FOR Gary Lamont this is the best of times and the worst of times. Career-wise, right now the 39-year-old actor – originally from Castlemilk in Glasgow – is flying. You may have caught him on Sunday night on BBC One at the heart of the restaurant drama Boiling Point in which he plays Dean, maitre d’ and life and soul of troubled restaurant Point North. He’s also just wrapped on a star-studded Disney+ adaptation of Jilly Cooper’s bonkbuster, Rivals, which will air next year. 
This should be his moment, he knows. Both these roles are symbolic of how far Lamont has come since his days on River City. “Chef’s kiss, these two characters,” he admits as we sit at a dinner table in his friend’s house in Glasgow’s south side.

The Herald: Gary in Boiling PointGary in Boiling Point (Image: BBC)
But in the real world I’m also sitting beside a grieving son. Less than a week ago Lamont was at his father’s funeral. Life and art could not be more cruelly counterposed.
This year, Lamont says, has been underpinned with the knowledge that his dad John was unwell.
“The week before we started Boiling Point we thought we were going to lose him. So this whole year, yes, this brilliant career stuff. But underpinned with the real stuff.”
As is our conversation. It’s a Tuesday at the end of September and Lamont is understandably in a raw, hurting place. 
“I’m walking about with five layers of skin off,” he admits. But he also can’t help but be his natural effusive self. And so in our hour together we bounce between pain and joy, between grief and laughter. The real stuff.
After years living in London, Lamont has moved back to Glasgow. Post-Covid, he says, London was getting tough. But it was his father’s illness that really pulled him home. He wanted to do his part.

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“He was a pleasure to care for, so it was a no-brainer to come and support him for a bit,” Lamont says.
Caring, I suggest, is the last act of love we can offer to those close to us. “It really is,” he agrees. In the circumstances it might seem irrelevant to talk about work. But he’s proud of what he’s done on Boiling Point and Rivals, especially given the circumstances. And maybe that’s worth celebrating.
“I had to do the two of them at the same time for a month this year. I would get a week with Rivals, a week with Boiling Point.”
The two characters couldn’t be more different. In Boiling Point, Dean is pure, dead Glasgow. Rivals? Not so much. “My accent for Rivals is RP, posh, English, snooty, big Tory England,” Lamont points out. 
“The working experience this year has been ‘pinch me’,” he adds. “Both so completely different, but life-changing, let’s be completely honest. Life-changing for me.”
In career terms it sounds like he’s arrived at the place he wanted to be.
“I’ve got to the door that I’ve been waiting to get to,” Lamont says. “I’m absolutely nowhere near done. But definitely in terms of level of magnitude … There’s certainly some opportunities that land in my inbox that I’m properly flabbergasted by. But I feel ready. It’s taken all this time. To be almost 40 and have these experiences … I know what they mean. The financial gains; I’m not going to blow it. I mean, I have a nice car, but it’s not all going on that.”
Are you saying you’re too old to spend it on sex and drugs and rock and roll, Gary?
“I’m far too old for it. I’m looking for a house and a dug.” 
Lamont’s childhood and past are invariably close to the surface at the moment. The boy he was is in his head. If I say the word “Castlemilk”, I begin …
 “Home, home,” he immediately answers. “ I think we moved when I was 16, 17. We live in close proximity, but we’ve not been there for a long time. But home, home, home. The years there were the happiest of our family’s lives. We had not a lot, but what we did have was community, neighbours. 
“And I didn’t know it was rough. It was not until I went to drama school and I’d say I was from Castlmilk and people would be like …” He pulls a face. “… As if I’ve got a knife and I’m going to stab them.
“It suffers that overhang from the 1960s. Those outlying towns, they do get a rough deal still. I quite liked saying ‘I’m from Castlemilk’ because nobody would mess with you.”
Lamont’s father John was a taxi driver when he was growing up. His mother, Grace, was at home until his sister went to school when she started working for the Jeely Piece Club in Castlemilk. (She would become its longest-serving member of staff and still sits on the board.)
Lamont is the middle of three children. “We’re completely different. My brother has his own plumbing and heating business. My sister works in events. She’s got her own business. And then there’s me, the actor. I’ve always been the odd one out from the five of us. I’m from Castlemilk and I’m going to go to drama school.”
He thinks, though, that is what makes him stand out. 
“My difference is what has made me successful. No-one really looks like me, no-one sounds like me. I’m always a wild card entry to things. That’s been my superpower. I don’t follow the norm. My height, my build, my looks, my background; I have always celebrated my differences because they are what make me who I am.”
There was another area of difference, of course. His sexuality. Lamont came out publicly when he was playing gay hairdresser Robbie in River City. But he grew up in a culture that didn’t really have a language to discuss such things.
“Looking back, you think, of course you were different. But I didn’t have the vocabulary in me to define what it was.
“One of my good friends came out when we were 18. So thankfully we got in tow together and we discovered going out dancing in the safety of each other.”
Were Lamont’s parents accepting? 
“They were,” he says. 
“But I had people in my own life, their families disowned them. I remember that happening quite close to home. And that’s what made me decide I have to test them. 
“I was almost quite vicious. ‘Here’s what’s happening, and if you don’t like it, tough.’ And my mum was a bit like, ‘Oh my God, you were horrible.”
But in the end his parents were exemplary, he says. “They proved to be the family that I thought they would be.”
But all parents should be, he adds.
“Families should not bring children into the world if they can’t accept them, full stop.”

