Edinburgh schoolgirl gets big break in Outlaw King with Chris Pine

THERE aren't many Edinburgh actresses can say they have run into the arms of, and then been swept off their feet by Hollywood A-lister Chris Pine.Royal High Primary pupil Josie O'Brien can, she plays Marjorie, daughter of Pine's eponymous hero in the new Netflix movie, Outlaw King.
Josie O'Brien during the filming of Outlaw KingJosie O'Brien during the filming of Outlaw King
Josie O'Brien during the filming of Outlaw King

The film, tells the untold, true story of Robert the Bruce and his transformation from defeated nobleman to outlaw hero during the oppressive occupation of medieval Scotland by Edward I of England.

For Josie, a member of the city’s Strange Town youth theatre, landing the role was dream come true, although in some ways, she has older sister Flora to thank in part for her big break - it was after Flora joined the local drama club Josie decided she too wanted to “have a go”.

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“I started with comedy improv classes at Strange Town and I really liked it. Now I do their acting classes,” explains the 10 year old, who had previously appeared in school plays and as a “troglodyte miner” in a Strange Town production.

Josie O'Brien during the filming of Outlaw King with Florence PughJosie O'Brien during the filming of Outlaw King with Florence Pugh
Josie O'Brien during the filming of Outlaw King with Florence Pugh

“... and I’m now rehearsing for Aladdin. I’m playing the part of the evil magician Abanazar,” she chips in proudly.

It was through the youth theatre that Josie won an audition for the role of Marjorie, daughter of Robert The Bruce, in Outlaw King. No mean feat considering it was her “first ever audition”.

“I was kind of nervous because I didn’t know what would happen there, but they were all really nice and made it lots of fun to do,” she recalls.

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“I had to jump on the casting director’s back - he was pretending to be a horse which is what Lorne MacFadyen, who plays Marjorie’s Uncle Neil, does in the film.

“It was great fun.”

A short time later, while travelling with her family to visit friends, a phone call brought the news Josie had been dreaming of receiving.

She remembers, “We were in the car on the way to Manchester when Ruth from Strange Town phoned to tell me I’d got the part.

“It was a bad signal so I couldn’t hear her at first. When I heard what she said I shouted out to all my family “I got the part!” I was so excited.”

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That excitement was nothing compared to her first day filming at Linlithgow Palace, she would later film in the Capital too, at Craigmillar Castle.

“I was excited to see everyone because I’d got to know them in the rehearsals before filming... and there were loads of sweets, so that was a bonus.”

Another scene Josie was involved in brought her to the banks of Loch Lomond in the dead of night.

She recalls, “There was one scene filmed between two and four in the morning, where there were men on fire and the soldiers were being shot at by arrows.

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“I had to pretend to be asleep in a tent and then my step-mother woke me up and carried me away to escape from the English soldiers. That was very exciting.”

Josie’s favourite day on set, however, was a little less dramatic, though very funny.

She laughs as she recalls, “Florence [Pugh, who plays Elizabeth de Burgh], Meg [Fraser who plays Aileen] and Gemma [McElhinney, who plays Christina Bruce] were filming in a carriage in Aviemore.

“We were playing around between filming and didn’t realise our microphones were still turned on so the production crew heard everything we were saying.”

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A highlight for the young actor was meeting her on-screen father for the first time, Hollywood A-lister Chris Pine.

“Chris was really funny and he always seemed to be laughing,” she says.

“One day I pranked him, me and my body double, Katie, made a fake cast and we told him and everyone else that I’d broken my arm. It got me out of tutoring that day.

“I filmed lots of scenes with Chris; one when I met my step-mother for the first time, another was at Bruce Senior’s funeral and then there was the wedding scene and the wedding banquet.”

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Asked how it felt to be working with the Hollywood star whose previous credits include Into the Woods, Wonder Woman and James T Kirk in the Star Trek reboot film series, Josie says simply, “It didn’t feel like that, it was just like working with anyone else. He was really good fun as well.”

Another friend the youngster made on set was Scottish actress Meg Fraser.

“I got on really well with Meg,” she smiles.

“If I didn’t understand what I was meant to do in a scene, Meg told me what to do and really helped me. We also had loads of fun together.”

Despite making such a high profile debut in to the movie business, a life on the boards or in front of the cameras isn’t Josie’s only ambition, “I also want to be a chef,” she reveals as she admits she can’t wait to walk up the red carpet at the premier of Outlaw King at the Vue Omni.

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“What I’m most excited about,” she smiles, “is seeing all the friends I made during filming again.”

With an R rating (under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) it’s likely Josie, who was nine when she filmed the role, will have a few years to wait before she can watch the movie herself.

As the adult members of the cast settle down to watch the film, she will join the other younger cast members at their very own red carpet premier party.

Outlaw King Red Carpet Scottish Premiere, Vue Omni, Greenside Place, Friday 19 October, 6pm

Outlaw King is in select UK cinemas and launching globally on Netflix on 9 November

Fancy taking a selfie with Chris Pine at the Outlaw King premiere? Turn to page 7 of The Guide

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