Harry Potter star set to play Paisley

Timothy Spall.

Timothy Spall.

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Acclaimed actor Timothy Spall is in talks to star as the late Ian Paisley in new film The Journey.

The film will tell the story of the former First Minister’s unlikely friendship with Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness.

It is being written by novelist and screenwriter Colin Bateman, who is from County Down.

Filming is expected to start in Northern Ireland some time in late September.

The plot of the film centres on a journey Mr Paisley and Mr McGuinness take together that leads them to forge an unlikely friendship.

Over the years rumours had circulated that fellow Ballymena man, Liam Neeson would portray the former first minister.

Instead, Timothy Spall - whose films include Mr Turner, The King’s Speech, Sweeney Todd, The Damned United and a number of the Harry Potter series - is being tipped for one of the lead roles.