Peter Mullan

Peter Mullan (/ˈmʊlən/; born 2 November 1959)[1] is a Scottish actor and filmmaker. He is best known for his role in Ken Loach's My Name Is Joe (1998), for which he won Best Actor Award at 1998 Cannes Film Festival and The Claim (2000). He is also winner of the World Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Breakout Performances at 2011 Sundance Film Festival for his work on Paddy Considine's Tyrannosaur (2011). Mullan appeared as supporting or guest actor in numerous cult movies, including Riff-Raff (1991), Braveheart (1995), Trainspotting (1996), Young Adam (2003), Children of Men (2006), War Horse (2011) and the Harry Potter film series (2010–11).

Peter Mullan
Mullan at BAFTA in Scotland, 2005
Born (1959-11-02) 2 November 1959
  • Actor
  • filmmaker
Years active1988–present
Ann Swan
(m. 1989; div. 2006)

Mullan is an acclaimed art house movie director. He won a Golden Lion at 59th Venice International Film Festival for The Magdalene Sisters, listed by many critics among the best films of 2003 and nominated for BAFTA Award for Best British Film and European Film Award for best film, and a Golden Shell at San Sebastián International Film Festival for Neds. He is the only person to win top prizes both for acting (Cannes best actor award) and for the best film (Golden lion for The Magdalene Sisters) at major European film festivals.

In television, Mullan appeared in Gerard Lee's and Jane Campion's acclaimed miniseries Top of the Lake as Matt Mitcham, head of the Mitcham family and father of Tui Mitcham, whose disappearance is the main topic of the series. He was nominated for Primetime Emmy Award for his work in the series. He played a lead role in the 2008 ITV series The Fixer. Beginning in 2017, he has appeared in both seasons of the Netflix series Ozark opposite Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. Since 2016, Mullan has starred in the BBC Two sitcom Mum. In 2018, he stars in the second season of HBO's Westworld.

Mullan is also politically active, supporting left-wing causes and protests.

Early life

Mullan was born in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the son of Patricia (a nurse) and Charles Mullan (a lab technician at Glasgow University).[2][3] The seventh of eight children, Mullan was brought up in a working class Roman Catholic family.[4][5] They later moved to Mosspark, a district in Glasgow. An alcoholic, Mullan's father became increasingly tyrannical and abusive; he died from lung cancer when Mullan was 17.[6] For a brief period, Mullan was a member of a street gang while at secondary school,[6][7] and worked as a bouncer in a number of south-side pubs.[8] He was homeless for short periods at the ages of 15 and 18.[9]


Mullan went on to the University of Glasgow to study economic history and drama.[10] There he began acting and continued stage acting after graduation. He had roles in films such as Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, Braveheart and Riff-Raff. His first full-length film, Orphans, won an award at the Venice Film Festival. In 2002, he returned to directing and screenwriting with the controversial film The Magdalene Sisters, based on life in an Irish Magdalene asylum. Mullan won a Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.

Mullan's role as a recovering alcoholic in My Name Is Joe won him the Best Actor Award at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.[11]

Personal life

A self-styled Marxist,[6] Mullan continues to support hard-left causes and was a leading figure in the left-wing theatre movement that blossomed in Scotland during the Conservative Thatcher government. These included stints with the 7:84 and Wildcat Theatre companies. A passionate critic of Tony Blair's New Labour government, he told The Guardian "the TUC and the Labour Party sold us [the working class] out big style, unashamedly so".[12] Mullan took part in a 2006 occupation of the Glasgow offices of the UK Immigration Service, protesting against the UKIS's "dawn raid" tactics when deporting failed asylum seekers.[13]

In January 2009, Mullan joined other actors in protesting against the BBC's refusal to screen a Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza. They told BBC director general Mark Thompson: "Like millions of others, we are absolutely appalled at the decision to refuse to broadcast the appeal. We will never work for the BBC again unless this disgraceful decision is reversed. We will urge others from our profession and beyond to do likewise."[14] Mullan has agreed to appear in an adaptation of Iain Banks’ novel Stonemouth after the BBC aired a DEC appeal for Gaza in late 2014.[15]

Mullan was a supporter of the Yes Scotland campaign in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.[16] In 2015, he criticised the BBC for "horrendous bias" against the Yes campaign and told the Radio Times that "to see the BBC used as a political cudgel against a legitimate democratic movement ... really broke my heart.”[17]

Mullan married Ann Swan, an actress and scriptwriter, in 1989; they divorced in 2006. He has four children - three with Swan and one with former girlfriend, activist Robina Qureshi.[18]



