Nov 11 2009 By Brian McIver
FROM the Highlands of Scotland to ancient Rome to Seattle Grace hospital, he is the man behind some of the toughest soldiers on screen.
Scots actor Kevin McKidd has become a Hollywood star thanks to his military roles in movies and TV programmes such as Rome and Grey's Anatomy.
Now he's playing a hard-bitten army captain in a new blockbuster video game.
And he revealed he has been humbled by the dozens of letters he has received from real-life war heroes over the last year.
The Elgin born actor, who this week launched the new combat video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, has been acclaimed for his portrayal of a traumatised war medic in American TV sensation Grey's Anatomy.
Since joining the show last year he has been flooded with emotional letters from the real veterans of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And McKidd, 36, said that getting positive feedback and thanks from true military heroes for his role as Major Owen Hunt have been the best reviews he has ever received.
He said: "Grey's Anatomy is a wonderful show to work on, and I really enjoy playing Owen. The writers have done such a good job with him and there is so much to work with.
"But one of the best bits about it all is that we have had a lot of letters, mainly to the writers but also including me, from people who are very grateful that a show of this size and reach is dealing with a subject like this.
"What's going on over there is very controversial politically, but we've been trying to tell the human story out there.
"We're telling the story of these very brave men and women and what it is to come back, pick up your life and move forward with that experience of a war zone.
"So there's been a lot of positive feedback from veterans and people working in the support system, as well as parents, loved ones, wives and husbands of returning veterans. They are delighted we are casting light on a subject that not a lot of people are talking about.
"It makes me very proud and pleased - it's nice to know people are happy with it. It's great to know that people are not just watching, but taking something from it."
Kevin is currently filming season six of Grey's, which arrives on British screens in January on Living.
He joined the cast of the number one rated US show last year, playing a former army surgeon on the staff at the Seattle Grace hospital who suffers from terrible trauma after Iraq.
He only came into the show on a trial basis, but audience reaction to his heroic flame-haired doc was so positive, he's been snapped up on a long-term contract.
Kevin said: "This is the first time I've done a job that I wasn't in from day one, but everyone was very welcoming, the writers are great and the cast are wonderful.
"It's a very big show, but if you focus on the magnitude of the job and the size of the thing, you lose your focus so I just tried to put it out of my mind .
"I could potentially be in the show for another three series beyond this one.
"I've certainly noticed a lot of things changing in the last year thanks to the show. I get a lot more double takes in the supermarket, but when people stop to say hello, they get a surprise when they hear my Scottish accent."
Kevin admitted the programme's emotional moments even get to him.
He said: "Certain storylines get under your skin - for me it is stories involving kids which get me every time because I have my own kids, but the writing is very clever and it does pull at your heart strings in every episode.
"Don't get me wrong, there's also a lot of laughter on set. We're not sitting there moping around all day, but sometimes it does get to you."
Kevin, who got his first break in Trainspotting 13 years ago, has found a whole range of diverse projects have suddenly become available to him during breaks from the show.
He has a lead role in a new children's fantasy movie - Percy Jackson And The Olympians - due out next Spring.
And he has signed up to provide a voice for the upcoming Pixar movie The Bear and the Bow, alongside Billy Connolly and Reese Witherspoon.
But for the moment Kevin is busy with the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, predicted to be the biggest selling computer game of all-time.
It is expected to make £160million in sales during the first week in Britain alone.
He has provided the voice for super soldier Captain "Soap" Mactavish, the head of an anti-terrorist task force.
And the actor, who previously had a small voice role in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City seven years ago, said he loved the chance to just let loose and enjoy himself playing soldiers.
He admitted: "This was one of those moments in your career when you just get to have a bit of fun.
"It was tiring because I would spend the whole day screaming orders at the top of my voice and then to get my voice to the place it needed to be, I found I was throwing myself about the studio like I was jumping on a real motorbike or a Jeep at times.
"But it was great fun and was like all the acting you'd want to do when you were a boy.
"I also got to keep my accent which was refreshing as well, as I spend all my energy at the moment hiding my native voice."
He joked: "I think that's one of the reasons I got the part actually - they needed to record in LA, I've got a work permit there, I'm Scottish and Gerard Butler wasn't available."
Kevin added: "These days games are getting bigger than movies. Call of Duty was already huge, and this will build on that. Even during game play, it's like watching a movie. It's a very powerful and emotional story.
"I was never into games much myself, but I might try it out. My son has an XBox, and while I won't be letting him play it, I might have a shot of it when he is in his bed."
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is out now on XBox 360 and Playstation 3.