If the word ‘firebrand’ could be used to describe anyone, the late former Northern Ireland first minister Ian Paisley would be as suitable a candidate as any. His fearsome rhetoric put the wind up many a leader, both British and Irish, and now esteemed actor Timothy Spall is set to bring this political giant to life on the big screen.
The Journey will focus on Paisley’s friendship with Sinn Fein figurehead Martin McGuinness, an unthinkable prospect for so long due to the bitter Protestant/Catholic divide.
Speaking about the movie, and perhaps taking a sideswipe at the film industry in the process, critic Brian Henry Martin said: “Our cinemas are full of comic books and fantasy, so why not reality, and why not our story which is a positive one.”
Although Spall is said to be in advanced talks, the casting of McGuinness isn’t expected to get underway for a good few weeks. What we do know for certain is that the trio who gave us Killing Bono in 2011, Nick Hamm, Mark Huffam and Piers Tempest, will be directing and producing. The screenplay has been penned by Colin Bateman, writer of best-selling novel-turned film Divorcing Jack.
It wasn’t just the rousing, incendiary speeches that made Paisley such an imposing figure – ‘Big Man’ also stood at 6ft 4in. Spall is a mere 5ft 8in by comparison but undoubtedly has the talent and pedigree to pull off a convincing portrayal of the DUP leader, who passed away last year. As McGuinness was at one time an IRA leader, this unlikely bond was even more extraordinary, even leading to the pair becoming known as ‘The Chuckle Brothers’ in latter years.
The cameras are set to roll on location in Ulster and Scotland in the autumn.