RIGHTLY or wrongly, ask anyone around the world to name a film set in Scotland and the chances are they’ll say Braveheart.

The 1995 epic starring Mel Gibson as William Wallace picked up five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.

James Cosmo, who played the warrior Campbell in the movie, remembers the moment he thought he might be part of something bigger than he’d ever experienced up to that point in his career.

He told The National: “There was this huge battle scene with 3500 extras. I think they might have used a tiny bit of experimental CGI, but we really had all those people.

“They’re not pixels, they’re real people doing real things, you know, real horses and falling over and all that and that’s tremendous.”

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In an exclusive chat with The National, the Scots actor, who has starred in the likes of Game of Thrones and Troy, spoke about how Braveheart changed his career and what it was like starring in a rom-com for the first time.


Most actors are able to pinpoint a moment in their career where something changed. A moment when they felt they had “made it”, as it were.

For Cosmo, that moment was Braveheart.

“It was a huge turning point in my career, it couldn’t not be. Although we never expected it to be as big as it was. We had an inkling it would be successful but, you know, lots of very expensive, exciting movies have been made and gone nowhere.

“Braveheart did though, and rightly so – it deserved all the accolades that it received and it changed my career.”

So much so, that when Cosmo was later asked to star in a 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, there was only one thing the director wanted to speak to him about.

“I remember Doug McGrath, the director, was making that film and he wanted to meet me to play the father of the titular character, played by Gwyneth Paltrow.

The National: Cosmo starred in the iconic movieCosmo starred in the iconic movie

“I went ‘oh really, Jane Austen, me’? But I went along to meet him and all he wanted to talk about was Braveheart. I went away and they said 'we’d love you to play the role'.

“It was odd but that was just the effect the film had.”

Cosmo might have been convinced of the film’s success to a certain degree, although not everyone who worked on it could say the same.

“I remember sitting with [screenwriter] Randall Wallace. We were having a pint and I said, ‘I think this film is going to have a huge effect, especially in Scotland’ – and he said, ‘nah it’s just a movie’.”

Safe to say Wallace was wrong on that one.

My Sailor, My Love

Cosmo’s latest film, set to debut in UK cinemas today, focuses on a retired sea captain (Cosmo) who struggles to take care of himself.

When widowed housekeeper Annie (Brid Brennan) is hired to clean and cook for him, the pair’s mutual respect grows into something more romantic.

“I’m doing a reverse of what Matthew McConaughey did. He started off in rom-coms and then became a really serious actor. I was a serious actor and now I’m hoping to get all these light-hearted things,” the Scot said, laughing.

He added: “I was so intrigued by this script and the dynamics of that and the relationships going on in the film.”

Cosmo says that he, the rest of the cast and the writers spent a week together before filming to nail down exactly what they wanted and questioned why other filmmakers don’t usually do this: “The indulgence of having a week together to do that, I don’t know why filmmakers don’t do it more often.

“Just sit down and talk with the cast and the writers so when you come onto the set when every hour is expensive, you’re already in that place.

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“I just kept imagining if I just turned up and they said 'tomorrow we’re doing that scene' – it wouldn’t be anything like what we were able to find.”

The Banshees of Inisherin connection

Cosmo’s latest film was shot on the same island, and indeed at the same time, as the Oscar-nominated The Banshees of Inisherin.

It’s a small island so it’s no surprise that Cosmo bumped into Banshees' star Brendan Gleeson.

He even invited the Irish actor round to his house for some soda bread while they were filming.

Cosmo said: “Brendan came round for a cup of tea at my cottage. At the time I had just learned to make Irish soda bread which he really enjoyed.”

My Sailor, My Love is in UK cinemas from Friday, March 9.