Ken, We Hardly Knew Ye

I am getting myself in the Hobbit mood. Whatever that is. We’re about to find out, because this piece is the first of at least thirteen and maybe a few more designed to bring on the Hobbit hysteria for myself if no one else. Oh sure, most of you are focused on Sleepwalker. I’ve always been out of step, so for now I can’t stop thinking Hobbits, er, dwarves. Oh you know what I mean.

And note most of the research on these actors is whatever the first page or two of Google unearthed. Yep, this is how they appear on Google — at least in my part of the world.

Since Scotland was recently in the news, I decided to come with the Scottish guys first, and Ken Stott was my pick for the opener. Why Ken? I knew the least about him and so was most curious about his life and work. Oh, and he’s only half Scottish. The other half is Sicilian. When I was done reading about this half Scot, half Sicilian, I was fascinated with him. Still am. He also plays Balin, one of the most important dwarves in the Hobbit storyline and quite naturally should go first.

Balin

Balin is second in command of the dwarves and the conscience of the group if not the entire story at times — at least in the movies. As such, he is a calm force who often characterizes the series of events for others in order to encourage and inspire them to continue the quest. This serene mien is somewhat lacking in Thorin, whose royal presence alone is supposed to encourage and inspire, and it does but not entirely without Balin.

Given the usual demeanor of Balin, I was expecting Ken to be similar in nature. I suppose that’s the beauty and the hazard of being an actor. When someone is so good at what they do, you really can’t see past that to what else they may be capable of doing. Imagine my surprise when I came across Ken’s portrayal of Rebus:

If you didn’t watch that video, just know that Rebus is a badass. See around 4:20 if you don’t believe me. Balin is a badass as well, but he’s a kinder, gentler badass.

As I continued to research, it became apparent Ken is a bit of a badass in real life. I’ve picked up from several interviews and/or reviews about him that he does not put up with much crap (one article said, “he doesn’t suffer fools gladly”), and he tends to hit between the eyes. In 2009 he was in a West End performance of the Arthur Miller play A View from the Bridge when he got fed up with a school kid’s mobile phone going off one too many times. Ken stopped in the middle of the performance, had the house lights turned up and switched from his effected American accent into his native accent to let the school kids and their teacher know he wasn’t going any further until the nonsense ended. When I read that, I started laughing out loud and thought, “Go, Ken!” Then I read the bit to SO who chuckled and said, “I have no idea who this guy is, but I like him already.”

So Ken may be a curmudgeon at times, but he also has a sense of humor:

Most important, to me anyway, is that he seems extremely honest. I love that.

He also has a twinkle in his eye:

Embed from Getty Images
This is Ken in 2009 with his partner Nina Gehl. Nina is a piece of work herself. She’s an artist and seems to be pretty honest too. My favorite interview of Ken is one where he talks about Nina.

Fun fact about Ken: in his teens growing up in Edinburgh, he was part of a band called Keyhole who later became (or some members became) the Bay City Rollers. If you’re not familiar with them, here you go:

I did try to find a picture of Ken from his days with Keyhole, but to no avail. However, I did come across a photo of him I really like:

debt-collector-3This is from The Debt Collector. I don’t know if he smokes, and I really don’t give a damn if he does. That’s just a cool looking picture of a cool guy. Also looks like a character out of a Coppola or Scorsese movie.

One more fact about Ken or maybe two. 1) He supported Scottish independence. Why does that no surprise me? 2) It was his birthday a little over a week ago. I was going to post this then, but if I’ve learned anything about him, I imagine him thinking about all the birthday posts, “Dammit. Can they just stop?!” :D


Dear Ken:

Okay, so it was me! I was the one who didn’t know much about you. I’m sure there are others who know tons. But I’m on the other side of the pond, man. What I will tell you is now that I know a little more about you and your illustrious career (and I do not say that with any snark), I am making a point to watch some of your other roles and would love to see you in a live performance.

As for the rest, Nina sounds interesting too. Would love to have you two for dinner and discuss art and theater or whatever subject you want to pursue and especially anything you may want to call bullshit on. Oh, yeah, you can call vigorous bullshit on some things if you like.

Signed,
A Crazy Fan who loves it when someone has a finely honed bullshit detector

P.S. I have to ask: what instrument did you play in Keyhole? I would dearly love to know but could find the answer nowhere, or maybe I missed it.

I’m serious about wanting to see Ken Stott’s other roles. After reading the wonderful reviews of his stage work, I would go to see a play based on his casting alone.

note: I hope those among you who take me too seriously at times will read my disclaimer that I have no hope Ken Stott will ever answer my question or come to dinner. But that was fun to write. :D And hey, if anyone does know what instrument he played, please tell me.

