Britain’s Finest – 10 Actors from the United Kingdom That We Don’t Give Enough Applause To

The award season is in its midst, and Brits are joining the party in style. The new generation of The Sceptered Isle’s actors has already been established, and some of the names from the list are enjoying both public and critic acclaim for some time now. The internet went bananas for Mister Cumberbatch, and with a potential award from the Academy, the last Sherlock deserves it all. Speaking of The Oscars, it becomes obvious (and unfortunate) that all of these masters of their craft got hugely popular only after immigrating to Hollywood. From the shadows of Hiddleston, McAvoy, and veterans like Sir Ian McKellen, Anthony Hopkins, Michael Cane and Colin Firth, lingered some brilliant talents of acting. And this is their story.

1.  Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy

Remember the silly song titled Christmas Is All Around that became number one on Christmas Eve in the most beloved romantic comedy of the past decade, Love Actually? Well, Mister Bill Nighy is a Keith Richardesque, elderly rock star that gave the film one more note of warmth and irresistibility. Apart from the role of Billy Mac, you might also recognize him from the portrayal of Underworld’s Viktor, and a small part in Harry Potter, where he played the Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. Interestingly enough, his biggest role is the one where he’s absolutely unrecognizable, since he is the face behind Davy Jones, the phantom-like captain of the Flying Dutchman in Pirates of the Caribbean. Before making himself visible to a wider audience, Bill Nighy took his time perfecting his skills on television. BBC’s black comedy drama The Men’s Room is considered to be a breakthrough for this respective actor, and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet brought him some noteworthy acclaim. However, what launched Nighy to Hollywood was a string of supporting roles on films, for which he received many accolades.

Where to see him? Apart from the obvious choice, Love Actually (that earned him a BAFTA), Nighy’s on his best in a rock musical from 1998, Still Crazy, the charming family drama I Capture the Castle, a thriller television series State of Play and of course, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In Gideon’s Daughter, Nighy is absolutely captivating, and he has a Golden Globe to prove it. And for the sake of your film-loving heart, don’t miss The Girl in the Café, for it is enchanting!

2.  Tim Roth

Tim Roth

The interesting case of Tim Roth has been built on the ground of this – even though his filmography is impressive, to say the least, his work somehow keeps missing the public’s eye. What’s even more interesting is that this seems to be the actor’s personal choice. Fortunately, to certain audiences with deeper understanding of movie culture, he is absolutely unmissable. His astonishing rise began when he was only 18, and took the role of an anti-authority skinhead in Made in Britain, and his second piece, The Hit, brought him his first BAFTA nomination. What came after is too huge to be enlisted in 200 words. With a habit of jumping from genre to genre, Roth remained the hallmark of the social underworld on film. And the note to the ladies, he is one luscious looking gentleman.

Where to see him? The early Tarantino, it goes without saying. Gridlock’d, just to feel his Trainspotting-like on-screen persona, and Rob Roy, to actually recognize his brilliance and versatility. Staying true to his uncanny appearance, Roth is at his finest in Little Odessa, where he portrays a Jew-Russian mobster. If you are a fan of more heartwarming genres, catch Woody Allen’s infinitely romantic musical drama Everyone Says I Love You. Even though it received some non-consensual criticism, Broken is the palatable enough coming-of-age drama to see. However, Roth’s peaks are defined to the utmost in two of the Britain’s highly honored dramas, Vincent and Theo, where thespian excelled as the famous painter, and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, the provocative tour de force of British cinema.

3.  Jonh Cleese

Jonh Cleese

John Cleese is such an influential persona that we are forever in his debt. His acting, writing and producing efforts are negligible when it comes to the fact that Cleese is the philosopher of his making, and the chief figure of the comedy movement that established the black humor as a legitimate part of pop culture. As one of the founders of the iconic Monty Python phenomenon, the comedian satirically unmasked the most covert of the society’s structures, and influenced the genre to the fullest. The term Pythonesque had entered the cultural vocabulary as the embodiment of what’s surreal, farcical and absurd in both comedy and humankind. While creating history, Cleese also found time to teach, write books on how to survive life, support lemurs and push boundaries of socially acceptable behavior, and still become the Commander of the British Empire in 1996. Multi talented and absolutely hysterical.

