With the Hobbit movie now in cinemas, there has been talk of how the stars of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy have fared.While the other members of the Fellowship of the Ring like Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Bean and Dominic Monaghan have continued high-profile careers, some feel Billy Boyd, who played Pippin, has fallen behind.
But the 43-year old is proud of what he’s achieved and is continuing to achieve in his acting, but also making increasingly gorgeous music with his band Beecake, whose second album Blue Sky Paradise has just been released.
Billy said: “Those things don’t bother me. I’m enjoying what I do, I’m happy with the work I do.
“At the end of my life, I hope I can look back and say, ‘they’re some good films and some good albums – I wasn’t a cog in a machine, I felt part of all the things I did’.
“I’m really happy with how it’s going.”
It’s been a decade since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was released, and Billy has made some great films like Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, On a Clear Day with Peter Mullan and The Flying Scotsman.
His role as Woodsy in Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy, in 2011, was a revelation, though not a patch on Trainspotting.
He’s also kept working in Scotland, making films like Stone of Destiny, while raising his son Jack with wife Alison. He formed Beecake with his schoolfriends, a melodic acoustic rock band who have released two albums – Soul Swimming and Blue Sky Paradise. Billy doesn’t think he’s been pushing acting aside to concentrate on his music.
He said: “I was playing in bands before I was an actor and I like the idea of not being one thing.
“I don’t think, ‘now I’m going to be an actor and I don’t play music’ or ‘now I’m going to be a musician and leave acting’.
“You have to give time to each of them but I like doing a bit of everything.
“If they bleed into each other – great.”
Last year he added yet another string to his bow, as producer on his latest film Space Milkshake.
He said: “As well as being one of the actors in it, I was also producing so I had a big part in the cut of the movie and one of Beecake’s songs is on the final credits.”
No wonder, then, that he laughs off an interview that said he was broke.
What being in Beecake has given him is a yearning to be more in charge of what he’s doing. On new album Blue Sky Paradise, as well as writing the album, they also arranged strings when needed and didn’t bring in a big producer.
He said: “I felt part of it. It’s totally us.
“Sometimes in a film, you go to a hotel room, then do your bit and then that’s it. You don’t have anything to do with the editing part of it. The film comes out a year later and you can’t even remember what you were doing at the time.
“But with the band, you are in every part of it from the music to designing the album sleeve. I even took some of the photography for the album.”
Hopefully, many of you reading this will check out the album, but of course, others are interested in the world of Middle-earth.
While Sir Ian McKellen is back in The Hobbit as Gandalf, and Elijah Wood, who played Frodo, had a cameo role, Billy has no jealousy and no wish to go back to the world that made him a globally-known actor.
He laughed: “It’s like going back to college. You feel it’s moved on. You still feel part of the world and what happens, but it’s nice it’s moved on and someone else is doing it.”
He is still recognised as Pippin, although he feels most people in his hometown leave him in peace.
He said: “I’ve been with some of the most famous people in the world and if you are just walking down the street, people don’t notice you because they are in their world.
“The people who get noticed have three bodyguards and are wearing sunglasses. You can be noticed if you want to or not noticed.
“People are cool when they do recognise me. I think many like the fact that I choose to live in Scotland.
“I think Scottish people have this thing we like the idea of Scotland and of Scottishness, but we like to bring ourselves down.
“So it’s nice when people say it’s cool what you’ve done and are still living in Scotland.”
Billy certainly seems at ease with himself.
He has a family and a life he could never have imagined growing up in Glasgow and suffering the death of both parents before he was a teenager.
The Scot can juggle acting and music while keeping more control than he would do if he was part of the big Hollywood wheel, or trying to be a musician and using a show like The X Factor.
He recently gave a talk to Scots schoolkids about acting and was surprised at their dreams.
He said: “My worry is people are more worried about being famous than about being good at something.
“I was talking to some schoolkids and they all said they wanted to be famous. I asked for what and they said it didn’t really matter.
“They were happy that famous is all they wanted to be, which is definitely wrong.”
As a musician he has no problems with shows like The X Factor, although he doesn’t watch it.
He said: “It’s great when it finds a good artist and gets their music out there. But I don’t know if it’s the best way. You can be very famous, very fast and that’s scary.
“If you do a few songs and disappear, that’s painful, too.”
Despite his worldwide fame as an actor, Billy knows all about being a struggling artist. Beecake is no vanity project.
He would “love to be number one” and is turning it up a notch by doing more gigs this year.
He said: “It would be great to play T in the Park or RockNess.
“It’s nice to have finished our second album.
“To have things you’re proud of creatively is hugely satisfying.
“You want stuff you can look back at and think, ‘that’s brilliant, I had a great time doing it and I’m proud of it and I can still listen to it or watch it’.”
Blue Sky Paradise, like Soul Swimming, was made in Blantyre recording studio Chem 19.
Unlike Soul Swimming, the songs hadn’t been played live first.
What shines through is the same kind of excitement of early R.E.M – beautiful organic, rootsy music, from a band making music they love without an ear for the charts or pleasing a record label.
As the name suggests, Beecake is nectar for your soul.
Blue Sky Paradise is out now.
Source (including images): Daily Record