It feels like a different country now, I suggest. “It does. Listen, you’re always going to be marginalised and there’s a vigilance one must always have. But I’m tough. I come from tough stock. Being from Castlemilk, from Glasgow, that’s just innate in there. 
“But then, in turn, my sexuality is one of the least important things or interesting things about me. It doesn’t define who I am. Of course it’s part of my make-up, but there’s 1001 other things that are way more interesting and important and drive my life.”
As an actor, though, was there a danger it could have confined him?
“I remember getting the script for River City and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to get it. I’m going to be the big gay hairdresser off the telly.’ 
“And that’s who I was for a long time. I’m sure the character of Dean will also define me. That type of character is a safe place for me. I can do it justice. I know these men, so I can do it with care and love. It’s never going to be sent up or ridiculed and I do feel an importance to still represent people like myself. It is a privilege to do that representing.”
But that’s not all he can do. “I left River City and I did The North Water and Outlander and played farmers and sailors. If people want to pigeonhole me, I don’t want to work with them. Not every role is going to be right for me, but I do have more to me than that.”

The Herald: Gary in River CityGary in River City (Image: BBC)
He left River City in 2016. What does he think Robbie is doing now?
“Maybe he’s doing Milan catwalks. He’s backstage tonging and shouting and drinking Champagne.”
Lamont opted to go to London. “I had no anonymity in Glasgow.” He got it back when he moved away.
“I’m now desperately trying to keep hold of it and I don’t think I’m going to have it for very long again.”
There were other reasons to relocate. “I had a big break-up. I turned 30. I just knew that inner hum. I knew I could do more. I needed a bit of life experience. 
“I needed a bit of distance between me and the industry. I had a really s*** agent at that time, so that helped. There was nobody knocking on my door to get me to do stuff.
“My phone wasn’t ringing. I couldn’t even get the agent to meet me for a coffee. And here I was in London and I felt like a total failure. But it forced me into working out who I was, what did I need, what did I want.
“It turns out I do love the industry. I do think my talent is worth it. And so it really gave me a chance to filter all this down, be a ‘real person’ in inverted commas and just live, you know.” He found other things to do for a while. He even became a civil celebrant. More funerals than weddings, to be fair. 
“I couldn’t commit to next June, next May,” he points out. Such is the actor’s life.
What was officiating a funeral like? “It was terrifying. It was absolutely terrifying. I’ll never forget the first one because you are seeing humanity at its most raw, cut wide open, and I remember being aware of the enormity of what I was doing.
“You’re stood in a pulpit with a script and a dry mouth, a coffin to your left.”
But Lamont reckons he was good at it. Actors can deliver a line, after all. But there’s a real awareness and care and humanity, too, he thinks. 
“We can read a room which I think is really appropriate. Our skill set absolutely applies to that. When people are in crisis and at their lowest ebb, actors can help with these transferable skills.”
Two of his actor friends conducted his father’s service, he points out. In London, in between the funerals, the odd acting job did turn up. He joined Outlander in season five.
“I had read some of the books when I knew it was coming years ago and I remember being like, ‘If he takes her in the bracken one more time ...’ Turn the page, there they were at it. But when that came through that was the first thing post-River City. I had ditched the agent who wasn’t working for me and this landed in my inbox. 
