jewellery shops in L.A. of pounds 300 million worth of diamonds, being stockpiled to grace the red carpet during Oscars week.

But here's the twist: as Mickey - played by Scott with a perfect American accent - sizes up LAPD Detective Amy Sykes (Michele Hicks), who is investigating prior thefts by the new crew, the two fall in love.

Directed by Doug Liman, who made Brad Pitt's Mr & Mrs Smith and The Bourne Identity, Heist sports an extremely talented cast and looks sure to bring Dougray to America's attention.

Dougray, who was the original bookies' favourite to play James Bond before Daniel Craig pipped him to the post, admits he loved the show's script.

He said: "The audience will be drawn by the actual heist itself.

"It is one of the most ambitious heists that anyone has ever tried to pull off.

"Mickey gathers together this gang of criminals and together they try to rob three of the biggest jewellery stores on Rodeo Drive during Academy Awards week, so it is not a small crime to execute.

"Along the way there is a bit of romance, there is action.

"What is great about this particular series is that we actually get to see the criminals plan the operation.

"There is a story, like a mini-movie, which explains the preparation that is involved in pulling off a heist like this. It is going to be a fun ride I think, for everyone. It is cops and robbers with a real twist' the robber gets involved with the cop, which we don't often see.

"He meets this woman and becomes intrigued by her - he recognises himself in her.

"He likes that sense of danger in his life."

His Mission: Impossible 2 role was also as a baddie and Dougray admitted: "Playing the bad guy is kind of more fun.

"It is great to play a really bad cop and fun to play a really good robber as well, so if we have a bit of both in both characters then I guess that is the perfect combination."

Dougray's real name is Stephen Scott, but another actor was already using that name when he started out, so he decided to take the surname of his French grandmother and used that as his new first name instead.

He trained at the Welsh College of Music and Drama, where he was named most promising drama student.

A lifelong Hibernian supporter who'll be hoping to see his heroes lift the Scottish Cup this year, Scott starred as Major Rory Taylor in Nineties TV series Soldier, Soldier, as well as The Crow Road.

This was followed by movie roles in Mission: Impossible 2, Enigma, Ripley's Game and Dark Water.

His next role will be in the pounds 10 million epic The Ten Commandments, opposite Omar Sharif, which begins in America next month - giving him two big shows on Stateside television.

Dougray couldn't believe how lucky he was to be working on the two-part mini-series with the Lawrence of Arabia and Dr Zhivago legend, who is playing his character's father, Jethro.

He said: "We're all familiar with Charlton Heston's version, but you couldn't get a more different interpretation of that story than this.

"It follows Moses, his family and his tribe in a much more realistic way.

"I like to research my roles and thankfully there have been a lot of books written - about Moses."

"Omar is a massive hero of mine and to work alongside an actor of his stature is a real honour."

'It's going to be a fun ride for everyone, cops and robbers with a real twist'


GOLDEN GLOBE MAN: Hugh Laurie's a big hit in House' GOOD TIMES: Dougray with Michele Hicks in Heist, left, and above in Mission: Impossible 2' GREEN DREAM: Dougray hopes that Hibs can lift the Scottish Cup this year
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 25, 2006
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