Kevin Mcdonald profile

  • The List
  • 3 January 2007


Name Kevin Macdonald

Born 28 October 1967, Glasgow, Scotland.

Background Celluloid runs like blood through Macdonald’s veins. He’s the grandson of legendary writer/director Emeric Pressburger and younger brother of Trainspotting producer Andrew Macdonald. After a stint working for Faber in their film department, he wrote a book about his grandfather and, with Marc Cousins, he helped pen the bible on documentary filmmaking called Imagining Reality. His impressive array of credits as a documentary filmmaker includes films on Pressburger, Chaplin, George Rickey, Howard Hawks and Donald Cammell. Then came the excellent One Day in September about the 1972 Munich Olympic hostage situation and award winning mountaineering docudrama Touching The Void.

What’s he up to now Having established himself alongside Nick Broomfield at the apex of British documentary filmmaking, Macdonald has shown he can do just as good a job at making fictional features, adapting Giles Foden’s The Last King of Scotland for the big screen. Starring Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy, the film uses a fictional Scottish doctor to recount the worst excesses and the charismatic allure of the infamous Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

What he says about adapting the book to screen ‘We’ve changed the book enormously. When Giles saw it, I was very nervous because there were only two or three scenes that were the same as the book. We felt there were two main things that were different; one was that the character of Garrigan [McAvoy] in the book is very passive and we didn’t feel we could maintain audience interest in that type of character. We also wanted to go back in time to show the reality of Amin’s rise to power, the British support of him and that he was incredible popular. When Giles came out of the film he said “the narrative is very different but you kept all of the themes and in a way it is like a great improvisation on my book”.’

Interesting fact Macdonald first read The Last King of Scotland in manuscript form whilst working at Faber.

The Last King of Scotland is on general release from Fri 12 Jan.