Hollywood actor Kevin McKidd yesterday called for tax breaks for film-makers to encourage more movies to be made in the Highlands and Islands.

The Elgin-born star of Trainspotting, who has just started filming a series of top American drama Grey's Anatomy, was speaking in his home town at a ceremony marking his appointment as patron of the Scottish Highlands and Islands Film Commission (SHIFC).

The actor, who is now based in Los Angeles and is best known for roles in the BBC TV series Rome and the recent comantic comedy Made of Honour, was also in Elgin to celebrate his 35th birthday.

"There are tax breaks for film productions in countries like Ireland and they seem to work there so I don't see why they wouldn't work in Scotland as well.

"Tax incentives would make it much more attractive for film companies to shoot in the Highlands and Islands. I have been involved in a few Scottish productions shot in other countries because it was cheaper, when I wish they could have been shot here," he said.

In his new role as patron of SHIFC he aims to raise awareness of what the Highlands and Islands has to offer to the film and TV industry.

"I will do anything I can to support the work of promoting film and television production in my home area. I want film companies to know that not only are there great places to film here, but also that there is an infrastructure of accommodation and facilities to support large film productions with crews of up to 300 people.

"If we can bring films to the Highlands and Islands we will reap the economic benefits and there is the bonus of putting the area on the map.

"That's how you achieve things like the Harry Potter tourist trail in Lochaber," he added.

The actor is backing SHIFC's "Film Crews Welcome Scheme," which enables film production companies to discover online which hotels and bed and breakfasts have an understanding of their specific needs. Kevin, who filmed One Last Chance with fellow Scot Dougray Scott in Moray, wants to return to his home turf to make more movies.

He said "I would love to film again in Moray. I am trying to find scripts to shoot here, maybe a new film of Macbeth."

Eric McGillivray, chairman of SHIFC, said: "Kevin may be based in Los Angeles but he is passionate about Scotland and his home patch in particular. We are delighted that he is genuinely interested in supporting film production in Moray and the Highlands and Islands because of the economic benefits it brings."

Mr McGillivray presented the actor with a kilt in a special tartan designed for the SHIFC, which he will wear for future promotions.

There is currently considerable optimism for the future of the film industry in the Highlands and Islands. A £3.2m Viking epic, Valhalla Rising, where Highland locations are doubling for the Canadian landscape, is filming at the moment, and is expected to bring £2.7m into the Scottish economy.