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The Top 10 Most Famous British Actors of all Time

This is a list of notable actors from the United Kingdom. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences estimates that somewhere between 90 and 95 percent of all film roles go to Brits, making English workers the single largest demographic stealing American jobs. We're just kidding. That's not true. (Or is it? And we're just using dry British humor?) Some of these actors you've probably only heard speak with American accents, but everyone on this list hails from somewhere across the pond. (And by "British," we mean from Great Britain. That's England, Scotland, and Wales).


Top 10 Best British Actors of all Time


  • Idris Elba
  • Tom Hardy
  • Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Christian Bale
  • Tom Hiddleston
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • Jude Law
  • Daniel Radcliffe
  • Henry Cavill
  • Martin Freeman

1. Idris Elba

Born: 6 September 1972

Height: 1.89 m

Idris Elba

Idrissa Akuna Elba OBE is an English actor, writer, producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and DJ. He is known for roles including Stringer Bell in the HBO series The Wire, DCI John Luther in the BBC One series Luther, and Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. In addition to his acting work, Elba performs as a DJ under the moniker DJ Big Driis (or Big Driis the Londoner) and as an R&B musician. In 2016, he was named in the Time 100 list of the Most Influential People in the World. As of May 2019, his films have grossed over $9.8 billion at the global box office, including over $3.6 billion in North America, where he is one of the top 20 highest-grossing actors.


2. Tom Hardy

Born: 15 September 1977

Height: 1.75 m

Tom Hardy

After studying acting at the Drama Centre London, he made his film debut in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down (2001) and has since appeared in such films as Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), RocknRolla (2008), Bronson (2008), Warrior (2011), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), Lawless (2012), Locke (2013), The Drop (2014), and The Revenant (2015), for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2015, Hardy portrayed "Mad" Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road and both Kray twins in Legend. He has appeared in three Christopher Nolan films: Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) as Bane, and Dunkirk (2017) as an RAF fighter-pilot. He starred as Eddie Brock / Venom in the 2018 anti-hero film Venom.


3. Benedict Cumberbatch

Born: 19 July 1976

Height: 1.83 m

Benedict Cumberbatch

A graduate of the Victoria University of Manchester, he continued his training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, obtaining a Master of Arts in Classical Acting. He first performed at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park in Shakespearean productions and made his West End debut in Richard Eyre's revival of Hedda Gabler in 2005. Since then, he has starred in the Royal National Theatre productions After the Dance (2010) and Frankenstein (2011). In 2015, he played the title role in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre.

Cumberbatch has received numerous accolades, including the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for Frankenstein and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for Sherlock. His performance in The Imitation Game earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. In 2014 Time magazine included him in its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and in 2015 he was appointed a CBE in the 2015 Birthday Honours for services to the performing arts and to charity.


4. Christian Bale

Born: 30 January 1974

Height: 1.83 m

Christian Bale

Born in Haverfordwest, Wales, to English parents, Bale had his first starring role at age 13 in Steven Spielberg's war film Empire of the Sun (1987). Following a decade of leading and supporting roles, including in Little Women (1994) and Pocahontas (1995), he gained wider recognition for portraying the serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho (2000). In 2004, he lost 4 stone 7 pounds (29 kg; 63 lb) for his role in the psychological thriller The Machinist (2004). Within six months, he gained 7 stone 2 pounds (45 kg; 100 lb) to star as Batman in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012).


5. Tom Hiddleston

Born: 9 February 1981

Height: 1.88 m

Tom Hiddleston

He is the recipient of several accolades, including a Golden Globe Award and a Laurence Olivier Award, and has been nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards. Hiddleston earned a double first in Classics at the University of Cambridge and later proceeded to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. At the beginning of his career, he appeared in West End productions of Cymbeline (2007) and Ivanov (2008). He won the Olivier Award for Best Newcomer in a Play for his role in Cymbeline and was also nominated for the same award for his role as Cassio in Othello (2008). Hiddleston starred as the title character in a production of Coriolanus (2013-2014) winning the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor and receiving a nomination for the Olivier Award for Best Actor. He made his Broadway debut in a 2019 revival of Betrayal.


6. Chiwetel Ejiofor

Born: 10 July 1977

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Ejiofor portrayed the characters Okwe in Dirty Pretty Things (2002), Lola in Kinky Boots (2005), Victor Sweet in Four Brothers (2005), The Operative in Serenity (2005), Adrian Helmsley in 2012 (2009), Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave (2013), Vincent Kapoor in The Martian (2015), Karl Mordo in Doctor Strange (2016) and Trywell Kamkwamba in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019). He voiced Dr. Watson in Sherlock Gnomes (2018) and Scar in the 2019 remake of The Lion King and featured in the fantasy film Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. For 12 Years a Slave, he received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations, along with the BAFTA Award for Best Actor. He was nominated for a 2014 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his performance on Dancing on the Edge.


7. Jude Law

Born: 29 December 1972

Height: 1.78 m

Jude Law

Born and raised in London, Law started acting in theatre. After finding small roles in feature films, Law gained recognition for his role in Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and was nominated for an Academy Award. He found further critical and commercial success in Enemy at the Gates (2001), Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) and Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition (2002). He continued to gain praise for starring in the war film Cold Mountain (2003), the drama Closer (2004), and the romantic comedy The Holiday (2006), gaining Academy Award and BAFTA nominations for the first of these.


8. Daniel Radcliffe

Born: 23 July 1989 

Height: 1.65 m

Daniel Radcliffe

Born and raised in London, Radcliffe made his acting debut at age 10 in BBC One's television film David Copperfield (1999), followed by his cinematic debut in The Tailor of Panama (2001). The same year, he starred in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Over the next 10 years, he played the lead role in seven sequels, culminating with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011). During this period, Radcliffe became one of the highest-paid actors in the world, gained worldwide fame, popularity, and critical acclaim, and received many accolades for his performances in the series.

I think I'm a tiny bit like Harry 'cos I'd like to have an owl. Yeah, that's the tiny bit, actually - Daniel Radcliffe.

 

9. Henry Cavill

Born: 5 May 1983

Height: 1.85 m

Henry Cavill

Cavill began his career with roles in the feature adaptations of The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) and I Capture the Castle (2003). He later appeared in supporting roles in several television series, including BBC's The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, ITV's Midsomer Murders, and Showtime's The Tudors. He has since appeared in numerous major Hollywood films, such as Tristan & Isolde (2006), Stardust (2007), Blood Creek (2009), and Immortals (2011).

Cavill gained international recognition with his role as Superman in the DC Extended Universe superhero films Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and Justice League (2017). He also starred in the action spy films The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) and Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018).


10. Martin Freeman

Born: 8 September 1971

Height: 1.69 m

Martin Freeman

His other notable film roles include the romantic comedy Love Actually (2003), the comic science-fiction film The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), the semi-improvised comedy Nativity! (2009), the comedic Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (2004–2013), most prominently in the sci-fi comedy The World's End (2013), and his portrayal of Everett K. Ross in the Marvel films Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Black Panther (2018). Among other accolades, he has won an Emmy Award, a BAFTA Award, an Empire Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, with nominations including two other Emmy Awards, two other BAFTA Awards, a Saturn Award, and a Golden Globe Award.





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