Guest post by Harry Wilson
Hollywood is the mecca of American film and television, but the UK is also quite prolific in its production of movies and TV across the pond. As a result, many UK actors make the leap to US screens, but you may not recognize them if you don’t watch British media. As such, here is a list of some fantastic British actors you probably haven’t heard about—until now.
Born in Torquay, Devon, England, Miranda Hart will be recognized by most Brits for her semi-autobiographical BBC sitcom Miranda. However, Americans might know her best as Melissa McCarthy’s sidekick in the 2015 comedy Spy. She can also be seen in the 2020 adaptation of the Jane Austen novel, Emma.
Hart has written four books, and in 2010 she won the Best Comedy Performance award from the Royal Television Society for her performance in Miranda.
Sarah Anne Akers, known professionally as Suranne Jones, is most recognizable in the UK for her stint as Karen McDonald on Coronation Street between 2000 and 2004. In 2016, she won several awards for her portrayal of Gemma Foster in the TV series Doctor Foster. She took home four awards for Doctor Foster, including the National Television Award for Best Drama Performance and the Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor.
American audiences will probably know her best from her appearance on Doctor Who in the episode “The Doctor’s Wife.” There, she played Idris, an anthropomorphized version of the Tardis.
Lesley Sharp is an English film, television, and stage actress known by British audiences for her roles on Clocking Off, Bob & Rose, and Afterlife. She won a Royal Television Society Award for Best Female Actor for her role in Afterlife in 2006 and won a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the cast of the film The Full Monty in 1998. Most of Sharp’s film career has been in UK films, and you can find out where to watch UK movies for free by doing a quick Google search.
Americans will know Sharp from her portrayal of Mortola in the film Inkheart and Rosalind in the Netflix show Fate: The Winx Saga.
An English actor and musician, Max Beesley is perhaps best known to American audiences for his roles in Homeland and Suits.
Beesley was born in 1971 in Burnage, Manchester, but he studied acting in New York under the tutelage of Sheila Gray. He is a proponent of method acting, and his first significant acting role was on the BBC’s The History of Tom Jones.
Winner of a Royal Television Society award for his portrayal of Monks in the ITV production of Oliver Twist in 2000, Marc Warren is perhaps most recognizable to Americans for his recurring role on The Good Wife as Kalinda Sharma’s estranged husband. On British television, Warren is renowned for playing Dougie Raymond in the series The Vice and Albert Blithe in HBO’s mini-series Band of Brothers. However, most recently, he played Rochefort in the BBC drama The Musketeers and The Gentleman in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on the BBC.
Many Americans likely don’t know Philip Glenister as he has yet to appear in any North American films or television shows. However, he has an extensive resume of UK television and film roles, including a co-starring role in the series Roger Roger. He was also the narrator of Bedtime Story for the BBC children’s channel.
Fans of The Office will undoubtedly recognize Catherine Tate, who played Nellie Bertram for 35 episodes of the series. However, her career goes far beyond her appearance on The Office. Tate holds several awards for her UK comedy performance, including a TV Quick Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role on Doctor Who in 2008. Furthermore, UK comedy fans will remember her 2016 comedy tour, The Catherine Tate Show Live, and her stint as the villainous sorceress Magica De Spell on Disney’s reboot of DuckTales.
Scottish-born actor John Barrowman has had several recurring roles on several UK television series, including a stint as Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who from 2005 to 2012. However, American audiences will know Barrowman best for playing Patrick Logan on season 10 of Desperate Housewives.
Barrowman is also an author and a singer. In 2008 he published his first memoir, Anything Goes, and in 2009 he published his second memoir, I am What I Am. He has also sung on several records, including Songs from Grease and his own album self-titled John Barrowman.
Scottish actress Karen Gillan is recognizable to American audiences for her role as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy. However, before she became a Hollywood actress, she was well-known in the UK for playing the popular companion Amy Pond on Doctor Who.
Gillan has been nominated for and won a number of awards, including a 2011 TV Choice Award win for Best Actress for Doctor Who and a nomination for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for Avengers: Endgame.