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Top 5 Scottish-Italian actors

Updated on August 21, 2012

Scottish Italians

Feisty, emotional and passionate. This may be a cliché that describes both the Scottish and Italian temperament. However these are often the most celebrated traits of our 'Scotalian' heroes. Italians have been in Scotland for over a century and the cultures complement each other perfectly.

The USA has become home to many with that special blend of Scottish and Italian heritage. Liza Minnelli, Jennifer Aniston, Ashley Judd and Martin Scorcese can all claim to have a Scotalian heritage in there somewhere. See my hub here for more details of the Hollywood Scotalian connection.

There is a long tradition of Scots-Italian performers. Here is a celebration of the top 5 Scotalian actors and 'one to watch'.

Kirsty Mitchell
Kirsty Mitchell | Source

Kirsty Mitchell - one to watch

Born in Glasgow, 1974, Kirsty first appeared on TV in Monarch of the Glen and then popped up in Scottish soap opera River City. She has those classic Celtic looks of dark hair, pale skin and eye colour. Her father is Scottish and her mother of Italian descent. Kirsty had won the Miss Scotland competition as well as being a trained ballet dancer when she first appeared on Scottish TV and cinema screens. Her first movie role was playing Robert Duvall's daughter in A Shot At Glory (2000). Watch out for Kirsty, she has that x-factor appeal that turns people into movie stars. Having now moved to LA, Kirsty is now appearing on TV screens in America.


5. Jay Leno

born 28 April 1950, New Rochelle, New York

Jay Leno started out as an actor trying to make it in LA. He performed at the Comedy Store and by 1976 was recognised as a stand-up comedian. Jay admits himself that he was not a great actor but he certainly had a talent for comedy.

In 1986 he guest hosted The Tonight Show on TV for the first time and several years later took over as permanent host. He has a star in the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame.

Jay's mother, Catherine Muir, emigrated from Scotland to America when she was 11 years old. His father, Angelo, was an Italian-American salesman whose parents were from Flumeri in Campania, Italy.

Jay admits that his sense of good comedy came from his mother and in trying hard to make her laugh and his love of performance from the Italian side of the family. Jay is known to be modest, hard-working and kindhearted.

Tom Conti
Tom Conti

4: Tom Conti

born 22 November 1941, Paisley, Scotland

Our veteran Scots Italian actor has had a long and varied career in theatre, television and films. Some of Tom's most memorable roles include the titular character in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (1982), a Scottish poet in America in Reuben, Reuben (1983), Shirley Valentine as Greek bar-owner, Costas Caldes (1989) and in TV series Friends (1998) he played the father-in-law of Ross, alongside Jennifer Saunders.

Tom has gained a reputation as a versatile and distinguished actor. Although Tom left Scotland behind for the bright lights of London a long time ago, he still has a Scottish twinkle in his eye.

Tom's mother, Mary, was Scottish and his father, Alfonso, was an Italian hairdresser who immigrated to Scotland in the 1920s. Alfonso was interned during World War II alongside hundreds of Scottish Italian immigrants at the time.

The family was not poor and Tom enjoyed a middle-class upbringing. He studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. He joined Glasgow's Citizen's Theatre in 1959. Tom has appeared on both the London stage and on Broadway.

You can see Tom's most recent appearance in the movie The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Tom's most celebrated theatre performances include Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell (1990) and Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1978) for which he won a Tony award for best actor in 1979.

Tom's daughter, Nina Conti, is a successful actress and ventriloquist.

Daniela Nardini, top right
Daniela Nardini, top right

3. Daniela Nardini

born 26 April 1968, Largs, Scotland

Daniela is a member of the famous Nardini family. The family owns and runs Nardini's ice cream parlour and restaurant in Largs. She attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and has become a successful actress on stage and screen.

Her most famous role to date is Anna, the feisty Scottish lawyer of This Life (the popular mid-1990s TV series) in which she won a BAFTA in 1998 for Best Actress.

Summer holidays were spent at her grandparents home in Tuscany. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband and daughter.

Peter Capaldi
Peter Capaldi | Source

2. Peter Capaldi

born 14 April 1958, Glasgow, Scotland

Peter's classic first role in Scottish film Local Hero (1983), alongside movie legend Burt Lancaster, won our hearts. He has appeared in many films since then including Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and lots of TV series in the UK.

Peter attended Glasgow School of Art with Craig Ferguson (host of The Late Late Show) and they formed a comedy punk band called Dreamboys. In 1995 he won an Oscar for his short film Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life. He now lives in London with his wife (actress Elaine Collins) and daughter.

Peter's father's family is from Picinisco, Italy. Peter's parents ran an Italian café on the ground floor of the tenement they lived in. His grandparents lived in the same building.

He has shot to fame again worldwide with his latest character role, political spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, in TV's The Thick of It and the movie In The Loop (2009).

Ken Stott as Inspector Rebus
Ken Stott as Inspector Rebus

1. Ken Stott

born 19 October 1954, Edinburgh, Scotland

Ken is one of Scotland's best acting talents. His father was Scottish (a teacher) and his mother Sicilian (a lecturer). His mother was not planning to stay in Scotland for long, until she met and fell in love with his father. His father was the president of the Scots Italian Circle.

Ken has had a prolific TV acting career in the UK, including roles in The Singing Detective (1986) and Messiah (2004/5). He has been a star on Scottish TV and film for decades: every performance a masterpiece. In 2006 he took the role of Inspector Rebus in the TV series of the Ian Rankin crime novels. The earlier series had previously starred John Hannah. He has also tackled real life characters on TV, such as Hitler and Tony Hancock. Ken has also appeared many times in London West End theatre plays.

He is to appear as Balin in the new adaptation of The Hobbit, directed by Peter Jackson. In 2011 he appeared as Dexter's father in the movie One Day.

Stott now has a house near Perugia, Italy where he lives with his partner.


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    • Jelliebean profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Haha, yes, Liam Neeson is Northern Irish, it's true. Jay Leno, although born in America, often talks fondly of his Scottish mother and the huge influence that she had on his life. Thanks NetflixReviews. I always appreciate your comments.

    • profile image


      6 years ago from Somewhere in North America

      Interesting. I was stunned to see Jay Leno in that list! Somehow I expected Liam Neeson but I guess he's actually Irish.


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