Former Wetherby High student directs award winning Hollywood film

'Best Actress in a Drama'   Julianne Moore with the award for best actress in a motion picture - drama for 'Still Alice' at the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
'Best Actress in a Drama' Julianne Moore with the award for best actress in a motion picture - drama for 'Still Alice' at the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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A film directed by a former Wetherby High School pupil has picked up a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for its leading lady – and the awards season isn’t over yet.

The star of the film ‘Still Alice’, Julianne Moore, claimed the trophies, along with a Critics Choice Movie Award and Screen Actors Guild Award, earlier this year, and the Academy Awards are still to come tonight (February 22).

The unlikely link between Wetherby and the phenomenal success of the film, an adaptation of a novel by Lisa Genova about a university professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, is its director and screenplay writer.

Paul Westmoreland, nicknamed ‘Wash’ and aged 48, was brought up in Linton and attended Wetherby High School from the age of 11 in 1977, after leaving Fir Tree Middle School in Moortown, Leeds.

He is now living in Los Angeles with his partner, co-director, and co-screenplay writer Richard Glatzer, and his mum Margaret lives in Bardsey with her second husband Michael McManaman.

She told the Wetherby News: “We are just absolutely over the moon with his success. It is just wonderful, I’m so proud of him.

“He has done films before, but this time we went to the premiere in Rome in September, and Julianne Moore of course has got the BAFTA and Golden Globe already and is up for the Oscar tonight.

“He is the most caring man. Everybody, when I have spoken to people at premieres, speaks so highly of him. Julianne Moore, in her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, dedicated it finally to her late mother but before that she said ‘Wash, Leeds will be so proud of you’.

“He says the atmosphere is absolutely electric at the awards and says they’re fantastic nights.

“He is quite a shy person but over the years he has had to go out to speak and he now seems quite relaxed when he is introducing stars, putting little anecdotes in and things like that.”

Mr Westmoreland initially expressed an interest in writing more than film directing, and Margaret said she thought he would go into journalism.

However, after graduating from Newcastle University, he began writing and directing films from 1995, according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

His 2013 film ‘The Last of Robin Hood’ starred Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon and Dakota Fanning, and ‘Still Alice’, alongside Julianne Moore, features performances from Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart.

Though he is now rubbing shoulders with so many American stars, he has maintained his local links and there is another tie between ‘Still Alice’ and the area – its UK premiere.

Though it was supposed to be held in London, Mr Westmoreland convinced Sony Pictures to bring it closer to home, and, on February 28, it will be shown at Hyde Park Picture House.

Margaret said her son will soon by flying over to the UK especially for the screening of his film, and after that he has more projects lined up.

“His next film is a period piece called Colette – a French film, and that is the script he is working on at the moment,” she said.

“He has got a project for 2017 already. He has only written down the ideas of it at the moment, but it has a budget of $20m.”