17 Comments

  1. BALIN WAS IN THE BAY CITY ROLLERS??? Pop culture collision perfection achieved.

  2. No, JB, he was in the pre-Rollers, whatever the hell that is. You’ll have to ask Ken.

  3. Ken Stott is a HUGE favourite of mine – and not just because he is a fellow Scot (or should I say half-Scot?). He is perfect in the role of Rebus and I love when episodes of this show are aired by my local public TV station, I also love Ian Rankin, the author of the Rebus books. The fact that they are filmed in Edinburgh and we get glimpses of some of the views and building which N&S fans are familiar with is a definite plus! Next month they are airing a show called “My Edinburgh” where Ian Rankin “takes us on a tour” of the city which “serves as the backdrop for his Inspector Rebus novels and provides the inspiration for his stories”. I just found out that it can also be downloaded (free I think) from iTunes and Android!!

  4. Hello, Teuchter, and thank you for that input! Very interesting and perfect timing in light of the N&S anniversary coming up.

  5. GAHHHHHHH … Bay City Rollers! My very first experience with being a fan of anything and, oh boy, was I ever ;-) I still have a signed picture :-D. This is very interesting about Ken & Keyhole. I’ve got my Rollers biography around here somewhere, I’ll have to go dig it up and see what it said about Keyhole. I remember Pilot being a sort of pre-cursor to the Rollers but Keyhole escapes the memory. Ooops, off on a tangent there for a bit. Nevermind BCR. YAY Ken! I sobbed my eyes out this weekend when the lads decided to watch LOTR and the fellowship came upon Balin’s tomb in Moria. Thanks for this fun highlight on the man who brought a beloved character to life :-)

  6. Haven’t I asked you before to leave me to my delusions, Frenz? :-D

  7. I’m looking forward to your comments on all the dwarves. And thanks for some new viewing possibilities. Go Ken!

  8. Ken Stott has just finished working on an eight part crime drama with James Nesbitt called ‘The Missing’ starts tonight on BBC 1 He never did much promo work for the Hobbit. I believe he was appearing in a play when the first part came out. James Nesbitt has said that he and Ken Stott were disappointed in how little they were given to do on the Hobbit films they much preferred the emotional and gritty TV production The Missing.

  9. I’m with Beverly, look forward to more like this about all the dwarves, in between your Richarding and RL :)

  10. Looking forward to the rest of this series.

  11. I love that twinkle in his eye! Good to see dear Teuchter again!!

  12. Hi,

    I’ve just recently discovered this posting re Ken Stott and have linked to it on his Facebook page where I am the main admin. I say ‘his’ page, though it has evolved independently and is not his official page – he doesn’t have one, as I discovered when I met him briefly in November he is ‘not a fan of’ Facebook – which I imagine is probably putting it diplomatically!

    At the same time he said he liked the ideas I have for how the page might evolve to reflect both his work as an actor and his political interests, and where the two overlap. He did previously make one posting to the page, via an intermediary, consisting of an image of the Scottish flag and a request for everyone to vote ‘yes’ to Scottish Independence – even though most visitors to his page don’t live in Scotland!

    So I think you’re right in thinking he’s a bit of a maverick in real life, as well as in his screen roles.

    I’m planning to start writing a blog of my own which will include reviews of other things he has been in.

    So you’re welcome to ‘like’ the page and if you write any further reviews yourself about any of his work, this can also be linked to on the page.

  13. Thank you for stopping by and sharing. I also appreciate the link.

    Ken is a very interesting fellow and I’m glad he has a Facebook page. I will certainly stop by there and like it. And I wish you all the best with it and with an upcoming blog. :)

  14. Thanks.

    BTW not 100% sure, but if I remember rightly, I think Ken may have actually been the vocalist in Keyhole. I know he has mentioned in one interview about how nothing compares to the feeling of singing on stage with a rock band, so I guess that’s a pretty good indication.

    He has a current musical connection with an Italian musician called Paul Pedana who fronts a rock band, Anthropos – he actually helped draw Ken’s attention to his Facebook page, and speaks very highly of him, saying that he is actually a very humble man although also ‘high minded’.

    Ken can definitely sing – check out “Promoted to Glory” if you get the chance – where he does his own rendition of Sleigh Ride – albeit a drunken one. Despite being a drunkard his character in this film is probably my favourite, and there’s some brilliant humour in this too…

  15. Ken was in a band called Keyhole and also in a band called Tandem. He was the vocalist. He does smoke. His mother was Italian but he lived all of his childhood and teens in Edinburgh before being excepted to go to RADA in London. His mother was a musician and his father was the head of the English department in a prestigious Edinburgh school. His first love is live theatre and has been described as “West End Royalty”….. He told me to say that!!!😂😂

  16. The more I hear about Ken, the more I like him! “West End Royalty” huh? You are educating this Yank, and one who would love to see Ken in a live performance.

    I hope he comes to Broadway again sometime in the near future. If so, he may have a fan girl or two in the audience. No screaming; I promise. And no cell phones.

    Thanks, Dave. :)

  17. You are welcome!.. We all grew up together and i still see him when he is “resting”. So i will tell him you said Hi!!… Good luck to you.. From a Scot living now in Thailand…..David..🙏🙏


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