Richard Rankin

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Richard Rankin
Richard Rankin 2018.jpg
Richard Rankin in 2018
Richard Harris

(1983-01-04) 4 January 1983 (age 38)
Glasgow, Scotland
Alma materLangside College
OccupationActor, comedian
Years active2006–present
Height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
RelativesColin Harris

Richard Rankin (born Richard Harris on 4 January 1983) is a Scottish film, television and theatre actor. He is best known for the Scottish sketch show Burnistoun and as Roger Mackenzie Wakefield in the Starz drama Outlander.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Richard Rankin was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1983 and spent part of his childhood in the West End of the city. He moved to King's Park when he was ten, eventually attending Stonelaw High School.[3][4] One of four boys born to a father on the police force and a mother in the hotel industry, he originally planned a career in the sciences or Information Technology.[4]

Rankin initially attended Glasgow Caledonian University as an IT major, but changed course after a chance encounter at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel during a holiday in Los Angeles.[5] A local film producer told the then 22-year-old that he had the look of an actor, and upon his return to Glasgow, Rankin auditioned for Langside College with his brother Colin Harris.[4][5] Both graduated and went on to a career in acting, but when Rankin, who was then known by his birth name of Richard Harris, applied for his Equity card he began using his mother's maiden name (Rankin) to prevent confusion with Irish actor Richard Harris.[4][6]



Rankin began his professional career in 2006 by starring alongside Robert Florence in VideoGaiden, a Scottish video game show originally aired on BBC Two Scotland.[7][8] Between 2007 and 2010 he made appearances on episodic Scottish television programs Legit (2007) and The Old Guys (2009) for the BBC and Taggart (2010) for STV.[9][10][11] The Scottish sketch comedy series Burnistoun, which premiered in 2009 and ran for three series on BBC Two Scotland, featured Rankin in various roles.[1][12]

Two years later Rankin was cast as lovelorn Army Captain Thomas Gillan, alongside Kevin Doyle and Oona Chaplin, in the WWI based mini-series The Crimson Field .[13][14] The program aired on BBC One in April 2014, but only ran for one series.[15] He joined the cast of BBC One's crime drama series Silent Witness in January 2015, starring as Detective Inspector Luke Nelson in series eighteen's two-part story "Falling Angels".[16] The episode focused on a series of murders on the London Underground, the investigation of which brought up mysterious childhood memories of his father's murder.[17] Rankin went on to guest star in two episodes of NBC's conspiracy thriller American Odyssey as corporate hit man Haney, though the series was cancelled after season one.[18][19]

Richard Rankin (L) and Sophie Skelton (R) answer fan questions during a group panel at the Sasnak City Outlander convention on 18 November 2018.

Writer Kay Mellor tailored the role of Sean McGary for Rankin, changing the character from a Northerner to a Scot, in 2015's third series of her anthology drama The Syndicate.[20] The series followed a group of colleagues who win the lottery, with Rankin portraying the gamekeeper of struggling English manor Hazelwood.[21] That same year, BBC One's four part crime drama From Darkness saw Rankin portray Norrie Duncan, husband to Anne-Marie Duff's ex-Manchester cop Claire Church.[22]

December 2015 brought the announcement that Rankin had been cast as adult Roger Wakefield in Starz's time-traveling drama series Outlander, which is based upon Diana Gabaldon's best-selling book series.[23] Appearing first in the 2016 season two finale and then again in several episodes of season three, Rankin's character is the love interest of Brianna Randall Fraser.[24] He returned in season four, which premiered 4 November 2018, with an expanded and recurring role in the series.[25] Later in 2016, Rankin appeared as Detective Inspector Elliott Carne on the BBC's crime drama Thirteen.[21] The series centered on Ivy Moxam (Jodie Comer), a young girl kidnapped and held for thirteen years, as she attempted to reconnect with the life she once had.[26]

Rankin had roles in two BBC productions in 2017. First was the dramatic miniseries The Replacement, which revolved around Ellen (Morven Christie), who was dealing with maternity leave and the effects it was having on her career. Rankin played her psychiatrist husband in the three part series.[27] The second was a two episode stint as Father Hrothweard in BBC Two's historical drama The Last Kingdom, which was based upon Bernard Cornwell's series of novels entitled The Saxon Stories.[28][29]

Series twenty of ITV's long-running crime drama Midsomer Murders, which premiered in the United States in 2018 prior to its release in the UK, featured Rankin in episode four as rugby star Danny Wickham.[30] In 2019 Rankin starred in series two of BBC One's drama Trust Me as neurologist Dr. Alex Kiernan.[31] The second series, which began filming in Glasgow, Scotland in September 2018, featured a complete recasting from series one, with Rankin joining Alfred Enoch, Ashley Jensen, and John Hannah in the medical thriller.[32]

In July 2020, Rankin starred in an episode of the National Theatre of Scotland/BBC Scotland's Scenes for Survival, a series of short theatrical productions that were filmed in quarantine, which was created in response to a worldwide outbreak of COVID-19. The episode, entitled The Longest Summer, features Rankin as a man remembering his childhood summers, and includes a title song written by Noisemaker and performed by Rankin. The song was later released as a single to raise funds for the Scenes for Survival Hardship Fund, which assists artists hardest hit by the pandemic.[33][34]


