Heaven knows Borders actor Jack Lowden will be anything but miserable now after his latest film was chosen to bring the curtain down on this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival last night.
England is Mine, starring the 27-year-old as Smiths frontman Steven Morrissey, was given its world premiere at the city’s Festival Theatre to round proceedings off.
Lowden, born in Essex but brought up in Oxton, was joined by Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay, cast as Linder Sterling, a friend of the singer, and Laurie Kynaston, who plays Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr in the film, on the red carpet.
Former Earlston High School pupil Lowden admitted he was a newcomer to the music of the Smiths when he took on the role but said he is now a fan of the Manchester band, together from 1982 to 1987, and wants to meet Morrissey.
“I really chucked myself into and I actually can’t stop listening to Morrissey and the Smiths now,” said Lowden, also about to appear in cinemas in golfing drama Tommy’s Honour and Second World War epic Dunkirk.
“The film is set in the pre-Smiths years, so in some ways that wasn’t too important, but I felt it was as his music reveals a lot about himself and what he thinks.
“When he first got into Oscar Wilde, he suddenly realised he could say profound things in very simple ways. You can really tell that in his lyrics.
“I really want to see him live now. It’s very rare to get to make a film about a legend like that is still around. I’d love to meet him too. There isn’t a lot of footage of him before he was in the Smiths.
“I just find him incredibly fascinating, enigmatic and beautiful. I listened to a lot of music he listened to and watched a lot of films he liked.
“As an actor, if you’re fortunate enough to get a role like this, you try to see what you can get away with and what you can and can’t do.
“I think Morrissey’s fans will learn a lot about him that they don’t know. It’s really a film about hesitation and what you always thought you might want to do and never done it.
“It should spur people on to do what they have always dreamt of doing.
“The film really shows him before anybody cared what he said and when he was trying to work out what he wanted to be. It’ll be really interesting to see what people think of it.”
Lowden first found fame starring in an Irn-Bru advert in 2009, going on to appear in the TV dramas Mrs Biggs in 2012, The Tunnel in 2013, The Passing Bells in 2014, Wolf Hall in 2015 and War and Peace in 2016, as well as the films ’71 in 2014 and Denial last year.
His next major role will be in the film Mary, Queen of Scots, due to be shot in Edinburgh in August, playing Henry Stuart, the Duke of Albany, opposite Saoirse Ronan as the eponymous royal and Margot Robbie as her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.
Lowden might well now be wishing every day is like Sunday as that was his second starring role at the film festival in consecutive years after Tommy’s Honour, directed by Jason Connery, was chosen to open its predecessor.
The film, written and directed by Mark Gill and due to on general release next month, takes its title from a line in the 1984 Smiths song Still Ill.
Brown Findlay, 27, best known as Sybil Crawley in ITV’s Downton Abbey, said: “I absolutely loved the Smiths before I started working on the film, so it felt like such an honour to be part of their story and to delve into that whole world.
“Our formative years, friendships and connections with family and friends are the most innovative and exciting and bold ways that someone can be formed. I think it is really beautiful to examine in detail.
“Linder is an extraordinary artist in her own right and an incredible woman. I looked at her work and the political landcape of the time and really delved into that.
“After a certain point, you have to sit back and do your own thing with it.”
Kynaston, 23, added: “I didn’t know an awful lot about the Smiths even though they are such an iconic band and you hear their music all the time.
“There is heaps out there on Johnny Marr and the Smiths, but unfortunately his autobiography came out just a few weeks after we stopped filming. It was a bit annoying.”
Richard E Grant, Ewen Bremner, Kevin Bacon, Stanley Tucci, Danny Huston and Sheila Hancock were among the other stars to make an appearance at this year’s festival.