Film News: Robert Carlyle Will Direct Emma Thompson in ‘The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson’

Caution: “Once Upon a Time” spoiler in the first paragraph.

Back in December, I wrote a review of the mid-season finale of “Once Upon a Time”, which left fans shocked at the (presumed) death of Rumplestiltskin. I speculated that Rumple will be brought back in some capacity, given his popularity in the show. In addition, I read the character’s demise as a way for actor Robert Carlyle to devote time to other projects. (I am avoiding spoilers on upcoming OUAT episodes, which have no doubt surfaced in Twitter space.)

As early as December 2012, headlines began appearing on his interest in directing “The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson”, adapted from the first book of a series by author Douglas Lindsay. In June 2013, Carlyle did an interview at the Edinburgh International Film Festival with Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode of BBC Radio 5. Most of the focus concerned plans for a “Trainspotting” sequel, in which he would reprise his role as Begbie. Towards the end, Carlyle throws in a quick pitch for his film project. Since then, the production has gained the momentum that it needed to become a reality, so much so that I see it as a formidable presence at upcoming film festivals.

To lay credence to my point, Myriad Pictures came out with a huge announcement yesterday. According to the Hollywood Reporter and other outlets, Emma Thompson (“Saving Mr. Banks”) will be joining the cast of this dark comedy and thriller in the role of the titular character’s mother. Carlyle will portray Barney, a barber who accidentally “stumbles into the world of serial murder”. Other major cast members include Ray Winstone (“Hugo”, “The Departed”) and Ewen Bremner (“Trainspotting”).

The latest news articles refer to the film as Robert Carlyle’s “directorial debut”, but the Scottish actor is by no means an amateur in the craft. He co-founded the Raindog Theatre Company in the 1990s, winning the Mayfest Paper Boat Award for “Macbeth” in 1991 and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1992 for his directing. More recently in 2010, he directed an episode of “Stargate Universe”. Thus, “Barney Thomson” would be more accurately considered his debut in major cinematic work.

As I stated earlier, I anticipate this film to be a serious contender at the major cinematic events. Solid casting is one factor and we can explore others as more details emerge about the production in the months to come. Emma Thompson needs no introduction and has generated plenty of buzz  with the success of “Saving Mr. Banks” at the box office. She is spectacular at playing quirky, layered, and fun characters with a rich and refreshing depth. Since his popular films “The Full Monty” and “Trainspotting”, Robert Carlyle has attracted attention for his performances in “Human Trafficking”, “Once Upon a Time”, and voice-overs in “Castlevania: Lords of Shadows”. It will be interesting to see the on-screen dynamics between these two amazing actors.

With filming expected to commence this year, I would put the release date at early 2015 if not sooner. Incidentally, there are seven books in the Barney Thomson series. If the first story performs well, perhaps we can look forward to more acting/directing endeavors from Carlyle.

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  1. Film News Recap: ‘Barney Thomson’ Filming and ‘Doctor Strange’ Casting Underway | TV Spyglass
  2. Film News: Robert Carlyle Wraps Up ‘Barney Thomson’ | TV Spyglass

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