Belfast Telegraph

Why 50 actors failed audition to play Manchester United legend George Best

By Amanda Ferguson

The movie producer behind a new film about football legend George Best is hunting for a "good-looking, spindly, cheeky-chappy" to play the Belfast hero - but says he cannot find anyone handsome enough.

With his piercing blue eyes and shock of dark hair, it is not difficult to understand why the late sportsman was football's first celebrity pin-up and earned the nickname El Beatle.

Oscar-winning producer Stephen Evans, who is making the biopic in a similar fashion to his film about the late Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros, says he has already auditioned 50 young men for the role of the late Manchester United and Northern Ireland star, who died in November 2005, but has had no luck so far.

"I've looked at 50 youngsters in Belfast, but can't find anyone good-looking enough," Evans told the Daily Mail.

"I have a wonderful lad playing the goalie Ronnie Briggs, who shared digs with Best when he first came to Manchester United, and I am afraid he might overshadow Best."

Evans' previous film credits include Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind and The Madness Of King George.

He is using a similar recruitment process to the one he employed for 2014's Seve The Movie, and earlier this year said that he wanted to "cast a footballer who can be taught to act, rather than an actor who can be taught to play football in the role of the young Best".

One of the finest footballers to ever kick a ball, George Best was the leading scorer for Manchester United in the Football League First Division in 1967-8, as well as picking up a European Cup medal along with the European Footballer of the Year title in 1968.

The film is expected to focus on 15-year-old Best's move from Belfast to Manchester and his relationship with landlady Mary Fullaway, as well as charting his rise to international fame and his well-known battle with alcoholism.

George's brother-in-law Norman McNarry said he would have laughed at the idea of filmmakers not being able to find someone handsome enough to play him.

"I was speaking to Stephen Evans and I suggested he go through the IFA youth programme to find someone, or perhaps playwright Martin Lynch to see if had success casting a young person in Dancing Shoes," Mr McNarry added.

"He knows there isn't someone who can match George on the pitch so I don't know where he is going to get somebody.

"I imagine the person he is trying to get to play the young George will be for his acting skills and emulate what George did on the football pitch."

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