Brit Actors: A List

Over at the BBC America blog, Anglophenia, there’s been an “Anglo Fan Favorite Tournament.”  It started with 32 guys, and now it’s down to four (Alan Rickman, David Tennant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth).  The problem with the list is that there are so many of my favorites missing.  They also mixed up Brits with Irish actors, even including Michael Fassbender, who was born in Germany.

I decided to make a list of my favorite British actors, categorized by where they were born.  I had to cheat a bit, though.  Even though Andrew Garfield was born in Los Angeles, I’ve included him with the English.  I stuck to the ones still living and mostly still working.  I considered putting them in some sort of order, but in the end, I just alphabetized by first name.  (It’s interesting how many Ruperts and Stephens there are.)  Next to the name of the actor is the movie or show that first brought them to my attention.  This isn’t always the first thing I saw the actor in, just the first time I thought, “Hey, I really like this guy.”  I plan to do a separate list of Irish actors later, as well as Aussies, Canadians, and even a list of actresses.  This list is long enough!

There are a lot of actors who almost made my list, but I just can’t bring myself to add their names.  For example, I love Orlando Bloom as Legolas, but he hasn’t sustained my interest in other roles.  Hugh Grant has entertained me for years, but…I don’t know.  I guess I’m still cringing over his quote in the July 22nd Entertainment Weekly, about his involvement in News of the World phone hacking: “…it was difficult to get the whole country outraged.  But now they are incandescent.”

Also left off my list are young up-and-comers who I know I will like, but I just haven’t seen enough of their work yet.  These includes Eddie Redmayne, Dominic Cooper, Charlie Cox, and Henry Cavill.  I’m sure they’ll be on future lists.

I’ll think of dozens to add later, but here it goes:


    1. Aaron Johnson   (Nowhere Boy)
    2. Adrian Edmondson   (The Young Ones)
    3. Alan Davies   (Jonathan Creek)
    4. Alan Rickman   (Truly Madly Deeply)
    5. Andrew Garfield   (Boy A)
    6. Anthony Howell   (Foyle’s War)
    7. Ben Barnes   (Prince Caspian)
    8. Bill Nighy   (Love Actually)
    9. Charlie Hunnam   (Green Street Hooligans)
    10. Christopher Eccleston   (Shallow Grave)
    11. Clive Owen   (Second Sight)
    12. Colin Firth   (Pride & Prejudice)
    13. Daniel Craig   (The Ice House)
    14. Derek Jacobi   (I, Claudius)
    15. Eddie Izzard   (DVD signing at Borders)
    16. Gary Oldman   (Immortal Beloved)
    17. Hugh Dancy   (Daniel Deronda)
    18. Hugh Laurie   (Jeeves & Wooster)
    19. Ian Hart   (Backbeat)
    20. Ian McKellen   (Shakespeare stage show in LA)
    21. Ian McShane   (Lovejoy)
    22. Jack Davenport   (Coupling)
    23. James Purefoy   (A Knight’s Tale)
    24. Jamie Bamber   (Horatio Hornblower)
    25. Jamie Bell   (Billy Elliot)
    26. Jim Sturgess   (The Way Back)
    27. JJ Feild   (Northanger Abbey)
    28. John Cleese   (Monty Python)
    29. John Simm   (Life on Mars)
    30. Jonny Lee Miller   (Trainspotting)
    31. Julian Ovenden   (Foyle’s War)
    32. Laurence Fox   (Inspector Lewis)
    33. Lenny Henry   (The Lenny Henry Show)
    34. Martin Clunes   (William & Mary)
    35. Martin Freeman   (Sherlock)
    36. Matt Lucas   (Les Misérables concert)
    37. Matt Smith   (Dr Who)
    38. Matthew Goode   (Masterpiece Contemporary host)
    39. Matthew Macfayden   (Spooks/MI-5)
    40. Michael Kitchen   (Reckless)
    41. Michael Maloney   (Henry V)
    42. Michael Palin   (Monty Python)
    43. Michael Sheen   (Heartlands)
    44. Naveen Andrews   (Wild West)
    45. Nigel Havers   (Empire of the Sun)
    46. Patrick Stewart   (Star Trek)
    47. Paul Bettany   (A Knight’s Tale)
    48. Paul Copley   (Horatio Hornblower)
    49. Paul Nicholls   (The Passion)
    50. Peter Davison   (Campion)
    51. Peter Firth   (Equus)
    52. Philip Glenister   (Life on Mars)
    53. Ralph Fiennes   (Schindler’s List)
    54. Richard Armitage   (North and South)
    55. Richard Ayoade   (The IT Crowd)
    56. Richard Coyle   (Lorna Doone)
    57. Ricky Gervais   (Ghost Town)
    58. Rik Mayall   (The Young Ones)
    59. Robbie Coltrane   (Cracker)
    60. Robert Lindsay   (Horatio Hornblower)
    61. Rowan Atkinson   (Blackadder)
    62. Rufus Sewell   (Middlemarch)
    63. Rupert Everett   (The Madness of King George)
    64. Rupert Friend   (Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont)
    65. Rupert Graves   (Fortunes of War)
    66. Rupert Penry-Jones   (The 39 Steps)
    67. Russell Brand   (his first book)
    68. Russell Tovey   (Being Human)
    69. Samuel West   (Hornblower)
    70. Sean Bean   (Sharpe series)
    71. Sean Gilder   (Hornblower)
    72. Simon Pegg   (Shaun of the Dead)
    73. Stephen Fry   (Jeeves & Wooster)
    74. Stephen Mackintosh   (Buddha of Suburbia)
    75. Stephen Rea   (The Crying Game)
    76. Stephen Tompkinson   (Brassed Off)
    77. Thomas Sangster   (Nanny McPhee)
    78. Timothy West   (Ever After)
    79. Tom Hardy   (Inception)
    80. Tom Hiddleston    (Wallander)
    81. Tony Robinson   (Blackadder)


