MICHELLE Fairley won Best Actress at the Chicago Film Festival for her performance in Nobody Has To Know, a movie filmed and set in the Outer Hebrides. The problem is, no one told her.

At least, until she spoke to the National about its upcoming UK release.

“I didn't know that – obviously they didn't tell me!” Fairley said, quipping: “Well, thank you. I appreciate it. I would like to thank my friends, my family.”

Written by and starring Bouli Lanners – who was also honoured with an award for best male performance at the same festival – Nobody Has To Know sees Fairley’s character try to convince an amnesia-struck islander that they were having a secret affair before he lost his memory.

The National: Bouli Lanners and Michelle Fairley in Nobody Has To KnowBouli Lanners and Michelle Fairley in Nobody Has To Know (Image: PR)

The movie was filmed entirely on Lewis and Harris and sees Fairley speak in a Scottish accent – which she says is her favourite.

“I've played Scottish before, and I love the accent. It's probably my favourite accent. I absolutely love it,” the star, known for her roles in hits such as Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, told this paper.

“I love the energy and the humour of it, the pace of the accent too. You just, you hope that you do it justice.”

The movie was filmed back in 2019 and has been screened at festivals and abroad – but it’s only due for release in the UK on November 3.

While striking a deal for a UK release took time, Fairley said her memories of working in Lewis and Harris remain clear.

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“I just loved it,” she said. “On days off – you got one day off a week – I’d hire a car and just drive.

“The difference between Lewis and Harris, even though it's one massive island, is like going from one landscape to another. It just blew me away. All these amazing beaches and, you know, I loved being there. Absolutely loved it.”

It wasn’t only the landscapes which she loved about life on the Outer Hebrides, but the people as well.

“It just reminded me so much of Ireland,” Fairley – who is from the north coast of that island – explained. “The landscapes, the people. It was just a beautiful place to be.

“I mean, Scotland feels very home to me anyway.

“I was born, I grew up in a place called Ballycastle in County Antrim. From Ballycastle you can see the Mull of Kintyre. You can see Jura on a clear day, and Islay.

“It's like sometimes, when you're driving into Ballycastle, you would almost swear that Scotland is a continuation of the coast of Ireland.”

The National:

Fairley said that the decision to set the movie in Lewis and Harris had been “totally to do with Bouli's (above) love of Scotland” – and that the landscape was deeply connected to the characters.

“The environment totally shapes [them],” she said. “My character is very much a product of her environment, and Bouli's character is somebody who has gone searching for an environment to give him solace as well.

“So the landscape and the ocean, the Scottish environment, is very much part of it. It can be brutal and lonely and vast but it can also be comforting at the same time, too.”

Although the story has an unlikely premise, Fairley said the themes are deeply human.

“[My character] gets herself into a situation that becomes incredibly difficult to get out of.

“Even though she knows it's wrong, she's acting on her heart … It is a genuinely based, I think, on her genuine love.”

Fairley went on: “It's full of human failings and, you know, just life.

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“I think a lot of people now, we're all finding a difficulty with what's going on in the world at this present time. It's just there doesn't seem to be any humanity left anywhere.

“So, therefore, personal relationships are of importance in terms of where do you get your solace, your love, your safety from. If you can't get those from your personal relationships, the probability of getting it from the wider world at this point in time is poor.”

Nobody Has To Know, which was co-directed by Lanners and Tim Mielants, will be at cinemas across Scotland and the UK from November 3.

An exclusive opening screening with welcome drinks will be held by Skye Community Cinema at the Gathering Hall in Portree on the same date.