After three decades of acting success, and a coming-of-age role that he’s never escaped, John Gordon Sinclair is carving a new path as a crime writer. And he’s far more excited about it, says the star of Gregory’s Girl, the 1981 film which launched his career.
The thing is, he points out with a sigh, he’s done so many other acting projects since then, has won awards for his stage performances in musicals She Loves Me and The Producers, enjoyed numerous TV parts and, most recently, appeared alongside Brad Pitt in the post-apocalyptic thriller World War Z.
However, people of a certain age still remember him as the gawky love-struck teenager in Bill Forsyth’s charming coming-of-age film, even though he’s now 52, has long since moved from his native Glasgow to leafy Surrey, and is happily married to a GP with two daughters and pursuing a career as a novelist, writing taut, fairly graphic thrillers.
People at his book signings still mention Gregory’s Girl, though. “But I steer the conversation away from that, because I’ve talked about it for 30 years and I don’t feel like I’ve got any more to say about it really,” he admits.
“I wouldn’t say it’s been a burden, because people have very fond memories of it, but for some people, it’s their only frame of reference and I think, well, over the 30 years, I’ve spent 10 years of that in the West End of London, so there’s quite a lot more to talk about.
“But first impressions count and I think that people’s first impressions of me were immersed in that film, so I do understand, but it was a very small part of my life.”
Today he’s discussing his new novel, Blood Whispers, the second in a trilogy but which could be a standalone book if you didn’t read his debut, the highly-acclaimed Seventy Times Seven, a brutal IRA thriller.
In Blood Whispers, the main character is tough lawyer Keira Lynch, who was a minor character in Seventy Times Seven. She comes to the fore when she takes on the case of a prostitute on the run from a Serbian gang leader. It’s an exciting page-turner whose plot thickens to boiling point as the case turns out to have global repercussions.
“I was tired of all these cops who’d turned to drink, whose marriage had split up. It was all becoming a bit cliched. I wanted a character that was slightly damaged and had a lot of empathy for people who are damaged themselves,” Sinclair explains. While the name John Gordon Sinclair may be familiar to many, it hasn’t helped his writing career, he says.
Blood Whispers (£12.99) is out now.