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Scots star’s debut as director in “Pimp” reveals seedy truth behind sex industry

from – ROBERT CAVANAGH has swapped the glen of tranquility for the seedy streets of Soho.

But the actor, who features in the famous Glenmorangie advert, has not fallen on hard times.

He is writer, director and star of Pimp, his first feature film. Edinburgh-born Robert plays a pimp called Woody who is followed by documentary cameras as a week in his sleazy life goes from bad to worse.

It also stars fellow Scots Billy Boyd and Martin Compston.

Robert, 44, who has starred EastEnders, Rebus and The Royal on TV, said: “I’ve been bored to tears with the stuff I’ve been doing for ages.

“Things like EastEnders and The Royal have been good for me in their own way, but I never enjoyed it.

“In fact, the last telly job I enjoyed doing was Rebus. I get bored with a lot of conventional telly but I’m not cool enough to be in unconventional telly.

“I fall between a lot of stools. I am not handsome enough to be the romantic lead, I am not quite lived in enough to take the character parts I want. So I thought, I can create my own work.”

Robert, who has written and directed a number of short films, was first offered the part of Woody as an actor six years ago but only agreed to do it if he could rewrite the script and direct it.

He used his friendships and connections, getting Lord of the Rings star Billy Boyd and Sweet Sixteen lead Martin Compston on board and help funding the movie from his old Tomb Raider friend Gerard Butler.

And if things had worked out differently, there would have been even more Scots involved.

Robert, 44, said: “I originally wanted Brian Cox for Danny Dyer’s part. He’d always said, ‘When you are ready, show me it’ but it took too long to get to him and didn’t work out which was gutting at the time. But I remain a massive fan.

“I really wanted Bobby Carlyle for Woody but my producers said, ‘Why don’t you just play it?’ As an actor, I’d have been stupid to say no, even though I realised playing it, writing it and directing makes you look like a total tosser.”

Robert also recruited his EastEnders co-star, Scarlett Alice Johnson who played his teenage girlfriend Vicki Fowler in the soap.

He said: “I always liked her and she’s very bright, very articulate and not at all like her part in EastEnders.”

In Pimp, Woody works for a Soho sex industry kingpin Stanley, played by Dyer, but starts to question his lifestyle over a week which sees him lose his flat, get beaten up and lose one of his girls.

Robert, who immersed himself in Soho’s seedy counter-culture when writing the script, said: “I spoke to a lot of people who work in the sex shops.

“In one scene in the film, there’s a guy doing something which makes people laugh with incredulity but it was based on amateur footage I was shown in one of the shops. It’s gobsmacking but totally based on truth.

“There’s a lot of bad language, but what am I going to do? It’s a week in the life of a Soho pimp.

“My plan was to make it as real as possible but we stepped back from showing too much.

“We were actually going to open on a real porn set. We had negotiations with a director in Los Angeles who was going to put together a real shoot and we would have done our regular acting using it as backdrop and pixilated out the bits you are not supposed to see.

“But It was just getting too complicated to do.”

Robert is due to direct another upcoming feature, The Cellar, which stars Mad Men’s Jared Harris and the Office’s Lucy Davis.

It’s about seven friends who go to a Scottish castle for a wedding and get trapped in an ancient wine cellar. Robert hopes to film it at Gosford House, in East Lothian, later this year.

He has also formed a production company with his friend and Pimp co-producer Royd Tolkien – grandson of Lord of the Rings writer.

Robert added: “We have got a lot of product over the last two or three years.

“One we are hoping to do is an extension of Pimp about a London cabbie who comes home to Peterhead to attend his dad’s funeral and finds there’s no funeral and his dad’s not dead. I’d love to star in it.

“I love acting and don’t want to give it up but it’s just not enough.”


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