James McAvoy and director James Watkins on the set of 'Speak No Evil.'

(L to R) James McAvoy and director James Watkins on the set of 'Speak No Evil.' Photo: Universal Pictures.


  • James McAvoy will direct ‘California Schemin’.
  • He’s making his directorial debut with the conman story.
  • Samuel Bottomley and newcomer Séamus McLean Ross will star.

Having long proved himself an accomplished actor (and occasional producer), James McAvoy is making the jump further behind the camera to direct his first movie.

He’s tackling the wild true-life tale of two young Scottish men who fooled the international music scene by posing as established Californian rappers.

And Deadline reports that he’s now locked down the two leads he needs for the movie.

Related Article: James McAvoy to Star in Thriller Movie Remake ‘Speak No Evil’

What’s the story of ‘California ‘Schemin’?

James McAvoy in 'Speak No Evil.'

James McAvoy in 'Speak No Evil.' Photo: Universal Pictures.

In the late 90’s, Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd (no, not the ‘Lord of the Rings’ actor) had their musical ambitions consistently ridiculed for having the ‘wrong’ accents so they went for broke and reinvented themselves as Californian rappers.

The duo re-recorded their own tracks with fake accents and turned up in London claiming to be Silibil N’ Brains, an established act on the Cali scene as well as childhood friends with Eminem. They quickly bagged themselves a record deal, a hefty sum in advances, and an appearance on MTV… until it all came crashing down.

Bain and Boyd’s story has been told on page and screen before, in the form of Bain’s memoir ‘California Schemin’ (which has since been reprinted as ‘Straight Outta Scotland’) and Jeanie Finlay’s 2013 doc ‘The Great Hip-Hop Hoax’, but this will be the first time it’s been given the dramatized treatment, with a script by Archie Thomson.

Who is starring in ‘California Schemin’?

Samuel Bottomley, who was most recently seen in ‘How to Have Sex’ and who has also appeared in the likes ‘Ghost Stories’ will play Boyd, with newcomer Séamus McLean Ross (at work on ‘Outlander’ prequel series ‘Blood of My Blood’) as Bain.

McAvoy, as is common for known actors who direct films, is taking a supporting role to up the interest for potential distributors.

‘California Schemin’’: The Filmmakers Talk

James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb in 2016's 'Split.'

James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb in 2016's 'Split.'

Here’s McAvoy on the movie:

“What these two young men from Dundee attempted beggars belief and I can’t wait to bring this absolutely incredible, and also very Scottish/Californian story to the cinema. Using Scottish talent behind and in front of the camera is something I’m passionate about and I’m over the moon to be making my directorial debut in my homeland. The film will first and foremost be a celebration of the Scottish spirit, but the ‘Silibil N’ Brains’ duo’s audacious fakery can’t help but appeal to audiences worldwide. Archie Thomson’s rich adaptation of this remarkable story captivated me and will appeal to audiences worldwide, and Samuel Bottomley and Séamus McClean Ross are a very special couple of young actors who possess all of these attributes and more. I feel privileged to be telling this story with them on my debut feature.”

Producer Stephen Kelliher adds:

“We can’t wait to bring the mind-blowing story of Silibil N’ Brains to the big screen. Their astounding tale of ambition and determination delivers brilliant entertainment whilst being funny, poignant and ultimately moving. We have faith that James and his wonderful cast will create a truly special film which will leave audiences open mouthed as they bear witness to one of the biggest scams in music history.”

When will ‘California Schemin’ be in theaters?

The movie’s rights will be on offer at the Cannes Film Market this month so we’ll have to wait and see who picks them up (and for the movie to be made) before learning when it might arrive on screens.

James McAvoy in 'Speak No Evil.'

(Left) James McAvoy in 'Speak No Evil.' Photo: Universal Pictures.

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