|Scottish Media Newspapers, Evening Times, July 19, 2002 BIG BREAK FOR SCOTS PAIR
BIG BREAK FOR SCOTS PAIR by Scottish Media Newspapers - July 2002
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The Glasgow-born actor is the star of the (pounds) 13million sci-fi television drama Children Of Dune, which also features Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon and is currently filming in Prague.
You may have already spotted the 27-year-old actor in television dramas such as Taggart, Silent Witness, Peak Practice, Dangerfield and Heartbeat.
But for Alec, who plays messiah figure Paul Atreides in the American Sci-Fi Channel-production, based on the best-selling Dune books by Frank Herbert, and set 8000 years in the future, the role marks a change in direction. But it's one that he's thoroughly enjoying.
He says: "This is a killer role for me and my biggest so far. Because it's sci -fi the dialogue and the scenes can be a bit weird but you just have to dive in and use your imagination.
"It's impossible to use real experience in this role as I've never been emperor of the universe - although I'd like to be," says Alec, laughing, during a break in filming at a former tram factory on the outskirts of the Czech capital.
Dressed in his dark, hooded cloak, wearing a long straggly wig and with his face covered in thick make-up, Alec looks a formidable sight as he stands by a recreated temple.
On set his character speaks with a throaty, deep mid-Atlantic voice but away from filming his Glasgow accent soon comes through.
"You can't really play a messiah, so you have to play a human being who is struggling with the fact that he is a messiah," he says.
Atreides' son Leto is played by fellow Glasgow actor James McAvoy, 23. And although there are only four years between the pair, fine acting and special effects make it look much, much more.
"It's crazy that we are playing father and son with such a small age difference between us," says Alec.
"But it's all fantasy anyway and in the film I always appear with a load of make-up on."
That make-up requires up to four hours in wardrobe before the 12 hours of filming even begins - and it means both actors arriving on set as early as 4am.
"It was really tough at first but you get used to it," says James, pointing to his arm and neck covered in brightly-coloured 'scales'.
For sci-fi buff James, who played the lead role Jay in the film Bollywood Queen and appeared in television productions Band Of Brothers, Lorna Doone and Murder In Mind, being picked for this role was a dream come true.
"I had read the Dune books when I was 14 and I loved them because of the adventure.
"Now that I've reread them I appreciate the human story as well as the politics and religion involved. I love watching sci-fi as you can escape from normal life - although my girlfriend hates watching it," says James.
For Alec it's a return to the starring role after the critically-acclaimed first six-hour series Dune helped the Sci-Fi Channel achieve record viewing figures.
The planet Dune is a world away from Scotstoun, where James grew up, and Shawlands, where Alec spent his first few years.
James says his big break came in his final year at high school after a film director gave a talk to his class.
"The other pupils were pretty nasty to him but at the end I went up to him and thanked him for coming. Six months later he gave me one of the lead roles in his film," he says.
That film was The Near Room starring Adrian Dunbar and Tom Watson and the experience persuaded James to enroll at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
Alec's first taste of showbusiness was from his father Sandy, one of the members of hit 1960s band Marmalade.
But his first acting role was in a school production of Wizard Of Oz. "I was supposed to play the lion but was sacked because I couldn't sing and ended up playing a tree instead," he says.
Alec studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. His first major acting role was playing serial killer Steven Burns in television drama Taggart.
Now he's delighted to be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon.
After three months of filming wrap ups in Prague in the next few days both actors are starting to return to reality and taking up more down-to-earth roles in separate BBC dramas.
Alec will play a barrister in Judge John Deed with Martin Shaw while James is to play a Scottish tabloid journalist who uncovers a government sleaze scandal in State Of Play.
"Of course, I'd like to do more film. I'd be lying if I said I didn't," says Alec.