Britain has always had more than its fair share of acting talent. From Sean Connery to Helen Mirren, we’re all aware of the greats. These people have made a considerable impression on the industry world-wide.
But considering the fact that earning yourself a name in Britain is difficult enough, you really have to be something special to make it big stateside.
There are, however, a growing number of British actors and actresses who are beginning to find fame in the US and in some cases are being chosen to play American roles over actual Americans.
Take Aaron Johnson for example, English born and bred and now the starring role of a major American movie franchise (Kick-Ass). Acting from an incredibly early age, Johnson had his first major part in the film adaptation of Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, but from this went on to a starring role in independent British film Nowhere Boy (the director of which is now is fiancé).
In Kick-Ass, Johnson plays Dave Lizewski, an American teen who decides to take law fighting into his own hands, and he’s so convincing in his accent and mannerisms that it’s hard to believe he’s from anywhere else.
This has catapulted Johnson to superstardom all over the world and secured his role as Dave in the Kick-Ass sequel: Balls to the Wall.
Christian Bale is now a household name thanks mainly to his turn in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. Born in Wales, he has had a very successful acting career, starring in classics such as American Psycho (stress on the ‘American’).
Throughout his career Christian has been consistently prominent in the industry but it’s only over the last few years that his success in America has been confirmed, winning a Golden Globe earlier this year for best supporting actor in The Fighter with Mark Wahlberg.
Andrew Garfield, although born in America, has lived in England since he was three years old, and so is essentially a British actor (he’s even got the accent to prove it). Featuring in films such as Terry Gilliam’s Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Heath Ledger’s last film) and the more recent Never Let Me Go, the true extent of his talent was exposed in the award winning Social Network in which he starred alongside Jesse Eisenberg.
His most impressive break into American movies, however, was when he was recently cast as Peter Parker in Marvel Studios’ upcoming Spiderman reboot. Many are not entirely convinced about this choice in casting, but regardless, there is no doubt that being Spiderman will make Andrew Garfield your next favourite actor.
But what about the girls? Well, there are just as many British females finding success overseas, including faces both old and new.
Helena Bonham Carter, not unlike Christian Bale, has been a constant presence in Hollywood. Most people would put this down to the fact that her husband is Tim Burton and she is almost guaranteed to be in anything he produces.
But as Burton’s productions get more popular and are made on a grander scale, Helena’s success will follow suit. She never tends to play main characters however, but her supporting acts have managed to make her one of Hollywood’s biggest stars ‘of British origin’.
Gemma Arterton has been in movies for years, but it was only really when she began getting typecast as the beautiful, often mysterious woman with very few lines that she actually began to see success in America. For examples of this, see Disney’s Prince of Persia or Louis Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans and you’ll get the idea pretty quickly.
This recognition, however, has spurred her career on to much more significant roles in British films such as Tamara Drewe. She has been nominated for this year’s BAFTA Rising Star award and has also been confirmed for the Clash sequel. Things are clearly looking good for the girl from Kent.
Emily Blunt isn’t yet a superstar, but she’s slowly getting there. She’s been in The Devil Wears Prada, The Young Victoria and Wolfman (which was admittedly, and unfortunately, terrible). Ignoring Gnomeo and Juliet, Emily will next hit cinema screens in The Adjustment Bureau, a science fiction thriller based on the short story by Philip K. Dick.
Any science fiction fan will know that Philip K. Dick means awesome story and most likely mega-hit movie, with films like Blade Runner and Total Recall having been based on his writing.
So acting alongside A-lister Matt Damon, Adjustment Bureau could see Blunt become something much bigger than currently she is, especially across the pond.
And these are just a few examples. Jason Statham is slowly taking over the action genre and Liam Neeson has completely reinvented his career (whilst still finding time to voice a magical lion).
There is almost enough talent in this tiny island to attempt to dominate the industry altogether and although ‘breaking’ America may not be the easiest of tasks, Britain’s finest are proving it possible one film at a time.
FemaleFirst - Fareed Athman