The Top 20 Scottish Actors of All-Time

The Top 20 Scottish Actors of All-Time

The Top 20 Scottish Actors of All-Time

While most people think of famous actors and actresses who come from either the United States or England, there is a vast pool of acting talent from every location across the globe. One location that is the birthplace of many actors and actresses is Scotland. These Scottish entertainers are hugely talented and have achieved great success in their field, appearing in both television series and in films. These may be films shot in the place of their birth or they may have moved to the United States to improve their chances of being cast in blockbuster movies. Here are 20 of the best Scottish actors and actresses of all time and a little about each of their careers.

20. Robert Carlyle

Robert Carlyle is a successful Scottish actor in both television and film. He was born in Glasgow on April 14, 1961.He is best-known for his role in the 1997 comedy-drama ‘The Full Monty’ which was a surprise hit for all those involved. He won a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in this movie. Other films for which he is well-known include ‘Trainspotting’, ‘The World Is Not Enough’, and ‘Angela’s Ashes’. On television, he is well-known for his roles in ‘Once Upon a Time’, ‘Hamish Macbeth’, and ‘Stargate Universe’. For the latter, he won a Gemini Award. He has been married to Anastasia Shirley since 1997 and has three children.

19. Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson was born in Glasgow on May 17, 1962. Although he grew up in Scotland, he had family living in America and began visiting the United States from 1975 onwards. He eventually moved to New York City in 1983 and initially worked in construction before landing a job as a bouncer. Ferguson first began working in the entertainment industry when he was a rocker in a band called ‘Exposure’ and then another band called ‘The Bastards from Hell’. He then became a stand-up comedian for a short time before getting small roles in television. He didn’t make his film debut until 1998 when he landed the role of Richard in ‘Modern Vampires’. Other films for which he is well-known include ‘Chain of Fools’, ‘The Ugly Truth’, ‘Kick-Ass’, and ‘Trust Me’. In recent years, he has become particularly well-known as a voice actor and has lent his voice to many films. Some of these include ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′, ‘Postman Pat: The Movie’, ‘Winnie the Pooh’, ‘The Hero of Color City’, and ‘Brave’. Ferguson has been married three times and has two children. He became a naturalized American citizen in 2008.

18. Tony Curran

Tony Curran is a famous Scottish actor who is best-known for his roles in ‘Underworld: Evolution’, ‘Roots’, and ‘Doctor Who’. He was born in Glasgow on December 13, 1969. He trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama before embarking on his professional acting career in 1985. He has made numerous appearances in television series and in films. Some of the films in which he has had a role include ‘X-Men: Frist Class’, ‘Mary Queen of Scots’, ‘The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn’, and ‘Race’. In 2018, he is playing Angus MacDonald in the upcoming movie ‘Outlaw King’. Tony Curran is married to Mai Nguyen.

17. Ewen Bremner

Ewan Bremner is the son of two art teachers and was born in Edinburgh on January 23, 1972. He didn’t originally dream of becoming an actor and only decided to act when television director Richard D Brooks offered him a role. In fact, Bremner’s original aspiration was to become a circus clown. His first film role was in the 1985 movie ‘Heavenly Pursuits’. Between then and the mid-1990s, he played several small film roles and appeared in television series. In 1996, he got his big break when he was cast as Daniel ‘Spud’ Murphy in the hit cult film ‘Trainspotting’. The success of this film was a surprise to all involved. It is for this film and its 2016 sequel ‘T2 Trainspotting’ for which Ewan Bremner is best-known. Some of his other movies include ‘Wonder Woman’, ‘A Poet in New York’, ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, ‘Pearl Harbor’, and ‘Black Hawk Down’.

16. David Tennant

David Tennant was born as David John McDonald in West Lothian on April 18, 1971. He changed his name to Tennant to meet the rules of the Screen Actors Guild as there was already a David McDonald registered on the books of the Equity union. At the age of 16, he appeared in a televised anti-smoking campaign. He first worked professionally on stage before landing his first television role in the Scottish drama series ‘Takin’ Over the Asylum’ in 1994. He is now best-known for playing the tenth doctor in ‘Doctor Who’ and for playing DI Alec Hardy in the critically acclaimed drama series ‘Broadchurch. In terms of his work in films, he has appeared in movies including ‘Mary Queen of Scots’, ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’, ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, and ‘Fright Night’.

15. Billy Boyd

Billy Boyd is most famous for portraying Peregrin ‘Pippin’ Took in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy of films between 2001 and 2003. He was born in Glasgow on August 28, 1968, and is a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Other films in which he has appeared include ‘Seed of Chucky’, ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’, ‘The Flying Scotsman’, and ‘The Stone of Destiny’. He has also had roles in several television series, including playing Tony for six episodes of ‘Empty’. Boyd lives in Glasgow with his wife, Alison McKinnon, and their son, Jack William.

