Scottish-born Clive Russell is six and a half feet of bone and sinew. Add to his imposing stage presence his impressive acting skill and you have a colossal acting machine that can cry, bend steel, and recite Shakespeare. Russell has used his attributes to play Helfdane the Large in The Thirteenth Warrior, Ajax the Great in Troilus and Cressida, and blacksmith Joe Gargery in Great Expectations. For his portrayal of a gigantic but gentle ex-coal miner in the acclaimed Margaret's Museum, Russell earned a Canadian Academy Award nomination for best actor. Russell's appetite for acting is as big as he is. Between 1997 and 2001, he completed 24 films in addition to TV and other projects, including such high-profile productions as The Mists of Avalon (TV miniseries), Oliver Twist (TV miniseries), and Oscar and Lucinda. No, he probably won't replace Sean Connery as Scotland's most famous actor. But he certainly deserves recognition as one of Scotland's best actors -- right up there among Connery, Ewan McGregor, Dougray Scott, and Robert Carlyle.
Russell first performed before an audience in 1960 on the Shari Lewis Show. But it was not until 1980 that he got his first real acting job -- performing on the London stage as the superintendent in Nobel Prize-winner Dario Fo's satire The Accidental Death of an Anarchist, about police corruption in Italy. The reviews were good, and he reprised that role for television in 1983. After further honing his skills in various British TV productions and a handful of films -- including Jute City, The Power of One, The Hawk, and Seconds Out -- Russell received exposure before international audiences as Caleb Garth in the celebrated BBC miniseries Middlemarch, based on the George Eliot novel of the same name. A year later, he fell in love on the movie screen with Helena Bonham Carter in Margaret's Museum, earning laudatory reviews worldwide. Clive Russell had arrived. After more TV roles and another film, Russell played Ralph Fiennes' father in another critically acclaimed film, Oscar and Lucinda. Growing recognition of his acting skills then brought him plum roles in four major TV miniseries: Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, The Railway Children, and The Mists of Avalon. In the same year that he made Mists, Russell also performed in The Emperor's New Clothes, starring Ian Holm as Napoleon. In 2002, his career reached new heights when he took on a role in a BBC/Columbia Tristar production about a mountain-rescue team in Scotland.