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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Cannes star dreams of football fame
Martin Compston
Compston plays for a Scottish Third Division team
Teenager Martin Compston never dreamed of becoming a film star.

Given the choice, he would prefer a career as a professional footballer.

But the 17-year-old's first foray into acting has attracted critical acclaim and a Cannes Film Festival best actor award nomination.

Maybe in an ideal world I can blend acting and football

Martin Compston

Compston plays the leading role of Liam in Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen. Liam is a good-hearted boy who starts dealing drugs to raise enough money to buy his imprisoned mother a caravan on her release from prison.

Compston landed the role last August. It was one of three achievements that month.

The teenager also discovered that he had scored three A's in his Scottish Higher examinations and became a 65-a-week apprentice at Morton, his local football club.

The team had just been relegated to the Scottish Third Division.

Football future

The teenager sees his ideal future on the football pitch, rather than the film set.

"I definitely want to do football," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"Maybe in an ideal world I can blend acting and football. But I know really that you have to go one way or the other.

Annmarie Fulton and Martin Compston
Compston is in Cannes with his fellow Sweet Sixteen cast members
"I'm not saying that if someone came along and offered me 10m to do a film that I'd say no, but that's not going to happen, is it?"

The young star arrived on the Sweet Sixteen set without a shred of experience.

He had never even appeared in a school play.

Compston said that in Scotland, actors are perceived as "posh people", and he would have been laughed at for taking part in a drama production.

Rough area

The son of a former shipyard worker Compton was raised in the town of Greenock, Inverclyde, in Scotland.

The area is plagued by crime and violence, but the young actor says he himself was well brought up.

His father Jim is a warehouseman. His mother Liz is an office clerk.

Compston, whose favourite actress is Sharon Stone, says he only tried out for the role of Liam "for a laugh".


You can't have posh actors playing people in Greenock

Martin Compston
One of his teachers at St Columbus School, Greenock had organised an audition.

When nobody turned up, he decided to set up another one and told Comspton and a couple of other boys to be there.

"We thought we'd take the mickey and we began shouting and playing up and throwing things around," Compston said.

"I suppose that's why they chose me. It was real. You can't have posh actors playing people in Greenock."

Asked which he would prefer to win - the best actor award or a Scottish Cup Final medal, the 17-year-old responded: "That's not fair. With Morton where they are, I am not going to win either."


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