Family & Companions
A compact actor whose features were dominated by his blue eyes, Gary Lewis was one of an increasing number of Scottish performers who began making a mark on world cinema in the 1990s. Whether called upon to play an alcoholic security guard, a grief-stricken striking miner or a sanctimonious sibling, Lewis could be counted on to create indelible portraits that linger in audiences' memories long after the lights have come up. Born and raised in the tough Easterhouse section of Glasgow, Lewis described in interviews the dichotomy of his upbringing: his parents stressed the value of education, yet he his formal studies were spotty at best. When he graduated, he lacked a sense of purpose, taking a job as a roadsweeper to earn a living. Later, Lewis found employment in the local library. Encouraged by his brother, he read voraciously and thought about pursuing a career as an actor. lthough he had pursued amateur theatrics, Lewis was 32 when he committed to showbiz, joining Robert Carlyle's newly formed Raindog Theatre. His career received a boost when he was befriended by actor-director Peter Mullan whom he met at a socialist lecture. Mullan hired Lewis for a role in the short "Close" which began filming in 1991 but took some three years to complete. By that time, both actors had appeared in "Shallow Grave" (1994). Lewis went on to act in Mullan's subsequent shorts "Good Day for the Bad Guys" (1995) and the award-winning "Fridge" (1996). Lewis joined director Kenneth Loach's unofficial stock company lending support to his two mentors in separate films: with Carlyle, he co-starred in "Carla's Song" (1996), while he essayed a recovering alcoholic alongside Mullan in "My Name Is Joe" (1998). In between, Mullan cast him as the over-righteous, somewhat dimwitted elder sibling Thomas in "Orphans" (1997), a blistering examination of a dysfunctional family. Lewis' exceptional performance was one of the film's highlights. He went on to co-star with Max Beesley in "The Match" (1999; released on video in USA in 2001) before landing his international breakthrough part as the father of a young boy who wants to become a ballet dancer in "Billy Elliot" (2000). Lewis delivered a multi-layered turn as a man coping with grief over the death of his wife, a violent strike that threatens his livelihood and the struggles of raising two sons. The actor rounded out his banner year teaming with Irish actor Sean McGinley in "What Where," a 12-minute short film of Samuel Beckett's play, and supporting Michael Caine as a boxing coach who may or may not have been involved in a murder in "Shiner" (screened at the San Sebastian Film Festival). Lewis increased his American exposure with co-starring roles in Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York" (2002) and Sally Potter's "Yes" (2004). After several years working steadily in British film, Lewis moved to television with a supporting role as Colum MacKenzie in the romantic fantasy "Outlander" (Starz 2014- ).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Began acting career at age 32 when he joined the recently formed Raindog Theatre, founded by Robert Carlyle
Began acting in films in Peter Mullan's short "Close"; not completed until 1994
Feature film debut, "Shallow Grave"; Mullan had co-starring role
Had supporting role in "Carla's Song", starring Carlyle; written by Paul Laverty and directed by Kenneth Loach
US TV acting debut in the made for cable movie "The Princess Stallion"
Had featured role as the sanctimonious oldest sibling in "Orphans", directed by Mullan
Acted in the direct-to-video thriller "Postmortem", starring Charlie Sheen; played on Cinemax in 1999
Reunited with Loach for "My Name Is Joe", a portrait of a recovering alcoholic scripted by Laverty and starring Peter Mullan; cast as a former hard-drinking security guard
Played supporting role in "The Match", a drama about a soccer team; released direct-to-video in USA in 2001
Acted with Sean McGinley in the screen adaptation of Samuel Beckett's play "What Where"; screened at Toronto Film Festival; released theatrically in summer 2001 as part of the package "Samuel Beckett on Film" before airing on TV
Supported Michael Caine in "Shiner"; screened at the San Sebastian Film Festival
Breakthrough screen role as the striking miner whose youngest son expresses an interest in becoming a ballet dancer in the crowd-pleasing "Billy Elliot"
Cast in Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York"
Cast in Danny Cannon's "Goal! The Dream Begins"
Cast in "Eragon" a fantasy/adventure movie based on the novel of the same name