  1. Alan Cumming   (Circle of Friends)
  2. Alistair Mackenzie   (Monarch of the Glen)
  3. Brian McArdie   (Rob Roy)
  4. Craig Ferguson   (Saving Grace)
  5. David Tennant   (Dr Who)
  6. Dougray Scott   (Ever After)
  7. Ewan McGregor   (Shallow Grave)
  8. James McAvoy   (Children of Dune)
  9. John Barrowman   (Dr Who: The Empty Child)
  10. John Hannah   (McCallum)
  11. Robert Carlyle   (Hamish Macbeth)
  12. Tom Conti   (Saving Grace 1986)


  1. Christian Bale   (Empire of the Sun)
  2. Ioan Gruffudd   (Horatio Hornblower)
  3. Jonathan Pryce   (Jumpin’ Jack Flash)
  4. Matthew Rhys   (The Abduction Club)
  5. Rhys Ifans   (Notting Hill)

Favorite Brit Stage Actors (They didn’t fit above, even though they have some film credits)

  1. Hadley Fraser   (Les Misérables concert)
  2. Robert Madge   (Les Mis concert)
  3. Simon Trinder  (RSC Spanish Golden Age plays)
  4. Michael Ball   (original Les Mis cast in 1986)

Least Favorite British Actor:  Robert Pattinson

Favorite Honorary Brit Actor:  James Marsters as Spike, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel

Update: Alan Rickman won the Fan Favorite competition.  The man has a powerful fan base!



Filed under Actors, Movies, Television, Theatre

5 responses to “Brit Actors: A List

  1. ‘Least Favorite British Actor: Robert Pattinson’ totally agree! teenage girl who doesnt like Rpatz? yep thats me!
    love it!

  2. Angie Scholey

    Can’t believe how many of the list I also love – and some amazing shows too, (Dr Who, Life on Mars, Lewis…. the list just goes on, some good TV there). As for stage actors – can’t fault your choice (less than 4 weeks to go now – uumm!!)

  3. Katelyn

    Wow that is quite a list! I will admit I haven’t heard of a lot of these people, but I was happy to see some of my favorites like Alan Rickman, Hugh Laurie, Colin Firth, Matthew Goode, Eddie Izzard, and Russell Brand make the cut. And Rhys Ifans in Notting Hill is one of my favorite characters ever. I’m looking forward to the Irish and Aussie lists, those are two of my all-time favorite accents.

    And I’m totally on board with Robert Pattinson as least favorite Brit as well. No offense to anyone else but I never understood his appeal.

  4. Pearl

    add Arthur Darvill (Dr Who), Sean Pertwee (Cadfael, Soldier, goal, & lots more movies and TV – he’s got the greatest speaking voice), Ramin Karimloo (stage)

    • Thanks for sharing some of your favorites, too!

      I love Ramin Karimloo. You’ll see him in my “More Actors, More Lists” post with the other Canadians, but I do acknowledge that he was born in Iran.

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