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THE PASSION OF THE CLYDE; MEL IS BACK WITH NEW SCOTS FILM.

Byline: RON MOORE Chief Reporter

BRAVEHEART Mel Gibson is funding another Scottish blockbuster - with cash from the global success of the Passion of the Christ.

His production company Icon is to film On A Clear Day - the story of a Glasgow shipyard worker who sets out to swim the English Channel.

Mel's staff are currently scouring Glasgow looking for locations to shoot the movie.

And it's believed Mel's friendship with Scots movie star Peter Mullan - who will star in the film and appeared in Braveheart - sparked his interest.

Mullan will join big-screen stars Brenda Blethyn and Bob Hoskins for the new blockbuster.

The star-studded project is being financed and distributed by Gibson's film company, Icon Productions, the firm responsible for the staggering success of The Passion of the Christ.

Mullan, 49, who shot to fame after roles in Trainspotting and the award- winning My Name is Joe, is delighted to be playing a major role in the gritty drama.

He confirmed last night that Gibson is backing the movie and said he was dying to get to grips with the role.

He said: "It's a cracking script.

"It is the story of a guy who loses his job at the shipyards and he becomes clinically depressed.

"In order to try and find himself he decides to swim the English Channel.

"It's obviously a big thing, where in the course of putting himself through all of this, he comes to realise things about himself and his relationship with his kids.

"His kids are all grown up. And like a lot of dads who have lost their jobs he is struggling to find the right relationship with his son and his missus.

"So by his swimming the channel, he comes to a certain understanding about himself.

"It's a lovely story. It's a very nice script. A fascinating tale of a man who confronts his own failures and finds triumph in personal achievement."

Part of the moving fable is to be shot in Glasgow's Scotstoun area in the shadow of the Clyde shipyards.

Screen location managers have been scouring the conservation area looking for houses formerly lived in by shipyard employees to provide added authenticity to the project.

A film source said: "It has to be exactly right.

"We have found a house that is ideal for the film and are in discussions with the househoulder.

"We will be shooting in Glasgow from June and hope to have it wrapped up in a few weeks."

Mullan confirmed that several big names will take parts in the film

He said: "Brenda Blethyn is in it and the last I heard was that Bob Hoskins is in it too.

"It's a really good cast. A really nice bunch of people."

Film agency Scottish Screen said they were delighted that the film is being made and confirmed that the Braveheart link was vital in attracting big names.

A spokeswoman said: "We are delighted to be involved. Peter worked with Mel in Braveheart and his relationship has obviously helped to get Mel's firm involved.

"We put some finance in and it almost wasn't going to go ahead because the government changed the law on tax relief to film financiers. But thankfully it is now going ahead.

"Peter is a such a talented actor and film-maker that everything he does attracts excellent reviews."

Mullan, who is also an accomplished director, recently picked up another two gongs at the London Film Critics Circle Awards. The Magdalane Sisters won Film of the Year and also landed him the Director of the Year award.

Before that, Mullan directed Orphans, the bleakly funny film about a Glasgow family on the night before their mother's funeral.

Mullan grew up in a poor and violent household in Mosspark in the south side of Glasgow.

He suffered breakdowns in his 20s through overwork, later spent time teaching community drama before finally finding acting success in his late 30s.

r.moore @mirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

CLASS ACT: Peter Mullan has agreed to star in the new movie; SMASH HIT: Cash from The Passion of the Christ will help new film; BOB A JOB: Bob Hoskins, has joined the cast; NEW PASSION: Mel is backing the movie
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 5, 2004
Words:701
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