He may now be starring in multi-million dollar blockbusters, but one of Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane’s first film appearances was in the Glasgow-set science fiction thriller, Death Watch, re-released in UK cinemas today.
The film, directed by Bertrand Tavernier and starring Romy Schneider and Harvey Keitel, is set in a futuristic Britain where reality TV is taking over the airwaves. It follows the dying Katherine (Schneider) as cameraman Roddy (Keitel) follows her for a new show.
While in Edinburgh this week to promote the upcoming Disney Pixar animation, Brave, I took the opportunity to ask Coltrane about his brief appearance in Death Watch:
“Harvey and I got on very well and we’re still in touch. He was so interesting, talking about Scorsese. It was a couple of years before they did a Scorsese retrospective here, the first one anywhere in the world. We did the first ever Steadicam shot in Britain, in the days I could still sprint.
“The transportation guy asked me if I could drive a Cadillac. I’d never driven an automatic before and I said I’d have to learn how to drive. So I got to drive around Glasgow in this car when I didn’t have two pennies to rub together, hoping that somebody I knew would see me.
“It was a very happy time, and Romy Schneider was also in it of course, God rest her.”
I also spoke to Bertrand Tavernier about the film during his recent visit to the Glasgow Film Festival, where he discussed his time in Glasgow and why he’s not happy about the themes of Death Watch being so prescient:
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Find out more about the re-release of Death Watch on the Park Circus website.