Robert Carlyle

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Robert Carlyle

Robert Carlyle SDCC 2014 (cropped).jpg
Carlyle at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1961-04-14) 14 April 1961 (age 59)
Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland
Alma materRoyal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
Years active1990–present
Anastasia Shirley
(m. 1997)

Robert Carlyle OBE[1][2] (born 14 April 1961) is a Scottish actor. His film work includes Trainspotting (1996), The Full Monty (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999), and Angela's Ashes (1999). He has been in the television shows Hamish Macbeth, Stargate Universe, and Once Upon a Time. He won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Full Monty and a Gemini Award for Stargate Universe, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for his work in Human Trafficking (2005).

Early life[edit]

Carlyle was born in Maryhill, Glasgow, the son of Elizabeth, a bus company employee, and Joseph Carlyle, a painter and decorator.[3][4] He was brought up by his father after his mother left when Carlyle was four years old.[5][6] He left school at the age of 16 without any qualifications and worked for his father as a painter and decorator; however, he continued his education by attending night classes at Cardonald College in Glasgow.[7]


Carlyle became involved in drama at the Glasgow Arts Centre at the age of 21 (having been inspired by reading Arthur Miller's The Crucible), and subsequently graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD). In 1991, he and four friends founded a theatre company, Raindog (which was involved in television and film work).[8] The same year he guest starred in The Bill and also starred in his first movie, Riff-Raff, directed by Ken Loach.

In 1994, he played the gay lover of Father Greg in the film Priest. Carlyle's first high-profile role came as murderer Albert "Albie" Kinsella in an October 1994 episode of Cracker opposite Robbie Coltrane and Christopher Eccleston (notoriously killing off Eccleston's character, DCI David Bilborough). This highly acclaimed role showcased Carlyle's "pure intensity".[9] Shortly after his appearance in Cracker, he landed the role of Highland policeman Hamish Macbeth in the BBC comedy-drama Hamish Macbeth. The series ran for three seasons from 1995 to 1997.

In 1996 and 1997, he appeared in the two highest-profile roles of his career to date: as the psychopathic Francis Begbie in Trainspotting and Gaz, the leader of a group of amateur male strippers, in The Full Monty. The latter earned Carlyle a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He also starred with Ray Winstone in the 1997 film Face. Carlyle played the senior Malachy McCourt (father of author Frank McCourt) in the 1999 film adaptation of McCourt's first memoir, Angela's Ashes; the arch villain Renard in the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough; and a cannibalistic soldier in the 1999 Ravenous.

Robert Carlyle in July 2009.

Carlyle appeared in the 2002 Oasis music video for "Little By Little". He played Adolf Hitler in the 2003 miniseries Hitler: The Rise of Evil. In 2006 he played the villain Durza in Eragon. In 2007 Carlyle played one of the main characters in the film 28 Weeks Later. He also played the lead role as a marine engineer attempting to save London from total devastation in the disaster film Flood. That year he also portrayed Father Joseph Macavoy in the film The Tournament.

In 2008 Carlyle narrated a BBC audiobook version of The Cutting Room. In 2008, he was cast as Dr. Nicholas Rush in the television series Stargate Universe.[10][11] His role in the series has been described thus: "As [the team fights] to survive, Dr. Rush (Carlyle) works to unlock the mysteries of the ship and return the group home, but evidence of his ulterior motives soon arises." His was touted by the studio as the "leading role" in Universe.[12]

In December 2008, Carlyle appeared in 24: Redemption, a television movie based on the popular TV series 24, starring alongside Kiefer Sutherland.

In 2009, Carlyle appeared in a long-form commercial for Johnnie Walker whisky, titled "The Man Who Walked Around The World." Carlyle was shown walking down a path and talking for six minutes in a single long take. The ad took two days to film. The director, Jamie Rafn, afterwards referred to Carlyle as an "utter genius".[13]

He voices the character of Gabriel Belmont, and his counterpart, Dracula in the video game Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, as well as its sequels Mirror of Fate and Lords of Shadow 2.

