After London, Glasgow at one time was regarded as the 2nd city of the UK due to its size and wealth. From the 1700s to the 1900s Glasgow was one of the richest cities in the country thanks to trade like shipbuilding, tobacco and sugar. But these are not the only things to put Glasgow on the map. You’d be surprised just how many famous and notable people were born or raised in the City of Glasgow. We’ve put together a list of our top 10 favourite celebrities. These come in the form of actors and comedians and we’ll keep the top 10 list of notable people for another blog since there’s just too many to mention them all:
1. James McAvoy
James McAvoy is a Scottish actor best known for his roles in The Last King of Scotland (2006), Atonement (2007) and X-Men: First Class (2011).
James McAvoy was born on April 21, 1979, in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and at age 20 moved to London to pursue acting. His big break came while playing a faun named Mr. Tumnus in the hit film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005). Prominent opportunities followed, including roles in The Last King of Scotland (2006), Becoming Jane (2007), Atonement (2007), Wanted (2008) and X-Men: First Class (2011). McAvoy won a BAFTA Film Award for Orange Rising Star Award (2006) and a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (2007).
2. Gerard Butler
Born November 13, 1969, in Paisley, Scotland, Gerard Butler is an actor best known for his role as King Leonidas of Sparta in 300. Since appearing in the film, he has starred in several romantic comedies, including P.S. I Love You with Hilary Swank and The Ugly Truth with Katherine Heigl, along with appearing on many “world’s hottest men” lists.
3. Robert Carlyle
Robert Carlyle, OBE (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.
Robert Carlyle was born in Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland, to Elizabeth, a bus company employee, and Joseph Carlyle, a painter and decorator. He was raised by his father after his mother left him when he was four. At the age of 21, after reading Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” he enrolled in acting classes at the Glasgow Arts Centre. In 1991, together with four other actors, he founded the Raindog theatre company (named after Tom Waits’ album “Rain Dog,” one of Carlyle’s favorites), a company dedicated to innovative work.
4. Billy Connolly
William “Billy” Connolly, CBE (born 24 November 1942) is a Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor. He is sometimes known, especially in his native Scotland, by the nickname “The Big Yin” (“The Big One”). His first trade, in the early 1960s, was as a welder (specifically a boilermaker) in the Glasgow shipyards, but he gave it up towards the end of the decade to pursue a career as a folk singer, firstly in the Humblebums alongside friend Gerry Rafferty until 1971, and subsequently as a solo artist. In the early 1970s, he made the transition from folk singer with a comedic persona to fully fledged comedian. Best known to many as a stand-up comedian, he appears in several lists of the greatest comedians ever, where he is often placed at the top.
Connolly is also an actor and has appeared in such films as Water (1985); Indecent Proposal (1993); Pocahontas (1995); Muppet Treasure Island (1996); Mrs. Brown (1997); The Boondock Saints (1999); The Man Who Sued God (2001); The Last Samurai (2003); Timeline (2003); Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004); Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006); Open Season (2006); The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008); Open Season 2 (2008); Brave (2012); Quartet (2012) and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). Connolly reprised his role as Noah “Il Duce” MacManus in The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009).
5. Robbie Coltrane
Born in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, on March 30, 1950, Robbie Coltrane became known in the United Kingdom for his cameo performances in such films as Henry V and Mona Lisa. Coltrane continues to appear in movies, enjoying great success in such family films as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Harry Potter series—in which he plays the kindly gamekeeper Hagrid the Giant.
Peter Capaldi is an Oscar-winning director, screenwriter and actor known for his varied roles in TV and film.
Born on April 14, 1958, in Glasgow, Scotland, Peter Capaldi explored other creative paths before turning to acting and appearing in film and TV fare like Local Hero and Prime Suspect 3. He won an Oscar for directing and writing the short Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life and played the abrasive Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It before becoming the 12th actor to portray Doctor Who.
