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Haverhill actor Charlie MacGechan's performance in gangland movie We Die Young earns special praise from its writer and director

One of Haverhill’s favourite sons, Charlie MacGechan, returned in triumph to the place where it all began last Saturday night, the Haverhill Arts Centr, writes Roger McCartney.

The auditorium, which had witnessed many of his younger-life successes with Haverhill’s The Centre Stage Company, was now to be the venue for an exclusive screening of his new film, We Die Young, in which he stars alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme.

It was an unprecedented night for the HAC for, after the viewing, Charlie and fellow star, Joseph Long, took part in an informal Q & A session. The audience were thus treated to insights into the filming process and in the progression of Charlie’s career.

Charlie MacGechan (left) as Jester in We Die Young. Picture courtesy of Signature Entertainment
Charlie MacGechan (left) as Jester in We Die Young. Picture courtesy of Signature Entertainment

And what a film it is too. An explosive look into gangland Washington DC and the MS13, a terrifying ghetto world, just a stone’s throw away from the White House. MacGechan plays the part of Jester, right hand-man to gang leader, Rincon.

He injects just the right amount of mixed-up psychotic menace into the role, and for many he steals the show. This man is going places.

I look forward to many future manic roles such as this, in one setting or another, as he just has the baddie character nailed down. The actor himself remarked in the Q and A: “I suppose I just have one of those faces.”

In a videoed message to the gathering, director and writer Lior Geller, told us that Charlie’s rendering of Jester was so enthralling that he amended the story to include the Haverhillian right to the end, instead of being killed earlier. That tells you something about his appreciation of Charlie’s abilities.

Jean-Claude Van Damme turns in an interesting, measured performance as the complex Daniel.

Constricted by his character’s absence of voice, he nevertheless makes a determined attempt to give the character depth and sensitivity.

David Castañeda’s mesmerizing portrayal of the thoroughly brutal gang-leader Rincon is as ruthless as it is captivating.

Much of the audience was made up by friends and confidantes of Charlie, many from the Centre Stage days, and it was an intimate, warm affair.

So nice that he took the time to do this and keep in touch with his roots, and the town where it all began.

Just don’t mention - as Charlie jokingly requested - the Chalkstone Middle School days!

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