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Star Trek's Colm becomes a chuckle brother Martin McGuinness

Producers want Irish star and English actor to team up as First Ministers in proposed movie

By Rebecca Black

Published 28/08/2015

Colm Meaney to play Martin McGuinness
Colm Meaney to play Martin McGuinness
Timothy Spall will play Ian Paisley
Paisley and McGuinness in their famous snap

One of the most recognisable Irish actors is rumoured to be preparing to transform for what could be the biggest challenge of his career - playing Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Colm Meaney (62) supported Mr McGuinness during his ill-fated bid to become Irish President in 2011, and now the Dublin man needs to get inside the politician's head to portray how he became friends with his once arch enemy Ian Paisley.

A new film, The Journey, to be shot in Northern Ireland this autumn, will explore how the DUP leader and the former IRA chief managed to become so friendly with each other that they were nicknamed the 'chuckle brothers' after being repeatedly seen laughing together.

Meaney has had a glittering career, possibly best known for playing Miles O'Brien in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as countless movie roles and a voice part in The Simpsons.

If the reports of Meaney's "advanced talks" with producers are successful, he will play opposite English actor Timothy Spall, who will be cast as Paisley. Spall is widely recognisable from his roles in the Harry Potter films and The King's Speech.

The Journey is being written by Co Down-born novelist and screenwriter Colin Bateman.

The plot of the film centres on a fictional journey Lord Bannside and Mr McGuinness take together that leads them to forge a friendship.

There had previously been speculation that Liam Neeson and Sir Kenneth Branagh were being lined up to play the former First Minister and current Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

The warmth between the men took many by surprise given Mr McGuinness' background as a senior IRA man and Mr Paisley's long opposition to Sinn Fein and protracted refusal to talk to any of its members.

It is believed part of their bond was down to each's strong religious beliefs.

The senior Sinn Fein man and the founder of the DUP stayed in contact, and Mr McGuinness visited Lord Bannside when he fell ill shortly before his death last year.

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