British Actors in the Spotlight: Who’s Hot Right Now?

The success of British acting talent at home and abroad is a huge source of pride in the UK right now. Everywhere you look, there’s an article about how brightly British stars are shining.

This weekend, The Guardian did a feature article and photo shoot with 50 great (note they didn’t say greatest) British actors. And in a gigantic middle finger to Anthony Hopkins and his blasphemous, traitorous, Hollywood-loving ilk, these actors are hard-core lovers of the theater. Not that any of the following thesps are beyond picking up a studio paycheck: Damian Lewis, Anna Maxwell Martin, Dominic Cooper, Meera Syal, Janet McTeer, Zoë Wanamaker, and Ian McKellen are all here. Basically everyone who was in Cambridge SpiesToby Stephens, Tom Hollander, Samuel West (whoops, not so fast, Rupert Penry-Jones) – is here. But at the end of the day, these stars always come back home to tread the boards. Director Nicholas Hynter says that The History Boys cast, most of whom have taken movie gigs, complain about how unfulfilling screen work is:

“They’re always asking, ‘When can I come back to the theater? I’m bored with this movie; the script I’m doing is crap,’” says Hytner. “And they mean it.” What they’re discovering, he maintains, is that “actors, when they are smart, know that the theater is where their muscles are flexed most fully. It always strikes me as ironic, the cliche that film acting is somehow more truthful and more natural, whereas, of course, the film actor’s performance is put together in the cutting room so that by the time it reaches the multiplex it’s been manipulated visually and aurally in the edit.”

The Independent also has a feature on UK actors, dubbing the latest crop of talent “The Mac Pack.” Why? “Because the particular charisma that they exude is typified by the Scottish actor James McAvoy who has emerged as the front-runner in this band of highly sought after performers.” Actors in this group include Ben Whislaw, Emily Blunt, Sam Riley, Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell, Khalid Abdalla, and Riz Ahmed.

In other news:

  • Ioan Gruffudd is still a struggling actor, in spite of his Fantastic Four success.(The Age)
  • The Times says actress Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt‘s co-star in My Summer of Love, is Britain’s answer to Chloë Sevigny. Wait, so does that mean she sucked off Vincent Gallo, too?
  • Michelle Ryan, star of The Bionic Woman and BBC AMERICA’s Jekyll, is now pals with Carmen Electra.(Mirror)
  • British director Tony Kaye, who alienated most of Hollywood with his behavior while filming and promoting American History X, attempts to make amends. “I did a lot of very insane things. A lot of very, very, very insane things.”(Telegraph)
  • The Bollywood Oscars were held in Sheffield this weekend.
    (The Times)
  • Lenny Henry went in search of the heart of British humor and was somewhat appalled by what he found: “‘I have to admit, I was really shocked by the jokes a lot of people told; most of the time, I might as well have been back in Seventies Britain,” he said. “The humor was predominantly racist, homophobic, mother-in-law, and cannibal-fixated. The one characteristic most of the jokes shared was that they were mean. They were joyless. I have been left wondering if that is what we’ve all become as a nation: mean and hateful.”(Guardian)
  • The Guardian‘s Jason Deans rounds up reviews for Talk To Me, a new, Cold Feet-esque drama about relationships starring Hotel Babylon‘s Max Beesley as a DJ who gives advice about love.
  • Julie Christie will return to the London stage after 12 years.
    (Daily Mail)
  • Harry Potter‘s Hermione – actress Emma Watson – shows off her foxy side.(Daily Mail)

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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