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Top 10 Actors You Totally Forgot Were Scottish

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Kimberley Payne
Send in the Scots! Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Actors You Totally Forgot Were Scottish. For this list we’ve looked only at actors who were born in Scotland, but for various reasons their Scottish background is often forgotten. Performers such as Isla Fisher – who was born elsewhere but to Scottish parents – aren’t included today. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Actors You Totally Forgot Were Scottish


Send in the Scots! Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Actors You Totally Forgot Were Scottish.

For this list we’ve looked only at actors who were born in Scotland, but for various reasons their Scottish background is often forgotten. Performers such as Isla Fisher – who was born elsewhere but to Scottish parents – aren’t included today.

#10: Iain Glen

First up, an actor who’s probably best-known for two drastically different roles. Iain Glen is both Ser Jorah Mormont in “Game of Thrones” and Sir Richard Carlisle in “Downton Abbey”. And while those two polar opposite characters should really be subject to some kind of ultra-kooky crossover show by now, they’re both part of the reason you might not know that Glen is Scottish. Born in Edinburgh, he lived there for most of his life until he moved to London after university to study acting. And so started the supposed downfall of his Scottish accent, which is pretty much non-existent now in his major tele parts.

#9: Armando Iannucci

Though usually known for his writing and directing credits, Iannucci has also done some small bits of comedy and acting. He created the British comedy series “The Thick of It” – as well as co-creating “The Day Today” and “I'm Alan Partridge” – and was even given his own comedy show, “The Armando Iannucci Shows”, on Channel 4. Both of his parents are Italian, but Iannucci was born and raised in Glasgow, living close to Doctor Who star, Peter Capaldi, who later went on to play Malcolm Tucker in “The Thick of It”. It’s a small world!

#8: Shirley Henderson

You may not instantly recognise her name, but you've most definitely seen her face – especially if you're a Harry Potter fan. But, if the sad, whiny Moaning Myrtle doesn't register on your radar, Henderson was also Jude in the Bridget Jones films, and she has appeared in cult favourites like “24 Hour Party People” and “A Cock and Bull Story”. Henderson was born in Forres, Moray, and grew up in Kincardine, Fife, moving to London to study music and drama at 17, in 1983. Which means she was a perhaps surprising 37 years old when she portrayed 14-year-old Myrtle in “The Chamber of Secrets”.

#7: John Barrowman

The American accent implies otherwise, but the ever-enthusiastic John Barrowman is surprisingly Scottish. Born in Glasgow, he lived there with his family until he was eight, when they moved to the US – where Barrowman adopted his stateside accent after his schoolmates made fun of his Scottish tone. Luckily for us, he eventually made his way back to the UK where he started his career on London’s West End. Of course, he has since worked on British television and was famously cast as Captain Jack Harkness in “Doctor Who”, and the sci-fi show’s spin-off series “Torchwood”.

#6: James McAvoy

This one largely depends on which of James McAvoy’s movies you’ve seen, and which you haven’t. If, for example, you know him best for his role as Robbie Turner in “Atonement”, his Scottish heritage might just have passed you by. McAvoy made quite a name for himself- especially in his early career – for playing period drama Englishmen or Americans. But he has also shown his national pride in plenty of interviews and acceptance speeches – including at the 2013 British Independent Film Awards, when he won for “Filth” and compared his elation to if Scotland ever won the World Cup.

#5: David Tennant

He was hidden in plain sight as the Tenth Doctor himself, and Marvel’s malevolent Kilgrave. Born David John McDonald, Tennant was raised in Ralston, Renfrewshire, relocating from Bathgate, West Lothian. But his definitely Scottish background doesn’t always shine through in the accents he employs, and he's often more likely to pass as English in his acting roles – whether he’s delivering Shakespearean soliloquys or rattling through some time travel technobabble. In interviews and during the backstage stuff, however, the brogue is back in full force.

#4: Brian Cox

No, not the cheeky, mop-topped professor of science, we're talking the celebrated thespian Brian Cox – the original Hannibal Lecter and a face familiar to anyone who's ever watched “Super Troopers”. Cox's CV is a never-ending list of film, television, radio, and even video game credits, as well as a numerous awards and nominations. Although he doesn’t seem to have any hint of a Scottish accent nowadays and now lives in New York City, he was born and raised in Dundee, until he moved to London to study acting later in life.

#3: Alan Cumming

Not only has he worked his way through theatre, television and film, Alan Cumming has also branched out into behind the scenes roles, writing and even singing. Now residing in Manhattan and holding dual US/UK citizenship, Cumming was born in Aberfeldy, Perthshire and was raised in Angus, where he lived near Carnoustie on Scotland's east coast. He rarely uses his natural accent in acting roles, but if you do catch it you may still hear a slight Scottish inflection. He even supports the Scottish Youth Theatre – which might eventually stop so many Scottish actors moving to London to study!

#2: Robbie Coltrane

Best-known for playing lovable, half-giant Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, Robbie Coltrane is Scottish through and through. Born in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, Coltrane – born McMillan – was educated in Perthshire, later Glasgow, and finally at the University of Edinburgh. In Glasgow, Coltrane was often ridiculed at school for having a posh accent, which he toned down afterwards. But given that he so rarely plays Scottish characters and is instead better known for roles like the Russian gangster Valentin Zukovsky in the Bond films, the truth of Robbie's lineage often goes unnoticed.

#1: Laura Fraser

If you’ve ever seen “Breaking Bad” or its spinoff, “Better Call Saul”, you’ll know Laura Fraser as mother of meth Lydia Rodarte-Quayle. She’s also famous for her performances as Door in “Neverwhere” and Kate in “A Knight’s Tale”, but because of her all-American role alongside Bryan Cranston & co., her Scottishness sometimes slips by. Another A-Grade actor born and raised in Glasgow, where she studied dramatic arts, she actually still lives in Scotland – unlike a lot of today’s other entries. It’s a long way from there to Texas, where Breaking Bad’s Lydia is based, but she makes the switch to sensational effect.
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