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I couldn’t think of anything else so I made my excuses and ran off.” Henshall’s confident cover was blown also on the set of the 1996 film Angels And Insects.
“Me and Patsy Kensit were playing a brother and sister who had an incestuous relationship and we had to film this big sex scene.
“I think with hindsight I realise this world suits me. I would get up and sing at family parties, I wasn’t that backward at coming forward, but I still did get a red face when I was doing it.” He breaks into a laugh: “It may sound strange but sometimes, I’d be so embarrassed getting up to perform I’d be saying to myself, ‘Why do you feel the need to show off like this? I remember both places for different reasons.” Henshall worked hard to find success when he left Mountview Drama College in London, proving he could slide easily into dramatic theatre roles and TV sitcom.
’ But then once I found a platform to express myself it felt absolutely right.” Finding himself filming in his home town was strange. He even played the beefcake role once, in a 1994 episode of Rab C Nesbitt.
What about Kristin Scott Thomas, often described as an “ice queen”, who he appeared with on stage in Pinter’s Betrayal in 2011.
“Yes, that scared the bejaysus out of me,” he admits, grinning.
“I was socially awkward, and never sure how you were supposed to behave in society. A wee wumman I once lived next to came up to me in the back of the camera truck and we had a talk about family.
Acting, I guess, gave me a place where I could express myself, where I didn’t feel that sweaty-handedness in being around people. We filmed in the old council building where my grandad worked and the health centre where my ma was a nurse.
However, Henshall loved the chance to come back north of the Border to film Iona.I wasn’t 100 per cent sure of what I thought until I was confronted by it, but then it took a while. “I’m sure there are people who associate Iona with what they want it to be but for me it’s just a nice place.” He adds, in a soft, reasoned voice. People are entitled to their beliefs, provided they don’t stop me having mine.” Does the loss of loved ones, including friends such as the late, great Gerard Kelly, who offered a leg up the acting ladder, make him more conscious of mortality: carpe diem, and all that? I’ve been trying to find a way to do that my whole life and failed, so if someone has a wee book I’d be glad to read it.” His voice saddens a little: “My ma was only 59 when she passed away. But the role of Contented Actor is not one he seems to play well.You sense a brain that’s continually searching for a truth.“So we traipsed over Mull, in the pishing rain, with the parents desperately trying to find things to do as is the case with a holiday in Scotland, then on to Iona.” Did the filming throw up difficult memories, given he has since lost his mother (to heart disease, aged 59)? I still miss her, and I still think about her a lot but the memories I have are warm, rather than melancholic or tinged with sadness.” There is a strong spiritual element in the film. That was one thing my mum’s death did sort out for me.