Brian is an award-winning stage and film actor who's appeared in films such as The Bourne Supremacy, The Ring, Troy and X-Men 2. He was born in Dundee in 1947 and is Rector of the University of Dundee.
Dundee is a city that's had to rediscover itself time and time again in order to survive. In fact, it's constantly had to ‘reinvent' itself. Dundonians have had some tough times - the huge loss of life after the First World War and the death of the mills in the late 1950s, for example. The city did become bleak but the thing that's always been powerful about the city is the people. They have amazing resilience and have always bounced back.
Dundee has always yielded extraordinary things. Throughout the years some incredible achievements, discoveries and ideas have come out of the city: just consider what's happening with life sciences now. The city has a free- thinking element and a very interesting embracing of ideas which I think has spawned great things.
Dundee has always embraced other cultures. The Irish came to Dundee in the mid 1800s to escape the Potato Famine, as my family did, and they started to run the mills. Then there are the Italian families - people like the Suaves and the Paconis - who came and opened up fish and chip shops. There are the Poles who stayed on after the Second World War and started the leather trade. Dundee has always embraced the people who come here - it's almost like ‘bring us your hungry, your not wanted and your wasted and we'll take care of them'. I think that makes the city really special. People live hand in hand and the old Burn's saying - ‘a man's a man for a' that' resonates in Dundee.
Dundee is a matriarchal city. The people who came to work in the mills were women. The men didn't work at first; they arrived here in the city, as my family did from Ireland, and were early version of ‘house husbands'. I think part of the city's strength has been its women - throughout history they've kept the city going.
I love the fact Dundee's got a Frank Gehry building in it. Maggie's Centre is a brilliant piece of architecture and you can see the water from its situation, which makes it really special too. The city's full of surprises like that.
The Dundee Rep was really pioneering. It was where I started my theatrical career and developed my interest in acting when I was a teenager. The Rep itself really marked the card for the whole idea of what a ‘Rep' was. The old building actually burned down but the wreck is still there. In fact, I've been back and found the spot where I used to put up posters!