I caught up with accomplished character-actor and BAFTA recipient Tony Curran – you may recognize him from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with Sean Connery, where he played invisible thief Rodney Skinner who stole the potion from H.G. Wells's “Invisible Man”; the hit sci-fi series Defiance where he played Datak Tarr; or from his part in Ray Donovan, among many other credits.

Tony Curran.

Tony Curran as Rodney Skinner from 2003's THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.

Tony Curran as Datak Tarr in DEFIANCE.

Rodney Skinner was particularly interesting as a character because the filmmakers were legally unable to use anything too literal from Wells's novel because of copyright and public domain issues. So, they went with this very clever plot twist of a thief stealing the invisibility potion instead.

Curran thought the role of Skinner likely wouldn't have amounted to much, in part because his face was obscured throughout the entire process of filming due to the special invisibility suit he had to wear. Yet, the performance became a cult hit due in huge part to Curran's trademark wit he brought to the role. Something that he is still bringing today. 

Curran's newest is Netflix's based on a true story historical epic Outlaw King, which tells part of the story of Robert the Bruce's ascension to the Scottish throne. Catch it on the streaming giant now and enjoy this new interview format we are trying out, which is like a listicle, and is a very pictorial walk-through of what Curran and I talked about, using stills from the movie.

Chris Pine and Florence Pugh in OUTLAW KING. Picture courtesy of Netflix

1. Here we have Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce toward the film's beginning when he marries Elizabeth de Burgh (Florence Pugh) who will become Scotland's "Outlaw Queen". This part of the movie, however, occurs in a time of relative peace between Scotland and England – or at least where relative peace was being striven for. It's here where we get a more solid understanding of the forces at play in the fight to come. It's also during this time when – historically speaking – Curran's character really got to know Robert the Bruce and build the bond the two would share.

Tony Curran (closest foreground) and Chris Pine (elevated) in OUTLAW KING. Picture courtesy of Netflix

2. Here is Curran in this still's closest fore-ground with Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce (sitting on the horse). Curran plays Angus Og MacDonald a very close companion of Robert the Bruce.

Angus was "the Lord of the Isles" amid the Scottish nobility and a patriot who fought with the Bruce and helped hide him from the English at various times. Angus fought with him tell the end – his men were even placed at the Bruce's right hand in battle, a distinction given them for their gallantry at battles like Bannockburn. Visiting Angus Og MacDonald's burial place had a powerful effect on Curran and helped him "know the best way to play" the character, especially in relation to Pine's the Bruce, by getting an idea of the place's solemnity and the inscription on MacDonald's grave (about him being the Bruce's right hand).

Place is another thing that really defines the Scottish identity in OUTLAW KING. Director David Mackenzie cleverly uses wide angles and a rich, lush green color palette to capture it. Picture courtesy of Netflix

3. "There was a certain gruffness but love for life among these people who fought so valiantly for their homeland," Curran told me. That is a great and accurate depiction as MacDonald was a warrior, there's no doubt (as this still from the film attests), but there was also plenty of brotherly humor among the brave Scotsmen, even as their Queen is in the clutches of the English and they do not know if she is safe, and as they go castle to castle fighting guerrilla warfare to take their country back.

Chris Pine and Florence Pugh as Robert the Bruce and Elizabeth de Brugh in OUTLAW KING. Picture courtesy of Netflix

4. The Queen is herself quite the memorable character in Outlaw King. Even though her blood is English and her marriage to the Bruce fundamentally arranged (as these sorts of things were through much royal history in antiquity), she makes the conscious choice to stick with her new husband: her new allegiances being very much Scottish.

One memorable scene before the warfare breaks out more vastly, has a younger Scottish patriot who has been pursuing Macdonald's daughter basically sneak up (while Angus talks about him) and kiss Angus briefly on the mouth saying, "you taste better Sweetie!" … this young lad becomes very relevant as the film progresses and this type of humor does much to define this close-knit gregarious nature of those who fight with the Bruce.

Tony Curran as Angus MacDonald the warrior, leading the Bruce's right flank in OUTLAW KING. Picture courtesy of Netflix

5. It was absolutely this attitude about life coupled with justifiable pride as a son of Scotland himself that initially had Curran sign on for the part of MacDonald. "I've learned about him since I was a kid", he told me, as much Scottish youth do.

"I think there's a certain universal character to these stories chronicling a fight for freedom," Curran said, "something we all can learn from". This part of the history was – of course – partly detailed in Mel Gibson's Braveheart, which – despite its inaccuracies – does "have its place." Where Braveheart has a tendency to the romantic and "creative license" – as Curran correctly pointed out – Outlaw King does not (more on this below).

The Scotts battle to take back their castles one by one in OUTLAW KING. Picture courtesy of Netflix

6. This is another thing that makes Outlaw King different – however – is the very realistic portrait of Robert the Bruce especially, but also the men who fought with him, that it paints. We don't get an idealized version of the Bruce, we get the very fallible man (for instance, he killed one of his enemies in a church when the lord in question found out the Bruce was planning an insurrection against King Edward I – played capably by Stephan Dillane).

Stephen Dillane as King Edward I in OUTLAW KING. Picture courtesy of Netflix

Patrick McGoohan as King Edward I - Longshanks in BRAVEHEART.

The same with the men he fights with, including Angus MacDonald. We see all the imperfections, all the secret sins, all the failings of moral men; yet, we root for the heroes continuously – they are, after all that, all the murder and bloodshed, still our heroes in their valiant fight against a tyrant. It is in this regard that director David Mackenzie (known for 2016's Hell or High Water, also with Pine) called Outlaw King 'anti-fantasy filmmaking', an apt and refreshing descriptor.

More of the naturalism in the Scottish countryside in OUTLAW KING. Picture courtesy of Netflix

All these things were further driven home by Mackenzie's very naturalistic methods in filming Outlaw King. All of it was filmed outside in the most naturalistic ways possible and avoiding things like green screen as often as possible. "It doesn't sound funny now, but a few of us kept falling off our horses," Curran recalls. Such is the stuff of realist, gritty cinema like Outlaw King, which shows itself in every frame.

All of this makes for a very exciting, edge-of-your-seat look back into history that made me think about the cost of freedom itself and everything Scotland went through in those pivotal years. That's a history that every Scot should be proud of, and that every fan of great cinema can get a glimpse at in Outlaw King. This is a not to be missed refreshingly-realistic piece of historical cinema.

Catch Tony Curran in the much anticipated Deadwood movie as well – a project we will be keeping you updated on through The 405. Not much has started yet in the way of things like principal photography, but (to quote Curran), "the gang's all returning." When asked what it's like, Curran said it's a treat to hear Deadwood co-star and accomplished stage actor Ian McShane through his fittingly-named character Al Swearengen "elevate to high art" calling somebody "a cocksucker." Indeed, Mr. Curran, indeed. We can't wait to see that either.

OUTLAW KING trailer.

DEADWOOD (2004) tv trailer.


DEFIANCE (2013) tv trailer.