When Greg Hemphill is not in character, there’s a bit of a transatlantic tinge to his accent – a product of having been raised in Montreal – but the actor and comedian is otherwise about as Glaswegian as they come. He was born in the city on 14th December 1969 and is now a well known face around town, as well as a major contributor to Glasgow’s culture.
Hemphill is perhaps best known for his television comedy appearances, particularly as the endearingly grumpy Victor McDade in the sitcom Still Game. Still Game comes from Hemphill’s creative partnership with Ford Kiernan, which was also responsible for the sketch show Chewin’ the Fat. Other strings to his bow however include a portrayal of former First Minister Jack McConnell on BBC’s The Glasgow Girls, “Kelvin Brawl” – a full scale wrestling event at Kelvin Hall with Hemphill and fellow comedian Robert Florence at the top of the bill – and a successful tenure as Rector of the University of Glasgow.
In the world of film Greg Hemphill wrote and directed 2014 short Gasping, which starred comedian Frankie Boyle, and has provided his voice to features The Dunwich Horror and Sir Billi.
Bobby Rainsbury is another of the more recent graduates from Glasgow’s Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) to have quickly secured roles in significant onscreen productions.
Born in Glasgow and in her early 20s, Rainsbury attended the institution from 2009 until 2012 and it was during the latter year that she accepted a part in the movie Filth, acting opposite James McAvoy as an underage girl – Stephanie – who has been sleeping with Iain De Caestecker’s criminal Ocky.
More recently she has been appearing as a regular character – schoolgirl Kirsty Lindsay – in the BBC soap River City, with actor Stephen McCole as her onscreen father. In 2012 she also had a part in one-off television crime drama Doors Open, which featured Stephen Fry and Douglas Henshall,
Solid performances in her handful of onscreen roles to date suggest that this is another RSAMD graduate with a busy and successful acting career ahead.
As one of the younger members of Glasgow’s lengthy film acting roll of honour, Freya Mavor’s screen career is in its infancy however the term “quality, not quantity” can be applied to the handful of on screen roles that she has built up so far.
While she grew up and studied in Edinburgh (and also studied at one point in France), Mavor was born in Glasgow – on 13th August 1993 – and therefore qualifies without question for the “Movie Glaswegians” strand of this blog. Furthermore her two feature film credits to date – Sunshine on Leith and Not Another Happy Ending – were both made in the city.
On the small screen she has played parts in mini-series The White Queen and New Worlds, and was one of the main characters in the fifth and sixth series of Channel 4 comedy drama Skins. The latter has had a good track record of employing young actors – Nicholas Hoult, Jack O’Connell, Dev Patel, to name a few – who go on to have successful film careers so this could bode well for Freya Mavor too. Film magazine Screen International predicts a bright future for the actress, naming her – along with the likes of Cush Jumbo, Luke Newberry and Will Poulter – as one of their “UK Stars of Tomorrow” in 2013.
Born in Easterhouse on 3rd July 1965, Tommy Flanagan today resides in Malibu, California, and plays one of the main characters in major American television series Sons of Anarchy.
Unlike the roles taken on by many of his compatriots in American shows, Flanagan’s character is a Scot – complete with Glasgow as the place of birth in his biography. The character’s name is Filip ‘Chibs’ Telford – the nickname a reference to the scarring on his face and the Scottish slang “chibbed”, meaning stabbed.
It would appear that the turn of events that resulted in Flanagan’s real-life scarring is what ultimately lead to his acting career – one that has seen him amass a number of roles in major film productions. In the early 1990s Tommy Flanagan was leaving a Glasgow nightclub where he DJ’d when he was attacked and viciously stabbed in the face by a man trying to steal his records.
During his rehabilitation following the attack, Flanagan’s friend – actor Robert Carlyle – suggested that he get into acting. He took his advice and joined the Raindog Theatre Company, which had been co-founded by Carlyle.
His membership of Raindog was to act as a springboard to the screen, landing parts in television series including Taggart before making his first film appearance as the rebel Morrison in Braveheart. Since then he has gone on to enjoy a successful career in both television and film. As well as the aforementioned part in Sons of Anarchy Tommy Flanagan has appeared in the likes of 24 and Peaky Blinders, while film credits have included Gladiator, Smokin’ Aces and The Saint. He also appeared in Glasgow set features Ratcatcher and Strictly Sinatra.
