Tall, rugged, and exuding an air of old school masculinity that has fallen out of fashion in modern movies, Scottish-born actor Graham McTavish has nevertheless found a place in action cinema. He is likely best known for his performance as the fierce dwarf warrior Dwalin in director Peter Jackson's epic fantasy "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012). But before landing that role of a lifetime, the biggest of his career, McTavish was already known to many science fiction and action fans for his prominent roles on the beloved British cult sci-fi show "Red Dwarf" (BBC Two, 1988- ), playing Warden Ackerman, and in Sylvester Stallone's ultraviolent war picture "Rambo" (2008), where he played the mercenary Lewis. He is also well known for his role as the Russian conspirator Mikhail Novakovich on the television show "24" (Fox, 2001-2010). But despite his frequent typecasting as an onscreen bruiser, the gregarious Scotsman always brings a little of his own colorful personality to his roles.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland on Jan. 4, 1961, McTavish was the head of the English society while attending university and acted on stage performing Shakespeare in several amateur and professional productions. It was while appearing in a 1983 production of "Romeo and Juliet" when he first met his future "Hobbit" co-star, Andy Serkis, and the two remained friendly over the years. After making his screen debut as an extra in Tobe Hooper's sci-fi horror film "Lifeforce" (1986), McTavish nabbed his first screen credit in an episode of the British television show "Return to Treasure Island" (1986). Bit parts came his way where he appeared as sideline cops, thugs and soldiers in movies such as the Denzel Washington thriller "For Queen and Country" (1988) and the comic epic "Eric the Viking" (1989).
Because of his background performing Shakespeare on stage, McTavish appeared in two of the Bard's screen adaptations, "Macbeth" (1997) and "King Lear" (1999). Although the strapping McTavish is regularly cast in action movies like " Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" (2003) and "King Arthur" (2004), occasionally he has been cast in comedies as well, such as "Ali G Indahouse" (2002). He can also be seen on the long-running British medical drama "Casualty" (BBC One, 1986- ) and the crime series "The Bill" (ITV, 1984-2010). Those roles were not far from his tough image, but they allowed the actor to reach a broader audience than usual.
After many years working in Great Britain tolling away in television, movies and theater, McTavish left his native land with his wife and family in 2007 to try his luck in Hollywood. The gamble proved to be worth it when he auditioned for a role in "Rambo" after living in America only a few days, landing the biggest role of his career. On top of recurring stints on the hit TV thrillers "Prison Break" (Fox, 2005-09) and "24," McTavish reached the largest audience of his career as Dwalin, the bald-headed, tattooed dwarf in Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" trilogy, kicking off with 2012's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." Along with his busy film and television schedule, McTavish also works frequently doing voice work for videogames.
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Starred opposite Denzel Washington in "For Queen and Country"
Played Warden Ackerman on "Red Dwarf"
Co-starred in Stallone's action sequel "Rambo"
Appeared on four episodes of the hit series "Prison Break"
Played Mikhail Novakovich on "24"
Played Dwalin the dwarf in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"