Jamie Sives

Wilbur (Wants To Kill Himself)

Interviewed by Stephen Applebaum

“I secretly liked acting, but I wanted to play football. It was an enormous dream ”

Jamie Sives is a young Scottish actor on the rise. Having paid his dues in television series such as Psychos, Holby City, and Rockface, he has finally broken through to the big screen. His intense screen charisma in Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself has earned comparisons with the young Sean Connery, and he already has a second movie in the can. We caught up with him in Taormina.

How did you land the lead in this rather odd Danish-Scottish co-production?

Lone Scherfig [the director] saw a photograph of me in good old Spotlight [the actors' listing publication]. So that's worth £150 a year! I had done a little thing to tape, which she saw as well, and then my agent sent her some scenes from Mean Machine, which was quite weird, because it's totally different from Wilbur. Anyway, we tried to meet about three or four times and it didn't quite happen. But she persisted, and I'm glad she did. It's a great, eventual, start.

The film strikes a perfect balance between comedy, pathos, and drama. Did you ever think that if it tipped too far in one direction, the whole thing could collapse?

That could have been a danger. The thing about it is, it's in no way overtly Scottish. If you didn't hear the accents, it could be set anywhere, which is maybe its appeal. It is still quite Scandinavian and quirky, and things are not quite correct grammatically. Lone told us, "This has been translated, so if you want to make it more Scottish, then please do it." But we didn't, because we wanted it to retain a certain off-centre, out of placeness.

You said this was an 'eventual' start. What did you do before acting?

I trained as a scaffolder at first, then I worked in a paper mill for a couple of years, and then as a postman. I also worked on a door at a club in Edinburgh, which was a mistake. I wasn't cut out for that. I hid behind the big boys, mainly.

So you didn't dream of becoming an actor at school?

I secretly liked acting, but I wanted to play football. It was an enormous dream, and I neglected everything else because I thought it was a surety. I cried myself to sleep for a few nights when I realised I was getting just that wee bit too old.

Tell us about your next film, One Last Chance (formerly The Bum's Rush)...

It's a charming little story about three friends in the Highlands who think they've found gold. They take it to Glasgow, and it all goes a bit tits-up. It's a Scottish/Norwegian co-production, so I'm cornering the Scandinavian market. Watch your back, Stellan Skarsgård!