Born in Glasgow on 24th April 1969, online accounts of Rory McCann’s background indicate that his initial line of work before turning to acting was a green fingered one. He was reportedly a landscape gardener and studied at the Scottish School of Forestry.
But he has since moved on to grace our screens – big and small – in a wide variety of productions. At a height of 6’6″, the actor’s stature has perhaps influenced a number of his castings – from poster boy for a porridge firm, to Timothy Dalton’s lumbering henchman, to formidable warrior in a leading international television series.
The porridge job – appearing in a television advert for Scott’s Porage Oats – was McCann’s first acting role and the leading international television series is a reference to his role as Sandor Clegane in HBO’s Game of Thrones.
His first film role was in 2000’s Pasty Faces, partly set in Glasgow, and another city-set feature – Young Adam – also had his name on the credits. He has had particular success with films of a historic and fantasy nature, such as Alexander, Beowulf & Grendel, Solomon Kane and Clash of the Titans, but has found himself equally at home in comedies. The aforementioned henchman role was his monosyllabic performance in Hot Fuzz, and in Sixty Six he was on the other side of the law playing a policeman.
In the early 1990s David Hayman was awarded the City of Glasgow’s Gold Medal for outstanding services to the performing arts – it is entirely fitting that he was recognised in this civic manner, as alongside acting with and directing some of the biggest names in Hollywood he continues to take a passionate interest in the city’s matters – past and present.
The early part of David Hayman’s life story so far is Glasgow through and through – born in Bridgeton on 9th February 1948, he went on to be an engineering apprentice in Maryhill and he studied at the city’s Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama before starting his acting career at the Citizens Theatre.
That acting career has gone on to span stage and screens big and small, with a continuing active presence on all three platforms. Movie credits over the years include Hope and Glory, Rob Roy, Vertical Limit and The Tailor of Panama, while more recently he had a small role as Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and is attached to a number of forthcoming releases – most notably 2015’s Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
He both acted in and directed Glasgow-set features Silent Scream and The Near Room, as well as directing a number of other films and television programmes. These include The Hawk, for which he directed Helen Mirren – his co-star in another Glasgow film, Heavenly Pursuits.
Hayman wears his Glasgow badge proudly. On television he has appeared on institutions Scotch & Wry, Rab C. Nesbitt and Still Game, as well as hosting the documentaries In Search of Bible John and Clydebuilt: The Ships That Built the Commonwealth. He is a noted supporter of Celtic Football Club, publicly backed Glasgow MSP Sandra White in her election campaign and founded the city-based humanitarian charity Spirit Aid. In 2001 Spirit Aid announced plans for a Live Aid style event at Hampden Stadium, with the Evening Times reporting that Hayman would be getting his Tailor of Panama co-stars Pierce Brosnan and Jamie Lee Curtis on board to appear at the event – while the Hampden event sadly did not transpire, the charity successfully continues to this day supporting projects from Partick to Sri Lanka.
Ray Park has portrayed a number of formidable villains on the big screen, but is often heavily made up in said roles and could therefore walk down a busy street without most people looking twice.
Park was born in Glasgow on 23rd August 1974, growing up initially in Govan but moving to London with his family at the age of seven. His journey into cinema evolved from a passion for and skill in martial arts – Wikipedia states that he had taken up Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, kickboxing and wushu by the age of 14, winning the British Martial Arts National Championship for his class at 16. He then went on to participate in tournaments around the world. Incidentally it is said that Park was introduced to martial arts by his father, a fan of Bruce Lee – therefore it is fitting that the Scot’s career has brought him to cinema, following in Lee’s footsteps.
Ray Park’s earliest recorded movie work is in 1997’s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, appearing as a stunt double for two of the lead actors as well as portraying some non-speaking creatures based on characters from the video game franchise. 1999 saw him thrust in to the limelight as one of the most iconic characters from the trilogy of Star Wars prequels – that of the scarlet faced, spike headed Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. The character’s voice however was provided by Peter Serafinowicz. The Star Wars franchise has a large global following and Park is now a popular figure on this scene, even appearing in a cameo as a security guard in 2009’s Fanboys – in which a group of fanatics travel to George Lucas’ ranch in an attempt to let their dying friend see The Phantom Menace before its release.
Other notable roles on Ray Park’s CV are that of mutant Toad in 2000’s X-Men and Snake Eyes in the two recent G.I. Joe movies – the latter a good guy for once, but still one whose face is concealed.