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As pretentious as it may sound, the best actors are not those who act, but those that simply ‘are’ or exist on camera. In other words, when the viewer is no longer aware of actors, this is when true cinematic gold occurs. From James Bond himself in 007 to stars from Game Of Thrones, Trainspotting and Star Wars, here are the top ten actors from Edinburgh, Scotland.
Forever humble, forever smooth, and with a filmography as impressive as his acting abilities, it is hard to sum up the life of Sir Sean Connery. Celebrated for his role as suave secret agent 007, Connery is undeniably the real James Bond. Born in 1930 to a working class family in Edinburgh, there is nothing that this man cannot do. From his roles as a bricklayer, coffin polisher, lifeguard and a Mr. Universe winning body builder, Connery had numerous jobs before he found his claim to fame. His first big role was Another Time, Another Place in 1958, opposite Lana Turner. Four years after, he was cast in his first of many Bond films, Dr. No (1962). At the age of 60, People Magazine voted Connery as the ‘World’s Sexiest Man Alive’.
Before Frank Underwood, there was Francis Urquhart. Born in Edinburgh in 1934, Ian Richardson is best known for his performance in the original House Of Cards (1990); after all, he did win a BAFTA for it. Richardson’s heart however, was first and foremost on the stage. This powerful actor went to the College of Dramatic Arts in Glasgow after a stint of national service in the army, where he was a drama director and announcer with the British Forces Broadcasting Service. A performance of Hamlet at Birmingham Repertory Theatre led to him being placed with the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1960-1975, where he was a founding member.
A dab hand at stage, television and film acting, Lindsay Duncan is a true triple threat. Born in Edinburgh in 1950, Duncan has received countless awards throughout her career, including Olivier and Tony Awards — oh, and the Queen also gave her a CBE. Highlights from Duncan’s career include numerous Harold Pinter plays, her role as Barbara Douglas in Alan Bleasdale’s G.B.H (1991), Servilia of the Junii in the HBO/BBC/RAI series Rome (2005-2007), appearances as Adelaide Brooke in the Doctor Who special The Waters Of Mars (2009), Alice’s mother in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010), and more recently in Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance (2014).
Perhaps most known for his role as Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones (2011 – ), Iain Glen is one of the show’s most recognizable faces. Glen, who trained at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, has been nominated for numerous Olivier Awards (amongst others) and is known for his sharp wit. When he’s not protecting the Dragon Queen Daenerys Targaryen, you can find him in the second season of Downtown Abbey (2011), countless theater productions, and as Dr. Isaacs in numerous Resident Evil films.
The son of two art teachers in Edinburgh, Ewen Bremner grew up with the ambition of being a circus clown. However, matters changed when television director Richard D. Brooks scooped him up. He is most recognizable for his role opposite a young Ewan McGregor as Spud in Danny Boyle’s film adaptation of Trainspotting (1996). Interestingly, Bremner played the lead in the 1995 stage version. Other notable works also include Mullet in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch (2000) and supporting roles in Pearl Harbor (2001) and Black Hawk Down (2001).
A man of many masks, Ken Stott is an Olivier Award winning stage, television and film actor. From his portrayal of Balin, the dwarf in The Hobbit trilogy (2012-2014), to his roles in Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), One Day (2011) and Rebus (2006-2007), Stott shows a diverse skill set suitable for a plethora of parts.
Proof that age is just a number, Alistair Sim, CBE, began his acting career at the age of 30. An established West End actor and character actor, Sim appeared in over 50 British films throughout his working life and acted in multiple Shakespeare performances. Perhaps his most widely celebrated role was that of Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1951 film A Christmas Carol; he is regarded as the best Scrooge of all time. Other notable works include Hitchcock’s Stage Fright (1950) and The Belles Of St Trinian’s (1954), where he famously played dual roles of the headmistress and her brother.
The 1943 film They Met In The Dark marked the movie debut for actor Anthony Dawson. This Scot starred across Sean Connery in the 1962 film Dr. No — he played formidable henchman Professor Dent. Notorious for being cast in villainous roles, Dawson also spent some of his career in America, where he acted in Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder (1954).
The daughter of an actor and an opera singer, it would seem that Georgia King was destined for the big screen. A role in Jane Eyre marked her professional debut before bagging numerous other gigs. Today, she is best recognized for her performance as Amanda Snodgrass in the HBO comedy series Vice Principals (2016 – ). King also played surrogate mother Goldie in the American sitcom The New Normal (2012-2013); other works include Wild Child (2008), Tormented (2009) and One Day (2011).
Emun Elliott is becoming quite the household name. With roles in Prometheus (2012), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Filth (2013), it would seem that this Scottish powerhouse is just getting started. Born in 1983, Elliott graduated from The Royal Scottish Academy Of Music And Drama in 2005; he is currently in Edinburgh filming a new BBC mini series called Clique by one of the Skins creators.