When we looked at the variety of actors who’ve appeared on BBC America, we were astonished at the sheer star power. Some were household names before appearing on our screens. Others launched their U.S. careers here. Still more are just on the cusp of American super-stardom. Here are just a few of the red carpet-ready men of BBC America who are making waves in Hollywood. (Stay tuned for our Women’s list in the future.)
BBC Americans know him as: Brilliant yet self-destructive detective John Luther on Luther, which airs Wednesdays at 10/9c in BBC America’s Dramaville block.
Where else have you seen him? Before Luther brought him the Emmy and Golden Globe nominations he so richly deserved, Elba was best-known for playing Stringer Bell, the drug kingpin-with-an-MBA on HBO’s critically worshipped The Wire. Roles in films like Daddy’s Little Girls, 28 Weeks Later, American Gangster, Obsessed, and Takers followed, alongside guest spots on the U.S. Office and The Big C (which landed him a Guest Actor Emmy nomination). And of course, there was Thor, that massive global blockbuster that hit theaters back in May.
Where will you see him next? With Ghost Rider 2, Prometheus, and Pacific Rim poised to rule cinemas through 2012 and into 2013, Idris’s A-list status is all but assured. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC America know him as: Do we even need to mention David Brent, the dancing, delusional boss he invented on the original Office? He’s a sitcom icon up there with Archie Bunker and Homer Simpson.
Where else you have seen him? Ripping celebs a new one on the Golden Globes. Having a laugh on Extras, The Ricky Gervais Show, and various HBO comedy specials. Appearing in The Invention of Lying and Cemetery Junction (both of which he directed, the latter with frequent collaborator Stephen Merchant), as well as the Night at the Museum movies.
Where will you see him next? He’ll appear in the latest Gervais/Merchant creation, the little-person sitcom titled Life’s Too Short. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: Jed, the hunk who sees dead people (and how they perished) on the horror soap Bedlam. He’s a bit like Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, but older, taller, and buffer.
Where else have you seen him? He had a small part as the handsome Turk Kemal Pamuk on the first season of Downton Abbey, as well as a role as a sexy trainer in Woody Allen‘s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.
Where will you see him next? He plays David, a young vampire, in the upcoming 2012 Underworld sequel, Underworld Awakening. And he has role in The Inbetweeners Movie, which has already opened to great success in the UK. (It will be released this November in the U.S.) (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: Fallen angel Azazeal on BBC America’s supernatural series Hex.
Where else have you seen him? Take your pick, filmgoers: 300, Angel, Hunger, Fish Tank, Inglourious Basterds, Centurion, Jane Eyre, and X Men: First Class have steadily built his profile.
Where will you see him next? His two big films this autumn — David Cronenberg‘s A Dangerous Method, in which he plays psychologist Carl Jung opposite Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen, and the sexually explicit Shame, in which he plays a man with an insatiable erotic appetite — could land him on the podium at Oscar time. And Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus could solidify him as the next Russell Crowe a.k.a. an action star with acting chops. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: Henry VIII’s randy mate Charles Brandon on The Tudors.
Where else have you seen him? He’s appeared in studio pics like Tristan + Isolde and Woody Allen’s 2009 comedy Whatever Works (with Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood).
Where will you see him next? The already strapping Cavill upped his reps in a major way to play Theseus in the Greek myth ethic Immortals (hitting cinemas in November) and bulked up to fill out his Superman suit. The eagerly awaited Man of Steel is penciled in for 2013. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: An unusually svelte Henry VIII on The Tudors.
Where else have you seen him? While playing the Bowie-esque Brian Slade in Todd Haynes’s 1998 indie hit Velvet Goldmine made him an international sex symbol, he displayed a dreamy accessibility as a soccer coach in 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham. 1999’s Titus, the 2000 mini-series Gormenghast, and 2004’s Vanity Fair and Alexander showed he could do elegant costume drama. 2005’s Elvis once again made use of his rock star looks (and won him a Golden Globe). Other film roles followed, including Woody Allen‘s London-set Match Point, Mission: Impossible III, and the thriller From Paris With Love.
Where will you see him next? He has a role in the Glenn Close Oscar vehicle Albert Nobbs, set for a December release. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: The debonair, well-connected news anchor Hector Madden on the 1950s-set spy drama The Hour.
