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Fun Friday–Favorite British Actors

Friday, March 7, 2008


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. jo.jpgEver 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 thatΒ they’ll be absent from most of the sixth movie, and then the seventh . . . I don’t even want to think about that one!Β 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 dom-billy.jpgcomic 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 jd.jpgas 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 ig.jpgwhen 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 rl.jpgBritish 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)Β 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,jdarcy.jpg 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 assassinco.jpg 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,ji.jpg 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? πŸ™‚ 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.pmcg2.jpg 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 Americanhic1.jpg 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. hic2.jpgI’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.

  1. Caleb permalink
    Friday, March 7, 2008 9:40 am

    How did James McAvoy not even make the honorable mention list? That dude is SUCH a good actor. Same goes for Sean Connery.


  2. Friday, March 7, 2008 10:02 am

    ^ Caleb makes an excellent point, Kaye. πŸ™‚

    I don’t know WHY you feel the need to say I’m going to disagree with this list. I mean I think I can be a relatively reasonable human being. πŸ˜›

    Just a few comments, though – 1) you must be suffering from some sort of lapse into insanity by leaving James McAvoy off even your HONORABLE MENTIONS list. That’s a SHOCKING omission. 2) Where the heck are Richard Armitage and Rufus Sewell and Colin Firth?! I can’t believe David Rintoul makes the H.M. list and they don’t. That is just WRONG on oh so many levels. πŸ˜›

    Ok, so maybe I spoke too soon about being reasonable. πŸ˜‰ However, I have to think that the fact that Ciaran Hinds is on your H.M. list and NOT in the top ten must mean that you were exhausted when you typed up this list or something…hence the SHOCKING omissions I detail above… πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜›

    However, I’m very pleased that Daniel Craig is in this post somewhere…I need a “Casino Royale” viewing asap… πŸ™‚


  3. Friday, March 7, 2008 10:24 am

    Yes, it was after 1 a.m. when I was typing up this list—and I hadn’t had any caffeine since ten o’clock that morning. I almost left SEAN BEAN off, so please forgive me for the oversight. I’m neither here nor there on James McAvoy, so I don’t know that I could honorable-mention him above some others that I’ve left off. But I will add these:

    More Honorable Mentions:
    Richard Armitage—How could I forget Sir Guy/John Thornton?
    Rufus Sewell
    Keith Allen
    Anthony Daniels
    Denis Lawson
    Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Yes, he’s actually British by birth)
    Michael Caine

    Okay, this is getting ridiculous — I could spend all day honorable-mentioning British actors. But Ruth, Collin Firth would not be anywhere on the list of “Favorites.” You should know that by now. πŸ™‚


  4. Friday, March 7, 2008 11:49 am

    Oh Kaye, Kaye, Kaye…’s all about Colin Firth. Please refer back to the video you posted a few weeks ago.

    As for the others–who ARE they? I do like Ewan MacGregor and Alan Rickman.


  5. Friday, March 7, 2008 11:51 am

    Ruth—as to why Ciaran Hinds is on the HM list and not one of the top ten . . . this isn’t necessarily based on a particular character the actor has protrayed, but on the actor’s body of work. It’s really only Ciaran’s portrayal of Frederick Wentworth that landed him on the HM list!

    And by the way, you do know that no matter how much we disagree on other stuff, I always knew that we would be life-long friends because you understood the thing about Paul McGann’s voice.


  6. Friday, March 7, 2008 11:52 am

    Georgiana–that video was posted for all of you who like him, not for my own pleasure, I assure you. I was trying to make sure that the Jane Austen series got as many viewers as possible so PBS will continue with that kind of programming!


  7. Friday, March 7, 2008 12:22 pm

    *oooohhhhhh* Contemplating Paul McGann’s voice. That wonderful, glorious voice! I meant to address this in my first comment because I LOVE your description…but I was distracted by the lack of certain names…*cough, cough* πŸ˜› Did you ever watch that version of “Kidnapped” that P.M. was in? I didn’t even know he was IN it until I heard his voice…and then suddenly I was glued to the television, instead of only half-watching the show. LOL!

    I appreciate your additional honorable mentions. BTW, your last comment back to Georgiana reminds me that I never did address the fact that you accused my beloved Colin of being “doughy” and “jowly”…note to self, as soon as I have internet again get a rebuttal posted!!! πŸ˜‰


  8. Friday, March 7, 2008 12:24 pm

    You see, that’s my ulterior motive—to get you so anxious to get back to blogging that you’ll get that whole no-Internet-at-home thing straightened out immediately!


  9. Friday, March 7, 2008 1:27 pm

    Thanks for the reminder, Ruth. I, too, recall something about “doughy” and “jowly.” I watched P&P again with a critical eye for anything that rang of dough or jowls. Naturally, I found nothing πŸ™‚


  10. Friday, March 7, 2008 1:35 pm

    They say “love” makes one blind to someone’s faults . . .

    Can I help it if y’all just don’t have taste?