7. Tommy Flanagan
Tommy Flanagan was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland. In his twenties, Tommy made his living as a DJ for local dance clubs until a violent attack nearly ended his life. In hospital, his friend Robert Carlyle persuaded Tommy to give acting a try. Mr. Flanagan joined Carlyle’s Raindog Theatre Company where he made his stage debut in such productions as ‘Wasted I and II’, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, and ‘MacBeth’.
Tommy worked in various local and smaller film and television projects until he landed a small role in Mel Gibson’s epic ‘Braveheart’ in 1995. Mr. Gibson was so impressed that he expanded the role of rebel Morrison specifically for Tommy, exposing a worldwide audience to Mr. Flanagan.
Following this, Tommy went on to work with an array of top directors in films such as Phillip Noyce’s ‘The Saint’, John Woo’s ‘Face/Off’, and David Fincher’s ‘The Game’. In 1999, he would get the chance to once again work with Robert Carlyle in ‘Plunkett and MacCleane’. That same year, Tommy earned critical praise and numerous ‘Best Actor’ nominations for his role as ‘Da’, the troubled father in Lynne Ramsay’s ‘Ratcatcher’
8. John Barrowman
John Barrowman, MBE (born 11 March 1967), is a Scottish-American actor, singer, dancer, presenter and writer who holds both British and American citizenship. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, he emigrated to the United States with his family in 1975. Encouraged by his high school teachers, Barrowman studied performing arts at the United States International University in San Diego before landing the role of Billy Crocker in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes at London’s West End.
Since his debut in professional theatre, Barrowman has played lead roles in various musicals both in the West End and on Broadway, including Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard and Matador. After appearing in Sam Mendes’ production of The Fix, he was nominated for the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical and, in the early 2000s, returned to the role of Billy Crocker in the revival of Anything Goes. His most recent West End credit was in the 2009 production of La Cage aux Folles.
Aside his theatrical career, Barrowman has appeared in various films including the musical biopic De-Lovely (2004) and musical comedy The Producers (2005). Before venturing into British television, he featured in the American television dramas Titans and Central Park West but he is better known for his acting and presenting work for the BBC that includes his work for CBBC in its earlier years, his self-produced entertainment programme Tonight’s the Night, and his BAFTA Cymru-nominated role of Captain Jack Harkness in the science fiction series Doctor Who and Torchwood. Barrowman has also had a number of guest roles in television programmes both in the US and the UK.
9. Graham McTavish
McTavish was born 4 January 1961]in Glasgow, before his family left Glasgow when he was a child. During the course of his life he has lived in Scotland, England and Canada before settling in New Zealand.
McTavish appeared in the 2011 film The Wicker Tree, Robin Hardy’s sequel to his 1973 film, The Wicker Man and played Dwalin in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy. McTavish has also had many supporting roles in British dramas and films such as Casualty, Jekyll, The Bill, Taggart and Sisterhood.
In April 2014 McTavish honored his Scottish heritage by serving as the 17th Grand Marshall of New York City’s Tartan Day Parade.
10. Rory McCann
Rory McCann who was born in Glasgow on 24 April 1969 is a Scottish actor and musician, best known for portraying Sandor Clegane on the HBO series Game of Thrones.
McCann’s first acting job was as an extra on the film Willow (1988) but he was fired because he laughed during the takes. As his first major acting role, McCann played a disabled personal trainer in the 2002 television comedy drama The Book Group, winning the Scottish BAFTA for the best television performance of 2002.
Since then, he has taken television roles as Detective Inspector Stuart Brown in State of Play, Peter the Great in Peter in Paradise, and a priest in the award-winning British comedy drama series Shameless.
He made his Hollywood debut in the 2004 film Alexander, which required the actors to go through a boot-camp in the African desert, and included shooting in Thailand, Morocco as well as a London studio. In 2007, he appeared as Michael “Lurch” Armstrong in Hot Fuzz. In 2008, he played Moby in The Crew and Atilla the Hun in the BBC docudrama Heroes and Villains.
Our top 10 list may have some surprises in it but whether you knew they were from Glasgow before or not it goes to show that People really do Make Glasgow.
* Biography Sources:
** All of our information is correct at the time of publishing