A product of Scotland, Angus MacFadyen possesses a burly build, deeply expressive eyes, and enviable charisma. He first made an impression on an international audience with his portrayal of Robert the Bruce in Braveheart (1995). Born in 1964, MacFadyen had a nomadic upbringing; thanks to his father's job with the World Health Organization, he spent his childhood and adolescence in places no less diverse than Africa, Australia, France, the Philippines, Singapore, and Denmark. He went on to attend the University of Edinburgh and received theatrical training at the Central School of Speech and Drama. MacFadyen got his professional start on the Edinburgh stage, appearing in a number of productions at the famed Fringe Festival.
Breaking into television in the early '90s, MacFadyen appeared in a number of series for the BBC, including an acclaimed adaptation of David Leavitt's The Lost Language of Cranes (1992). Following the critical and commercial success of Braveheart, the actor got a rudimentary dose of recognition across the Atlantic, but remained largely unknown outside of the U.K. He starred with Gabriel Byrne and Bill Campbell in the World War II drama The Brylcreem Boys in 1996, playing a German pilot being held captive in neutral Ireland. Until 1998, when he portrayed Peter Lawford in the made-for-cable The Rat Pack, MacFadyen's other screen appearances tended to be in films that were widely ignored by audiences and critics alike. The sort of attention surrounding The Rat Pack paled in comparison to that surrounding MacFadyen's films the following year. In 1999, the actor could be seen in two highly publicized films, first playing Orson Welles in Tim Robbins' Cradle Will Rock and then starring as Lucius, son of the title character in Julie Taymor's Titus, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Before returning to the big screen in such efforts as Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Equilibrium (both 2002), MacFayden took a brief turn as Zues in the made-for-television Jason and the Argonauts (2000) and turned up in such low-budget efforts as Second Skin and A Woman's a Helluva Thing (both 2000).