Television cameraman Eric Gillespie was really impressed when he focused on Ulster's best loved actor James Ellis - on board the Liverpool ferry steaming into Belfast.
"I was shooting scenes at sea in the first series of the hit BBC Billy plays in which Jimmy played opposite an emerging Kenneth Branagh," recalls the man who now heads up the Actualeyes production company.
That was 23 years ago and Ellis made such a big impression on the young man with the lens recording scenes at sea that Gillespie promised himself to one day tell the Ellis story in a television documentary.
After being director of photography on network hit dramas like At Home with the Braithwaites it has taken Eric more than 20 years to turn his Ellis dream into reality with the production An Actor's Life being screened on BBC1 on Tuesday night.
"He's a hard man to pin down," says Gillespie who personally directed the one-off programme. "Jimmy loves to talk and is a natural story teller, but he dislikes the documentary style with acquaintances going on about him and his career."
And An Actor's Life nearly foundered at first base when Ellis had a stroke last spring. "He made a remarkable recovery and has just recharged his batteries on holiday with his wife Robina," explains Gillespie, " and it has been a privilege for me to tell his story, the good times and the bad.
"From the controversial times when he was putting on the play Over the Bridge in his native city to the grim day when his son was murdered on a tow path."
James Ellis has given the production the thumbs up.
"I love acting and telling stories and writing as much as ever," he said. Among those talking about the Ellis touch will be Ken Branagh and James Nesbitt.