About the Cast
Ned Beatty is Josef Locke, the celebrated Irish tenor who filled music halls
around the world. When he sang, women wept.
The fictional Hear My Song picks up on a real episode in Locke's life: his exile in
Ireland to avoid questioning about alleged tax evasion. Beatty jumped at the opportunity
of playing a great singer, as well as the chance to film in Ireland "I loved the
whole business of using a singer, other than some sort of terribly macho guy. Although I
must admit, playing a larger than life character like Jo is a challenge."
We see Locke in his native Ireland, joking with his four mates in the local
public house, attending a cattle auction. When Micky arrives, Jo suspects he is a tax
collector and forces the concert promoter to come clean. Micky admits that he wants Jo to
sing at Heartly's so he can redeem himself to his love, Nancy.
Jo himself faces his responsibilities: he risks arrest by returning to England for the
sake of Cathleen, the woman he abandoned 30 years ago.
Beatty has appeared in over 45 feature films, beginning with the role of Bobby Trippe
in Deliverance in 1971. Since then he has been seen in Network (Academy Award nomination
as Best Supporting Actor), Nashville, Superman land Superman H, All The President's Men
and Wiseblood. He has appeared in numerous American television miniseries and films,
notably Friendly Fire (Emmy Award nomination) with Carol Burnett. Born in Kentucky in
1937, Beatty now lives in Los Angeles.
Co-screenwriter Adrian Dunbar plays the lead role of Mick O'Neill. Micky's
an opportunist concert promoter of Heartly's night-club, who has an eye for a quick scam
and for his beautiful fiancée, Nancy. He's distrusted by most of the community.
Then again, would you trust someone who books a man in a sailor's outfit singing songs
from South Pacific or Frank Cinatra, complete with shiny suit?
He's an emotional self-starter. If there wasn't Micky around, nothing would happen. If
he learns a lesson, it's that he must care for someone before he cares for himself"
Dunbar tint met Chelsom when they acted together in Ourselves Alone at the Royal Court in
Dunbar came on to the film when director Peter Chelsom was writing the screenplay and
developing the character of Josef Locke and Mr X Together, Dunbar and Chelsom invented the
fictional character of Micky as the film's centre of action and the movie took off .
32 year-old Dunbar was born in Enniskilin, Northern Ireland, and studied at the
Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He has appeared in numerous stage,
television and feature productions. Roles include Macintyre in BBC's Reasonable Force Conn
in Euston Finns' The Fear, Le Roux in Working Title's acclaimed A World Apart, Lennox in
Euston, Finns' Dealers and Peter in the Academy Award-winning My left Foot.
Recently completed filming on Neil Jordan's upcoming feature film A Soldier's War,
Dunbar is currently co-writing his second script with Hear My Song director, Peter
Chelsom, called Sam & the Captain.
Shirley Anne Field is Cathleen Doyle, the grown up beauty queen that Jo
Locke chose as Miss Dairy Goodness in 1958. She is also Nancy's mamma and thinks her
future son-in-law is no good.
Having been hurt herself by self-serving men, she doesn't want her daughter to make the
same mistakes. Little does Cathleen realise that she too, "has a whole life ahead of
her." Cathleen is a woman whose husband, who adored her, has died.
She's been seven years on her own, she's re-set up her life, she's become a croupier
because she doesn't really have any qualifications except her looks and a quick mind. She
wants the best for her daughter, forgetting that the best can still be there for
For Cathleen, the best returns in the shape of tenor Josef Locke, the man who abruptly
abandoned her after a brief carefree affair. "What Peter Chelsom and Adrian Dunbar
have done is write a new type of woman - a heroine who's past 25!"
Field has performed with great leading men, including Sir Laurence Olivier in The
Entertainer, Albert Finney in Saturday Night, Sunday Morning and Steve McQueen and Robert
Wagner in War Lover. She has appeared in numerous television programmes and theatre
productions. Most recently, Field appeared in the films Shag, Getting It Right, The Ridlel
Papers and as the rnistress in Stephen Frears' award winning My Beautiful launderette.
Last year, Shirley Ann Field published A time for Love, her frank autobiography about
her childhood, rise to stardom and the truth behind her mother's unexplained disappearance
30 years before.
Newcomer Tara Fitzgerald plays Nancy Doyle, dental hygienist by profession,
good-time girl by choice. She is engaged to opportunistic concert promoter Micky O'Neill
and injects some good-humored sense into his ambitious ways.
As Nancy's mother Cathleen explains, she is attracted to Micky because: "he makes
life happen. That's exciting for a girl." "Nancy loves life," Fitzgerald
says, "She's proud of that. She's got great strengths like her job. She knows if she
wants to relax and have security, she's got to have a reasonable job.
