Edinburgh actor Sam Heughan has an array of fans all over the world – and there’s a new rival for the hearts of Outlander’s followers.
Scots actor Craig McGinlay, best known for his role as Sir Percival in the fantasy film King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword alongside Jude Law and directed by Guy Ritchie, has appeared in the latest episode of the cult TV series.
He appeared as Andrew MacNeil this week’s episode, in the fourth season of the STARZ and Amazon Prime International hit show Outlander, premiering on Prime last night.
Craig was named a British GQ Rising Star in June 2017 and Breakthrough Star of the Year at the 2015 Scottish Style Awards – not bad for a lad from Paisley who quit rugby for a career in sports science!
Craig told Scottish Field: ‘Outlander has been so big in America over the last couple of years in particular, and now in the UK as well, it seems to be getting bigger and bigger. This year has had the most hype I’ve seen around the show coming out, so it’s a real pleasure to be involved in this season.
‘It’s great for Scotland, it’s amazing. When I first got the call sheet, it said possible filming locations were going to be Cumbernauld, Condorrat, Stirling or Cape Town. Unfortuantely, I never got to go to Cape Town but in Cumbernauld, it’s quite amazing because they’ve got such fantastic set there.
‘It’s very exciting for Scotland to have that, and hopefully we can have our own studios and sets somewhere over the next few years.
‘With Outlander doing so well, it’s kind of paved the way, so well done to Outlander for showing that it can be done. I think it’s kickstarted the campaign, to have our own studios for Scottish film and television.
‘I play Andrew McNeil, a plantation owner. It was great getting to film alongside Sam Heughan, who’s a tremendous actor, and Caitriona Balfe, who were very welcoming on set. I got to train a little bit with sam in the lead up to filming. It was a great experience with a great cast and crew, some filming on location.
‘The costume designers are really good as well – they put in a lot of effort for the show. I was very pleased to be a part of it.’
Craig had hoped for a career in rugby, having played the sport until 2004, and competed for Scotland’s under-20s in the World Cup.
He recalled: ‘I grew up in Paisley, and went to school in Glasgow but was playing rugby through my school days. The plan was to go on and play rugby professionally – I was in the Glasgow District set up from under-16 level, under-18s, was selected for the under-18 squad and played for Scotland at the under-20 World Cup in Italy.
‘I was training full time from when I left school, but then I had a shoulder injury, a dislocation, that put me out for a few months, had an operation on it, and I could have come back and played, but on reflection, I think I liked the game but I didn’t love it enough to want to go back.
‘I’m passionate about sport – I love it – and managed to stay in it. in some respects. as I did a Masters Degree in Sports Science at Stirling University. I then worked with professional rugby players, at Glasgow Warriors, which was kind strange as I was working with guys I had played with and were still playing. From playing with them, I was suddenly coaching them in the gym and training them!
‘I worked with professional football teams full time, with the likes of St Mirren and Hibs, doing sports massage at Rangers, worked at Falkirk and was working with Commonwealth Games athletes in the lead up to Delhi, on hockey, swimming and badminton in the lead up to London 2012 and for Glasgow 2014, was working with the guys, doing the conditioning in the gym.’
It was whilst working as a personal trainer, that an unintended change in career came about.
He said: ‘They were doing an advert, a brand launch film for the Commonwealth Games, and they said the weightlifter was a little bit short for the adverts, so would I mind stepping in and being the weightlifter in this advert. I’d never done any acting or modelling before, but I said yes, jumped in and did a clean and jerk for the advert. I had to put on a small, tight-fitting one-piece weightlifting outfit which wasn’t very comfortable, especially as we shot it in the November, so it wasn’t ideal!
‘The advert came out, a director saw it, and contacted the producers and asked who I was, and if I could come along and audition for the lead role in a short film. I got the role, and I was in LA and Calgary and went to the premiere in LA, which was new to me, not having acted before. I then joined an extras agency in Scotland, thinking I would give it a go on the side and did a couple of roles in the background.’
Moving to London in 2014, Craig signed with Independent Talent Agency and Select Model Management in London as well as agencies in Milan, Newcastle and Manchester. He has modelled for Nike, Trespass, Ray-Ban and Land Rover.
After starring in a Haig whisky commercial directed by Guy Ritchie, McGinlay was offered the role of Percival in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword which was directed by Ritchie and co-starred David Beckham.
Craig explained: ‘When an advert came up for a whisky called The Haig Club, it turned out Guy Ritchie was directing it. I was cast by Guy at the third stage, to appear in the main advert alongside David Beckham and four other actors.
‘From that, Guy then cast me in King Arthur, where I played one of the knights, Sir Pervical, but the real genesis for when I decided I wanted to move into it was working on The Haig Club. I was working with guys who had worked on huge films, who were behind the scenes.
‘I had dipped my toe in the water, and I remember deciding to quite my job and move to London, and King Arthur came up after that. I worked on it for six months, horseriding and swordfighting – it was a lot of fun. There was a lot of serious work but you can see Guy brings in people who he will get on with and enjoy the job, on films like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Rock ‘n’ Roller.
‘Guy gave me my first job so I will always owe him everything. I was hugely grateful – working on it was a lot of fun, so not having trained as an actor and then stepping into that environment, a blockbuster movie with massive sets, it was a jaw-dropping experience for me. They were all very welcoming, we got on together, we trained together and hung out together.’
Since then, Craig’s other television work has included lead villain Aldred in Knightfall on the History Channel alongside Tom Cullen. He worked with Scots director Douglas Mackinnon, from Skye, who has credits on TV shows including Line of Duty and Doctor Who.
Craig said: ‘Douglas was great – I really enjoyed working with him. We filmed over in Prague, a really good experience and he was always onboard to taking on ideas from the actors, how we thought things could pan out. He’s a good director, a great experience. The scnes I did were with Bobby Schofield and Tom Cullen.
‘It was good fun, something different, playing a bad guy. It’s still relatively new to me but I have normally been cast as, in King Arthur and Outlander and short films, I’ve not played the bad guy.
‘It was something different and I enjoyed it – it’s something I’d like to do again. You want to be as versatile as we can.’
Craig, who now lives in London, has started training for a new film, which is due to film in Mumbai from the beginning of December, where he will be playing a British soldier.
Outlander series four is now on Amazon Prime.