Where else have you seen him? He died at the hands of Renée Zellweger in Chicago and romanced Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile. But it was his role as Baltimore detective McNulty on The Wire that really made folks take notice.
Where will you see him next? He’s in the West End scheming as Iago (opposite his Wire co-star Clarke Peters) in Othello. Later this year, he’ll play for laughs alongside Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English Reborn and star opposite Rebecca Hall in the thriller The Awakening. And next spring he’ll appear alongside Mark Strong and Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston in the fantasy film John Carter. (Othello photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: Maverick reporter Freddie Lyon on The Hour.
Where else have you seen him? Widely considered one of the finest actors of his generation, Whishaw has put forth unforgettable performances in films like I’m Not There, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, the movie adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, Bright Star, and most notably his BAFTA-nominated portrayal of a teenager accused of murder in Criminal Justice.
Where will you see him next? He’ll re-team with Perfume director Tom Tykwer for the sci-fi film Cloud Atlas, which boasts an all-star cast including Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, and Halle Berry. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: An array of vulgar and hilariously obnoxious characters on Little Britain and Come Fly With Me, both of which he co-created with partner-in-crime David Walliams.
Where else have you seen him? Lucas and Walliams launched an American version of Little Britain for HBO. Meanwhile, Lucas has enjoyed a burgeoning film career, landing Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Tim Burton‘s Alice in Wonderland and playing Kristin Wiig‘s roommate in the recent smash comedy Bridesmaids.
Where will you see him next? He’ll be voice one of Santa’s elves in the 3D animated film Arthur Christmas, co-starring James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, and Jim Broadbent. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: Paul, the bon vivant of Stephen Poliakoff‘s Friends & Crocodiles, and Benedick, the news anchor who tangles with Sarah Parish‘s Beatrice in the ShakespeaRe-Told update of Much Ado About Nothing.
Where else have you seen him? The 2002 adaptation of The Forsyte Saga, HBO’s Band of Brothers, indie films like 2004’s Keane, and the NBC’s detective dramedy Life, which survived two seasons from 2007 to 2009. He has returned to U.S. television in Homeland, in which he plays a newly released prisoner of war who is suspected of terrorist ties by a CIA agent (Claire Danes).
BBC Americans know him as: The handsome London finance man who falls for a New York music store clerk (played by Parks & Recreation‘s Rashida Jones) in the transatlantic romantic comedy NY-LON. He’s also turned up on Cold Feet and Waking the Dead.
Where else have you seen him? He’s Bill Compton, the tortured Louisiana vampire on True Blood (the show on which he met his now-wife Anna Paquin).
Where will you see him next? There’s more True Blood to come, and his next film stays firmly in the horror genre: The Barrens. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: Sir Mark Brydon, UK ambassador to the U.S., in the international six-part thriller The State Within.
Where else have you seen him? Numerous blockbuster films including Armageddon, The Patriot (as villainous Col. Tavington), Black Hawk Down, and, of course, as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films. He also starred for three seasons as Irish-American mobster Michael Caffee in Showtime’s Brotherhood.
Where will you see him next? Isaacs will be seen as a detective in NBC’s much-talked-about parallel-reality drama, Awake, which is slated for a midseason premiere.
BBC Americans know him as: Harry Starks, the ruthless gay gangster on The Long Firm, a miniseries based on Jake Arnott‘s novel, and Tosker, the frustrated musician-turned-businessman in the epic Our Friends in the North.
Where else have you seen him? He’s made appearances in the original Prime Suspect series and has become a favorite of Guy Ritchie’s (having turned up in the director’s Revolver, RocknRolla, and the blockbuster Sherlock Holmes). The bald-headed, dark-eyed star has become Hollywood’s go-to for Accent of Evil parts, as Strong has camped it up as villains in Kick-Ass, Robin Hood, and Green Lantern.
Where will you see him next? Well, he — and apparently every other male British actor of good standing — will appear in the upcoming Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
BBC Americans know him as: Reporter Dan Foster on State of Play (set to encore in BBC America’s Dramaville in December), Steve McBride on the original UK Shameless, and chef Joe Macbeth in the modernized ShakespeaRe-Told adaptation of “the Scottish play.”
Where else have you seen him? 2005’s Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was his first big-budget flick. The Last King of Scotland and Atonement proved he could carry a movie, and Wanted (co-starring Angelina Jolie) and the recent X Men: First Class proved he was bankable.
