IT WAS all hail Macbeth – not to mention sleet, snow and rain – for the stars filming in Scotland a visceral new silver screen version of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy last winter.
But it was a far-cry from running barefoot across the windswept Isle of Skye in plummeting temperatures as Hollywood star Michael Fassbender stepped on to the red carpet for the UK premiere of the “Scottish film”.
The sun shone on around 1,000 fans lined up outside Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre to catch a glimpse of the actor and co-stars including British Paddy Considine and David Thewlis.
The eagerly-awaited film, by Australian director Justin Kurze, was screened to critical acclaim at Cannes earlier this year.
Fassbender, who played Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins in the play Allegiance during the 2006 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, said he reimagined Macbeth as a battle-weary soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which fuelled his descent into madness and murder.
His take on the role is being tipped as a career-best performance that could earn him his second Oscar nomination.
He was in the running last year for his part in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Posing with fans and signing autographs, Fassbender said: “It is great being in Edinburgh. It’s exciting to have the premiere here in Scotland.
“We were lucky enough to film a bit up here and I was here in 2006 doing a play at the Fringe Festival so I love being back. I love the city, its architecture and the really great people.”
But filming on the Isle of Skye last winter was a bit more challenging – “wet but beautiful”.
He said: “It’s a very stunning place. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many places in the world and it’s kind of hard to beat. It’s breathtaking.”
He also confessed to basing his Scottish accent on X-Men co-star and friend James McAvoy.
“We had discussions about it when we were filming Days of Future Past, so there is a bit of James in there,” he said.
Thewlis, who plays the usurped King Duncan, said: “It’s called the Scottish play and Scotland is undoubtedly one of the stars of the movie.”
Considine, who had never taken on a Shakespearean role before, said it was a daunting experience at first.
“From the perspective of other actors you feel like you’re being judged before you’ve even done it, but you just have to go for it,” he said.
“I was afraid of Shakespeare but it was amazing how much it opened up and when you see through the verses you see gold there and you’re like, ‘wow, this isn’t the puzzle I thought it was going to be’ – it’s a really beautiful thing.”
A notable absence was Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard, who plays the ambitious and scheming Lady Macbeth. She was said to be ill and advised by doctors to stay away, but some suggested her no-show was down to the fabled curse of the “Scottish play”.
VisitScotland has produced an online Macbeth locations guide, highlighting places linked with the play.