  11. Friday, March 7, 2008 1:37 pm

    And HELLO!!!!!! How about some props for the men who ARE on the list????????? I’m starting to think that everyone who reads my blog is a Negative Nancy! πŸ™‚


  12. Friday, March 7, 2008 1:41 pm

    Georgiana – no problem. πŸ™‚

    Kaye – “Can I help it if ya’ll just don’t have taste?” TASTE?!!! That is a little extreme. After all, you’re the one with David Rintoul and Ciaran Hinds cluttering up your Honorable Mentions list… πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜›


  13. Friday, March 7, 2008 1:46 pm

    Wow–you call these people your friends? They like arguing with you, don’t they?

    I was going to question your non-inclusion of Denis Lawson, but then I saw you listed him in your comment. Good shot, Red Two!

    Henry Ian Cusick was a pleasant surprise as your top pick. He’s grown on me, too, since he came on Lost two years ago (though Sawyer will always be my favorite character, the S.O.B.). When I saw Desmond’s episode last week I started getting the idea for a new book. Your rubbing off on me.

    Dominick and Billy are a great team. Can’t say I’ve ever seen James Darcy in anything.

    Great list!


  14. Friday, March 7, 2008 1:53 pm

    Ok, this whole conversation is cracking me up. I thought this was a “lively discussion”…lol, j/k… πŸ˜›

    Kaye, MAJOR props for your inclusion of Jason Isaacs. I LOVE HIM. I even watched that live-action version of “Peter Pan” that came out a few years ago…he made a yummy Captain Hook! πŸ˜› And YAY for James D’Arcy!!! I’m proud that I can take credit for introducing you to his role as Jerry Burton… πŸ˜‰


  15. Friday, March 7, 2008 1:55 pm

    Negative Nancy, indeed! Looks like you’re having a party today.


  16. Friday, March 7, 2008 4:15 pm

    I second your praise for Henry Ian Cusick. I’m a returned LOST fan (bowed out for a while after the horrible second season). My husband and I were both moved to tears by Henry’s performance last week (the phone call scene). I hope this role opens doors for him. He’s quite the actor. And I agree, he looks great cleaned up and shaggy. Wasn’t that startling, to see him flash back and forth between the two looks? I was thrilled to see that episode again last night. Desmond rocks, bruthah! πŸ™‚


  17. Friday, March 7, 2008 4:28 pm

    Oh, and Ioan G. (aside from the aforementioned F4 flims), is a favorite of mine. “Amazing Grace” is one of my all time best loved films now. I saw it in theater 10 times. I’d never come close to doing such a thing before.

    Also topping my list are Dom and Billy, Gerry Butler, and Paul Bettany. Paul will soon be portraying the character Dustfinger, from Cornelia Funke’s fantasy Inkheart books.

    I. Can’t. Wait.


  18. Saturday, March 8, 2008 11:37 am

    While I agree with most of the choices, there are a few actors missing on your list who I will watch no matter how terrible the movie: Rupert Everett, Daniel Day Lewis, Sean Bean, Ruppert Graves (whose work is really becoming interesting), Michael Caine (I know, he’s a little long in the tooth, but I love men who can make fun of themselves), and Tom Wilkinson. I’d place Gerry Butler high on my list as well, and hope he gets chosen to play Jamie in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.


  19. Saturday, March 8, 2008 11:44 am

    Oops, I see you mentioned Sean Bean. Another British actor who always excites my interest is Hugh Laurie.


  20. Caleb permalink
    Sunday, March 9, 2008 11:05 am

    Seriously, the omission of Sean Connery is going to make me cry. You have Ian McKellan, so clearly it’s not an age thing. How can you ignore the original James Bond and the father of Indiana Jones and still claim to have a heart!?


  21. Wednesday, March 25, 2009 7:30 pm

    Paul McGann’s voice is yummy. His “FIYAH!” is much hotter than Horatio’s, I must say. Glad I’m not the only one rewinding over and over to hear him say that and “Reknowns, to me!” hee hee. He’s one hot man.


  22. Wednesday, March 25, 2009 7:37 pm

    Having used Paul for the template for William in the Ransome Trilogy, I got to “hear” his voice all the time while I was writing, hearing all the dialogue in that clipped accent… ::sigh::


  23. Zoe permalink
    Tuesday, July 7, 2009 7:40 pm

    Oh oh oh oh! Henry Ian Cusick is my favourite on LOST, hands down. He really sells the character so well, and boy is he dashing! This was a great list. MonaBoyd is also a favourite, too!


  24. Thursday, July 30, 2009 8:56 pm

    I’m sorry…. two words…





  25. Cat permalink
    Monday, September 21, 2009 10:50 pm

    Paul McGann – yes and the voice is even better in the flesh *sigh*

    Other Brit actors that are my faves

    David Tennant
    Christopher Eccleston
    David Morrissey
    John Simm
    Philip Glenister

    yes I’m very much a Doctor Who and Life On Mars fan


  26. Hannah permalink
    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 5:58 pm

    Henry Ian Cusick is amazing. I’m pretty sure Desmond is my favorite character on LOST. And the twins are just fantastic!



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