Damian Lewis may have lost out at the Screenactor’s Guild Awards last weekend, but his battle with Bryan Cranston for awards glory over the last year has been something special to watch.
The really interesting thing though is that plenty of American’s have no idea he’s British until he uses his real voice.
Over the past few years, British actors have come more and more in demand over in America, although not just for the villainous roles that Hollywood were obsessed with giving to Brits a few years ago. Now they’re playing the cops, parents and socialites on American television, staples of a genre with the biggest pool of actors out there.
Bearing this in mind, we decided to look at the British actors who’ve made the biggest impression across the Atlantic and seamlessly blended in with their American cohorts on TV so well that not even the viewing public know they’re not from the land of Stars and Stripes.
Damian Lewis - Homeland
The most high profile of our picks for good reason as Lewis is not only the actor to pick up the most awards for putting on an American twang, but has also had the most hit shows he’s been involved with.
From his time in Band Of Brothers, through the unfortunately short lived police show Life and now in Homeland, Lewis has perfected an accent that has led to him seamlessly hoodwinking millions of Americans every single week.
Idris Elba - The Wire
For many still known by his character’s name, Idris Elba was one of the key components to the critically hailed and much loved HBO show The Wire.
The show, which focussed on the different aspects of criminal life in Baltimore, saw Idris Elba take on the role of Stringer Bell, a character who may just be the most rounded and nuanced gangster in the history of not just TV, but perhaps in the visual arts completely. A man who with one hand would commit brutal acts but with the other tried to clean up the town he called home and legitimise the drug gang he heads up, he is a completely engrossing character from the very first minute he comes on screen.
Elba was utterly compelling in the role, seamlessly pulling of an American accent so good that for years many American’s had never heard his true, rather thick London accent.
Andrew Lincoln - The Walking Dead
Who would have thought that the cheeky lawyer from This Life would ever flawlessly pull of the role of an Atlanta cop? Well, seeing is believing as Andrew Lincoln has gotten his southern drawl down to a fine art as the lead character on the gruesome The Walking Dead.
His trick to getting the accent right and never letting it fall into simply a pastiche of the regional twang? He never comes out of it once on the set of the zombie based show, revealing that throughout filming he’ll only speak in the tones of Rick Grimes and not in the more home-grown accent we heard him use in Love Actually, Afterlife and Teachers.
Hugh Laurie - House M.D.
Hugh Laurie was one of the most beloved comedic presences on British TV, his partnership with university friend Stephen Fry made the duo a national treasure in the UK.
So imagine our surprise to see him hopping across the Atlantic and taking up a role in what would become one of American television’s biggest network dramas and became one of the most recognisable (and highly paid) faces on US TV. Our eyebrows were raised even higher when we heard the accent coming out of his mouth.
Laurie was an unqualified success story in America though, making House (a fairly one-note medical drama that only had about five plotlines they rotated) into an incredibly watchable show through the power of personality alone.
Jonny Lee Miller - Elementary
While most of the other actors on this list have only had one high profile role on American TV, Miller’s been in several, heading up law drama Eli Stone and nailing a high profile role in Dexter before switching back to his usual tones for the role of the world’s greatest detective (no, not Batman, the other one) for Elementary.
While me may still be known with his accent, Miller’s quickly becoming a regular on American TV, something we don’t see changing for a while.
Ed Westwick - Gossip Girl
He may indelibly be Chuck Bass to millions out there, but while Ed Westwick hails from Stevenage; it’s in America where he’s seen his career flourish with this ultra-juicy part in Gossip Girl.
Westwick pulls off the role of a New Yorker with ease, never letting his British roots show through into the show and becoming the show’s reformed bad-boy heartthrob. You don’t win two Teen Choice Awards and a Young Hollywood Award by fluke you know.
With Jason Issacs, Charlie Hunnan, David Harewood and many more holding the British end up across the pond, it seems as if the flow of British actors taking the tastiest roles in America shows no signs of slowing down.