GateWorld sat down with Robert Carlyle — Stargate Universe‘s Dr. Nicholas Rush — at the 2010 Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego last month to discuss a number of topics, including Carlyle’s acting roots.
“I would say I was probably 20 before there was any notion of acting in my life,” Carlyle said. “I had enjoyed going to the movies as a kid. My father loved movies, you know. I could see any film as long as it was a western. So, I loved all of that.”
Carlyle began his journey by joining a local theater company. “It was more of a community center,” he told us. “Community drama. It had to do with discovering yourself, I suppose, and devised pieces, and improvised sessions and stuff like that. It really opened me up as person, first off, before an actor. I was very shy. I wan an incredibly, painfully shy boy, and at that time I would go red, even at 20, I would literally go red if somebody spoke to me. So, drama was vital for me, even just in life as a person, never mind going into it as professional actor.
“It worked in spades, you know? I suddenly found myself as part of this community, a whole new bunch of friends, people who I kind of understood suddenly, and they understood me. It all kind of came together. I did that for maybe two or three years, and then I went to drama school — the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Scotland.”
When discussing his first big break as an actor, Carlyle said that fans and critics often disagree about which role set him on the path to becoming the A-list actor he is today. Some critics “say obviously it’s Trainspotting that did it for you. Or they’ll say it’s obviously The Full Monty that did it for you. And later they’ll say it’s obviously when you did Bond. That was you established. I keep saying, no, you need to go back farther than that, because everything leads on to the next thing.”
Carlyle actually credits early television work for moving his career forward. “I think it’s a piece I did called Cracker, which was on U.K. TV,” he said. “I think they remade the show in the U.S. — I think they called it Fitz. It was a wonderful show back home, in Britain for sure — Cracker. On the same lines as Prime Suspect and that kind of stuff. Robert Coltrane was the main guy.
“I played a guy from Liverpool (I hadn’t played anything outside my own voice at this point), and when I played this part it was very successful. It went very, very well, and people thought I was from Liverpool. And that’s what went out, that I was an English actor. Perfect. Because it was very difficult for Scots to get the work. And I did maybe two or three other things after that in accents.
“Eventually I spoke in my own accent in a piece called Hamish MacBeth. Hamish MacBeth was a little cop show back home in the U.K. that went through the roof in terms of ratings. People really enjoyed it. And suddenly it was there. They went: ‘Wait a minute. He’s Scottish! How did he get in?’ But it was too late by then.”
Carlyle’s journey as an actor continues this fall with Season Two of Stargate Universe, and also the forthcoming video game Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, in which he co-stars with Star Trek: The Next Generation and X-Men star Patrick Stewart.
SGU returns on Tuesday, September 28.