TWO little-known Scottish businessmen played a crucial role in bringing the Holywood blockbuster Brave to Scotland, it has emerged.
Disney Pixar bosses fell hopelessly in love with the country after being taken on a 12-day tour of stunning locations by Bob Costello and Ian Stewart.
The pair’s encyclopaedic knowledge of Scottish folklore – and banter about hunting haggis – helped win over the high-powered Holywood executives.
Mr Costello, who runs an executive travel firm in Dundee, revealed his anecdotes almost won him a voice acting role in the movie, which is now to get a sequel.
He provided vehicles for the 2006 tour while Mr Stewart, who runs an Edinburgh-based tour guide firm, gave the running commentary.
Their guests included director Mark Andrews and producer Katherine Sarafian, who wanted to “involve themselves in the culture, history and humour of the country”.
The two Scots ran up hundreds of miles over the 12 days, taking in picturesque Loch Duich in the Highlands, Aberdeenshire’s Dunnottar Castle and the standing stones on Lewis and the Isle of Skye.
Mr Costello said: “We had a brilliant time and so much fun – I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life.
“They wanted to use a lot of our humour in the film so they questioned us as we went along.
“I remember we had a lot of fun trying to convince them that the haggis was a real creature and of course it ended up featuring in the film.”
He added: “The team had a fantastic sense of humour and were so quick-witted.
“Of course, that’s how they lived life, ad-libbing and making up scenes as they went along.”
Mr Stewart, who had just finished a Masters degree in Scottish folklore, was well placed to give the film team the background on Scotland’s history.
He said: “There was a great esprit de corps. They cared very deeply about what they were doing.
“They spent a lot of time studying the foliage, and one of the most pleasing things about the movie is it captures the colour palette of Scotland so well.
“The places we went to were as pure an experience of native woodland we could find.”
As well as swimming in misty lochs and lying down on Highland heather, the filmmakers watched how Scots interacted with each other in pubs to get a feel for their language and mannerisms.
He said: “They were very keen to make a movie where the actors’ voices were not jarring for people in Scotland.”
The film team also attended the Lonach Highland Gathering, joining in in the festivities and whisky-drinking, he said.
Mr Costello, who has been giving tours for 25 years, also had to put the filmmakers right on some facts on Scottish history.
He said: “Mark mentioned that the film, which was originally going to be called The Bear and The Bow, was to be set in 11th Century Scotland but I told him, ‘Do you realise there weren’t any bears in Scotland in the 11th century as they died out in the 10th century?’
“We also had a lively debate about some of the names the characters were to have. I thought they were a bit airy-fairy and so they were changed to be more Scottish, “The only one that is a bit out of keeping is Merida.
“Again, I pointed out that it wasn’t a Scottish name but Brenda explained that it was the name of someone close to her whom she’d grown up with in her home town and so it stayed.”
Mr Costello says he nearly ended up with a role himself: “At one point the producer suggested using my voice for Lord Dingwall instead of Robbie Coltrane’s, but unfortunately it wasn’t taken up.”
But Mr Costello and Mr Stewart did end up with credits in the film, and he was included in a book about the film.
He said: “It was fantastic to see the finished film and recognise the places we visited, including Dunnottar and the standing stones, although they put them in a wood, which they’re not in real life.”
Bob took his daughter Laura to see the film’s premiere in Edinburgh, and later took Brenda Chapman and her daughter on a tour around Edinburgh.
He said: “The original idea behind [Brave] was her relationship with her own daughter.”
He says he hopes to meet director Mark Andrews for a pint when he visits Glasgow ahead of the sequel.