Fun Friday–Favorite British Actors
So I’ve been on a British film kick recently . . . oh, who am I kidding? I’ve always had a thing for the Brits. Since Masterpiece Classics’ Jane Austen series is on hiatus until March 23, it means I actually have to think of something to blog about on my fun Friday. So, since my friend Ruth is going through internet withdrawal, not having a computer at home right now, I thought I’d give her something to blog about when she finally does get a computer, because I know she’ll disagree with this list.
Here are my favorite British actors:
10. James & Oliver Phelps, a.k.a. Fred and George Weasley from the Harry Potter movies. Ever since I first started reading the books and watching the film adaptations, Fred and George were my favorite characters—possibly because I love James & Oliver’s portrayal of Hogwarts’ chief Mischief Makers. It’s going to be sad that they’ll be absent from most of the sixth movie, and then the seventh . . . I don’t even want to think about that one! I’ll be very interested to see what each of them does acting-wise when the Harry Potter movies are finished. Both of these boys have wonderful acting futures ahead of them.
9. Dominic Monaghan & Billy Boyd. Dom and Billy have wonderful comic timing together as Merry and Pippin in the Lord of the Rings movies. But I love Dom because his character is the first one that made me cry in three seasons of watching Lost—at the end of last season and the beginning of this season. Billy hasn’t gotten as much exposure as Dom has from Lost, but he’s shone brightly in the few bit roles he’s had, like Bonden in Master & Commander. These two are the highlights of the cast commentary on the extended LOTR movies, and I would love to see them team up for a comedy movie soon.
8. Jack Davenport. He’s most well-known for his role as Commodore Norrington in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. But one of my favorite pieces he’s done was the Marple episode The Body in the Library, where he played the young inspector who had a thing or two to learn from Miss Marple . . . and there was a little romance involved, if I recall correctly. Then again, he did play my favorite character in the third Pirates movie and I was very sad that his character had to die.
7. Ioan Gruffudd. While he hasn’t made some of the best choices when it comes to deciding which films to be in (I was embarrassed for him when I saw the second Fantastic Four movie!), when he chooses right, it’s right all the way around. Though he’d done a few films before, this Welshman stormed onto the British acting scene with his role as Horatio Hornblower in the BBC/A&E movies—eight in total (and he said in an interview given in 2006 that he wants to do more HH movies—perhaps when HH is an admiral, now that Ioan is older). His latest claim to fame was his portrayal of the British statesman William Wilburforce—the parlimentarian responsible for passing the abolishment of the slave trade in Britain and all her territories and colonies in the early 19th century. If there was ever an actor born to play historical roles, it’s Ioan.
6. Robert Lindsay is probably one of the greatest British actors ever. He’s played a wide variety of roles, from Horatio Hornblower’s crusty commander, Sir Edward Pellew, to the crusty 50s police inspector, Jericho, to the crusty Shakespearian hero, Benedick (from Much Ado about Nothing). Well, so he plays “crusty” a lot! One of the things on my wishlist at Amazon are the DVD sets for the first two seasons of a BBC sitcom (My Family) in which Sir Robert plays the father. I’ve seen a few clips of it on You-Tube and it looks absolutely gobsmackingly hysterical. Oh, and did I mention he’s the template for Julia’s father in Ransome’s Honor?
5. James D’Arcy. I’m not sure what it is about him, but I’ve really been enthralled with him recently. It could have something to do with how good he looks in period costume—whether it’s as Tom Bertram in the new (horrible) version of Mansfield Park, as Lieutenant Tom Pullings in Master and Commander with the scar down his cheek (and, oh, that uniform!), or as playboy Jerry Burton in Marple: The Moving Finger. Like Ioan Gruffudd, James D’Arcy just seems to have been born to be in historical films.
4. Clive Owen. Whether he’s King Arthur or the assassin with only two or three lines in The Bourne Identity, if Clive Owen is on the screen, he’s going to steal it. The first thing I ever saw him in was Gosford Park, which to this day remains one of my favorite British films. Clive Owen has a very Old Hollywood appeal—handsome enough for the women and yet still comes across as a man’s man. He can do action and drama, contemporary and historical, and morph into whatever the character calls for. And, darn it, he’s just yummy to look at.
3. Jason Isaacs. Sure, he has a tendency to play bad guys, but he does it so well! Though I originally loved The Patriot because Adam Baldwin was in it, the more I watched it, the more my attention was captured by the deliciously evil Col. Tavington. Then I saw him in Black Hawk Down, and, his horrible attempt at a Southern accent aside, found the hero I knew was lurking under those piercing blue eyes. Now, shall we talk about the Harry Potter movies? Jason Isaacs brings the same touch of delicious evilness to Mr. Malfoy as he did to Col. Tavington. He’s the badguy I love to loathe.
2.Paul McGann. No surprise to anyone who knows me. Paul McGann snuck up on me as a favorite . . . it took a few viewings of the last four Horatio Hornblower movies for me to really notice him—and it was his voice that drew me in first. Only a true Paul McGann fan will understand what I mean by that. He has this slight rasp and a musical lilt to his inflection, and when he’s using his received-British accent, a slight edge to the enunciation of his hard consonants that makes my ears feel like they’ve died and gone to British heaven. Can I mention Paul McGann without mentioning William Ransome?
1. Henry Ian Cusick. If you’re not a fan of a certain American TV program, you probably have no idea who this Scotsman is. After his stunning introduction at the beginning of the second season of LOST, his character, Desmond, quickly became my favorite character on the show. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a Scottish accent, but Henry Ian has the good looks to go along with it, whether he’s long-haired, unshaven, and bedraggled, or clean-cut and dressed up (and we get to see him BOTH ways on the show—yay!) I told Erica the other day that if I ever write a romance featuring a Highlander, Henry Ian will be the template!
Honorable Mentions: Sean Bean, Peter Wingfield, Ewan MacGregor, Ciaran Hinds, David Rintoul, Daniel Craig, Alan Rickman, Toby Stephens, Patrick Stewart, Greg Wise, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Jake Weber, Gerard Butler, Jeremy Irons, Matthew MadFadyen, and Richard Grant.