Micky's the spice in her life. The audience mustn't feel she's so good, though She's
not the worthy type." Fitzgerald is fresh out of London's Drama Centre after three
years of rigorous training. She plans to balance film and television work with her passion
Director Peter Chelsom chose her for Hear My Song over neatly 600 other young
actresses. With barely a break between projects, Tara Fitzgerald also appears in Euston
Finns' Anglo Saxon Attitudes, a Catherine Cookson BBC TV special and Channel 4's Camomile
Lawn TV series based on Mary Wesley's acclaimed novel (UK transmission March '92)
The eccentric "Mr X - Is it or isn't it?" is played by William Hootkins.
Though grossly exaggerated with great comic skill by Hootkins in Hear My Song, there is a
MrX in real life. Like Josef Locke, he is a tenor with a great stage presence who sings
all the old favorites adored by Locke's fans.
Always billed as "Mr X", never once has he broken the law by saying he is Jo
Locke. For American actor Hootkins, the film's Mr X was an opportunity to go all out in
playing this "genuinely crazy guy".
Mr X talks Micky into giving him more money by speaking poetic mumbo-jumbo and later he
takes advantage of a nostalgic and drunk Cathleen. In the end, however, by switching
places with Jo on the wreckers ball going through Heartly's roof, he saves the Irish tenor
"Mr X is essentially a naturally exotic person. I'm such a natural over-actor. I
over-act when I under-act and Peter Chelsom's trying to get me to play it even
fruitier!" Ironically, Hootkins says he's lost a number of parts to Ned Beatty (the
film's Jo Locke) because of their physical resemblance. Admitting that he plays "a
lot of revolting roles in movies", Hootkins appeared as Lieutenant Eckhardt in Batman
and was seen in Star Wan, Raiders of The Lest Ark, and Superman IV
He appears regularly on British and American stages. Television credits include Black
Adder and capital City in the UK and Cagney And Lacy and Remington Steele in the States.
Dallas-native Hootkins is based in both London and Los Angeles.
David McCallum is Chief Constable Jim Abbott, who after thirty years still
remembers the day Josef Locke escaped his grip and fled to Ireland. Abbott is due to
retire and arresting Locke on tax evasion charges would be the crowning glory to his
"What we have is a film about life and living, in all its aspects of fulfillment
and disappointment. Abbott's obsession is caused by his inability to overcome what
happened in 1958 when he nearly drowned trying to arrest Jo Locke.
He has to deal with the physical ignominy of drowning and the terror of almost dying.
The reasoning for catching Jo loses all perspective. People lose their rationale when
their emotions take over. And remember - he also has a thing about Jo's girl,
Cathleen." McCallum was born in Kelvinside, Glasgow, Scotland in 1933.
He graduated from RADA in 1951 and soon after worked extensively in the UK and abroad.
After going to America in 1961 to play Judas in George Stevens' The Greatest Story Ever
Told, he has continued his career on both sides of the Atlantic.
His films include: A Night To Remember, Billy Budd, and Mosquito Squadron. McCallum is
best known for television's The Man from U.N. C.L.E. and The Invisible Man. Other
television work includes Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Murder She Wrote, and
BBC TV's top-rating series Trainer, co-starring Susannah York..
Theatre work includes Camelot, California Suite, The Mousetrap, Sleuth, Run For Your
Wife and the recent production of Hunting if the Snarl'.
Stephen Marcus plays tough-guy Gordon, Micky's mate with a soft centre.
"He's been around and knows what things are about," Marcus says of his
"We came up with the scenario that he's from London, moved to Manchester and now
is in Liverpool. He was a bouncer beforehand.
He's got a bit of naivete about him - he's shy with women. He fancies Nancy like crazy,
but doesn't think anyone knows." Marcus worked with director Peter Chelsom on a
popular Spray 'N Vac commercial where he played a singing Hell's Angel. The Portsmouth
native gets regular work in commercials and appeared in Stephen Frears' My Beautiful
Launderette as Moose.
Also at Micky's side in his moment of panic is Derek, played by John Dair.
Born in Dundee, Scotland, the London resident says Derek is a bit of a mentor for Micky.
"if Micky's frustrated, then he takes it out on us, we're typical dogsbodies. Derek
and Gordon are his sounding board. I'm like his uncle and Gordon's like his brother."
Dair is usually cast as the heavy, and recently appeared in Batman and Chicago Joe and the
Gladys Sheehan is gutsy Grandma Ryan, the forceful matriarch of the Ryan
family whose co-op holds the lease to Micky O'Neill's night-club, Heartly's.
The Ryans badger Micky into providing top-class entertainment. It seems the best Micky
can come up with is the act that starts all the trouble, the Jo Locke fake: "Mr X -
Is it or isn't it?" Sheehan is a familiar face in many films where she has played
strong cameo parts, including a brothel Madame in The Great Train Robbery, with Sean
Connery and the Reverend Mother in Darling Lily in the early 6Os.
