WHEN Michael Cooke’s dreams of making it to the Olympics were thwarted by injury, and a college course rejection took the wind out of his sails, he had no idea what he was going to do next.

“I spent a summer thinking about what I was going to do with my life, and basically asked myself - what do I love?” he recalls.

“I was looking around my bedroom, and I clocked this big wooden chest filled with DVDs. When I was a kid, I watched movies every week. I’d go to the local DVD store and pick up them up – classics, old, new, it didn’t matter.

“It hit me like a bolt of lightning - it was acting I had to do.”

Glasgow Times: Michael Cooke, who has directed his first short filmMichael Cooke, who has directed his first short film (Image: Gordon Terris/Newsquest)

As a teenager growing up in Greenock, Michael was a talented 1500m runner, a pupil at Glasgow School of Sport in Bellahouston, and on course to make it into Team GB for the London 2012 Olympics.

“I truly believed this dream was possible,” he says. “I was winning medals at national and regional levels and progressing through the ranks.

“I competed until injury plagued me for three years and stunted my progress, which led to the inevitable reality that this dream was coming to an end.”

After school, he signed up to an introductory course in sports science, which would enable him to gain access to an advanced degree.

“However, a year later, I received an unexpected letter from my college saying that unfortunately, they couldn’t offer me a place on the degree course,” he says. “I was in shock - and back at square one.”

The decision to move into acting meant research, auditions and interviews. Ironically, after being offered an unconditional place on a drama course in Edinburgh, the sports college got back in touch to explain they had made a mistake, and would be delighted if he would attend.

“My mind was already made up though, I was going to be an actor,” he says.

READ NEXT: The 'powerful' Glasgow suburb that once had huge wealth and its own council

Over the last 10 years, Michael has worked on everything from star-studded Hollywood movies like Now You See Me 2 and the Vanessa Hudgens’ Netflix sequel Princess Switch: Switched Again, to TV biggies including Outlander, Irvine Welsh’s Crime and Father Brown. He’s also a singer and musician – his debut album, Doin’ Alright, was released in 2020.

Glasgow Times: Michael is also a singer.Michael is also a singer. (Image: Michael Cooke)

Now, he has taken the “next step” in his career, he says, and written, directed and produced his first short film.

Michael also stars in Care and Repair, a darkly comic thriller about three working-class friends who find themselves in hot water after a plumbing job goes disastrously wrong.

 “Working on the big screen taught me so much but making my own content allows me to have more control over my creative output,” he says.

It has also given him the chance to star alongside his twin brother, John, who plays his hapless on-screen brother in the film.

“We’re hoping to release at the end of October, and get some interest from film festivals,” says Michael.

“I’m very proud of it, it’s the first film I’ve written and directed. It’s the next step in a journey that’s been full of twists and turns.”