Robert Carlyle
Birth Date:
April 14, 1961
Birth Place:
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Famous for:
His role as Begbie in 'Trainspotting' (1996)
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Gaz the Full Monty


“I hate that term, ‘Method.’ It's definitely been given to me over the years, but I don't know if it's true. My belief is that every actor's got their own method and as long as it works that's OK.” Robert Carlyle

Scottish actor Robert Carlyle was popular among TV viewers in his home country while portraying the title role of the kind-hearted Highland police constable in the eponymous BBC Scotland comedy-drama series "Hamish Macbeth" (1995-1997). Moviegoers probably best remember him as the volatile thug Begbie in “Trainspotting” (1996) and the unemployed steel worker-turned-male stripper Gaz in “The Full Monty” (1997).

An actor since the early 1990s, Carlyle has starred in such films as “Priest” (1994), “Go Now” (1995), “Carla's Song” (1996), “Face” (1997), “Plunkett & Macleane” (1999), “The World Is Not Enough” (1999), “Angela's Ashes” (1999), “The Beach” (2000), “The 51st State” (2001), “Eragon” (2006) and “28 Weeks Later” (2007). He will star in the upcoming films “Stone of Destiny,” “The Tournament,” “The Meat Trade,” and “I Know You Know.”

One of the best British actors of the modern era who ranked seventh in the 2001 Orange Film Survey of greatest British actors, Carlyle was awarded an OBE in the 1999 New Years honors list. More personally, the 5' 8" actor was romantically linked to Caroline Patterson in the early 1990s. He has been married to make-up artist Anastasia Shirley since 1997 and has three kids.


Childhood and Family:

In Glasgow, Scotland, UK, Robert Carlyle, nicknamed Bobby, was born on April 14, 1961. He was raised by his father, Joseph, in a commune after the actor's mother, Liz McDonald, abandoned him when he was 4 years old. His father died at age 76 on January 7, 2006, and was buried in Maryhill, Glasgow, on January 14.

Dropping out of school at age 16, Carlyle enrolled in acting class at the age of 21 at the Glasgow Arts Centre. This led to a stint at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama where he studied for one term before becoming disenchanted with the institution.

On December 28, 1997, Carlyle married Anastasia Shirley, a make-up artist. They have three children together: a daughter named Ava (born in 2002), and two sons: Harvey (born in 2004) and Pearce Joseph (born in April 2006).

Carlyle was awarded an OBE in 1999.



Acting by age 15, Robert Carlyle took an acting class at the Glasgow Arts Centre and began performing in amateur theatres. He also honed in on his skills at the Royal Scottish Academy of Drama, but left after only one term.

The novice thespian made his professional stage debut as Oberon in The Royal Scottish Orchestra's production of William Shakespeare's classic romantic comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. His solid performance earned him a coveted Actor's Equity card.

Carlyle subsequently acted in films, starting with director David Hayman's biopic about convicted murderer Larry Winters (played by Iain Glen), “Silent Scream” (1990). That same year, he landed his first starring role in Ken Loach's brilliant independent film, “Riff-Raff” (opposite Emer McCourt), which won the European Film Award for Best Picture. He also made his first appearance on television guest starring in an episode of the long-running Scottish detective drama series "Taggart," playing a political candidate, and the long-running British cop-drama “The Bill.”

The next year, in 1991, Carlyle and four actor friends founded an acting company called Raindog Theatre (named after Tom Waits' album "Rain Dog," one of Carlyle's favorites). The company is dedicated to innovative, improvisational-based work, as well as re-workings of the classics.

Back on the screen, Carlyle made his first collaboration with director Antonia Bird in the made-for-television movie on BBC-2, “Safe” (1993; alongside Kate Hardie, George Costigan and Steven Mackintosh). For his role, Carlyle researched what it was like living in the Waterloo area of London.

Afterward, Carlyle co-starred in Bird's critically acclaimed and very controversial film, “Priest” (1994), in which he played the tender gay lover of a Catholic priest (played by Linus Roache). Also in 1994, Carlyle was originally cast as journalist Alex Law in Danny Boyle's directorial debut, the thriller/dark comedy “Shallow Grave,” but dropped out of the project and was replaced by then-unknown Ewan McGregor.

1995-1997 saw Carlyle starring in the BBC Scotland comedy-drama series based on characters created by M.C. Beaton, "Hamish Macbeth." Portraying the titular character, Carlyle won a Best Actor from the Royal Television Society and from BAFTA Scotland. He was also nominated for Best Actor at the BAFTA TV Awards.

During his three-year stint in "Hamish Macbeth," Carlyle went on to play various different roles, such as a young Scottish soccer player in the Michael Winterbottom-directed TV drama “Go Now” (Juliet Aubrey played his live-in girlfriend; film released theatrically in 1998), which won him a Sant Jordi award for Best Foreign Actor (Mejor Actor Extranjero), and a psychotic villain who killed Christopher Eccleston's character in his US TV debut on A&E drama series, “Cracker,” which won him a BAFTA Scotland award for Best Actor. He also reunited with director Ken Loach in his period romantic drama “Carla's Song” (1996; released in the USA in 1998). His performance later won him a Best Actor from Evening Standard British Film.

No stranger to critical appreciation, Carlyle was nominated for a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor for his turn as the drunken, raving psychotic in Danny Boyle's Academy Award-nominated, BAFTA-winning cult classic film adaptation from the 1993 novel by Scottish writer Irvine Welsh, “Trainspotting” (1996; opposite Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller). He also won an Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor for portraying an aging ex-socialist-turned-bank robber in his third film with director Antonia Bird, “Face,” loosely based on the work of Irish writer Ronan Bennett.

