For a whole school year, pupils and staff at a Glasgow school were convinced Brandon Lee was a 17-year-old, as a new documentary will tell.
Brandon made headlines in 1995 after it was revealed the 30-year-old had posed as a teenager to get into Bearsden Academy. Now, the tale has been told through film and is premiering in New York on July 22.
The event begins with a panel, moderated by Douglas Stuart - author of Shuggie Bain.
For two years Brandon had classmates, teachers, and even his mother fooled. It wasn't until he was accepted into the University of Dundee that the situation unravelled, and Brandon was expelled.
My Old School tells the incredible story through an interview with the trickster which is lip synced by Hollywood star, Alan Cumming. Intertwining discussions with former classmates and animated re-enactments, the flick will look into how the Peter Pan-wannabe pulled it off.
It's been directed by Jono McLeod one of Brandon's former classmates and had its initial premiere at the Sundance festival in January.
In a promotional video for the film, Jono said: “In 1993 when we were 16 year old, my classmates and I welcomed a new kid. His name was Brandon, he came from Canada.
“When he arrived he was a bit of a geek, but over the course of two years he managed to climb the social ladder of high school life and become pretty popular. That was until his secret to success was revealed, when he was unmasked.”
According to his classmates, Brandon was a relatively small chap with a boyish frame which allowed him to continue in the deceit. Sneaking through the education system didn’t stop him from gaining some popularity at Bearsden Academy.
He even playing the lead in the Christmas show, which makes sense when considering his acting abilities. So what motivated Brandon to pose as a school boy?
Back in the eighties Brandon (real name Brian MacKinnon) was kicked out of medical school for failing classes. After his firefighter father passed away in 1963 he decided the only way to get back to his dream of becoming a medic would be to turn back time, and get his qualifications all over again under a pseudonym.
On returning to Bearsden Academy, Brian was pretty sure his cover was blown after being sent to a maths teacher named Mr Blair, who had been his teacher the first time round in 1975. Later on his 'first day at school' as the register was being taken, some classmates erupted into laughter at the reading of his name.
One of the girls told him that the name Brandon Lee was also the name of martial arts movie star Bruce Lee’s son. Months later, he was nearly rumbled again when he announced that he remembered the death of Elvis Presley in 1977.
Despite these close calls, he successfully slipped into high school life making several friends along the way. There are differing stories on how exactly the web of lies was pulled apart, though classmates have said that the truth eventually caught up with him in 1995 on a summer trip to Tenerife.
After a brawl in a bar police found two passports on his person; one for Brandon, and one for Brian. He argues with this, stating that it was a former classmate from the 70s whose daughter was now in Brandon’s class that caught him out.
Other sources say a neighbour unraveled the story after accepting a delivery addressed to Brandon. Regardless of how the truth was uncovered, the con artist has made some pretty wild claims since, some of which are in his 2017 book, Rhesus Negative.
In the book, he claims journalist Jackie Bird was part of a plot to discredit him. Brian gave her an exclusive interview in 1995, though he says this was only to make him look foolish.
He described Jackie as, 'a rapaciously idiotic, indifferent narcissist'.
He added: “It made me ashamed at my mistake of having had anything to do with her.”
Brian goes on to claim he was injected with a mystery virus while in medical school in the eighties, and survived an assassination attempt from a hit squad. Something about Brian’s past tells us he’s no stranger to a lie, so we’re taking this with a pinch of salt - but you'll have to watch the film to find out.
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