Alan Cumming stars in new doc exploring high school hoax

Filed in Entertainment by on July 22, 2022 0 Comments

The documentary, “My Old School” takes a look at a high school hoax that made international headlines in the ’90s.

The student involved in the hoax agreed to participate in the documentary but not on camera. So Director Jono McLeod decided to use animation and cast Scottish actor Alan Cumming to lip-sync his recorded interview.


What You Need To Know

  • Students and faculty at a school in Scotland fell for a student hoax in the 1990s.
  • The student agreed to participate in the documentary, but not on camera.
  • Alan Cumming was hired to lip-sync the student’s recorded interview.

For Cumming, lip-synching for a documentary was a first.

“I’ve never done anything like it. It was sort of bonkers,” said Cumming. “But actually made me realize how much your voice infuses your whole spirit your whole energy.”

“You know, I had seen videos of him and I knew this story from being from when it happened in the news, but I didn’t know what he looked like now or what how he was now; I only heard his voice. I had to sort of make up the whole character just from that. So it was kind of fun. It was fascinating and bizarre.”

In 1993, a student named Brandon Lee enrolled in a high school near Glasgow, Scotland. Although Lee looked older and seemed wise beyond his years, the students and faculty embraced the new student.

But the documentary reveals that Lee was hiding an unbelievable secret: his true identity. Cumming remembers when the story made headlines.

“Oh, this was a huge story in Scotland and Britain, but especially in Scotland I think because, you know, as Scots, we feel we’re quite canny, and no one could pull the wool over our eyes,” Cumming said. “And so we were sort of all amazed and kind of furious that this person had done that, but also full of admiration for him, as well. I think we were like, quite like the fact you’ve done it.”

Lee fooled everyone, including McLeod, who was there when Lee first walked into class.

“He fooled all of us,” McLeod said. “It was in 1993, our junior year. He walked into my high school class, and we all just went with it. To be honest with you, the real reason why I think he maybe got away with this hoax was because we were brought up on a diet of American TV shows and movies like ‘Grease’ and ‘90210,’ where people in their mid-to -late 20’s played high school teenagers. So we thought that’s what you guys over here look like. So when he rocked up from Canada, we were like, ‘Okay, let’s go with it.’”

McLeod called on his former classmates to participate in the documentary. They recalled their memories of Lee and the hoax that shocked all of them.

“I’m the only one of my classmates who grew up to be a filmmaker. So it felt to me to kind of hail everyone together,” said McLeod. “But it’s very much an ensemble effort, where we kind of all got back and reconnected in a reconstruction of our high school class. So it was very trippy. And I think that’s just what I wanted the film to capture really was that connection and the kind of humor between us all.”

Cumming said he has no doubt that he, too, would have fallen for the hoax.

“Totally. Totally. I think everybody in the film did, and there are people much more clever and astute than I am. When I went to school, I was a year younger than everybody in my class. And I was also a late developer. So I was always like, the little runt of the litter.”

“And I would not have doubted someone who was a grown-up, or, you know, a grown-up or one of the big boys, I wouldn’t have doubted their identity. Not at all. I mean, you know, you just believe teachers don’t know you believe the grown-ups.”

“My Old School” is playing now in theaters.

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