Where will you see him next? He will voice the title character in Arthur Christmas. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: Newspaper editor Cameron Foster on the six-part drama State of Play (which won him a BAFTA), PR expert Gideon Warner in Gideon’s Daughter (which won him a Golden Globe), and the art expert who eulogizes Vincent van Gogh in the Doctor Who episode, “Vincent and the Doctor.”
Where else have you seen him? Since he splashed out with his role in the Spinal Tap-esque 1998 film Still Crazy, he’s worked pretty much non-stop. He added a nice jolt of acerbic wit to Love Actually as a washed-up rocker and continued his roll with Shaun of the Dead, the Underworld films, Enduring Love, HBO’s The Girl in the Café (opposite State of Play co-star Kelly Macdonald), The Constant Gardner, Notes on a Scandal, Valkryie, Pirate Radio, and Wild Target (with Gideon’s co-star Emily Blunt). However, most filmgoers won’t recognize him for his most famous part: the tentacle-faced villain Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Where will you see him next? Just this week, you can see him as Ed Westwick‘s dad (and Brooke Shields‘s hubby) in the new release Chalet Girl.
BBC Americans know him as: Cocky doc Guy on Green Wing and hapless divorcé Alex Taylor in the original UK version of Free Agents.
Where else have you seen him? He re-teamed with Green Wing co-star Tamsin Greig in the Showtime/BBC co-production Episodes, in which they play a couple who adapt their hit Britcom for America.
Where will you see him next?Episodes has been renewed for a second season. And finally someone other than Michael Sheen will play Tony Blair for once, as Mangan has been cast as the former Prime Minister in a one-off comedy co-starring AbFab‘s Jennifer Saunders.
BBC Americans know him as: Egg, the lawyer with writerly dreams on This Life, lackadaisical high school teacher Simon Casey on Teachers, and the skeptical Dr. Bridge on the paranormal series Afterlife.
Where else have you seen him? Before he broke out as Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes on AMC’s massive zombie hit The Walking Dead, he was best-known for playing Mark, the lad secretly in love with his best friend’s wife in Love Actually. He also appeared in the 2006 comedy Scenes of a Sexual Nature, the 2009 adaptation of Wuthering Heights, and the recent French rom-com Heartbreaker.
Where will you see him next? The second season of The Walking Dead.
BBC Americans know him as: Well, two massively popular roles — young attorney Miles Stewart in the ’90s drama This Life and Steve Taylor on Coupling.
Where else have you seen him? He played Matt Damon’s (doomed) love interest in The Talented Mr. Ripley before taking on the part of Captain Norrington in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. He has also anchored two short-lived U.S. TV dramas, CBS’s Swingtown and ABC’s FlashForward.
Where will you see him next? He’s playing the Joe Gideon-esque director of a Marilyn Monroe musical in NBC’s midseason series Smash. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: Danny Ferguson in the acclaimed war drama Occupation.
Where else have you seen him? Where haven’t you seen him? After roles in films like Snatch., Gangs of New York, and HBO’s Band of Brothers, he secured the part of terrifying skinhead Combo in the 2006 drama This Is England. He has found a niche in portraying American gangsters – Baby Face Nelson in Michael Mann‘s Public Enemies and, now, Al Capone in the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire. In the past year, he also appeared in London Boulevard, Season of the Witch, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Where will you see him next? He’s playing Jerry Westerby in the ensemble adaptation of John Le Carré‘s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
BBC Americans know him as: Well, there was Casanova and Viva Blackpool and Secret Smile. Oh yeah and all that Time Lord business that made him beloved by millions.
Where else have you seen him? Americans might recognize the former Doctor Who star as Barty from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. A trained member of the theater, he reprised his role in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet in a TV movie that aired on PBS. (Patrick Stewart played Claudius.) And he played to fine reviews in the unfairly overlooked horror remake Fright Night.
Where will you see him next?: He can currently be seen in This Is Jinsy, a sitcom airing in the UK. He’ll also voice Charles Darwin in the 2012 animated release The Pirates! Band of Misfits. And his vocal talents will also be featured in the recently announced Postman Pat film.
BBC Americans know him as: Thornton on North and South and leather-clad villain Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood. His patented brand of smolder was also on display in Ultimate Force and Cold Feet.