Recently she appeared in the Irish television drama, The Irish RM. She relished the
chance to play the feisty and funny Grandma Ryan. "She swears and says 'bollocks' and
'bleedin'. I don't believe in growing old gracefully. I enjoy living life well to the end
and enjoying every second of it"
Grandma Ryan's daughter, Kitty Ryan, is played with equal verve and strength of
character by Britta smith. Kitty Ryan is also a good friend to Cathleen Doyle, Jo Locke's
old flame, and became a firm support for her. Indeed, Kitty socks Micky in the ace when
Cathleen is humiliated and reveals that Mr X is a fake.
"She's a very colorful character and a real matriarch, but there's a humanity
about her as well, a softness," Smith says. Smith trained at the Abbey School of
Acting and at the Gate Theatre, Dublin. She has appeared in numerous television and film
productions, including The Country Girls (London films), Children In The Crossfire (CBS),
The Irish RM (Channel 4) and Glenroe RTE).
Her many theatrical appearances have earned Smith great praise, notably in the role of
Christine in miss Julie (Dublin Critics Award 1976) and as Sister Agnes Paul in Semi
Gina Moxley is Brenda Ryan, the grand-daughter of the notorious Ryan family
and friend to Nancy Doyle, Micky's girl. Moxley grew up in Cork, Ireland, where she
studied painting at the Crawford School of Art After working in Dublin designing magazines
and as a darkroom technician, she stumbled into the film business by chance.
While on a working-holiday in Turkey eight years ago, Moxley was offered the lead role
in Evlerden Biri, a feature film in which she quickly phonetically learnt Turkish. "I
got into acting by mistake. Obviously no thought went into it or I would have run in the
Moxley appeared in Boss Grady's Boys at Dublin's world-famous Abbey Theatre, and in
productions for the Dublin Theatre Festival. Her numerous film and television credits
include Lapsed Catholics for Channel 4 and R'IE, the six-part RTE drama series Molloy and
the Irish-Australian mini-series Act of Betrayal starring Elliot Gould. "Brenda Ryan
is somebody who's growing slowly in confidence. She's part of this clan of strong Irish
women - her grandmother and mother are fairly formidable characters," Moxley
James Nesbitt plays Fintan, Micky's friend and reluctant accomplice on a
frantic journey through Ireland in search of Josef Locke. Trained at London's Central
School of Speech and Drama, Nesbitt was born in Ballymena and grew up in Coleraine,
Northern Ireland. Hear My Song is Nesbitt's first film.
Since graduating from drama school in 1988, he has appeared in Russian director Yuri
Lybimov's celebrated year4ong world-tour of Hamlet, and in a few television productions.
Nesbitt describes Fintan as a truly sympathetic character who's somewhat put upon by
Micky. "The type of guy the viewing public should like. He's married with a couple of
kids and is a small-time theatrical agent. He's a long-time friend of Micky's."
About the Filmmakers
Peter Chelsom (Director/Writer) is interested in making quality films which are
accessible to everyone. like Hear My Song, a comedy/romance about old-fashioned values
which developed from an original story of Chelsom's. "The story of Josef Locke and
Micky O'Neill suits the stuff of films because it's dangerously near an edge of being
melodramatic. I can't imagine making a film where there wasn't a huge amount of passion
for the central character or those around him or her. Where characters are also pushed to
their absolute limits.
Where characters make very optimistic transitions, like Micky and Jo. In other words,
the characters do the things that in real life you only hope they will do, or suspect they
probably won't." Born in 1956, Chelsom remembers the real Josef Locke from his days
growing up in Blackpool. The celebrated Irish tenor sang for 19 seasons at the seaside
resort and was known as 'Mr Blackpool'. He used to go into Chelsom's parents' antique
shop, The Golden Age, and his autograph is in their guest book. One of the film's themes
of how dreams can be distorted intrigues Chelsom.
"There's a phrase in the film spoken by Grandma Ryan which is the key: 'You close
your eyes. You cast your mind back thirty years and you see and hear what you want to see
and hear'. Dreams and longings and cravings for something more fundamental in a very
transient world is what Hear My Song is all about. It is also about
Chelsom trained as a photographer before spending three years at the Central School of
Speech and Drama. He was the only actor to play leads at the Royal Shakespeare Company,
the National Theatre and the Royal Court before the age of 30.
On television he played Edwin in A Woman of Substance and was the son in Sorrel And
Son. Abruptly, after ten years, he stopped acting so as to concentrate on writing and
directing films. His first film, a short called Tread4 won him international acclaim and a
BAFTA nomination in 1988 for best cinema short. In the past two years he has also made 36
commercials, notably campaigns for Molson Canadian Lager, Tetley Beer and The Express
Not surprisingly, his speciality is dialogue and humour Hear My Song is Chelsom's first
feature film. He is currently co-writing his second script with Adrian Dunbar entitled Sam
and the Captain which he will direct.