Robert Carlyle

Robert Carlyle.jpg
Carlyle at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1961-04-14) 14 April 1961 (age 61)
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), Angela's Ashes (1999), The Beach (2000), 28 Weeks Later (2007), and Yesterday (2019). 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

Carlyle was born on 14 April 1961 in Maryhill, Glasgow, the son of Elizabeth, a bus company employee, and Joseph Carlyle, a painter and decorator.[3][4] He was raised 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. He later attended 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.
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 "The Man Who Walked Around The World," a long-form commercial for Johnnie Walker whisky. 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 Rumplestiltskin / Mr. Gold in the fantasy-drama television series Once Upon a Time. The character is a wizard, deal-maker, and master manipulator. In an interview, Carlyle 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 made an uncredited appearance 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

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 dentistry as part of his 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 implant'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

Carlyle has been married to make-up artist Anastasia Shirley since 1997.[20] They have three children: a daughter born in 2002, and two sons born in 2004 and 2006, respectively.[21][22] Carlyle is a patron of School for Life in Romania.[23] Carlyle supports Rangers F.C.. He was appointed an OBE in 1999.



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
1996 Trainspotting Francis "Franco" Begbie
Carla's Song George Lennox
1997 The Full Monty Gary "Gaz" Schofield
Face Ray
1999 Plunkett & Macleane Will Plunkett
Ravenous Colonel Ives / F.W. Colqhoun
The World Is Not Enough Renard
Angela's Ashes Malachy McCourt
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
I Know You Know Charlie
2009 The Tournament Father Joseph MacAvoy
The Unloved Lucy's Father
2012 California Solo Lachlan MacAldonich
2015 The Legend of Barney Thomson Barney Thomson Also director
2017 T2 Trainspotting Francis "Franco" Begbie
2019 Yesterday John Lennon Uncredited
2022 North of Normal


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
1995–1998 Hamish Macbeth Hamish Macbeth 20 episodes
1998 Looking After Jo Jo John Joe "Jo Jo" McCann
2001 Chewin' the Fat Himself Hogmanay Special
2003 Hitler: The Rise of Evil Adolf Hitler
2004 Gunpowder, Treason & Plot King James I Television film
2005 Human Trafficking Sergei Karpovich
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
The Man Who Walked Around the World Himself Advert for Johnnie Walker[24]
Zig Zag Love Jacko Television film
2009–2011 Stargate Universe Doctor Nicholas Rush 40 episodes
2011–2018 Once Upon a Time Rumplestiltskin / Mr. Gold / Weaver 138 episodes
2019 The War of the Worlds Ogilvy 3 Episodes
2020–present Cobra Robert Sutherland Lead role[25]
2024 The Full Monty (Series) Gary 'Gaz' Schofield Lead role

Video games

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

Audio books

Year Title Role Notes
2008 The Cutting Room Narrator

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1993 BAFTA Scotland Awards Best Actor – Film Riff-Raff Nominated
1995 BAFTA Scotland Awards Best Actor – Television Cracker & Hamish Macbeth Won
CableACE Awards Supporting Actor in a Movie or Miniseries Cracker Nominated
1996 Awards Circuit Community Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Trainspotting Nominated
Royal Television Society Awards Best Actor Hamish Macbeth Won
1997 British Academy Film Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role The Full Monty Won
BAFTA Scotland Awards Best Actor – Television Hamish Macbeth Nominated
BAFTA Scotland Awards Best Actor – Film Trainspotting Nominated
Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Actor Face, Carla's Song & The Full Monty Won
London Film Critics' Circle Awards British Actor of the Year Won
Salerno Shadowline Film Festival Shadowline Award Won
Golden Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor – Drama Trainspotting Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (with Mark Addy, Paul Barber, Deirdre Costello, Steve Huison, Bruce Jones, Lesley Sharp, William Snape, Hugo Speer, Tom Wilkinson & Emily Woof) The Full Monty Won
1998 British Academy Television Awards Best Actor Hamish Macbeth Nominated
MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Dance Sequence (with Mark Addy, Paul Barber, Steve Huison, Hugo Speer & Tom Wilkinson) The Full Monty Nominated
Sant Jordi Awards Best Foreign Actor The Full Monty & Go Now Won
Golden Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical The Full Monty Nominated
1999 British Academy Television Awards Best Actor Looking After Jo Jo Nominated
2000 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Actor Ravenous Nominated
Irish Film & Television Awards Best Actor Angela's Ashes Nominated
2001 Empire Awards Best British Actor Nominated
2004 Golden Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television Hitler: The Rise of Evil Nominated
2006 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Human Trafficking Nominated
Gold Derby Awards TV movie/Miniseries Supporting Actor Nominated
Women's Image Network Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Won
2008 BAFTA Scotland Awards Best Acting Performance in Film Summer Nominated
2009 BAFTA Scotland Awards Best Actor – Television The Unloved Won
2010 Gemini Awards Best Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role Stargate Universe Won
2015 BAFTA Scotland Awards Best Directing in Film or Television The Legend of Barney Thomson Nominated
BAFTA Scotland Awards Best Actor – Film Nominated
BAFTA Scotland Awards Best Feature Film (with John G. Lenic, Kaleena Kiff & Brian Coffey) Won
Behind the Voice Actors Awards Best Male Lead Vocal Performance in a Video Game Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Nominated
Edinburgh International Film Festival Awards The Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film The Legend of Barney Thomson Nominated
2016 Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival Audience Award Won
2017 20/20 Awards Best Supporting Actor Trainspotting Nominated
BAFTA Scotland Awards Best Actor – Film T2 Trainspotting Nominated


  1. ^ "Robert Carlyle OBE". Once Upon A Fan. 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". Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  4. ^ "Born Equal: Robert Carlyle" (Press release). BBC. 15 November 2006. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  5. ^ Pendreigh, Brian (29 January 2006). "Father's death causes Carlyle to quit movie". The Scotsman. 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". The Times. London. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  8. ^ Sweet, Matthew (2 April 1999). "The Saturday Profile: Robert Carlyle, Actor: A man for all regions". The Independent. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  9. ^ "To Be A Somebody". Archived from the original on 23 September 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  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". p. 1. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  12. ^ Sumner, Darren (15 December 2008). "Robert Carlyle cast in Stargate Universe". p. 2. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  13. ^ "HLA and BBH Go Walking With Robert Carlyle". 6 August 2009. Archived from the original on 8 January 2011.
  14. ^ "Once Upon A Time – Creating Rumplestiltskin". Archived from the original on 30 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  15. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (5 April 2018). "Here's your first look at BBC One's War of the Worlds". Digital Spy.
  16. ^ Orquiola, John (28 June 2019). "Who Plays [SPOILER] In Yesterday?". Screen Rant.
  17. ^ Armstrong, Stephen (20 May 2007). "On the Move: Robert Carlyle". The Times. London. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  18. ^ Leigh, Danny (8 January 2017). "Robert Carlyle: 'I took out two teeth and suddenly Begbie came back to life'". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  19. ^ Time Out New York, 14–21 August 1997.
  20. ^ "Skibo: The Full Monty". BBC News. 19 December 2000. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  21. ^ "Robert Carlyle welcomes third child". People. 15 April 2006.
  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. ^ "The Man Who Walked Around the World". Retrieved 11 October 2009.
  25. ^ "Cobra the new TV Series |". Retrieved 17 January 2020.