Where else have you seen him? PBS viewers have seen a darker side of Armitage as Lucas North on recent seasons of MI-5. And he upped his villain cred by playing a Nazi in Captain America.
Where will you see him next? Remember what The Lord of the Rings did for Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean? The Hobbit movies could do the same for the 40-year-old star, who has been filming his role as Thorin Oakenshield in New Zealand
BBC Americans know him as: Brooding, doomed Irish vampire Mitchell on Being Human.
Where else have you seen him? He gets his kit off in Peter Bowker‘s 19th century artist drama Desperate Romantics, billed as the “Entourage of the Pre-Raphaelite era.”
Where will you see him next? His role as Kili in Peter Jackson‘s Hobbit movies could plaster him on bedroom walls around the globe.
BBC Americans know him as: He’ll always be known to Anglophiles as Tim from the original Office, but he followed that up with starring roles in the sitcoms Hardware and Arrested Development-esque family comedy The Robinsons.
Where else have you seen him? Well you saw his bare ass in Love Actually. He played to the geek crowd in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. His role as Rembrandt in Nightwatching and his BAFTA-winning part as Watson in Sherlock proved he could do drama.
Where will you see him next? Bank on this: Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit movies will make him a global household name. (See a pattern here? Is Peter Jackson a proud BBC American or what? Yes, we know he’s a Kiwi.)
BBC Americans know him as: Let’s see, there’s Cold Feet, Murphy’s Law, Steven Moffat‘s Jekyll (which landed him a Golden Globe nod), and 2009’s searing Occupation. If BBC America were a country, he’d be a two-term president.
Where else have you seen him? Fans of British indie films will recognize him from Waking Ned Devine and Bloody Sunday, and he popped up as a copper in Woody Allen‘s 2005 thriller Match Point.
Where will you see him next? He’ll join Cold Feet castrate Richard Armitage in The Hobbit movies, in which he’ll play Bofur.
BBC Americans know him as: The Scotsman has played an array of crime solvers, from DCI Metcalfe in Messiah to DI Chappell in The Vice. And he replaced the popular John Hannah as Detective Rebus.
Where else have you seen him? A profile character actor, he’s appeared in films such as Shallow Grave, The Boxer, the original Fever Pitch, Charlie Wilson’s War, and The Chronicles of Narnia. And fans of arthouse flicks will find him in the Brit indie flick Toast, in which he plays Helena Bonham Carter‘s love interest.
Where will you see him next? And yep, he’s Balin, one of the dwarves in The Hobbit films.
BBC Americans know him as: Down-on-his-luck TV and radio personality Alan Partridge (on Knowing Me, Knowing You and I’m Alan Partridge). He also played former roadie Tommy Saxondale on the rather melancholic sitcom Saxondale.
Where else have you seen him? He’s worked steadily in indie and studio films for the past decade. He won praise for portraying late Factory Records exec Tony Wilson in 2002’s 24 Hour Party People. Then came Coffee and Cigarettes, Happy Endings, A Cock and Bull Story, the Night at the Museum movies, Tropic Thunder, the little-seen but adored Hamlet 2, In the Loop, The Trip with Rob Brydon, and the recent Our Idiot Brother.
Where will you see him next? Well, he’s not done with Alan Partridge yet: he’s been regaling the literary set with readings from the radio host’s new autobiography, I, Partridge: We Need to Talk about Alan. And in 2012, Coogan will star in a contemporary adaptation of Henry James‘s What Maisie Knew and He Loves Me, Dayton/Faris‘s follow-up to Little Miss Sunshine.
BBC Americans know him as: The smug and deeply annoying Gareth on the original Office and the noseless villain Gladiolus Thrip on Demons.
Where else have you seen him? Among his many film roles, it’s Ragetti, the wooden-eyed pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean, that stands out.
Where will you see him next? He’s the voice of Ernie in Steven Spielberg‘s Brit-filled cast of The Adventures of Tintin, out in December.
BBC Americans know him as: Comic book nerd Tim Bisley on the classic geek-com Spaced. He’s also done guest appearances on Doctor Who (on which he played The Editor), I’m Alan Partridge, and Black Books.
