A HELENSBURGH actress is eagerly awaiting the UK premiere of a film in which she plays an award-winning starring role.

Victoria Johnston, who came to live in Helensburgh as a teenager and whose mum Jane still runs a local B&B, stars as Eleanor in Guardians, a low-budget comedy thriller described by its creator as “a cross between Withnail and I and The Panic Room”.

And Victoria’s performance has already attracted rave reviews even before the film reaches British screens: she won the best supporting actress prize at the Genre Blast film festival in the US state of Virginia, where Guardians received its American premiere – and where it also scooped the accolades of best screeenplay and best ensemble feature film.

“The UK premiere is in Piccadilly [in London] on November 28 and 29,” she told the Advertiser.

“I missed the Genre Blast festival but there’s no way I’m missing the London premiere – I’ve already bought my dress!”

Guardians features two disparate men who are thrown together to look after a rambling, but decaying, townhouse who soon discover there’s much more to the property than meets the eye.

Victoria is more used to performing on stage than on screen: her biggest theatre role to date saw her star in the play Bunker Girls as one of Adolf Hitler’s two secretaries.

Despite her acting pedigree, though, she still prefers film to theatre.

“I get stage fright all the time before I go on stage,” she continued. “I convince myself I can’t remember any of my lines and that it’ll be a miracle if I remember anything.

“I’m actually very shy. I think you’ll find that with most actors – appearing on stage or in front of the camera is about turning on the confidence and dressing for the part – but I find film to be much more of a collaborative thing.”

Victoria’s parents, Douglas and Jane, moved to Helensburgh from Glasgow when Victoria was aged 15, though by then Victoria was already studying drama at a boarding school in Hertfordshire, where Thandie Newton, who has since gone on to star in film and TV productions, was head girl.

But Victoria is still a regular visitor to Helensburgh, along with her husband Mark, Guardians’ writer and director, and the couple’s daughter Alethea.

In fact, she was forced to come back to the town with Alethea during the filming of Guardians – because the film used the family’s home in Limehouse as its chief location.

“My dad’s no longer with us,” she said, “but neither he nor my mum could understand how I ever became an actor – my mum grew up on a farm and my dad’s family ran a tobacco business.

“But they always told us the world was our oyster and encouraged us to pursue our dreams. Mum took us to ballet classes where there was also a drama teacher and I suppose that’s where my career started.”

“During filming at the house Alethea and I had to get the train to Helensburgh to stay with my mum at Lethamhill – she looked after Alethea throughout and I popped back down to London to film my part when I was needed.

“But it’s Mark’s project really. I’m extremely proud of him.

“The biggest thing I did was provide the location for the film, feed everybody, and fix the toilet when they broke it.”

Following its London premiere at the end of this month, Guardians will go on a limited tour around the UK to a small number of selected venues – including a screening in Glasgow and, hopefully, in Helensburgh too – before being released on an on-demand basis for home viewing.

“If it opens any new doors it would be a lovely bonus,” Victoria, who is expecting the couple’s second child in February, added.

“But in this industry it’s really all about who you know, and my main wishes are that it opens up more opportunities for Mark.”