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First look at Alex McLeish’s cameo in Jon S Baird’s new film Stan & Ollie

This exclusive picture shows Alex McLeish,
This exclusive picture shows Alex McLeish,

A north-east film director has revealed how he gave one of his Aberdeen FC idols a cameo role in his new movie.

Jon S Baird, who is originally from Peterhead, bumped into Alex McLeish on a plane and discovered the Scotland boss has a love of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

John C Reilly and Steve Coogan as the comics

At the time Jon was gearing up to shoot Stan & Ollie, his biopic of the Hollywood funnymen, which stars Steve Coogan and John C Reilly, so he invited him to the set.

Jon gave the Evening Express an exclusive picture of McLeish’s big moment in the film, reading a newspaper behind Coogan’s Stan, and called the Gothenburg Great “an incredible presence on set”.

He said: “People just naturally gravitate towards him, regardless of whether they are football fans or not.

“He’s a lovely, respectful man with a great sense of humour.

“Alex had an incredible presence on set.”

Jon S Baird

The film, which follows the double act as they embark on a tour of UK theatres in the early 1950s, opens in cinemas tomorrow and is up for three Baftas, including best British film and best actor for Steve Coogan.

Dons fanatic Jon – who spent Boxing Day watching Aberdeen take on Celtic at Pittodrie as a guest of McLeish – said the cameo came about after a chance meeting.

“I met him on a flight; it was the Aberdeen v Celtic cup final a few years ago and I was flying back to London,” Jon told the Northsound 2 breakfast show.

“I was an Aberdeen fan and he was a hero of mine so I went up to speak to him.

“He was asking what I was doing now and I said Laurel and Hardy and he threw his luggage down and said, ‘I’m in the Laurel and Hardy Fan Club’.

“He’s in the background of one of the scenes.”

After making his directorial debut in 2003 with a short film called It’s A Casual Life, Jon made the biopic Cass in 2008, about the life of writer and football hooligan Cass Pennant, then adapted the Irvine Welsh novel Filth for the big screen in 2013.

Following Filth Jon spent some time in America directing episodes of Martin Scorsese’s ’70s music industry drama Vinyl and I’m Dying Up Here, a Showtime series about stand-up comedians that was produced by Jim Carrey.

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This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.