Iain began his acting career with the 1986 revival of 'Edward II,' a Renaissance period play by Christopher Marlowe. The same year, he made his TV debut as ‘Scott Adair’ in the detective series 'Taggart.' Later, he appeared in three episodes of the anthology 'Screen Two.'
In 1988, Iain was seen essaying the lead role in the 'ITV' drama 'The Fear.' The series revolved around the character ‘Carl Galton,’ a young and ambitious criminal gang leader operating a protection racket in North London.
Iain made his big-screen debut in 1990, with the Rankcolor theatrical movie 'Mountains of the Moon.' The film was based on the 1857–1858 journey of real-life explorers Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke to Central Africa, which eventually led to the discovery of the Nile’s source. Iain portrayed John Hanning Speke. He received the 'Evening Standard British Film Award' for the ‘Best Actor’ for his performance as Speke.
Iain then portrayed Larry Winters, a violent drug addict who was sentenced to life imprisonment for committing a murder, in the 1990 biopic 'Silent Scream.' The role earned him the 'Silver Bear' for the ‘Best Actor’ at the 40th 'Berlin International Film Festival,' and the film was dubbed as "one of Scotland's finest films" by 'Time’ magazine.
In 1990, Iain was seen as ‘Hamlet,’ the titular character of Shakespeare's play, in the comedy–drama film 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.' The film was based on Tom Stoppard's play of the same name, and the titular characters were portrayed as ‘Hamlet’s childhood friends. Iain had also played ‘Hamlet’ in a production staged at the 'Bristol Old Vic,' for which he later won the special commendation 'Ian Charleson Award.'
Iain received an 'Evening Standard British Film Award' for his portrayal of ‘Willie Quinton’ in the 1990 romantic drama film 'Fools of Fortune.' He then played the central character in the 'BBC' produced TV movie 'Adam Bede.'
Iain’s next acclaimed project was the 1995 revival of Shakespeare’s play 'Henry V.' He earned the 'Evening Standard Theatre Award' nomination for the ‘Best Actor’ for his performance in the play. Iain then played ‘Biff Loman,’ the protagonist’s older son, in the 1996 TV movie adaptation of Arthur Miller’s play 'Death of a Salesman.'
Iain was nominated for the 'Laurence Olivier Award' for the ‘Best Actor in a Musical’ for his portrayal of ‘Arnaud Du Thil’ in the musical 'Martin Guerre.' The play ran at the 'Prince Edward Theatre,' London, from June 21, 1996, to June 14, 1997. He starred opposite Nicole Kidman in the 1998 play 'The Blue Room' by David Hare. His performance earned him two nominations, one each for the 'Laurence Olivier Theatre Award' and the 'Drama League Award.'
Iain appeared as ‘Brother John,’ a sadistic authority of the ruthless Irish boys’ school 'St. Judes Reformatory School,' in the 2003 Irish historical drama film 'Song for a Raggy Boy.' He then portrayed ‘Alan Breck Stewart,’ a Scottish soldier and a staunch Jacobite, in the two-part 'BBC' miniseries 'Kidnapped.'
Continue Reading Below
Iain played Richard Sorge, the lead role, in the 2003 Japanese film 'Spy Sorge.' His character was a real-life German journalist and Soviet military intelligence officer who had worked undercover in both ‘Nazi’ Germany and the Empire of Japan.
In 2009, Iain earned a significant recurring role in the 'BBC' miniseries 'The Diary of Anne Frank.' He portrayed Otto Heinrich Frank, a German businessman who was also the only member of his family to survive the 'Holocaust.' He was the father of Anne and Margot Frank and later inherited and published Anne's manuscripts titled 'The Diary of a Young Girl,' which became the base of the miniseries.
Iain’s breakthrough role came in 2011, when he began his stint in the fantasy drama 'Game of Thrones.' He plays the character ‘Jorah Mormont’ in the series. He shared the 'Screen Actors Guild Award' nomination for ‘Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble’ with the cast of the series in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018.
Iain delivered a phenomenal performance in the British historical period drama series set 'Downton Abbey.' His character, ‘Richard Carlisle,’ a powerful and oppressive newspaper mogul, was introduced in the second series of the set. Iain was paired opposite Michelle Dockery, who played his fiancee, ‘Lady Mary Crawley.’ He shared the 'Screen Actors Guild Award' with the cast of the series.
Iain played Alfred Roberts, father of Margaret Thatcher, in the biopic 'The Iron Lady,' which released in 2011. Following this, he appeared in several significant roles, in films such as 'Kick-Ass 2' (2003), 'The Bad Education Movie' (2015), and 'Resident Evil: The Final Chapter' (2016). Iain has also worked as a narrator for 'My Cousin Rachel,' 'Monsters behind the Iron Curtain, and 'Ice Age: Return of the Mammoth.'
Since 2012, Iain has appeared in recurring roles in several series. Some of his notable series are 'Prisoners' Wives,' 'Breathless,' and 'Delicious.' He currently appears in the Australian TV drama 'Cleverman.' He also appears as ‘Batman’ in the web series 'Titans.' Iain is the second non-American actor, after Christian Bale, to play the character.
He has co-produced the 2013 TV movies ‘Jack Taylor: Priest’ and ‘Jack Taylor: The Dramatist.’
Iain will be seen in the upcoming films 'What About Love' and 'The Flood,' both of which are scheduled to release in 2019.