Belfast Telegraph

Alex Higgins' cash demands snookered Game of Throne's star's movie dream

By Allan Preston

A biopic of the late Northern Ireland snooker great Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins was scrapped because he demanded far too much money, the actor Richard Dormer has claimed.

The Lisburn-born Game of Thrones star, who previously wrote and starred in a hit play about Higgins' life, said an attempt to bring it to the big screen was scuppered by the excessive demands of the former world champion.

"Like, he wanted the budget of the film," Mr Dormer told the Sunday Times.

"And I was like, 'I can't give you that', and he said, 'Well then, you can't do it'. Which was pretty horrible of him considering all the years we'd known each other and all the money I'd given him in royalties from the play. That was just Alex, he was his own worst enemy."

Higgins, a two-time world champion, passed away in 2010 aged 61, having suffered from poor health since a diagnosis for throat cancer in 1998.

His final years were spent in poverty and struggling with gambling and alcohol addictions.

Mr Dormer said he remains open to playing Higgins in a film role in the future, but only with a screenplay from another writer as he had "bigger fish to fry" than trying again with his old script.

For years he had been fascinated by Higgins due to similarities in their lives, namely as working class Protestants who left to make their fortune in England around the same age.

"We were both good at what we did and we both went off the tracks for a bit," he added.

For the Hurricane play he had drawn on his own experiences of feeling second-class while studying at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London (RADA).

"I felt I was never good enough. George Best is another one," Dormer continued.

"No matter what success they have they think, 'I don't deserve this', and that's because they grew up in the Troubles, and every time you hear a Northern Irish accent on TV it was because somebody's killed somebody, and, you know, a lot of negative stuff around being Northern Irish and Protestant in the 1970s and 1980s."

This year Dormer thrilled fans around the world after reprising his Game of Thrones role as the flaming sword-wielding warrior Beric Dondarrion.

"The sword went down a storm with the fans, even though I think they forgot I was in season three way back when," he added.

"I did have another offer when they asked me to come back, I was almost going to do the other job, but they wrote to me and said, 'You're going to be doing great stuff, so choose us' - and I'm really glad I did.

"I'm not even on screen that much, but what it's done for my profile is just exceptional. It's crazy."

His next outing on the small screen starts on September 11 for the BBC drama Rellik - 'killer' spelt backwards.

The serial killer drama sees him in the leading role as Met detective Gabriel Markham, an acid attack victim investigating a series of similar crimes.

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