Actor plays the title role in Sawney: Flesh of Man, a modern-day take on the depraved Scots cannibal Sawney Bean, and he admits the ancient tale has terrified and fascinated him since he was young.
He's spent a lifetime preparing for his most bloodthirsty role – and David Hayman could not wait to get tore in.
The award-winning actor plays the title role in Sawney: Flesh of Man, a modern-day take on the depraved Scots cannibal Sawney Bean.
In the film, Bean is a religious psychopath who captures, kills and devours his victims with the help of his insane, inbred family.
It is based on the story of 16th century monster Sawney Bean and his clan, who were said to have lived in a cave at Bennane Head in Ayrshire.
David told the Sunday Mail that the ancient tale is a gruesome story that has terrified and fascinated him since he was young.
He said: “When I was a wee boy, we used to spend our summer holidays down the Ayrshire coast in Girvan. My dad had told us the stories of Sawney Bean and about all the terrible things they had done.
“During the holidays, he would take me to the cave near Ballantrae where it was said the Bean clan lived.
“I remember it vividly. There was a skinny wee entrance and I was surprised how small it was. But when you were inside the cave, it was really scary. The memories from my childhood are really clear.”
So when the star of Trial and Retribution was asked if he would like to be in a modern-day film version of the story, there was no hesitation.
“I jumped at the chance,” said David. “It’s a low-budget film. There was no money and a very small film crew but I think they might have pulled off a major coup. It is gory, bloodthirsty and, I hope, funny as well.”
Others share David’s view because Sawney: Flesh of Man has landed an US distribution deal and there is already talk of making a film prequel, which would focus on the 16th century legend.
Tales of the Sawney Bean saga might have scared David witless when he was a boy but the actor reckons there is a very obvious reason why the tale of the Scots cannibal has fascinated folk over the centuries.
He said: “It is because it deals with one of the ultimate taboos of humanity … cannibalism.
“Just look at the scandal that has been created this week because it has been discovered that people have eaten horse meat when they thought it was beef.
“Now, that has created a national fuss, and I appreciate the health concerns, but really it is nothing compared with eating human flesh.
“For proof of that, you just need to look at 1972 when a plane crashed in the Andes and, in order to survive, people ate the flesh of those who had died.
“That is something many folk would do under those circumstances. I would have done it to stay alive.
“But because of what they did, the survivors still live with the stigma.”
David has known the Sawney Bean story for years and is fascinated by many aspects of it.
Among them is the claim that the Bean clan did most of their vile deeds in winter because food was more scarce then.
But he is well aware that nobody knows for sure if Sawney Bean and his clan even existed at all.
“Whether the legend of Sawney Bean is true or not, it is a great story,” David added. “It just shows that there is nothing like a legend.”
- Sawney Bean: Flesh of Man will be screened at the Glasgow Film Festival on Friday, February 22.