IT was the cult Scottish film that launched several careers, including those of Joe McFadden and Laura Fraser.

Small Faces, which was shot in Glasgow and was released in 1995, follows three teenage brothers (played by McFadden, Iain Robertson, and Steven Duffy) who became entangled in a deadly rivalry between two Glasgow gangs.

As director Gillies MacKinnon has noted, he and his brother Billy, with whom he wrote the script, hired "all the best young actors in Glasgow, many of whom had never been in front of a camera".

The film found favour with critics at home and abroad.

As the Washington Post remarked at the time: "Small Faces, Gillies MacKinnon's semi-autobiographical account of growing up in Glasgow, has drawn inevitable comparison with "Trainspotting," the other (and better known) current movie about wasted youth north of Hadrian's Wall.

How name-dropping did Small Faces a big favour

"But Small Faces doesn't come at you with in-your-face comedy and pounding music - the way "Trainspotting" does. Instead, it presents a quieter, but no less provocative, scrapbook of working-class Govanhill, Glasgow, circa 1968".

The film won The Michael Powell Award at Edinburgh and the Jury Prize at Rotterdam.

A few months ago it was announced that a sequel was in the pipeline.

Small Faces sequel announced with River City actor to star

Here we look at what subsequently became of some of  the cast members of the original film.

LAURA FRASER (Joanne Macgowan)

The Herald: Joe McFadden and Laura Fraser in Small FacesJoe McFadden and Laura Fraser in Small Faces (Image: Guild Films)

LAURA Fraser, above, with Joe McFadden, was supposed to play Damian Lewis's wife in the hit US TV series, Homeland.

"I had filmed the pilot episode with Damian Lewis,'' she told The Herald in 2013. "Then I learned they had reshot it with someone else playing the part. I've since learned that that's a common thing in America, but I was more than a little bit heart­broken at the time.

"But if I hadn't lost that part then I would not have been in Breaking Bad, so I am so glad that happened. So glad."

Small Faces sequel announced with River City actor to star

Glad, indeed. Her role as crystal meth queen Lydia Rodarte-Quayle in Breaking Bad won critical acclaim, and was the latest stage in Fraser's quite remarkable career. She played the same character in the spin-off, Better Call Saul.

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The Herald: Laura Fraser in 2001Laura Fraser in 2001 (Image: Grant Sainsbury/Contour by Getty Images)

On TV her other projects include The Missing (for which she won the BAFTA Scotland award for Actress Television),, The Loch, Traces, Florence Nightingale, Lip Service, and Irvine Welsh's Crime.

It's sheer intoxication: A 1999 interview with Laura Fraser

Her films have included A Knight's Tale (Heath Ledger), Vanilla Sky (Tom Cruise/Penelope Cruz), and The Man In The Iron Mask (Leonardo DiCaprio).

JOE McFADDEN  (Alan Maclean)

The Herald: Joe McFadden went on to have a stellar career after Small FacesJoe McFadden went on to have a stellar career after Small Faces (Image: PR)

McFADDEN'S career has known few bounds since Small Faces. Where to start? He's had roles in some of our best-loved TV series - Holby City, Casualty, and Heartbeat. He appeared in Take the High Road, and was acclaimed for his portrayal of Prentice McHoan in the BBC adaptation of Iain Banks's The Crow Road.

His CV also includes numerous stage productions, including Torch Song Trilogy, Rent, and Entertaining Mr Sloane

For good measure he even won the 2017 edition of Strictly Come Dancing; the moment when he and his professional partner, Katya Jones, were declared the winners after their tin soldier– themed Charleston is one to treasure.

Scots actor Joe McFadden wins Strictly Come Dancing 2017

Like the other members of the Small Faces cast, McFadden has fond memories of the shoot. Speaking to BBC Scotland recently, when plans for the sequel were unveiled, he said: "Small Faces was such a special project to work on and I very much look forward to finding out what happens to the characters in their later lives. I would jump at the chance to work with this team again."


The Herald: Iain RobertsonIain Robertson (Image: (C) BBC Studios, Scotland - Photographer: Robert Pereira Hind)

IN December 1996 Iain Robertson, then 15, won the award for Best Performance in Scotland's Bafta awards, for his role (below) as Lex McLean in Small Faces.

He said it was an honour to receive the award so early in his career and added: "It just goes to show that a wee naebody fae Govan kin dae good".

Speaking in March this year on the subject of the sequel, he told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland: "A lot of people think of it as a coming of age story with the backdrop of the gang violence in Glasgow in the 60s.

"But those of us involved think of it as a story of three brothers about love, innocence and betrayal.

"It wasn't so much the idea of a sequel, it was a thought of 'I wonder where Lex would have found himself 30 years on' and I was just interested in having that question answered".

Iain has chalked up a remarkable range of stage, radio, film and TV appearances - River City, Rab C Nesbitt, Sea of Souls, Whisky Galore! The Debt Collector - since his debut. His recent BBC show, Iain Robertson Rambles, has been a critical success.

