|Evening Times October 31, 2001|
Sean Biggie star
by Andy Dougan
Sean Biggerstaff is very fortunate to have spent a large part of his life imagining things that weren't there.
It's an acquired skill but it helped the 18-year-old from Milngavie cope with his dream role in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Sean plays Oliver Wood, captain of the Hogwarts School quidditch team. As such he is something of a hero to young Harry.
''I don't know about hero so much,'' Sean demurs, ''but he is a sporting coach and mentor."
The thing about quidditch is that although, according to Sean, it doesn't take long to master the hard part is learning to fly. Quidditch is played on broomsticks which meant long sequences of special effects which promise to be among the highlights in the film.
Like everyone else connected with the film Sean is sworn to secrecy about these scenes and how they were done. He will allow that they took a long time to shoot and he was grateful for the time he spent learning his craft at the Scottish Youth Theatre.
''It's not that hard to work with things that aren't really there,'' he explains. ''When you're performing you're pretty much using your imagination anyway.
''I come from years of doing theatre with no sets or props at SYT. You would always end up having to do a piece you had just made up involving swords and a tank, neither of which you had,'' he laughs. ''So you get into the way of it." Sean joined SYT when he was 11 after four years at a local drama group in Maryhill.
It was through SYT that he got his big break as one of the two leads in actor Alan Rickman's directorial debut The Winter Guest.
That was four years ago. Now he's finished his education, is a full-time actor, and shares the same agent as Rickman at the giant ICM agency in London.
His introduction to the big time could not have been more sudden.
''I had only joined ICM a week before they got the call about Harry Potter,'' he says, amazed at his luck.
Although casting for Harry and the other two children involved a worldwide search, casting Oliver was a more traditional process.
''For me it was one on one,'' he remembers. ''There might have been a lot of competition but I wasn't aware of it.
''I met the casting director for a short interview and then met director Christopher Columbus a few days later and that was it." Sean was convinced that he'd missed out on the part and was prepared to chalk it all up to experience when he got the call that would change his life. By good luck he had started to read the Harry Potter books. After he got the part he ploughed through them.
And being a Potter fan himself, Sean is ideally placed to reassure those who are concerned about how close the film will be to the book.
''They have been pretty faithful,'' he says. ''There is always going to be a certain amount of that with any book but I don't think the fans should have any problem." Now that the first film is on the point of release, Sean is keenly awaiting the screenplay for the second one. But, once again, he is sworn to secrecy.
As for how a part in what may be the most successful film ever made will affect his life, he'll just have to wait and see.
'In career terms there've been a lot of possibilities,'' says Sean. ''I've gone for films which weren't right and a few which just didn't happen.
''I have no idea what affect it is going to have in other areas.
''If you're playing Harry Potter I would imagine it would be ridiculous but for someone like me, as a supporting role, it's hard to judge just how crazy it's going to get."
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone opens on November 16.