Finding her voice

For Kate Mara, the accent was on getting the burr just right to play ayoung heroine of the 1950s Scottish nationalist movement in Stone ofDestiny.

For Kate Mara, the accent was on getting the burr just right to play a young heroine of the 1950s Scottish nationalist movement in Stone of Destiny.

The petite brown-eyed redhead had no trouble looking the part of a Scottish lass, but sounding convincing was crucial to her.

“It was really hard work,” the 25-year-old actress said at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall. The film opens here Friday.

“Being in Scotland and being surrounded by a whole Scottish cast (was intimidating), but everyone was so helpful and supportive,” she said.

“No one acted like they had any qualms with an American girl playing the lead and an Englishman (Charlie Cox) playing the lead guy.”

Written and directed by Charles Martin Smith, who movie fans will remember as Terry in 1973’s American Graffiti, the story recalls an important event in modern-day Scottish history.

Based on Ian Hamilton’s book, it follows the exploits of the young nationalist who banded with Kay Matheson (Mara) and two university student pals to swipe the 152-kg Stone of Scone from beneath the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey in London and repatriate it to its home in Scotland.

The students wanted the stone — a symbol of Scottish national pride nabbed by the Brits in the 13th century and used since in the crowning of English monarchs — out of England and back in its home country.

Glaswegian Robert Carlyle also stars in the movie as politician John MacCormick, who inspires the students with his fiery speeches.

Retired lawyer Hamilton (age 82 when the movie was being shot in Scotland two years ago), spent a great deal of time on the set, acting as historian, guide and even voice coach.

“I spent so much time with Ian, he was so present and he answered any questions we had,” said Mara. “He had Charlie Cox and me over to his house for dinner, and he told us stories. It was amazing.”

Mara was enthralled with the tales of the then-25-year-old rebel Hamilton.

“The craziest thing was knowing they were so young when they did this huge thing,” she added. “It’s hard to imagine being (that age) and doing something that huge and not knowing the consequences. And to be able to spend time with the guy who did it how many years later, that’s such a cool thing.”

In theatres
Stone of Destiny opens in theatres on Friday.

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