Robert Carlyle opens Legend of Barney Thomson

Robert Carlyle on the red carpet. Picture: Neil Hanna

Robert Carlyle on the red carpet. Picture: Neil Hanna

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ROBERT Carlyle led the stars down the red carpet as a black comedy thriller he made in Glasgow opened the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The Trainspotting star, who has the lead role in The Legend of Barney Thomson as a disillusioned barber who suddenly finds himself embroiled in a series of bloody killings, was joined by a host of Scottish film talent at the Festival Theatre.

Carlyle, who was unveiling his first ever film as a director, was followed by co-stars Ashley Jensen, Kevin Guthrie, Martin Compston, James Cosmo and Brian Pettifer up the red carpet before hundreds of watching fans.

The Glasgow-born actor has unveiled a string of films at the festival during his career, including The Full Monty, Priest, Face and Once Upon Time in the Midlands.

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But Carlyle, who has been a patron of the film festival since 2008, said being chosen to unveil his directorial debut at the event had surpassed all his previous EIFF premieres.

He said: “It’s a great honour for me to be here. To be given the opportunity to not only premiere the film, but for it to be chosen for the opening night is fantastic.

“It was very important for me to make the film in Glasgow. I’ve always felt that if was going to direct a film I would want to try to do it in my home town. I knew exactly where to go. I deliberately chose places like Shawfield dog track, the Red Road flats, the Barrowland Ballroom and the Saracen Head pub, as these places are all dying, they might not be here that much longer.”

Carlyle used the event to throw his weight behind the campaign for Scotland to get its own film studio. Critics say the country is being left behind the likes of Wales and Northern Ireland, where Doctor Who and Game of Thrones are made.

Carlyle added: “There’s no doubt that we need it, whether it is in Glasgow, Cumbernauld or Edinburgh. It doesn’t matter to me where it is, as long as we have a studio. It would put us right up there with other cities in the UK.”

Jensen, who plays a ferocious detective who is constantly warring with a colleague, played by veteran cinema hardman Ray Winstone, said she could not believe she was asked to appear in the film.

She said: “Bobby said he specifically wanted me for it. He obviously thought ‘who is the hardest woman in Scotland?’ But one of the interesting things about the film is that a lot of people in the film are really playing against type.”

This year’s festival is the first under new artistic director Mark Adams, whose predecessor Chris Fujiwara left the post suddenly in September after just three years at the helm of the event.

The 2015 programme features one of the strongest line-ups of Scottish films for years, with new Hebridean drama Iona – which was shot on location on the Hebridean island – lined up as the closing gala.