How Loanhead man landed in Guardians of the Galaxy

Frank Gilhooley in a scene from  the blockbuster movie. Picture: comp
Frank Gilhooley in a scene from the blockbuster movie. Picture: comp
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A BANKRUPT labourer from Loanhead is on another planet after landing a role in a Hollywood blockbuster.

Frank Gilhooley features in alien adventure Guardians of the Galaxy, which stars former Telford College student and Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan.

He plays a prisoner on board a giant interstellar jail, known as the Kyln, which contains the most evil convicts in the 
universe.

The 43-year-old hopes his new-found fame, which comes after he was forced to shut down his fly-fishing centre, will propel him into the big time and help him forge a career as a full-time actor.

He said: “I play a small but crucial part in the film and I got to work with all the main characters. I think it will be a launch pad for my career.

“I have been on quite a journey. I have gone from community plays to being in a 
£100 million movie. It is such a huge leap forward. I’m unique because I’m not a thespian. That goes against the grain. I’m a working-class landscaper from a mining town.”

In the film, based on the Marvel Comics, Frank abducts Gamora – played by Zoe Saldana – at knifepoint and plans to kill her because she is the daughter of an old enemy, Drax the Destroyer, played by professional wrestler Dave Bautista, is determined to stop him but only because he wants to kill the captive himself.

Mr Gilhooley, who attended St Margaret’s Primary School in Loanhead and St David’s Roman Catholic High School in Dalkeith, never dreamed of becoming an actor.

The father-of-three trained as a landscape contractor before starting his own business in the early 90s.

He stumbled into acting in 2001 after a personal setback and started by getting involved in the Edinburgh Theatre Workshop’s community play.

In the same year, Mr Gilhooley was selected to play Frank Rowley in John Godber’s Up’n Under at the Edinburgh ­Festival.

Since then he has played several roles, including a mobster in One Last Chance, and also appeared in It’s a Free World, directed by Ken Loach. Mr Gilhooley declared himself bankrupt following a spike in his mortgage repayments on Leadburn Manor Fly Fishing Centre outside Penicuik.

But within a week of ­taking the tough decision, he was offered the part on the film which has already taken 
more than £250m at the box office.

He auditioned for Guardians of the Galaxy in London and impressed the casting director with his energy and enthusiasm. After a second audition, he was offered the part of the tattoo-sporting and battle-scarred alien.

The burly 6ft 3in landscaper is often cast as “baddies”, but he is known as a gentle giant on set because of his tendency to hug his fellow cast members.

“The director’s brother thought I knew everybody because I’m a bit of a hugger. Everywhere I go and everyone I have seen, I give them a hug. It breaks through barriers.”

Mr Gilhooley also appears in Outlander, tipped as ­Scotland’s answer to the Game of Thrones, though he is remaining tight-lipped about his ­character.