The Herald: Iain Robertson in Small FacesIain Robertson in Small Faces (Image: Guild Entertainment)

KEVIN McKIDD (Malky Johnson)

The Herald: Kevin McKidd, pictured in 2017Kevin McKidd, pictured in 2017

WHEN the 2015 Glasgow Film Festival reunited many of the Small Faces cast for a 20th anniversary screening and Q+A, Kevin McKidd joined in by Skype from Los Angeles.

He paid tribute to Gillies MacKinnon's direction. "I'd never played a villain before and always played the loser of the group.

"At that time there were lots of gangs who held everybody in their thrall and who were quite mystic but really just wee boys. Malky wasn't very streetwise and we made him comedic, a wee boy like most of them but tougher and bigger".

McKidd  added that he loved the big coat chosen for him. "Actors love to have cool clothes to wear and that coat was pretty cool," he said. "It gave me something to work with. I'm not from Glasgow and didn't know about those gangs, so this big coat gave me confidence."

It was while he was filming Small Faces that his opportunity arose to have a role in Trainspotting.

"During the filming of Small Faces, Danny Boyle was in Glasgow for the pre-production of ‘Trainspotting’. Danny hears about the up and-coming actors filming Small Faces and wants to see footage. He asked me to audition for the part of Tommy and the rest is history", Kevin said in a March 2021 interview with Queen Margaret University's QMYOU Magazine. He graduated from Queen Margaret College in 1994.

McKidd's best-known films include Regeneration (1997), Hideous Kinky (1998 - both directed by Gillies MacKinnon), Dog Soldiers (2002), Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and a voice role in Pixar's Oscar-winning, Scottish-set animation, Brave (2012).

His many TV projects have of course ranged from Gray's Anatomy to Rome.


"IT'S a hard movie to track down but spotted Small Faces is on YouTube", Colin tweeted in March 2020. "Great to have been part of & I think an underrated film".

"You're surely too young to have been in that!", one of his Twitter fans wrote. "Sadly not!", responded Colin.

Colin had appeared in Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave before landing a role in Small Faces. His subsequent career has famously extended to playing DC Stuart Fraser in Taggart, and he has also starred in River City. His most recent TV roles include Mayflies, the acclaimed adaptation of Andrew Greig's novel.

GARRY SWEENEY (Charlie Sloan)

“I WAS lucky to come up in the mid-90s, when you’d have Trainspotting and Small Faces out in the one week", Garry Sweeney said in an interview in 2019. “That was a real golden era and hopefully it will come back round.”

The Herald: Garry Sweeney as Gabriel Brodie in River City Garry Sweeney as Gabriel Brodie in River City (Image: (C) BBC Scotland - Photographer: Alan Peebles.)

Garry was Gabriel Brodie in River City before his character was bumped off. His other projects have included a handful of stints on Taggart; he was in Still Game, and Bumping the Odds, and his films include A Lonely Place to Die, an excellent 2011 thriller set in the Highlands.

GILLIES MacKINNON (film director)

The Herald: Gillies MacKinnon at the world premiere, in Edinburgh in 2016, of Whisky Galore!Gillies MacKinnon at the world premiere, in Edinburgh in 2016, of Whisky Galore! (Image: Stewart Attwood Photography)

ON his website MacKinnon recalls the genesis of the film.

"I was sitting in my garden with Billy, my brother, talking about the extraordinary years in the ’60s when Glasgow life was ruptured by rival gangs. At the time of the hippies and the Paris riots, armed gangs like the Cumbie, the Tongs and the Fleet were meeting in teams of hundreds to fight it out.

"We decided to make a film about three brothers, one about to go to art school, one lost in a violent world and the youngest caught between the two. Billy’s tonal reference was [Lasse Hallström's] My Life As a Dog. MIne was [Luchino Visconti's] Rocco and His Brothers.

"We raised a budget of £1.2m, with a thirty day shoot and then hired all the best young actors in Glasgow, many of whom had never been in front of a camera.

"I loved this cast. It was truly like a big family and these young actors were ready to do anything for the film. Laura Frazer was studying drama in Glasgow at that time. A year later she was in Hollywood making a film with lsabella Rossellini..."

MacKinnon had previously directed Steve Martin in A Simple Twist of Fate (1994). After Small Faces, he directed Regeneration (1997), Hideous Kinky (1998), and Whisky Galore (2016), amongst other films.



Cult Glasgow gang film Small Faces celebrates 20th anniversary with a red carpet screening

The Herald: The 20th anniversary screening of Small Faces at the GFT in 2015The 20th anniversary screening of Small Faces at the GFT in 2015 (Image: Newsquest)

IN March 2015, the stars of Small Faces reunited for a 20th anniversary screening attended by a sell-out audience of 400 to mark the end of the Glasgow Film Festival.

The photograph shows, left to right: Carmen Pieraccini, Mark McConnochie, Joe MacFadden, Steven Duffy, Gillies Mackinnon, Billy MacKinnon, Garry Sweeney, Iain RObertson, Eilidh McCormick, and Colin McCredie.