Where to see him? If you are a stranger to the Monty Python universe, set your foot in it with Monty Python Live (mostly), the caught on camera stage reunion of the original setting. The show includes too important to miss sketches, video clips and songs, like The Philosophers’ Football Match, Cheese Shop and Crunchy Frog, amongst others. And while you are in the genre, stay for the inevitable Fawlty Towers, A Fish Called Wanda, Rat Race and Time Bandits.

4.  Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson

Internationally known as Mister Bean, Atkinson is the headmaster of British comedy. What’s unfamiliar to those who don’t read trivia is that the legendary performer is the face behind the unforgettable and ducky Zazu of The Lion King, that he is an Oxford-educated engineer, and that his efforts in physical comedy are due to his severe stammering. His life-long collaboration with one of the Kingdom’s most treasured movie makers, Richard Curtis, paved his way to the much deserved throne of the British Empire. As the face of the Blackadder, Atkinson pushed the envelope of period sitcoms, and revealed all of his writing and acting skills.

Where to see him? Besides the remarkable roles of Bean and Edmund Blackadder, the comedian made the appearance in a series of successful features, teaching a lesson on how cameos are supposed to be done. Without his comic relief characters, Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral would be deprived of a big part of their wit. Also, his supporting roles in Curtis’s The Tall Guy and Sean Connery’s James Bond film Never Say Never are very much worth your time.

5.  John Hurt

John Hurt

The funny thing about British actors is that they are, in fact, always around. As for John Hurt, it’s the new crowd’s own fault that he is vaguely remembered. His supremacy in Britain is unquestionable, and his staggering performances in Midnight Express and The Elephant Man brought him many praises from the American ground, although the Oscar skipped him. Once again, his account goes to show how little regard we have for European talents beyond the boundaries of movie franchises with high budgets, for Hurt’s grandness doesn’t fall behind that of Ian McKellen. Nevermind that, a master of his trade continues to astound on stage and television both, and although with 75 years in his steps, his future on film looks bright and non decreasing. And for now, we can only hope that younglings in pleasure of seeing him in his roles of Mr. Ollivander (Harry Potter) and War Doctor (Doctor Who) will grow up a little smarter and unwrong our deeds.

Where to see him? Somehow, Hurt succeeded in not leading. To pay him respect, you can choose from over 20 movies in which his acting craft is limited to co-starring and supporting roles. Still, they are all unparalleled. Start with the oldest, A Man for All Seasons and Midnight Express, traverse across The Elephant Man, 1984, Love and Death on Long Island, pay attention to The Proposition, Beyond the Gates, V for Vendetta and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and try out to the latest Snowpiercer and Only Lovers Left Alive.

6.  Rhys Ifans

Rhys Ifans

When brilliant actors are concerned, Ifans is the most neglected of them all. And if you consider his distinctive name, his disarmingly endearing and slightly quirky likeness, and his insane array of personalization, the occurrence becomes impossible to understand. Unfairly marginalized in popular movies as the supporting actor, Ifans made his name by stealing the show from the lead ones. And what a display of variety from his behalf! Starting his career as the trustee of Anthony Hopkins in his Chekhovian directorial effort August, the Welsh actor continued to grow through on-stage portrayals in both London and Manchester theatres, television roles and commercial movies. In addition, Ifans is the lead singer for the Cardiff-originating psychedelic band Y Path. Even though he spent some time filming abroad, his international popularity never peaked, leaving him in the majority’s recollection as the lanky Brit from Spider-Man and Harry Potter.

Where to see him? The role of Jeremy Lewis of Twin Town, which was his first major, helped Ifans gain a wider recognition. His “minor” roles in Nanny McPhee Returns, Notting Hill and Greenberg are exceptional, and nothing less hilarious. But to acknowledge his talents for drama, see Anonymous. You’ll read a lot about it, but it’s actually time well spent.

7.  Simon Pegg

Simon Pegg

It wasn’t until 2004, the year of the Shaun of the Dead, the high class of the impossible zombie rom-com mash-up, that this funny little Brit got the deserved attention outside of his native land. Back home, he was busy on television, and equally esteemed by followers and reviewers, while creating his comedian troupe with his real-life BFFs Jessica Stevenson, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost. Starting with the TV series Asylum and Spaced, in the future they will be known and ordered by the industry as a package. Going solo, he made an appearance in a couple of Britain-made movies, lent his skills to more television shows, such as I Am Not an Animal, Look Around You, and paid a visit to Kingdom’s brightest, Doctor Who, with Eccleston as The Doctor. Until then, he was already established as the Comic-Con resident.

