Brian McCardie 1965-2024

I’m writing this in remembrance of Brian McCardie, who passed away on April 28th at the age of 59. Brian was a celebrated Scottish actor, whom I had the pleasure – and challenge – of working with during my second feature film, Solid Air (2003).

Pleasure because Brian was intelligent, quick-witted and during the process of rehearsals and production, wholly committed to his role as Robert Houston Junior. Challenge because he took no prisoners, forcing me to up my game knowing I had to know the answer to every question he asked – and for which I was/am grateful. He extended the same generosity to his fellow actors, rehearsing off-the-cuff, trying stuff out, coaching.

Brian’s career is well-documented elsewhere. All I can add to his story is my gratitude and admiration. Before we met, Brian had already reached heady heights in his career in roles that took him to Hollywood, perhaps at too early an age. I’ll never know the reasons why he chose to return to Scotland rather than stay in L.A. or resume a career in London. What I do know is when he auditioned for the role in SA, he swapped ego for earnestness and curiosity, as any dedicated actor should.

By coincidence, Brian was born on the exact same day as my husband – 22nd January 1965. We joked about it, just as we joked about the watch he wore as the character of Junior – his own watch – a classic Rolex – he claimed he won in a bet. Many years later I sought out the same model as a gift for my husband. In the film, Junior forfeits this watch in a poker game and later ‘acquires’ his father’s watch – a prop I borrowed from my late father, a beautiful gold watch he received as a gift on his 21st birthday that Junior later tries – unsuccessfully – to pawn.

During the shoot, I invited my father along to one of the film’s big set pieces, involving between 50 to 100 extras, in addition to the main cast and crew. After all these years, he was curious to know what his daughter REALLY did for a living. I recall Brian (and other cast members) being so kind and courteous to my old dad, whose story the film was based on. Brian, as Junior, had some of his hardest scenes during the two days spent at this location, yet Brian, the human being, wore his own feelings, trials and rage lightly.

Thinking of Brian as I write this, I think too of those watches and about how time passes – our allotted time – and how many of us leave life before we ought to while the rest of us survive, perhaps perplexed at the point of it all. The trick, if there is one, is to be in the moment, I think.

The above image is a behind-the-scenes shot during the production of Solid Air. Brian playing Junior is on the left, Gary Lewis, who played his antagonist, John Doran is on the right. Me, as ever, I’m just wrangling cats from the middle.