Local NewsAlan Cumming mouths true tale of Scottish high school...

Alan Cumming mouths true tale of Scottish high school scandal

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Alan Cumming could never have imagined a role he hoped to play 25 years ago would come back — but without a voice.

“In terms of the weird things I’ve done, it’s pretty up there,” Cumming acknowledged of his lip-syncing performance in Friday’s “My Old School.”

A delightfully different documentary, “School” details a bizarre 1993 high school scandal in Scotland using animation, media coverage and actual students and teachers who were there to re-evaluate today what happened then.

It began with the arrival of Brandon Lee at one of Glasgow’s most posh high schools, Bearsden Academy. Brandon, not to be confused with the recently murdered son of Bruce Lee, claimed to be 16, from Canada. He had returned to Glasgow following his opera singer mother’s untimely death in a car crash.

Yes, he looked older than his fellow students and knew much more about biology and punk music. It was nearly two years before he was exposed as Brian MacKinnon, 32, a Bearsden grad of years earlier, although no teacher had recognized him.

Jono McLeod, as a classmate of Lee/MacKinnon, was an ideal director-producer-writer. When MacKinnon agreed to be interviewed but not appear on camera, enter Cumming. At 57, he sits in a classroom and lip-syncs that interview.

“I like bizarre new things; I was up for the challenge,” he said earlier this week in a Zoom interview.

“Also, I was going to play that character 25 years ago, so I had some history and knowledge of the thing.”  That fictionalized version of the story was never made.

“It’s really a nice thing about getting older that parts, characters, come back to you sometimes. It’s hilarious to be giving a performance, acting in a documentary, but you’re not making the sounds,” Cumming decided.

“Actually, it’s kind of tricky,” he added. “I listened to the whole interview that Jono did with him and thought, I can’t learn the whole thing. But by the time I came to do it, he had chosen the bits. So I only did the bits that were in the film.

“I had those bits a month or two before and listened to them constantly. When we did it, I was on the set with a speaker and each line would be on a loop. Again and again and again — until I felt I’d done it the best I could and got it right and Jono was happy.

“For me, it was incredibly energizing, really kind of mind blowing. I just felt so sorry for the crew because it must have seemed like slow water torture, just to hear the same thing again and again.”

“My Old School” opens Friday.

A scene from "My Old School," a Magnolia Pictures release (Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures)A scene from “My Old School,” a Magnolia Pictures release (Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures)

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