14. Iain Glen

Iain Glen was born in Edinburgh on June 24, 1961. After leaving university, he trained at RADA in London before beginning his professional acting career in 1986. He is best-known for playing Dr. Alexander Isaacs/ Tyrant in the ‘Resident Evil’ series of films and for playing Jorah Mormont in ‘Game of Thrones’. One of his most notable films was ‘Silent Scream’ and he won a Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 40th Berlin International Film Festival in 1990 in recognition of his astounding performance. Other notable roles he has played include the title role in ‘Jack Taylor’, Sir Richard Carlisle in ‘Downtown Abbey’, John Hanning Speke in ‘Mountains of the Moon’, and Jarrod Slade in ‘Cleverman’. Iain Glen was married to Susannah Harker from 1993 to 2004 and has been with long-term partner Charlotte Emmerson since 2005. He has three children.

13. Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly is a comedian, musician, actor, and presenter. He was born in Glasgow on November 24, 1942. He began his career as an entertainer in 1965 and initially concentrated on working as a stand-up comedian. He first appeared on television in 1975 on ‘Play for Today’ and went to appear in many more television series. He has also starred in many films. Some of these include ‘The Boondock Saints’, ‘The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day’, ‘Water’, ‘The Last Samurai’, ‘Brave’, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’, and ‘Timeline’. He was married to Iris Pressagh between 1969 and 1985 and has been married to Pamela Stephenson since 1989.He had two children with his first wife and three with his second. Connolly has survived prostate cancer but now has Parkinson’s disease.

12. Shirley Henderson

Shirley Henderson is a talented Scottish actress who was born in Moray on November 24, 1965. She attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before beginning her professional acting career in 1987. She is best-known for playing Jude in ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’, Gail in ‘Trainspotting’, and Moaning Myrtle in the ‘Harry Potter’ series of films. Some of the other films in which she has appeared include ‘Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself’, ‘Frozen’, ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason’, ‘Topsy Turvy’, ‘Anna Karenina’, and ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’. She has also enjoyed a successful career on television and received a BAFTA TV Award nomination for her role in the Channel 4 miniseries ‘Southcliffe’.

11. Richard Madden

Richard Madden was born in Renfrewshire on June 18, 1986. He attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama before beginning his acting career in 1999. His first television role was as Sebastian Simpkins in the series ‘Barmy Aunt Boomerang’. He made his film debut in 200 when he played Young Andy in ‘Complicity’. Madden is best-known for portraying Robb Stark in the HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’. Another notable role is Prince Kit in Disney’s ‘Cinderella’. In 2016, Madden appeared in six episodes of ‘Medici: Masters of Florence’ playing the role of Cosimo de’Medici. He is playing Leo in ‘Ibiza’ which is in post-production and is set for release in 2018.

10. Kenneth Cranham

Kenneth Cranham is a Scottish actor of stage, television, radio, and film. He was born in Fife on December 12, 1944. He trained at the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and RADA and then embarked on a professional acting career in 1967. He is most famous for his roles in ‘Hellbound: Hellraiser II’ and ‘Valkytie’. Orther films for which he is well-known include ‘Shine on Harvey Moon’, ‘Oliver!’, ‘Rome’, ‘Gangster No. 1′, and ‘Layer Cake’. He won the Olivier Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Andre in ‘The Father’ in 2016. He was married to Diana Quick between 1974 and 1978. He then had a daughter, Nancy, with actress Charlotte Cornwell. He had a second daughter, Kathleen, with his second wife, Fiona Victory.

9. James McAvoy

James McAvoy is one of the most successful Scottish actors of the current day as he has established himself in both the television and the film industries. He was born in Glasgow on April 21, 1979, although he now lives in London, England. He made his film debut in 1995 in ‘The Near Room’. He then predominantly worked in television for several years with his most notable role being in ‘State of Play’. After the turn of the Millennium, he picked up his film career and had roles in many films. These include ‘Bright Young Things’, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’, ‘Atonement’, ‘Wanted’, and ‘The Conspirator’. He is now best-known for playing Professor Charles Xavier/ Professor X in the ‘X-Men’ series of films. McAvoy was married to Anne-Marie Duff from 2006 to 2016 and the couple has one child together.