Where to see him? Lately, J. J. Abrams gave him much regard in the reboot of the Star Trek franchise, where he joined the cast for Star Trek and Star Trek into Darkness. Also, he enrolled in the Mission: Impossible film series, with a part of Benji Dunn, a member of the IMF in I:M III and the Ghost Protocol. Naturally, you wouldn’t want to miss The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, where Shaun of the Dead is followed by Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. Silly, but wicked.

8.  Vinnie Jones

Vinnie Jones

Being the true tough guy of the movies, and the Jason Statham with a bully twist, Vinnie Jones is one of the most surprisingly likable figures in the film industry. Making his money as the midfielder for a Britain’s first league football teams, Jones tried his luck in more artistic ventures, and indubitably thrived. Being cast both in America and his native island, the actor exploited his husky guise for mainly action figure roles, starring in big budget features like Gone in 60 Seconds, X-Men: The Last Stand and Escape Plan. His plug-ugliness was perfectly practiced in international mobster movies Liquidator and Survive Style 5+. Also, Jones had the pleasure of returning to his sport roots in the British comedy drama Mean Machine, where he plays the role of a troubled former captain of the English national football team. As the symbol of football on film, he made the cameo in Eurotrip with a role of The Red Devils hooligan.

Where to see him? However intense and conspicuous, Vinnie Jones is on his best with supporting roles. His butcher Mahogany in The Midnight Meat Train gives some serious shivers, and the part in Kill the Irishman once again proved that he is one of the best when it comes to on-screen violence. And of course, Jones participation in the cult movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, that turned all eyes on him in the first place, is never to be forgotten.

9.  Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry

Even though he is one of the most fascinating characters in business, Fry remained in everyone’s haze. Pretty much every show mentioned in relation to the actors on this list benefited from his talent. So why don’t we remember his name from A Fish Called Wanda, V for Vendetta and Blackadder? He was even the part of the Hobbit, and played Dr. Gordon in Bones and the detective’s obnoxious brother in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. Once more – the supporting roles. Then again, Fry is so multi talented that playing one field of work for a longer time would be absolutely unthinkable for him. His degree in English literature, combined with his mental illness and open homosexuality, allowed him to wittily toy with essayistic journalism, documentary writing and TV broadcasting. Being rewarded for his endeavors in theatre, Fry stayed devoted to on stage performances as well as playwriting, still making time for the screens, on which he engaged in numerous television adaptations and feature films.

Where to see him? If you don’t mind waiting for him to appear in all of his supporting grace, seek for Gosford Park and Cold Comfort Farm, both quintessentially British in their laughs and the insight of the Kingdom’s society. As a part of the famous Footlights, Fry made some impressive acting gatherings with Emma Thomson and Hugh Laurie, that later resulted in the comedy Peter’s Friends and television sketch series A Bit of Fry & Laurie, the very Pythonesque satire. Fry is on his own in Wilde, where his personality blends with the illustrious writer’s immaculately.

10.  David Tennant

David Tennant

As the eternal face of The Doctor, David Tennant is most certainly not under the radar. The reason for which he made the list is the fact that the Time Lord has entirely overshadowed his admirable work before and after the BBC’s long-runner. Less focused on feature films, the Scot distinguished himself as a drama actor on television, to crown his success with National Television Award for Special Recognition in 2005, and, among others, the title of the Coolest Man on TV in 2007. Active both in Britain and America, the boyish looking charmer kept his passion for stage, and externalized it in Royal Shakespeare Company, with which he revived the iconic figures of Hamlet, Romeo and Richard II.

Where to see him? Broadchurch, or, as Americans remade it, Gracepoint. If you are unfamiliar with his career apart from Doctor Who, the role of a gloomy detective Alec Hardy will completely take you off guard. As for younger generations’ portrayal of Hamlet goes, Tennant’s artistry is unequaled, and his Casanova is delightful as he is mischievous. The part of Will Burton in the new drama thriller series The Escape Artist has already been rated as an emotionally engaging, and it is a great argument for Tennant’s talents.

Pavle Dinic
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