In 1997, Carlyle played the down-and-out Gary "Gaz" Schofield, an unemployed steelworker who joins a ragtag group to perform a male striptease act to earn their living, in Peter Cattaneo's Academy Award-winning sleeper hit comedy “The Full Monty,” with Mark Addy, William Snape, Steve Huison, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Barber and Hugo Speer. For his outstanding performance in the film, Carlyle won a Screen Actors Guild (Outstanding Performance by a Cast), a BAFTA (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role), an Evening Standard British Film (Best Actor), a London Critics Circle Film (British Actor of the Year), and a Sant Jordi (Best Foreign Actor). He was also nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Dance Sequence.

Carlyle spent the rest of the 1990s acting in the television movie “Looking After Jo Jo” and Jake Scott's period drama “Plunkett and Macleane.” He was also seen in the 1999 film adaptation of McCourt's first memoir, “Angela's Ashes,” in which he co-starred with Emily Watson, playing the senior Malachy McCourt (father of author Frank McCourt). The role handed him a nomination for Best British Actor at the Empire Awards. He also did a cinema commercial for Jerwood Film Prize.

“The intensity and concentrated power in all that Bobby (Robert Carlyle) does can sometimes shake you as a director and it’s hard not to be impressed with his work.”

“Angela's Ashes” director Alan Parker on Robert Carlyle

Still in the late 1990s, Carlyle portrayed the villain to Pierce Brosnan's James Bond in “The World Is Not Enough,” helmed by Michael Apted. He was also reunited with director Antonia Bird for the dark comedy film “Ravenous” (both in 1999), in which he portrayed the dual role of the evil Colonel Ives and a Scottish stranger named Colquhoun.

Entering the new millennium, Carlyle had a featured role in Danny Boyle's adaptation of Alex Garland's novel, “The Beach.” He then took the role of a coach in John Hay's sport drama/comedy “There's Only One Jimmy Grimble,” starring Lewis McKenzie in the title role.

In 2001, Carlyle appeared as himself in the hit Scottish comedy sketch show starring Ford Kiernan, Greg Hemphill and Karen Dunbar, “Chewin' the Fat.” He also worked in David L. Cunningham's true story-based war drama inspired by the autobiography of Ernest Gordon, “To End All Wars,” alongside Kiefer Sutherland. About the project, Carlyle explained, “The short cut is 'Bridge over the River Kwai.’ That's exactly what it's about, but it's the true story of what happened to these men. I'd been offered a couple of war films. I didn't wanna get involved with that, glorifying it. I thought if I'm going to do a war film, I want to do something that says war is pretty shitty.”

After co-starring as Felix DeSouza in Ronny Yu's action/comedy “Formula 51” (2002; opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Emily Mortimer), Carlyle appeared in an “Oasis” music video for their song "Little By Little" from the band's fifth studio album “Heathen Chemistry.” The following year, he was cast as Jimmy, a sexy small-time crook, in Shane Meadows' drama comedy feature “Once Upon a Time in the Midlands” (2003).

Carlyle was also handed the title role as the legendary German dictator who plunged the planet into World War II in the 2003's Emmy Award-winning television movie, “Hitler: The Rise of Evil.” His performance later received a nomination at the Golden Satellite Awards for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television.

Caryle was cast as Durza in first-time director Stefen Fangmeier's “Eragon” (2006) and co-starred in Randall Miller's “Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School.” He also received an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his role in the made-for-television movie "Human Trafficking," which also stars Mira Sorvino and Donald Sutherland.

Recently, Carlyle could be seen in Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film “28 Weeks Later,” a sequel to the 2002 film “28 Days Later,” in which he played the part of Catherine McCormack's husband, Don, one of the main characters. He also starred as a marine engineer in Tony Mitchell's disaster film inspired by Richard Doyle's novel, “Flood” (both in 2007).

Carlyle will soon complete an upcoming miniseries titled "The Last Enemy" and writer/director Charles Martin Smith’s “Stone of Destiny,” starring Charlie Cox. He is currently filming Scott Mann's action film “The Tournament,” alongside Ving Rhames, Kelly Hu, Ian Somerhalder and Scott Adkins, and Antonia Bird's dark comedy “The Meat Trade,” opposite Colin Firth. He will also star as a spy whose son (played by Ewen Bremner) gets caught up in his undercover work, in writer/director Justin Kerrigan's coming-of-age drama set in Wales, “I Know You Know.”


  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Cast, “The Full Monty,” 1998

  • BAFTA: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, “The Full Monty,” 1998

  • Evening Standard British Film: Best Actor, “The Full Monty,” 1998

  • Evening Standard British Film: Best Actor, “Carla's Song,” 1998

  • Evening Standard British Film: Best Actor, “Face,” 1998

  • London Critics Circle Film: ALFS, British Actor of the Year, “The Full Monty,” 1998

  • Sant Jordi: Best Foreign Actor (Mejor Actor Extranjero), “The Full Monty,” 1998

  • Sant Jordi: Best Foreign Actor (Mejor Actor Extranjero), “Go Now,” 1998

  • Royal Television Society: Best Actor - Male, “Hamish Macbeth,” 1996

  • BAFTA Scotland: Best Actor - TV, “Cracker,” 1995

  • BAFTA Scotland: Best Actor - TV, “Hamish Macbeth,” 1995

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