From pro athlete to coach to model to actor, and now Breakthrough Star of The Year at the Scottish Style Awards, Craig McGinlay understands transitions better than most. Recently signed to Storm models, and about to blow up the big screen with his role in Guy Ritchie's latest film (out next year), Craig took time out to talk us through his whirlwind of a year, and to play style selector for AIDA Menswear.
Words and style with Craig McGinlay
Unexpected endings often lead to unexpected beginnings. Craig McGinlay was playing professional rugby for his country when a dislocated shoulder took him out of the game. Staying close to the sport, he gained his Bachelor and Master of Science, successfully building a company training pro rugby and football players and athletes for the Commonwealth and Olympic Games. A chance appearance in an advert for the Commonwealth Games led to interest from several modelling agencies, and Craig was quickly signed in Newcastle, Manchester, London and Milan.
‘I did a few shoots in New York, Italy and the UK. A director contacted my agent and said listen, we love Craig’s look for a lead role in a film. Can he act? My agent said give him a go, give him a little go, give him a chance. I went along to four auditions for lead roles, nothing major - not Hollywood, just short films. I got all four.’
The next job was an advert for whiskey brand Haig Club alongside David Beckham, directed by Guy Ritchie. Two months later Guy invited Craig to audition for his latest film, Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur.
‘I was like, well I’ll have a think about it…! I sent four tapes down from Scotland, and was asked to come down for a recall two or three months later. And that was it. We shot for five months here at Warner Brothers in London, then in Snowdonia for two weeks. It was incredible.’
Now based in London, Craig has smoothly made the transition from pro athlete to trainer to model to actor. Not a career change he’d ever considered, but a welcome one nonetheless.
‘I have a new acting agent down here, and that’s definitely the forefront. Acting is where I want to take things now, one hundred percent. The film comes out in July next year, but it’s a case of just seeing what comes up before then, seeing what happens.’
Key wardrobe pieces:
Definitely coats - from everything we tried today the camel coat was my favourite. I’m loving polo necks at the moment too, they’re great for layering and really adaptable. Items that can be worn smart or casual - that’s what I’m really liking.
I probably keep it quite classic - if I’m going to an event I’ll wear a suit and tie, it’s so easy. If it’s black tie I’m even happier: black suit, white shirt, black bow tie, done. Straight forward and simple - but I think it looks good. For something different I love a knitted tie and a double breasted blazer.
The looks we put together today were great. The looser fit trousers were something new for me, it’s not a shape I’m used to. Wearing trainers with smart trousers as well, it’s not something I’d have done before but I really like it. I’m learning all the time.
If you’d asked me a year ago if I'd be swinging swords and riding horses I’d have said that’s not going to be happening. It's the same with style. So the second look today, before I would have just walked past, but trying it on it’s really cool. I’ve been learning a lot from stylists down here. I’ll be honest, I’ve always been that guy where I wouldn’t go through a shop and put a look together because I wouldn’t know. I’d just be like, I want everything on that mannequin: jeans, shoes, shirt. Because you put it together it must be good. That’s kind of my mentality, but I’m getting better now.
Before, when I wasn’t working in the industry I would never look at fashion magazines, but now I'm constantly looking at things like that. I’m looking online because I'm interested, and I guess that does help you learn about fashion, learning as you go. I read GQ, Esquire - I look at them a lot for style inspiration and to follow guys like Beckham. I’ve worked with him twice in a year, but even before all that he was a big style icon of mine. He does casual and smart really well.
London vs Glasgow:
I only moved down officially in May, and I’m still getting used to different areas, and the styles in those areas as well. It’s so hectic in London, I didn’t realise until I went back to Glasgow. I love it though, I love the pace. It’s so good getting to know different people in the industry - I’ve got a lot of friends down here as well now, so I really enjoy it.
It’s nice to have people that you know on a job, but I’ve not found there’s any distance working with new people. I’ve not been in it that long but I’ve found everyone in the industry, modelling or acting, to be so welcoming and so positive down here. I’ve not had any issues at all, whether it be filming or a photoshoot. It’s a big career change from what I was doing before, but everyone’s been so great.
The Next Five Years:
I definitely want to have done a lead role in a major film within the next five years. By the time I’m sort of mid thirties, that’s definitely the plan. I don’t know if I’ll be living here in London, or maybe out in LA, and there’s no guarantee that it’s going to happen at all. I guess now I’ve changed career, I’m going to give it a good go. If it doesn’t work out, who knows, I could be back doing what I was doing in a year, two year’s time, five year’s time. But it’s been an amazing start, working with Guy [Ritchie] and all the actors on that film. What an opportunity.
I learnt massive amounts from being on that film. The great thing is there were five or six really A-List names and they've all got such different ways of working. I wasn’t just learning from one good actor, I was learning from a good few, and you’d take different things from each of them. They were all very supportive on set, and they were understanding of the background I’d come from. No one was turning their nose up at me, everyone was really supportive and willing to help, they were just really nice people. Hopefully I’ve learnt a lot from that, and hopefully I’ll just keep learning. That’s what it’s all about.
Especially with modelling, my mates took the piss. Going from Rugby to modelling it was massive, but all good banter, good fun. I guess it wasn’t something I planned to go in to when I was at school: modelling or acting. But the guys, my close friends and family, are all so supportive - every single one of them’s been brilliant. Although I’m not in that environment any more I still keep in touch with the guys from the fitness industry, guys I used to play rugby with. But it’s also really nice to be meeting new people every day in London. That’s what makes it so much fun, it’s always a different day.
Social Media is a massive part of the job. I wish I knew about it when I was working as a sports scientist. I had my own company and it would have been so good working with pro athletes to share behind the scenes images - the gym, the pitch. It was something I never used before. Going in to this industry you realise you have to do it, as much as it can annoy you sometimes. Your mates who aren’t in the industry, you cram up their news-feeds! I was never really on social media until about a year and a half ago, certainly not Instagram, a little bit of Facebook maybe. Instagram its a daily thing now. I’m not great on Twitter - I need to get better at that. I’m still learning the whole thing, how it all works.
Like I said, I love the pace. I’ve always kinda been like that. If I’m not doing something I want to know what’s next, I just want to fill my time. I don’t really want to be sitting around - that’s for Christmas time! I’ll take a couple of weeks off at Christmas, I’m looking forward to going back and seeing friends and family and taking a break.
I work a lot, but I never really had that dreaded Monday feeling, even with my previous job. I’ve always done work I enjoy, that’s really important to me. Of course there’s times, even on a model shoot or a film set, where you’re outside and it’s raining, it’s wet and it can be miserable. There were days filming in Snowdonia where it was freezing cold and we were outside shooting at midnight. But you have to just keep in the back of your mind, I’d rather be doing this than anything else. I’ve been given an amazing opportunity, and life’s too short not to enjoy it.
Follow Craig on Instagram
A big thank you to Steph Abetwix for working with us to style this shoot. Follow Steph on Instagram