BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Entertainment  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 9 September, 2002, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Mullan: Success the hard way
Peter Mullan holds his Golden Lion
Mullan: Starred in Ken Loach's My Name is Joe
BBC News Online profiles Scottish actor and director Peter Mullan, who has won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival.

Peter Mullan has been through tougher times than the storm he is currently weathering over his film The Magdalene Sisters.

The laundries where young girls considered promiscuous were held as forced labour, supposedly for their own moral good, has angered Catholics in Italy.

The attacks from a church that spends much of its time attempting to dissipate the enduring whiff of scandal have risen to Cardinal level.


It's so unlike the Ireland I was brought up to believe in

Peter Mullan
But after an early life containing a violent father, nervous breakdowns and grinding poverty, Mullan is likely to be taking it all in his stride.

Mullan's first screen roles were small parts in Shallow Grave and Braveheart and as Mother Superior, the wordy drug dealer in Trainspotting.

But his "big break" came in 1998, when his powerful, heart-wrenching performance as a recovering alcoholic battling for some sort of life turned Ken Loach's film My Named is Joe into a triumph.

Dark work

The performance was enough to win him best actor at that year's Cannes festival and put him firmly on the cinematic map as a leading man.

The same year saw the rise of Mullan the director with Orphans, his surreal, dark look at the life of a Glasgow family, praised for its daring and originality.

Peter Mullan in The Magdalene Sisters
Mullan is both director and actor
Perhaps his most gripping role has been in Michael Winterbottom's The Claim, an ice-bound melodrama where he plays a man controlling a town like a personal fiefdom, but harbouring a tragic, guilty secret.

Orphans was inspired by his feelings after the death of his mother, and critics assume his work is inspired by his own childhood in a sprawling house near Glasgow's shipyards.

A brilliant student at university, Mullan suffered breakdowns in his 20s, spent time teaching community drama, and struggled to get by as an actor, before finally finding solid success at the age of 37.

His motivation in creating The Magdalene Sisters seems based not just on his disgust at wider oppression of women, or the need to expose the horrors, which are well-known in Catholic communities all around the British Isles.

'Promised land'

Mullan also wants to address the image of Ireland he was inculcated with as a Scottish Catholic.

"When you come across a story like that, it's so the opposite of what I was led to believe. It's so unlike the Ireland I was brought up to believe in, Ireland the promised land," he told reporters at the Venice film festival.

And some of the criticism directed at him seems less based on dispute of the facts and more that someone born a Catholic could air such dirty laundry in public.

Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting
A well-polished small role lit up Trainspotting
The first salvo from the Catholic establishment came from Father Franco Patruno, an art critic on the Vatican-backed newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

Translated by the Catholic News website, the key part of his broadside read: "If he wanted to inform his own church... about the scandal of certain psychopathic detention centres in Ireland and Scotland, the director certainly could not have achieved his goal with this angry and rancorous provocation."

But this provocation is likely to bring both critical and audience acclaim while illuminating one of the great scandals of the 20th Century.


Latest news

Behind the scenes

WEBSITES
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes