Michelle Fairley, the star of Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, has won the best actress award at the Chicago Film Festival for her role in Nobody Has To Know, a film set and shot in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
The film, which will be released in the UK on November 3, tells the story of a woman who tries to convince an amnesiac islander that they were having a secret affair before he lost his memory.
How Fairley fell in love with Scotland
Fairley, who is from Northern Ireland, said she loved working in Scotland and felt a strong connection to the landscape and the people.
“It just reminded me so much of Ireland,” she said. “The landscapes, the people. It was just a beautiful place to be.”
She said she enjoyed exploring the island of Lewis and Harris, where the film was shot, and admired the contrast between the two parts of the island.
“The difference between Lewis and Harris, even though it’s one massive island, is like going from one landscape to another. It just blew me away. All these amazing beaches and, you know, I loved being there. Absolutely loved it.”
She also said she loved speaking in a Scottish accent, which she described as her favourite.
“I’ve played Scottish before, and I love the accent. It’s probably my favourite accent. I absolutely love it,” she said.
“I love the energy and the humour of it, the pace of the accent too. You just, you hope that you do it justice.”
How the film was made
Nobody Has To Know was written by and co-stars Bouli Lanners, a Belgian actor and director who has a passion for Scotland.
He co-directed the film with Tim Mielants, who has worked on TV shows such as Peaky Blinders and Legion.
The film was made in 2019 and has been screened at various festivals and abroad, but it took some time to secure a UK distribution deal.
Fairley said she was excited for the UK audience to see the film and praised Lanners for his vision and talent.
“He’s an extraordinary man. He’s an extraordinary filmmaker,” she said.
“He’s got such a unique voice and such a unique way of telling stories.”
What the film is about
The film is a dark comedy that explores themes of love, memory, identity and deception.
Fairley plays a woman who lives on a remote Scottish island with her husband and son.
She meets Lanners’ character, who has suffered a head injury and has no recollection of who he is or where he came from.
She decides to take advantage of his situation and tells him that they were lovers who planned to run away together.
She convinces him to stay with her at a cottage, where she tries to rekindle their supposed romance.
However, things get complicated when her husband becomes suspicious and Lanners’ character starts to regain some of his memories.
Why the film is relevant
Fairley said that the film reflects on some of the issues that people are facing in today’s world, such as loneliness, isolation and lack of humanity.
She said that her character is driven by a desire for love and happiness, but also by a sense of desperation and frustration.
“She gets herself into a situation that becomes incredibly difficult to get out of,” she said.
“Even though she knows it’s wrong, she’s acting on her heart … It is a genuinely based, I think, on her genuine love.”
She added that the film shows how personal relationships are important for finding solace and comfort in a chaotic world.
“I think a lot of people now, we’re all finding a difficulty with what’s going on in the world at this present time. It’s just there doesn’t seem to be any humanity left anywhere,” she said.
“So, therefore, personal relationships are of importance in terms of where do you get your solace, your love, your safety from. If you can’t get those from your personal relationships, the probability of getting it from the wider world at this point in time is poor.”
What will happen next?
The film ends with a twist that leaves the audience wondering what will happen to the characters and their relationships.
Will Fairley’s character be able to keep her secret? Will Lanners’ character find out the truth? Will their love survive or crumble?
The film does not provide any clear answers, but rather invites the viewers to imagine their own scenarios.
Fairley said that she likes films that do not have a definitive ending, but rather leave some room for interpretation and discussion.
“I think it’s always good when you leave an audience with questions,” she said.
“I think it’s always good when you leave an audience wanting more.”