SCOTTISH actor James Cosmo tells Adam Robertson about the 10 things that changed his life...

1. My father

He (James Copeland) was just a working actor the same as I am and I had the advantage that I didn’t come into the business thinking it was going to be all premieres, pretty girls and champagne.

I remember my dad with his head in his hands because he hadn’t got a part he wanted and he was wondering how he was going to pay the rent. I came in very much with my eyes open. That was one big advantage, when things went pear-shaped I was ready for it.

2. Battle of Britain

Very early on in my career I managed to get a part in The Battle of Britain (1969) which was a huge movie at that time. I think it was one of the most expensive movies ever made at the time. I think it cost £8 million or something which wouldn’t pay the catering bill on most movies now.

3. Braveheart

Of course Braveheart was a huge turning point in my career, it couldn’t not be although we never expected it to be as successful. We had an inkling but I mean lots of very expensive, exciting movies have been made and gone nowhere – Heaven’s Gate shall we say. But Braveheart did have a tremendous worldwide effect and rightly so, it deserved all the accolades it received.

It did change my career. I remember a director, Douglas McGrath, who was directing Emma, who wanted to meet me to play Gwyneth’s father. And I thought, ‘Jane Austen, me, really’ and all he wanted to do was talk about Braveheart.The National: James Cosmo starred in 1995's BraveheartJames Cosmo starred in 1995's Braveheart

For 20 minutes we sat there and talked about it, then I went away and they said we’d love James to play Gwyneth’s dad. It was odd but that’s just the effect it had on people.

I think sometimes in the huge, big battle scenes, with 3500 extras, that’s when I thought it might be a hit. I think it was about the last movie when CGI wasn’t there but that amount of people is tremendous.

They’re not pixels, they’re real people doing real things, with all the horses and falling over and all that. I really thought I’m in the middle of an epic, playing a very small cog in this machine.

I remember sitting down with Randall Wallace (Braveheart screenwriter) and we were having a pint and I told him I thought the film would have a huge effect, especially in Scotland and he said, ‘nah it’s just a movie’ but it wasn’t.

4. Game Of Thrones

It was interesting because the casting director sent over a couple of pages of a scene and usually you get this and go in and read and sort of memorise it but I read this and it was when Commander Mormont is making a speech to the new recruits.

It was a big, long speech so my wife helped me work on it quite a lot the night before and went in and did a reading with the casting director’s assistant and that was it. On these bigger shows you go through a whole process, do the directors want you, the producers, the network it goes on and on.

READ MORE: Eilish McColgan on the 10 things that changed her life

But about three weeks later I got an email I got an email from George R. R. Martin (author) saying welcome to the Night’s Watch so that was pretty special.

When we made the first season, I was out in Los Angeles with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (creators) and asking them if we would get another season and they told me it was up in the air. We didn’t know but sometimes a show just touches the zeitgeist of that time and people just bought into it and still are. I still get messages from people saying they’ve just started.

5. Fishing

It’s always been part of my life. Before he was an actor, my dad was a bailer for the Loch Lomond river system. I started fishing when I was about 12 I think down at Dumbarton. There was a great feeling of catching half a dozen wee fish and taking them home and if you had more than you needed then giving them to your neighbour so I’d always enjoyed that.

As you do as a young person, I started reading some classic books on fly fishing. It’s a zen thing, it’s a philosophy, it’s very similar to meditation, it’s the art of doing something perfectly and that’s all it is. There is no prize at the end, it might be if you catch a fish and take it home but that’s not really the point. It’s about reading a piece of nature, reading the water and casting a fly and if it lands perfectly enough to fool a very discerning fish then that’s good.

One of my favourite films obviously is A River Runs Through It and I can see resonance in any of those elegant martial arts just with the body and instrument being as one. It’s great.

6. Music

I’ve always had a really eclectic interest in music. Apart from modern jazz which I don’t really understand. One of the actors in Jack Ryan was explaining jazz to me and he did it beautifully but nearly every other kind of music. I love AC/DC, I f***ing love them. I’ll listen to Don Williams, Elton John, I love all of them.

The National: AC/DC is one of Cosmo's favourite bands AC/DC is one of Cosmo's favourite bands

My playlist has got f***ing everything on it, all sorts of things and they all roll over me but why shouldn’t they, why would you limit yourself to say classical music or new-wave. Whatever inspires your imagination.

I have appeared three times now in front of a vast heavy-metal audience through my friends in a group called Manowar. They are known as the loudest heavy-metal band in the world and they asked me to go out to Athens for a thing about Greek warriors and to read a bit of the Iliad which I did so we became friends and they asked me to come on in a concert.

I said absolutely, I dressed up and did Athens, not for money or anything it’s just an amazing experience to see 30,000 people off their head with that music. It’s such a buzz.

7. Dealing with disappointment

I keep, not so much a diary, but an occasional thing I call the white book for my kids, it’s just my thoughts throughout my life. I remember looking back when I was doing Troy and there was another film they wanted me for and it was a really big part but because I was involved with Troy they couldn’t make it work and I was distraught at the time.

And then I read that piece a year later and I’d completely forgotten about it. It showed that things that seem huge and devastating at the time, that’s only one’s perception. Are you really going to be worried about this in five years’ time, wondering what will have happened? No, your life will have moved on so why bother torturing yourself.

8. My family

I very seldom watch anything I’m in unless I have to. Even if I’m not there my kids don’t watch it which I think is pretty healthy because I’m just their dad because that’s the way I really want it to be because I think I’ve got a problem with notoriety.

READ MORE: 10 things that changed my life: Comedian Maisie Adam

I understand a bit of fame is part and parcel of the industry but I do tend to think it’s all a bit of collateral damage from the job we actually do. My agent used to send me things saying I’ve got you as “featuring” or do you want “and with” and I kept saying I don’t care if it just say’s the character was played by some guy. I couldn’t give a f**k, I really couldn’t.

I like the disregard my family has for what I do. My eldest boy is 29 and my youngest is 18 and they’re happy for me if I’m working but they’ve got no great interest and I think that’s the way it should be. They’ll make their own way in life.

9. Growing up in Scotland

I consider myself incredibly privileged, I came from a privileged background. Not by money or status. I was born in Dumbarton and moved by Clydebank which, five years before I was born, had been utterly flattened by the blitz.

The tenement we were brought up in sort of ended and there was a big hole where the other tenement was and behind us was big blocks of sandstone. The s**t had been blown out of the whole place.

Nobody had much money, my mum worked in the sewing machine factory and my father was away trying to find work as an actor but I lived in a community that most people would die for now. As a child we all walked out on a summer’s morning and were away all day. We had a freedom that could not be replicated now.

If you stood in the back green, we were three floors up, but you’d shout for a piece and jam and if your mum wasn’t there someone would still chuck a jelly piece out. What a beautiful way for a child to grow up, we were all in the same position so I found that a really privileged background.

10. My Sailor, My Love

I think it’s about time I moved into the world of rom-com. I’m doing a reverse of Matthew McConaughey who started off doing all these silly rom-coms then became this wonderfully serious actor. I’ve been serious now and I want to be offered romantic, light-hearted things.

I was so intrigued by the script and the dynamics of the relationships going on, exploring that. The cast had a week together and I don’t know why directors don’t do that more often because by the time we got to set, when it’s expensive, you’re already in the right place. I remember thinking if I just turned up and did a scene it wouldn’t be anything like what we found through exploring characters and their relationships.

We shot on the same island and at the same time as The Banshees of Inisherin and Brendan Gleeson came round for Irish soda bread and a cup of tea which he really enjoyed.