Rising star: Martin Compston, actor

Martin Compston, actor

· Ken Loach's former protege Martin Compston, 22, specialises in honest performances. After Sweet Sixteen (2002) and Red Road (2006), the Scottish actor now makes his US debut in coming-of-age tale A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.

· An amped-up account of director Dito Montiel's teenage years in Queens, the film features much improvisation. 'I feel that's when I'm at my best,' says Compston. 'You can let fly and you don't know what's going to happen.'

· Montiel couldn't persuade him to do just anything, though. 'They were trying to get me into pop socks,' Compston says. 'I wasn't going around in bloody pop socks.'

· But for Loach's intervention, Compston might have worn more football socks. He was a £65-a-week apprentice for Morton FC when he decided to pursue acting. Loach, who cast him in Sweet Sixteen, says: 'When you meet him, there's a brightness and optimism.'

· While on a four-month tour of duty trying to break Hollywood last year, Compston returned to his abandoned passion: getting a job coaching soccer. He laughs off a comparison to David Beckham. 'It was just some Mexican kids in the Downtown area.'

· A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is released on 2 March


Phil Hoad

The GuardianTramp

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