Year Title Role Director Writer Notes
1990 The Big Man Vince
1991 Riff Raff Jake European Film Award for Best European Film
1992 Sealladh Sim Short film
1993 Close Vincent YesYes Short film
1994 Shallow Grave Andy
1995 Fridge - YesYes Short film
Good Day for the Bad Guys John YesYes Short film
Braveheart Veteran
1996 Trainspotting Swanney "Mother Superior"
1997 Poor Angels Gordon Short film
Fairy Tale: A True Story Sergeant Farmer
1998 Duck Mick
My Name Is Joe Joe Kavanagh Cannes Award for Best Actor
Orphans - YesYes
1999 Miss Julie Jean
Mauvaise passe Patricia's husband  
2000 Ordinary Decent Criminal Stevie  
The Claim Daniel Dillon  
2001 Session 9 Gordon Fleming  
2002 The Magdalene Sisters Mr O'Connor YesYes Winner of Golden Lion
2003 Young Adam Les Gault
Kiss of Life John
2004 Out of This World Jim
Criminal William Hannigan
Blinded Francis Black
Waves Him
2005 On a Clear Day Frank Redmond
2006 Cargo Brookes
Children of Men Syd
True North Riley
2007 The Last Legion Odoacer
Dog Altogether Joseph Short film
Boy A Terry
2008 Stone of Destiny Ian's dad
2009 Red Riding: 1974 Martin Laws
Red Riding: 1980 Martin Laws
Red Riding: 1983 Martin Laws
Connolly James Connolly
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Corban Yaxley
Neds Mr. McGill YesYes Winner of Golden Shell
2011 Tyrannosaur Joseph World Cinema Special Jury Prize: Dramatic (Male)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Corban Yaxley
War Horse Ted Narracott
2013 Sunshine on Leith Robert Henshaw
The Liability Peter
Welcome to the Punch Roy Edwards
2014 Hercules General Sitacles
2015 Sunset Song
Hector Hector McAdam[19]
2016 Tommy's Honour Old Tom Morris
2017 Hostiles Lieutenant Colonel Ross McCowan
2018 Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Akela
Pearl Al
2019 The Vanishing Thomas


Year Title Role Notes
1988 The Steamie Andy
1990 Opium Eaters Willy
Your Cheatin Heart Tonto Series 1, Episodes 3–5
Taggart Peter Latimer Series 5, Episode 2 and Series 6, Episode 3
1991 Jute City Mallet
1992 Rab C. Nesbitt Peter the Warlock Series 2, Episode 6
1993 Seeker Reaper[20] George Campbell Hay Bilingual drama about the life of Scottish poet George Campbell Hay (1915-1984).
1994 The Priest and the Pirate Billy Hill
1995 Ruffian Hearts Chez
Harry Jimmy Series 2, Episode 6
1996 Nightlife Billy
1997 The Longest Memory Sanders Sr. Whitbread First Novel Award for First Novel
Bogwoman Barry
2003 This Little Life Consultant
Richard & Judy Himself
2004 Shoebox Zoo Michael Scot
2005 Sunday Morning Shootout Himself Series 2, Episode 15
Continuará... Himself
2006 Continuará... Himself
2007 British Film Forever Himself Series 1, Episode 3
The Trial of Tony Blair Gordon Brown
2008–2009 The Fixer Lenny Douglas Series 1–2
2009 Scotland on Screen Himself
2012 The Fear Richie Beckett
2013 Top of the Lake Matt Mitcham Equity Ensemble Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Miniseries or Telemovie
Nominated - AACTA Award for Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama
Nominated – Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Movie/Miniseries Supporting Actor
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
2014 Olive Kitteridge Jim O'Casey HBO miniseries, episodes 1-3
2016 Quarry The Broker
2016–present Mum Michael
2017–2018 Ozark Jacob Snell
2017 Gunpowder Henry Garnet
2018 Westworld James Delos Recurring role; 4 episodes
2019 Cursed


  1. Sources differ as to Mullan's exact birthdate; the Internet Movie Database states 2 November 1959.
  2. "Peter Mullan Biography (1960–)" (Retrieved: 15 August 2009)
  3. "Biography: Peter Mullan", (Retrieved: 15 August 2009)
  4. Malcolm, Derek; "Sins of the sisters", 16 September 2002 (Retrieved: 15 August 2009)
  5. Ramsey, Nancy (27 July 2003). "An Abuse Scandal With Nuns As Villains". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
  6. Matheou, Demetrios; "Local Hero", 7 January 2001 (Retrieved: 15 August 2009)
  7. "On a razor's edge: Neds portrays 70s Glasgow in one light, but what was it really like?". The Scotsman. 18 January 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  8. "Peter Mullan & Anne-Marie Duff", 9 July 2003 (Retrieved: 15 August 2009)
  9. Jones, Emma (11 December 2015). "Peter Mullan brings homeless reality to big screen" via
  10. "Interview: Peter Mullan, a hard act to follow".
  11. "Festival de Cannes: My Name Is Joe". Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  12. "The Players: Peter Mullan" (Retrieved: 15 August 2009)
  13. "Protesters in 'asylum raid' demo", 2 November 2005 (Retrieved: 15 August 2009)
  14. English, Paul; "Peter Mullan and other stars to boycott BBC over Gaza charity snub", 27 January 2009 (Retrieved: 15 August 2009)
  15. "Peter Mullan among cast of BBC's adaptation of Iain Banks' Stonemouth - Inside Media Track". 20 October 2014.
  16. "Peter Mullan: I would love to do more comedy in the future" (Retrieved: 14 September 2015)
  17. "Peter Mullan: BBC showed 'horrendous bias' in Scottish referendum coverage" (Retrieved: 14 September 2015)
  18. Christie, Janet (5 June 2015). "Interview: Peter Mullan, a hard act to follow". The Scotsman.
  19. Black, Stuart (11 December 2015). "Peter Mullan Makes Christmas Odyssey In New Film Hector". Londonist. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  20. "Seeker Reaper - BBC ALBA". BBC.
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