Where else have you seen him? He re-teamed with Spaced pals Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright for the zombie spoof Shaun of the Dead and the copper parody Hot Fuzz. Alongside films like Run, Fatboy, Run and How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, and this year’s Paul and Burke & Hare, he’s joined the ensemble of two Hollywood franchises: the Star Trek films (in which he plays Scotty) and Mission: Impossible (as Benji Dunn).
Where will you see him next? December will be a ginormous Peggfest, with the launch of The Adventures of Tintin, featuring his vocal talents, and the fourth Mission Impossible installment.
BBC Americans know him as: Tom from the original cast of MI-5 (Spooks, as it known in the UK).
Where else have you seen him? Even with Colin Firth’s shadow looming over him, he made a sultry impression as Darcy in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. And the usually stoic star tried his hand at comedy in 2007’s Death at a Funeral.
Where will you see him next? His role as Athos in the upcoming Three Musketeers adaptation (alongside Luke Evans and Ray Stevenson) could be his greatest shot at the big time to date.
BBC Americans know him as: As Danny Hunter, he co-starred with Matthew Macfadyen and Keeley Hawes in the original MI-5 cast.
Where else have you seen him? He’s shined in small roles in The Last King of Scotland and the Emmy-nominated TV movie Raisin in the Sun; he received a Best Actor BAFTA nomination for his lead part in BBC’s Small Island; and just this past summer, he demonstrated his range in two very different film roles, Preacher Green in The Help and British villain Steven Jacobs in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Where will you see him next? He’s in talks for a part opposite Tom Cruise in Chris McQuarrie‘s adaptation of One Shot. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: The late Zafar Younis on MI-5 and cuckolded husband Hari on Mistresses.
Where else have you seen him? He played the evil Cain on the short-lived NBC superhero drama, The Cape. He also popped up in Sex and the City 2 as Carrie Bradshaw’s wise Indian manservant.
Where will you see him next? He plays Katharine McPhee‘s boyfriend on the NBC midseason replacement, the musical series Smash. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: Smug, hedonistic, but charming Alpha teen Tony Stonem on Skins.
Where else have you seen him? Shedding the baby fat from his cherubic About a Boy days, Nicholas aged into a dishy teen heartthrob. His underwear model looks caught the eye of Tom Ford, who cast him as Colin Firth’s flirtatious student in A Single Man. And the rush of plum parts followed, Clash of the Titans and X Men: First Class among them.
Where will you see him next? Hollywood is going all in on Mr. Hoult, giving him high-profile roles in the upcoming Jack the Giant Killer and Warm Bodies. (Red carpet photo via AP.)
BBC Americans know him as: The preternaturally horny Anwar on Skins.
Where else have you seen him?: This little movie called Slumdog Millionaire. Might have heard of it. Won a few Oscars, among other statues. And you’ve likely seen him walking red carpets with his Slumdog co-star and real-life love interest Freida Pinto.
Where will you see him next? He has been paid one of the greatest compliments an actor could ever receive: a part in an Aaron Sorkin TV series, HBO’s upcoming More as This Story Develops (featuring a cast including Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston, and Emily Mortimer). (Red carpet photo via AP.)
Where else have you seen him? Fans of Game of Thrones will recognize him as Gendry, a blacksmith’s apprentice. He has also appeared in the series Merlin and as Leeds United striker Duncan McKenzie in the 2009 film The Damned United.
Where will you see him next? There’s the second season of Game of Thrones to come. Dempsie will also turn up in select episodes of BBC America’s new supernatural series The Fades.
BBC Americans know him as: Skateboarding hoodie hunk Freddie McLair on the second generation of Skins.
Where else have you seen him? He’s Paulo, the not-so-trusty servant on Showtime’s Renaissance-era period drama The Borgias. And he’s on Twitter.
BBC Americans know him as: Will Scarlet on Robin Hood and Jeremy Baines from the Doctor Who two-parter “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood.”
Where else have you seen him? He was Viserys Targaryen on HBO’s Game of Thrones. He also appeared as Richard Mason in the recent adaptation of Jane Eyre with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska.
Where will you see him next? He’s playing the young Denis Thatcher in the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady (with Meryl Streep). He’ll also appear in a new BBC adaptation of Great Expectations (written by his great-great-great-grandfather Charles Dickens) and was recently cast as the lead in Closer to the Moon, a period drama set during the late ’50s Cold War.
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.