Rankin starred in his first film role with 2011's short Dead Ringer, directed by Carter Ferguson.[35] Conceived, written, and filmed in a forty-eight hour period, the film won several awards, including Best Director and Best Actor for Rankin, at the Glasgow 48 Hour Film Project.[36][37][38] He would go on to star in an ultra low-budget horror film, House of Him, which was released during the Glasgow Film Festival, in February 2014. The film had a budget of approximately £900 and starred many of his Burnistoun colleagues, including Kirsty Strain and Louise Stewart.[39][40] The next year Rankin was cast in John Well's film Burnt, alongside Bradley Cooper.[41] Returning to short films in 2016, Rankin starred as Vance in Chloë Wicks' The Wyrd, the story of a young couple in seventh century pagan England dealing with the introduction of Christianity.[42][43] It was announced in 2021 that Rankin would star in the short film Hello, Muscles, along side Game of Thrones alumni Kate Dickie, as part of a campaign to raise awareness for young carers (caregivers).[44][45]


In 2008, while still in school at Langside College, Rankin portrayed Bothwell in Liz Lochhead's play Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off at the Citizen's Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland.[46][47][10] The next year he was cast, opposite his brother Colin Harris, in the dark comedy The Pillowman for XLC Productions.[48] The production, which originally ran in March 2009, was invited to return to the Citizen's Theatre for a second run in September of that year.[49] 2010 saw Rankin star as Donny in Martin McDonagh's Irish paramilitary play The Lieutenant of Inishmore[50][51] before joining the National Theatre of Scotland's production of Gregory Burke's military play Black Watch.[52] The play chronicled the experiences of members of Scotland's senior infantry regiment during the war in Iraq and was the first from National Theatre of Scotland to tour internationally, performing in locations such as Belfast, New York City, Washington D.C., and San Francisco.[53][54]

Over the next two years Rankin would work with the Traverse Theatre, first in David Harrower's short play Good With People, which was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2012),[55][56] and then in Irish playwright David Ireland's comedy Most Favoured (2013).[4][57] In 2014 he would headline in Kieran Hurley's play Bruises, part of the Royal Court Theatre's Unusual Unions series, as one of two brothers with diametrically opposing views meeting after a long absence.[58][59]


In early 2019, Rankin appeared as Jack in BBC Radio Scotland's four-part comedy Saddled, which revolved around the adventures of The Easy Rider Cycling Club's members.[60][61]


Production Company The Big Light announced, in June 2021, a collaboration with musical theatre partnership Noisemaker for an eight part musical podcast titled "Atlantic: A Scottish Tale".[62] The series will focus on St. Kilda, a remote Scottish island, and its final settlers, with Rankin featuring as Sloane Sinclaire.[63]

Other activities[edit]

In addition to his acting credits, Rankin is an avid photographer. In March 2019 he hosted a one-night solo photography exhibition, entitled "His Mind’s Eye", at the Littlefield Gallery NYC in Brooklyn, New York.[64][65][66]



Year Title Character Production Notes
2006 VideoGaiden Various BBC 2 episodes
2007 Legit Nelson BBC One Scotland Episode: "Danny, Champion of the World"
2009 The Old Guys Groom BBC Episode: "Marriage"
2010 Taggart Ged McShane STV Episode: "I.O.U"
2009-2012 Burnistoun Various BBC Two Scotland Series regular, 19 episodes
2014 The Crimson Field Captain Thomas Gillan BBC One Series regular, 6 episodes
2015 Silent Witness D.I. Luke Nelson BBC One Episode: "Falling Angels" (2 parts)
American Odyssey Haney NBC 2 episodes
The Syndicate Sean McGary BBC One 6 episodes
From Darkness Norrie Duncan BBC One Series regular, 4 episodes
2016 Thirteen D.I. Elliott Carne BBC Three Series regular, 5 episodes
2016–Present Outlander Roger Wakefield (MacKenzie)[67] Starz Series regular, 26 episodes
2017 The Replacement Ian Rooney BBC Miniseries
The Last Kingdom Father Hrothweard BBC Two 2 episodes
2018 Midsomer Murders Danny Wickham ITV Episode: "The Lions of Causton"
2019 Trust Me Dr. Alex Kiernan[32] BBC One 4 episodes
2020 Scenes For Survival Man BBC Scotland Episode: "The Longest Summer"


Year Title Character Notes
2011 Dead Ringer Richie Short film/Independent
2014 The House of Him Him
2015 Burnt Reece Waiter
2016 The Wyrd Vance Screened at Norwich Film Festival[42]
2021 Hello, Muscles Short film


Year Title Role Director Theatre
2008 Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off Bothwell[46][10][47] David Lee Michael Citizens Theatre
2009 The Pillowman Tupolski[48][49] David Lee-Michael Citizens Theatre
2010 The Lieutenant of Inishmore Donny[50][51] David Lee-Michael & David Winter Citizens Theatre
2010- 2013 Black Watch Granty[52][53][54] John Tiffany[68] National Theatre of Scotland
2012 Good With People Evan[55][56] George Perrin Traverse Theatre
2013 Most Favoured Mike[57][4] Hamish Pirie Traverse Theatre
2014 Unusual Unions: Bruises Freddie[58][59] Caroline Steinbeis Royal Court Theatre


Year Title Character Production Director
2019 Saddled Jack BBC Radio Scotland Gus Beattie (Producer)


Year Title Character Production Director
2021 Atlantic: A Scottish Tale Sloane Sinclaire The Big Light, Noisemaker Scott Gilmour

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2011 Glasgow 48 Hour Film Project Best Actor Dead Ringer[35][38] Won
2017 Satellite Awards Best Ensemble (Television) Outlander[69] Won
2021 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor (Television) Outlander[70] Pending


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  70. ^ Hipes, Patrick (4 March 2021). "Saturn Awards Nominations: 'Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker', 'Tenet', 'Walking Dead', 'Outlander' Lead List". Deadline. Retrieved 4 March 2021.

External links[edit]