“I’ve never seen a production as big. They take over fields in Stirlingshire. Towns. And obviously I have wee scenes here and there, but for a lot of it I’m just ‘man on horse’ behind Sam Heughan. Which is nothing to moan about. But loads of it was slightly ridiculous.”
Did you state you could ride horses on your CV?
“I lied through my teeth. The casting people have got me on tape lying. ‘You can ride horses?’ ‘Yes, yes, yes. A friend has got a horse and I can refresh’.
“I knew horses were coming. I phoned a wee horse riding club and said, ‘I need to get on and off without embarrassing myself.’ Because I have a friend who did Outlander and tried to get on it backwards.
“So I had a horse riding lesson. Roasting hot day, me and all these little kiddies. But they had me up and down, up and down. My horse was jumping over little low fences.
“And of course you turn up on Outlander and they bring the steps up to the horse. Then someone’s holding it. Then it’s action, clippity clop, clippity clop, and somebody comes to get you.
“Showbiz horses are different from normal horses.”
This, I suspect, is the everyday Gary Lamont. The one who will happily mine the joy from any occasion. I see him again when he starts talking about filming Rivals alongside David Tennant and Aidan (Poldark) Turner.
“It’s a romp,” he says. The scripts are excellent. It just lifts off the page. 
“Lots of nudity. It’s a Jilly Cooper novel, so we’re all at it. That was the first thing. The agent was like, ‘There is nudity attached to this or they won’t have you.’ I was like, ‘If they want it at this age and stage they can have it. If not now, when?’
“I’m saying that now. That’s me f****** bluffing. I’m probably going to be screaming when I see it.”
But grief is never far away in our conversation. He’s just coming to terms with the enormity of his loss.
“First and foremost, I’m too young to lose a parent. I’m only 39 and my dad was only 67. It’s too soon for all of us. For him, for us. 
“We were fortunate enough to be beside him when he passed away and I missed him instantly. To stand and stare at your parent who is no longer here – I was changed on a cellular level instantly. I don’t really know what that is yet because we are still completely and utterly stunned.
“But my dad’s bravery … He had no fear of death. None whatsoever. He was not a patient man. He was from the west of Scotland. But this otherworldly calm took over him, and that’s his legacy to us. He wasn’t afraid. That’s his biggest gift to us. The only reason he has left us is because he knows we can go on, as awful as it’s going to be.
“His bravery and his absolute peace and acceptance, that’s ours now. I’m taking on that mantle because he taught us that the antidote to death is living. So you have to get going with that.
“I know we’re broken, utterly broken. But I was built to last. This won’t break us.
“I have entered a new level. I’m a new person. With the loss of a parent, the stakes are changed for me. 
“Career-wise it’s anybody’s guess. A really good friend who is a casting director, she was like, ‘Your CV, it’s wide open. Where are you going to go next? It’s so exciting.’ It could go anywhere and standing at the precipice of that is exciting.
“I’m heartbroken, but I’m going to use all that hurt and anger and frustration at losing a parent so young. I’m going to use that energy to propel me through life. I’m not going to be bitter and twisted. Nothing about my dad was sombre, especially his death.
“But that energy is going to propel me forward for as long as I’m going. That much I know to be true.”
We have reached an ending and a new beginning. The worst of times and the best of times. Sometimes they are one and the same. Gary Lamont can tell you about that.

Boiling Point continues on BBC One on Sunday at 9pm