LOCAL Hero turned 40 this year but its popularity shows no sign of diminishing.

Bill Forsyth's classic, by turns witty and poignant, featured a number of well-known actors and gave big breaks to other, younger names.

Forty years after its release, we look at what became of some of its stars.



The Herald: Peter RiegertPeter Riegert (Image: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images for TCM)

RIEGERT, who played the junior oil-company executive, 'Mac' MacIntyre in Local Hero, told BBC Scotland recently that the best part of being involved in Local Hero was that it was still "so fondly appreciated" 40 years on.

"Whenever I say yes to something I'm not saying yes because it's going to be a classic, because no-one knows", the 76-year-old added.  "But it was really clear to me when we were making it that this was as good as it gets.

"It may just be the best-written screenplay I've ever read. Everything came off the page. The script was so magical. Local Hero was filled with whimsy metaphor - everything about it was right in my wheelhouse."

The Herald: A scene from Local HeroA scene from Local Hero (Image: PR)

Prior to starring in Local Hero he had a role in the riotous US campus comedy, National Lampoon's Animal House.

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Riegert's many subsequent films included Crossing Delancey, The Mask, and Traffic. He has been prolific on the small screen, where his CV includes Barbarians at the Gate, Law and Order, The Sopranos, Damages, and Succession.


The Herald: Burt Lancaster in Local HeroBurt Lancaster in Local Hero (Image: PR)

LANCASTER revelled in the role of Mac's eccentric boss, Happer. The Guardian's film critic, Peter Bradshaw, noted recently: "Happer is played with unique brio and gusto by Burt Lancaster, whose legendary presence in itself confers something magical on the proceedings".

When he arrived for location work at Fort William in 1983, he said: ''I get hundreds of scripts to read. But as soon as I read this one, I knew I wanted to be in it".

He was prepared to put his reputation on the line for Bill Forsyth, who was something of an unknown quantity so far as he was concerned.

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During the shoot Lancaster told the Glasgow Herald: ''You know, I have heard from all sorts of people that Bill Forsyth thinks I am a great actor and that he likes me as a person. Yet he has never said a word of this to me. I guess he is shy".

There was a language difference but it proved to be no problem. ''I have not understood a word Bill has said to me. Yet somehow I know exactly what he wants me to do", he said.

The role of Happer was one of many undertaken by Lancaster in an extraordinary career. His many films included The Killers, Elmer Gantry (for which he won an Academy Award), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, The Birdman of Alcatraz, From Here to Eternity, The Leopard, and Sweet Smell of Success. One of his last great films was Field of Dreams, opposite Kevin Costner.

Lancaster died, aged 80, in 1994.


The Herald: Peter Capaldi and Jenny Seagrove in a scene from Local HeroPeter Capaldi and Jenny Seagrove in a scene from Local Hero (Image: PR)

CAPALDI, seen here with Jenny Seagrove, displays much boyish charm in his role as Danny Oldsen, the oil refinery’s researcher. Lancaster said of him: "This young man has a great natural talent and will be someone to
watch in the future".

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Capaldi has more than fulfilled that promise. Not only did he win an Oscar Best Live Action Short Film for his entertaining 1993 short film, Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life, but he played Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It and its spin-off film, In the Loop.

He was also the twelfth Doctor Who, and his many other projects include the two Paddington films.


SEAGROVE turned several heads with her portrayal of Marina, the oil company's marine biologist Marina. She has since enjoyed a prolific career on stage and television and in film. Her big-screen successes included, in Another Mother's Son, a brilliant portrayal of a member of the Channel Islands resistance movement during World War II, who famously sheltered an escaped Russian slave worker in Jersey.

Her TV credits have ranged from A Woman of Substance to Judge John Deed.

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In 2021, when she was 63, she played the mother of the 82-year-old actor Sir Ian McKellen in an "age-blind" performance of Hamlet. "It’s a very avant-garde production", she told a journalist. "It’ll be Marmite. People will either love or hate it. But we want them to look beyond the exteriors and see the stories of the characters".


The Herald: Fulton Mackay (back, right), next to Burt LancasterFulton Mackay (back, right), next to Burt Lancaster (Image: PR)

MACKAY, seen here next to Burt Lancaster, turned in a beguiling performance as Ben Knox, the hermit who owns the beach that the oil company has its eyes on. He and Lancaster struck up an immediate friendship on the set. "He is a magnificent actor and we have had a lot of very interesting conversations", Burt said of him.

Mackay's other famous role was of course that of the officious Mr Mackay, in the hit TV series Porridge. He had enjoyed a formidable career on the stage, too.

Macay died in 1987. Looking back on his career in 1999 the Glasgow Herald described him as "one of Scotland's best-loved actors" and said he was "a true craftsman of his profession and brought to life the memorable characters he portrayed".

The Herald: Denis Lawson and Jennifer Black as Gordon and Stella UrquhartDenis Lawson and Jennifer Black as Gordon and Stella Urquhart (Image: PR)

LAWSON and Black played the enterprising husband-and-wife team of Gordon and Stella Urquhart.

Speaking last year about the enduring success of Local Hero, he said: "When you're working on something for film or TV you have no idea how it will be received, but the longevity of Local Hero is extraordinary.

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I went into a local Boots in Liverpool ... and asked a member of staff where something was and he started talking to me about Local Hero, saying he was a big fan".

Lawson has had a distinguished career, appearing in prestigious projects as varied as the original Star Wars trilogy to the BBC's superb adaptation of Bleak House and TV's New Tricks.

Last year, while Lawson was touring in the musical 'Anything Goes', his nephew, Ewan McGregor, said of him: "He's a real song and dance man, my uncle Denis. He will always be my acting hero. If I ever got stuck at work, he's the only person I would ever phone and ask acting advice from".

Jennifer Black has at times been described as "Scotland's finest actress" and "Scotland's most versatile actress".

As early as 1990 she set up her own theatre company, Harbinger, and staged a well-received production of Lyle Kessler's play, Orphans, on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Two years later she was directing a much-praised new production of Emile Zola's novel, Therese Raquin.

She was acclaimed for her performances as Blanche Dubois in Streetcar Named Desire, and Lady Macbeth, and her many TV roles included Chief Superintendent Gill Templar in the new TV adaptations of Ian Rankin's Rebus books.