Timothy Spall to play Ian Paisley in Troubles drama The Journey

Drama will document the Protestant leader’s unlikely road towards friendship with his longterm political enemy, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness

Timothy Spall looks set to play the Reverend Ian Paisley in the Northern Ireland Troubles drama The Journey, which will document the firebrand politician’s unlikely friendship with Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness.

Deadline reports Spall is in advanced discussions to portray the late Democratic Unionist party leader in a role with significant awards season potential. Belfast-born Nick Hamm, best known for 2001’s The Hole and 2011’s Killing Bono, is set to direct from a screenplay by Divorcing Jack’s Colin Bateman.

The film will present a fictional take on the relationship between Paisley and McGuinness, once sworn enemies who became closer in 2007 when they served together on the Northern Ireland Assembly, Paisley as first minister and McGuinness as his deputy. Producers are still searching for an actor to play McGuinness, now 65.

Spall won the best actor prize at Cannes 2014 for his role as the painter JMW Turner in Mike Leigh’s critically acclaimed Mr Turner, though he was ultimately not nominated for the best actor Oscar earlier this year. His upcoming slate includes Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland sequel Alice Through The Looking Glass, reprising his voice work for the character of Bayard the Bloodhound.

Hamm hopes to shoot The Journey in mid-September on location in Northern Ireland and Scotland.


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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