From 2011 to 2018, Carlyle portrayed Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) in the fantasy-drama television series Once Upon A Time. The character is a wizard, deal-maker, and master manipulator. In his interview, Robert explained that his son inspired him to create Rumplestiltskin's voice. [14]

In 2019, he portrayed Ogilvy in a three-part television adaption of The War of the Worlds for the BBC,[15] and had an uncredited role as John Lennon in the film Yesterday.[16] In 2020, he portrayed Robert Sutherland, the Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party in Cobra.

Acting style[edit]

Known for his commitment to authenticity in roles, Carlyle has often altered his lifestyle and physical appearance to gain a better understanding of a character; much akin to method acting. Before playing a homeless character in Antonia Bird's Safe, for example, he went to live in the Waterloo area of London where the film was set. For his role as a bus driver in Ken Loach's Carla's Song, he passed the test for a PSV licence (a licence to drive a bus with passengers) in a Glasgow Leyland Atlantean bus.[17] Carlyle also had a dentistry as part of this preparations for reprising his role as Begbie in T2 Trainspotting, choosing to have a dental implant and an adjacent tooth that became damaged during the former's removal, extracted.[18] Writing of Carlyle's performance in The Full Monty, Andrew Johnston stated: "Carlyle was brilliant as the savage psycho Begbie in Trainspotting; here, he proves he can be almost as good when kept on a short leash. We don't know much about Gaz, but he's the most interesting character in the movie, largely because of Carlyle's down-to-earth warmth."[19]

Personal life[edit]

Carlyle has been married to make-up artist Anastasia Shirley since 1997.[20] They have three children, a daughter born in 2002, and sons in 2004 and 2006.[21] The family lives in Vancouver, Canada.[22] Carlyle is a patron of School For Life in Romania.[23] He supports Partick Thistle.[24]



Year Title Role Notes
1990 Silent Scream Big Woodsy
Riff-Raff Steve
Being Human Prehistoric Shaman
1994 Priest Graham
Marooned Peter
1995 Go Now Nick Cameron Sant Jordi Award for Best Foreign Actor
1996 Trainspotting Francis "Franco" Begbie Nominated – BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Carla's Song George Lennox Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
London Critics Circle Film Award for British Actor of the Year
1997 The Full Monty Gary "Gaz" Schofield BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
London Critics Circle Film Award for British Actor of the Year
Sant Jordi Award for Best Foreign Actor
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Dance Sequence
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Face Ray Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
London Critics Circle Film Award for British Actor of the Year
1999 Plunkett & Macleane Will Plunkett
Ravenous Colonel Ives / F.W. Colqhoun
The World Is Not Enough Renard
Angela's Ashes Malachy McCourt Nominated – Empire Award for Best British Actor
Nominated – IFTA Award for Best Actor
2000 The Beach Daffy
There's Only One Jimmy Grimble Eric Wirral
2001 To End All Wars Major Ian Campbell
The 51st State Felix DeSouza
2002 Once Upon a Time in the Midlands Jimmy
Black and White David O'Sullivan
2004 Dead Fish Danny Devine
2005 The Mighty Celt O
Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School Frank Keane
Human Trafficking Sergei Karpovich
2006 Eragon Durza
2007 28 Weeks Later Don Harris
Flood Robert Morrison
2008 Stone of Destiny John MacCormick
Summer Shaun Nominated – BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor
I Know You Know Charlie
2009 The Tournament Father Joseph MacAvoy
The Unloved Lucy's Father BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor
2012 California Solo Lachlan MacAldonich
2015 The Legend of Barney Thomson Barney Thomson Director
Nominated – BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor[25]
Nominated – BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Director[26]
2017 T2 Trainspotting Francis "Franco" Begbie Nominated – BAFTA Scotland for Best Actor[27]
2019 Yesterday John Lennon Uncredited


