McShane was born in Blackburn, Lancashire , the son of Irene ( née Cowley; b. 1921) and Scottish footballer Harry McShane (1920–2012). His father was Scottish and his mother, who was born in England, was of Irish and English descent. McShane grew up in Davyhulme, Manchester , and attended Stretford Grammar School . He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was still a student there when he appeared in his first film, 1962's The Wild and the Willing . McShane was a member of the National Youth Theatre .
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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you first get involved with Game of Thrones ?
IAN McSHANE : Well, they wrote a two-page speech – so that’s why they invited me. It’s a big soliloquy, like in Deadwood , and they needed to get somebody who could do that. It was really well written. Rory was a delight to work with, and so was the director. The whole experience was five days in Belfast, and I enjoyed it a lot.