- The great-nephew of legendary Manchester United manager Matt Busby (1909-94).
- Trained to be a butcher after leaving school at age 16.
- Decided to pursue his acting dream at age 18, a year after his father unexpectedly died.
- Learned to act at his cousin's Dublin theatre.
- Honored with the 1999 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor for the London production of Irish playwright Conor McPherson's The Weir.
- Downtown Abbey creator Julian Fellowes wrote the role of Mr. Bates with him in mind, having seen him in the 2004 BBC series North and South.
- A patron of Lakelands Hospice in Corby, Northamptonshire; also supports Workwise, which helps young people find jobs.