I feel like the world sometimes forgets about Scotland when it comes to the big screen. This surprises me given the wide range of A-list actors who frequently appear in top films. As an ode to Scottish actors, I’ve decided to compile a list of my top 10 favourite Scottish actors. I’ll count down from 10 to 1, tell you some of the films they’ve been in and highlight my favourite. It’s going to be difficult!
Before we dive straight into the top 10, I feel like it’s necessary to acknowledge those who didn’t make it onto the list. A top 20 list may have been more appropriate but “top 10” has more of a ring to it. I’ll just mention the actor and my favourite role they played.
- Richard Madden (Robb Stark, Game of Thrones)
- John Hannah (Holden Radcliffe, Agent’s of Shield)
- Peter Capaldi (The Doctor, Doctor Who – although the storyline sucked)
- Laura Fraser (Lydia, Breaking Bad)
- Alan Cumming (Floop, Spy Kids)
- Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond, Lost)
- Iain De Caestecker (Fitz, Agents of Shield)
Now onto the Top 10!
I have to admit that I had absolutely no idea that Rose Leslie was Scottish, and from Aberdeen no less! She was initially number 9 on my list because I loved her character in Game of Thrones and Rose Leslie did an excellent job both with the accent and just the role in general. I then realised I’ve only seen her in one other thing: The Last Witch Hunter which was a below-average magic/monster film that barely held my attention. She’s in Morgan though which I do plan on watching at some stage but hopefully she’ll make an appearance in some more films in the coming years.
Favourite Role: Ygritte (Game of Thrones)
From Still Game to Blackadder to Ocean’s Twelve to James Bond, you’re probably most familiar with Robbie Coltrane as the “I shouldn’t have said” that groundskeeper himself: Rubeus Hagrid. Robbie Coltrane has played a vast number of roles in his life, most before my lifetime and yet he is still a major player in the world of cinema. One of his more recent appearances was in the Scottish tale by Pixar: Brave as Lord Dingwall.
Favourite Role: Hagrid (Harry Potter series)
Not to be confused with the keyboard playing physicist of the same name, Brian Cox has been involved in a wide range of movies: Super Troopers, RED, Troy, X-Men 2, The Bourne Identity, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and of course: Braveheart. He was also in Morgan alongside Rose Leslie. Brian Cox has even made appearances on popular TV shows such as Doctor Who and Frasier.
I became to truly admire this man when he returned to Scotland during the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2015 to show his support. With people like J.K. Rowling as opposing celebrity forces (why celebrities involve themselves in the first place is beyond me), someone had to appear at debates to highlight why independence is the right way to go.
Favourite Role: Ward Abbott (The Bourne Identity/Supremacy)
Granted, Billy Connolly is more well-known as a stand-up comedian actor but that’s not to say he isn’t capable. He’s appeared in films such as Muppet Treasure Island, A Series of Unfortunate Events and Garfield 2. As well as The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and even The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. He’s also voiced hilarious characters such as Fergus in Brave and McSquizzy in Open Season. Not to mention his brief appearance in House as Thomas Bell, one of the potential fathers of the diagnosis genius!
For me, Billy Connolly will always be the man who was not afraid to shout and swear at his audience. He would scream at everyone to hilarious comedic effect. If there is ever a man who says what’s on his mind (whether it be on stage or in interviews) it’s Billy Connolly. I could watch the man talk for days and still find him incredibly entertaining.
Favourite Role: Fergus (Brave) – Although, his stand-up is my favourite aspect of his work!
Gerard Butler may not be the best actor in the world but he is far from the worst. Certainly he appears in many, many outstanding movies. It’s hard to say what role you may know him from: Perhaps as a dragon tamer or alternatively a dragon fighter? Perhaps you remember him as a simple law-abiding citizen? We all know the tale of the Spartan army and its 300 soldiers, right? Maybe you know him as the slick One Two?
Whatever you know him from; the man has covered a wide range of roles. Granted, I still hear his Scottish accent whenever he shouts “This is SPARTA!” If we ever get a better William Wallace movie than that Braveheart garbage then I’d vote for him to play the Scottish hero!
Favourite Role: Clyde Shelton (Law Abiding Citizen)
It’s impossible to discuss Scottish actors without mentioning the red-headed Karen Gillan. I first witnessed Karen Gillan on-screen as Amy Pond, the bold and brave Scottish sidekick to Matt Smith’s Doctor. She’s without a doubt my favourite Doctor Who companion and her storylines covered some of the darker aspects of the series.
Of course, she’s now up in the big leagues alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy as Nebula. As well as running through the jungle with The Rock and Jack Black. I think this is an actor we should all keep an eye on.
Favourite Role: Amy Pond (Doctor Who)
The man, the myth, the legend: Sean Connery. This man is a globally recognised success who will definitely go down in the history books. He’s been a double-O agent, a Crusader, a dragon, and an author. He’s been in romances, action films and comedies. Now, he’s in his late 80s now and as the original James Bond, there’s not much one can say about his career.
Favourite Role: Professor Henry Jones (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
I think I first noticed James McAvoy in as Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe but he’s come a long way since then. Having starred alongside names such as Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Daniel Radcliffe his career is still on the up and up.
Next year James McAvoy will be retuning as Kevin Wendell Crumb alongside Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in Glass. I think that Split was an excellent presentation of James McAvoy’s ability to act. I genuinely felt like I was watching someone experience many different personalities. We’ll also be seeing a further exploration of the X-Men universe which could be interesting!
Favourite Role: Kevin (Split)
When it comes to notable Scottish actors, I think we can all agree that David Tennent is pretty fucking awesome. I think I probably first became aware of who he was in Doctor Who when he replaced Christopher Eccleston as the time lord. Of course since then he has appeared in Harry Potter as Barty Crouch Junior and voiced Spiteloud in How to Train Your Dragon, among other appearances such as Broadchurch and Kilgrave in Jessica Jones.
David Tennent is also set to appear as John Knox in the upcoming film Mary Queen of Scots (so at least there is one Scottish actor in it. I have a real issue with historical films having main cast members who have nothing to do with that history…a rant for another time).
Favourite Role: The Doctor (Doctor Who)
When it comes to my number 1 favourite Scottish actors, there is really no competition. Ewan McGregor has been playing major roles in movies all through my entire life. From Jedi to clone to heroin addict to robot to a Vatican priest to tsunami survivor and even a sentient candlestick. Ewan McGregor is truly a Scottish icon and a talented actor.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed for his re-appearance as Obi-Wan Kenobi in coming years in a Kenobi stand-alone movie. Unless of course Rian Johnson is set to direct it in which case I never ever, ever want that movie to be created!
Favourite Roles: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars Saga) and Bob Wilton (Men Who Stare at Goats)
Thanks for reading! Do you think I missed anyone out? Who are your favourite actors from your country? Let me know down below!
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