Actor Alan Cumming considering move from US to Isle of Barra

Pupils from Castlebrae Community High School met Alan Cumming. Picture: Mihaela Bodlovic
Pupils from Castlebrae Community High School met Alan Cumming. Picture: Mihaela Bodlovic
27
Have your say

The award-winning Scottish actor Alan Cumming says he is considering moving from New York to the Outer Hebrides because he is so fearful of the political climate in the United States and misses his own country so much.

The Broadway star told a group of school pupils in Edinburgh said he had become “really terrified” living in America, compared Donald Trump to Hitler and Mussolini and said the world was going through a “very scary time.”

Alan Cumming's fantasy dream entails moving to the Isle of Barra. Picture: Contributed

Alan Cumming's fantasy dream entails moving to the Isle of Barra. Picture: Contributed

He revealed his “fantasy” dream of moving to the Isle of Barra, which he visited on holiday shortly before performing his acclaimed Edinburgh International Festival show, and is due to return there within the next few days.

Cumming, who also revealed he was about to make a new TV show about the Outer Hebrides, spoke of how he had been inspired by the level of political engagement in Scotland, but dismayed with growing extremism in the US.

Addressing pupils at Castlebrae Community High School in Craigmillar, which is in the midst of a three-year partnership with the EIF, Cumming admitted he was increasingly drawn to the islands because of his “crazy” lifestyle.

During an hour-long in conversation event, Cumming discussed everything from finding fame in Take The High Road, playing a Smurf and making a Spice Girls movie to his struggles with depressing after taking the lead role in Hamlet.

Asked if he enjoyed living in America, Cumming, 51, said: “I really like New York. I feel like it’s a little country in itself which floats off the coast of America. It’s a very scary time now because Donald Trump is a really frightening person. Just before I came here it felt like he actually could win.

“America is a very big country and sometimes it is really difficult to have a collective voice. It is really difficult for it to have a collective voice. In Scotland, we’re quite a small country but we’re also a very vocal country and we’re very engaged in politics, especially at this time in our history. We have a voice that is Scottish.

“America is too big a country to have that voice - that’s why sometimes you get these extreme views because people get angry that they’re not being heard. Sometimes I’m really terrified of living in America. Trump has been encouraging violence at his rallies. That’s what dictators do. That’s what Hitler and Mussolini did.

“We’re at a time in the world’s history where there’s been a lot of change and disruption. There’s been a lot of terrorism and people being displaced. It’s really easy for dangerous people to get elected to power - it really scares me.”

The actor admitted he had been stung by criticism over his involvement in the independence debate when he did not live in Scotland.

Cumming, who revealed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had attended his late-night cabaret show, said: “People in Scotland are really very interested and politically engaged with what is happening to them and their country. I find that really inspiring and I’m really proud of that.

“I got lot of flak for the independence thing because I don’t live in this country all the time. A lot of people said: ‘Why should we listen to you, you don’t even live in this country full-time?’

“I remember saying: ‘Well, I’m Scottish and I have an opinion. I don’t think there’s anything more un-Scottish than saying you can’t have an opinion on something.”

During an extended question and answer session, Cumming said the biggest challenge of his life at the moment was “remaining sane”, missed having any kind of anonymity and recalled one of the best pieces of advice he had been given was to “keep on moving.”

He added: “I have a flat in Edinburgh so I feel like I’m back and forward. I can actually see myself moving back.

I was just on the Isle of Barra before I came to Edinburgh and after my last show I am being whisked away to go to Barra again and all the Outer Hebrides to do a TV show.

“I have this real fantasy, mainly because my life is so crazy at times, about ending up on a really remote island in Scotland. I just love the commitment it takes to get there and the isolation.

“I don’t mind the weather. I know if you’re here for the whole winter it’s pretty bleak, but I actually like the rain. When I was on Barra there were some really rainy days, but there’s all these beautiful beaches. I’m actually quite a sun-phobic. A beautiful beach on Barra, if I have a wet suit, is the way ahead.”

Asked to recall the best advice he had been given, Cumming said: “Someone told me once that you just have to believe that it’s going to be okay. The other thing is to keep on moving. A very dear friend told me that and I didn’t quite understand what it meant. But it’s about living your life.

“Don’t stagnate, don’t just lie there, keep things going, keep the energy going - it’s about a life force, I think. If you keep on moving you are more open to life and more alive.”