8. Deborah Kerr

Deborah Kerr is one of the most successful Scottish actresses of all-time. She was born in Glasgow on September 30, 1921. She is best-known for playing Anna Leonowens in the 1956 musical film ‘THE King and I’. It was for this role that she won a Golden Globe. Other films for which she is well-known are ‘An Affair to Remember’, ‘Quo Vadis’, ‘From Here to Eternity’, ‘Heaven Knows’, ‘The Innocents’, ‘The life and Death of Colonel Blimp’, ‘Black Narcissus’, ‘Mr. Allison’, ‘The Sundowners’, ‘King Solomon’s Mines’, and ‘Separate Tables’. She was married first to Tony Bartley and then to Peter Viertel. Sadly, Deborah Kerr died on October 16, 2007, at the age of 86.

7. Robbie Coltrane

Robbie Coltrane is an actor and author who was born in South Lanarkshire on March 30, 1950. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art and then the Moray House College of Education. He began his career in 1979 and initially worked in theatre and comedy. He shot to fame during the 1990s when he played Dr. Eddie ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald in the British television series ‘Cracker’. He is now especially well-known for playing Rubeus Hagrid in the ‘Harry Potter’ series of films. Another of his notable roles is Valentin which he played in two James Bond films; ‘GoldenEye’ and ‘The World Is Not Enough’. Coltrane was married to Rhona Gemmell from 1999 to 2003 and he has two children.

6. Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton is a British actress and model who was born in London on November 5, 1960, but moved to Scotland as she has Scottish ancestry. For her role in ‘Michael Clayton’, she won a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has also won a BAFTA Award for her role in ‘Young Adam’. Some of her best films include ‘Orlando’, ‘The Deep End’, the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, ‘I Am Love’, and ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’. She has been married twice and has two children.

5. Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming was born on January 27, 1965, in Perthshire but now resides in Manhattan New York. He has dual British and American citizenship. This actor is famous for his work on stage, on television, and in film. He is currently best-known for his role in ‘The Good Wife’, for which he has been nominated for numerous awards. Some of the films in which he has appeared include ‘Eighteen’, ‘X2′, ‘Burlesque’, ‘Full Grown Men’, ‘The Outback’, and ‘Any Day Now’. He has also provided a voice for many films, including ‘The Smurfs’, ‘The Smurfs 2′, ‘Show Dogs’, ‘Garfield: The Movie’, and ‘Strange Magic’.

4. Brian Cox

Born in Dundee on June 1, 1946, Brian Cox became well-known for his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, especially for his portrayal of King Lear. One of his most famous film roles was in the 1986 film ‘Manhunter’ in which he was the first person to portray the serial killer Hannibal Lecter. Other films for which he is well-known include ‘The Bourne Identity’, ‘The Bourne Supremacy’, ‘Troy’, ‘Braveheart’, ‘X2′, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, and ‘Rushmore’. Brian Cox was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2002 New Year’s Honours List. He was married to Caroline Burt between 1968 and 1986 and the couple had two children together. He then married Nicole Ansari in 2002 and had a further two children. Cox now lives in New York City.

3. Ewan McGregor

Ewan McGregor is a Scottish actor who has earned international fame for his many film roles. He was born in Perth on March 31, 1971, but now lives in Los Angeles. His first professional role was in the Channel 4 British series ‘Lipstick on Your Collar’ in 1993. However, he rose to prominence for his portrayal of heroin addict Mark Renton in the 1996 film ‘Trainspotting’. He is also well-known for playing Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the ‘Star Wars’ prequel trilogy between 1999 and 2005. Other films for which he is well-known include ‘T2 Trainspotting’, ‘Angels and Demons’, ‘The ghost Writer’, ‘Big Fish’, and ‘Beauty and the Beast’. He has been married to Eve Mavrakis since 1995 and the couple have four children.

2. Sean Connery

Sean Connery is a retired multi-award winning Scottish actor whose career spanned seven decades. He was born in Edinburgh on August 25, 1930 and began his acting career in 1954. His most famous role is James Bond and he was the first actor to play the spy. He played this role in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983. Other films for which he is well-known are ‘The Untouchables’, ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, ‘Highlander’, ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’, ‘The Hunt for Red October’ The Rock’, and ‘Dragon Heart’. During his career he has won an Academy Award, a BAFTA, a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award, and the Golden Globes. In 2000, he was knighted in the New Year Honours List for services to film drama. Connery has been married twice and has one son, Jason Connery.

1. Gerard Butler

Gerard Butler was born in Renfrewshire on November 13, 1969. He is a Scottish actor, producer, and singer. He began his career in 1996 when he had a variety of small film roles. He shot to fame when he played the title role in ‘Dracula 2000′. Other films in which he has had major roles include ‘Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life’, ‘Reign of Fire’, ‘PS I Love You’, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, ‘300′, ‘Timeline’, ‘Coriolanus’, and ‘Machine Gun Preacher’. He has won multiple awards throughout his career in recognition of his talent. He has homes in both Glasgow and Los Angeles and splits his time between the two.

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