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Gateshead man writes for Clooney
George Clooney in a scene from The Men Who Stare at Goats
George Clooney is definitely staring at a goat here

It is a long way from Tyneside to Hollywood - but one writer from Gateshead has travelled the distance.

Peter Straughan has just penned the screenplay for George Clooney's new film, The Men Who Stare at Goats.

It is his first major film project and he said it felt "very strange" to be on set and watch Hollywood actors reading his lines.

Peter's writing career first started to take off when he got involved with Live Theatre in Newcastle in the 1990s.

A-list actors

The Men Who Stare at Goats is an adaptation of Jon Ronson's non-fiction book of the same name and tells the story of a reporter who discovers a top-secret wing of the US military.

Peter told BBC Newcastle's Jamie Wilkinson he was initially unsure about moving into film work, but that in some ways it had felt more natural.

Peter Straughan
Peter said he had fallen in love with writing for the big screen

"I guess like a lot of people I hadn't come from the kind family that would regularly go to the theatre," he said.

"But we had always watched film so in a weird way it felt much more comfortable for me."

What wasn't so comfortable, however, was being up close to A-list actors like Clooney, Kevin Spacey and Ewan McGregor.

Peter went to watch some scenes being filmed in Puerto Rico and said he couldn't quite get over being star-struck.

He said: "It was just this sudden, weird lurch into this other world, this Hollywood world.

"When you first meet those sorts of people you're just very, very self-conscious and you can't stop thinking of the fact that there's this Hollywood star standing a few feet away.

"To be honest, I've never really managed to forget about it altogether - I keep blushing every time he [Clooney] sort of stands near!"

Loyalty

Clooney himself was very impressed by Peter's writing.

He said: "This is a script that's been around town for a while and all of us have been aware of it - it's been named as one of the best unmade screenplays.

"It had such a unique tone. Peter just nailed the script."

Peter said writing for film presented different challenges to his theatre work but that he had immediately fallen in love with the process.

George Clooney
George Clooney is one of the stars of the film

So, what's next? Well, he has just written a film with Jon Ronson and is now working on an adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré.

And he's also in talks with Live Theatre about writing something for them next year.

He says he feels a sense of loyalty to the organisations like New Writing North and Live Theatre that helped get him started.

He may have travelled to Hollywood but it seems his roots are still on Tyneside.

The regional premiere of The Men Who Stare at Goats is on Tuesday 3 November at the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle.

Peter Straughan and Jon Ronson will be there to take part in pre- and post-film discussions.

The event is a collaboration with Northern Lights Film Festival.




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