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Taggart Gordon Inglis Episode: "Hostile Witness"
1991 The Bill Tom Ward Episode: "The Better Part of Valour"
1993 Screenplay Nosty Episode: "Safe"
1994 99-1 Detective Constable Trevor Prescott Episode: "Doing the Business"
Cracker Albie Kinsella 3 episodes
BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor – TV
1995–98 Hamish Macbeth Hamish Macbeth 20 episodes
RTS Television Award for Best Actor – Male
Nominated – BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor – TV
Nominated – BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor
1998 Looking After Jo Jo John Joe "Jo Jo" McCann Nominated – BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor
2001 Chewin' the Fat Himself Hogmanay Special
2003 Hitler: The Rise of Evil Adolf Hitler Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
2004 Gunpowder, Treason & Plot King James I Television film
2005 Human Trafficking Sergei Karpovich Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor – Miniseries or a Movie
Class of '76 Detective Inspector Tom Monroe Television film
2006 Born Equal Robert Television film
2008 The Last Enemy David Russell 5 episodes
24: Redemption Carl Benton Television film
2009 The Unloved Father Scottish BAFTA for Best TV Actor
The Man Who Walked Around the World Himself Advert for Johnnie Walker[28]
Zig Zag Love Jacko Television film
2009–11 Stargate Universe Doctor Nicholas Rush 40 episodes
Gemini Award Winner for Continuing Leading Dramatic Role
2011–18 Once Upon a Time Rumplestiltskin / Mr. Gold / Weaver 138 episodes
2019 The War of the Worlds Ogilvy 3 Episodes
2020–present Cobra Robert Sutherland Prime Minister (lead role)[29]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2006 Eragon Shade Durza Voice only
2010 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Gabriel Belmont Voice only
2013 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate Gabriel Belmont / Dracula Voice only
2014 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Gabriel Belmont / Dracula / Inner Dracula Voice only
2014 Watch Dogs Stephen Fedder Mission: Pawnee Control Center Voice only

Audio books[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2008 The Cutting Room Narrator


  1. ^ "Robert Carlyle OBE". Once Upon A Time FAns. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  2. ^ "Robert Carlyle OBE". Google sites. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Robert Carlyle Biography". FilmReference. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  4. ^ "Born Equal: Robert Carlyle". BBC Press Office. BBC. 15 November 2006. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  5. ^ Pendreigh, Brian (29 January 2006). "Father's death causes Carlyle to quit movie". News. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  6. ^ Smith, Andrew (28 March 1999). "Method man". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  7. ^ Armstrong, Stephen (20 May 2007). "On the Move: Robert Carlyle". Timesonline. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  8. ^ Sweet, Matthew. "The Saturday Profile: Robert Carlyle, Actor: A man for all regions". Independent. Independent. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Sumner, Darren (15 December 2008). "Robert Carlyle cast in Stargate Universe". GateWorld. p. 1. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  11. ^ Sumner, Darren (15 January 2009). "Brian J. Smith cast in Stargate Universe". GateWorld. p. 1. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  12. ^ Sumner, Darren (15 December 2008). "Robert Carlyle cast in Stargate Universe". GateWorld. p. 2. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  13. ^ HLA AND BBH GO WALKING WITH ROBERT CARLYLE Archived 8 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Shots, 6 August 2009
  14. ^
  15. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (5 April 2018). "Here's your first look at BBC One's War of the Worlds". Digital Spy.
  16. ^ {{cite web|url=
  17. ^ Armstrong, Stephen (20 May 2007). "On the Move: Robert Carlyle". Times Online. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  18. ^ Leigh, Danny (8 January 2017). "Robert Carlyle: 'I took out two teeth and suddenly Begbie came back to life'". Guardian. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  19. ^ Time Out New York, 14–21 August 1997.
  20. ^ "Skibo: The Full Monty". BBC News. BBC. 19 December 2000. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Peplow, Gemma (13 January 2020). "Robert Carlyle: 'Could I be prime minister? I can't think of anything worse'". Sky News. Retrieved 7 May 2020. Carlyle, who moved to Canada with his family about 10 years ago, says living there he has become more aware of the possibilities of natural disasters. "Because I live in Vancouver now, there's warnings of earthquakes and tsunamis and stuff like that."
  23. ^ "School For Life Romania". Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  24. ^ "11 celebrity Scottish football supporters". The Scotsman. Scotsman. 4 December 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  25. ^ "British Academy Scotland Awards: Winners in 2015". Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  26. ^ "Scottish Bafta nominations announced – BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  27. ^ "T2 Trainspotting big winner at Scottish Baftas". BBC. 6 November 2017.
  28. ^ "The Man Who Walked Around the World". Retrieved 11 October 2009.
  29. ^ "Cobra the new TV Series |". Retrieved 17 January 2020.

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