The Best of Britianby gabrielczh | created - 14 Feb 2016 | updated - 14 Feb 2016 | Public
Roses of England, Talents of Empire!
1. Maggie Smith
Actress | Gosford Park
One of the world's most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith in Essex. Her Scottish mother, Margaret (Hutton), worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith, was a teacher at Oxford University. Smith has been married twice: to actor ...
Dame Maggie Smith, CH, DBE. Greatest Actress of all time. Tragedy and High-comedy goddess. Double Oscar winner (Leading+Supporting), 7 times BAFTA Film Awards winner (4 Leading+1 Supporting+1Special+1Fellowship).
2. Vivien Leigh
Actress | A Streetcar Named Desire
If a film were made of the life of Vivien Leigh, it would open in India just before World War I, where a successful British businessman could live like a prince. In the mountains above Calcutta, a little princess is born. Because of the outbreak of World War I, she is six years old the first time ...
Lady Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Double Oscar Winner, First actress to win BAFTA Leading Actress.
Actor | The Grand Budapest Hotel
Actor Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born on December 22, 1962 in Suffolk, England, to Jennifer Anne Mary Alleyne (Lash), a novelist, and Mark Fiennes, a photographer. He is the eldest of six children. Four of his siblings are also in the arts: Martha Fiennes, a director; Magnus ...
Actress | Sense and Sensibility
Emma Thompson was born on April 15, 1959 in Paddington, London, into a family of actors - father Eric Thompson and mother Phyllida Law, who has co-starred with Thompson in several films. Her sister, Sophie Thompson, is an actor as well. Her father was English-born and her mother is Scottish-born. ...
Actor | Attack the Block
Luke trained at LAMDA and the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.
Film credits include: "A Street Cat Named Bob," winner of the Best British Film Award, National Film Awards, 2017 (Shooting Script Films); "Ethel and Ernest" (Lupus Films); "The Rack Pack" (BBC/Zeppotron); "Unbroken" (Universal ...
Youngest actor to win an Olivier Award Leading actor in a Play.
Actor | Les Misérables
British actor Eddie Redmayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor (for The Theory of Everything (2014)).
Edward John David Redmayne was born and raised in London, England, the son of Patricia (Burke) and Richard Charles Tunstall Redmayne, a businessman. His great-grandfather was Sir Richard ...
Oscar/Bafta Winner The Theory of Everything. Olivier/Tony Winner: Red
Actor | Sleuth
Laurence Olivier could speak William Shakespeare's lines as naturally as if he were "actually thinking them", said English playwright Charles Bennett, who met Olivier in 1927. Laurence Kerr Olivier was born in Dorking, Surrey, England, to Agnes Louise (Crookenden) and Gerard Kerr Olivier, a High ...
Actress | Rogue One
Felicity Rose Hadley Jones is an English actress. Jones was born in Birmingham, West Midlands, and grew up in Bournville. Her parents met while working at the Wolverhampton Express and Star. Her father was a journalist while her mother was in advertising. They divorced when she was three, and she ...
9. Alan Bates
Actor | Gosford Park
Alan Bates decided to be an actor at age 11. After grammar school in Derbyshire, he earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Following two years in the Royal Air Force, he joined the new English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre. His West End debut in 1956, at 22...
Sir Alan Bates
10. Celia Johnson
Actress | Brief Encounter
Celia Johnson was an English actress, once nominated for an Academy Award. Johnson was born in the town of Richmond, Surrey in 1908. Richmond was incorporated into Greater London in 1965, as part of an administrative reform. Celia's parents were John Robert Johnson and Ethel Griffiths. Neither of ...
Dame Celia Johnson. Magnificent performance in Brief Encounter.
11. Anthony Hopkins
Actor | The Silence of the Lambs
Anthony Hopkins was born on December 31, 1937, in Margam, Wales, to Muriel Anne (Yeats) and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker. His parents were both of half Welsh and half English descent. Influenced by Richard Burton, he decided to study at College of Music and Drama and graduated in 1957. In 1965, ...
Sir Anthony Hopkins
12. Jack Lowden
Actor | Dunkirk
Rising star Jack Lowden grew up in the Scottish Borders. He graduated from the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2011. He has had enormous success on stage in leading roles, including his performance as Oswald in Henrik Ibsen's "Ghosts", for which he won both the Ian Charleson...
Youngest actor to win an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor in a play.
13. Ralph Richardson
Actor | Doctor Zhivago
Sir Ralph Richardson was one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century English-language theater, ascending to the height of his profession in the mid-1930s when he became a star in London's West End. He became the first actor of his generation to be knighted. He became Sir Ralph in 1947, and was ...
Sir Ralph Richardson
14. Edith Evans
Actress | The Whisperers
Edith Evans was the greatest actress on the English stage in the 20th century, treading the boards for over half-a-century. She made her professional stage debut in 1912 and excelled in both classic and modern roles in the West End of London and on Broadway, as well as the Shakespeare Memorial ...
Dame Edith Evans
15. Alec Guinness
Actor | Star Wars
Alec Guinness was an English actor. He is known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946), Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), Prince Faisal in Lawrence...
Sir Alec Guinness
16. Peggy Ashcroft
Actress | A Passage to India
Academy Award-winning, legendary English actress - who maintained her status in the British acting elite for decades. Made a Dame of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1956. Almost always on stage, she appeared rarely in film, her first being The Wandering Jew (1933). On stage she was cast...
Dame Peggy Ashcroft
17. John Gielgud
Actor | Arthur
Born in London, England, John Gielgud trained at Lady Benson's Acting School and RADA, London. Best known for his Shakespearean roles in the theater, he first played Hamlet at the age of 26. He worked under the tutelage of Lilian Bayliss with friend and fellow performer Laurence Olivier and other ...
Sir John Gielgud
18. Sybil Thorndike
Actress | The Prince and the Showgirl
This distinguished theatrical tragedienne will be remembered forever if only for the fact George Bernard Shaw wrote his classic "Saint Joan" work specifically for her. Her over six-decade career allowed for a gallery of sterling, masterful portrayals, both classic and contemporary, performing all ...
Dame Sybil Thorndike
19. Wendy Hiller
Actress | Murder on the Orient Express
Wendy Hiller, daughter of Frank and Marie Hiller, was born on 15th August 1912 in Bramhall, near Stockport, Cheshire, England. She was educated at Winceby House School, Bexhill then moved on to Manchester Repertory Theatre. She appeared on stage in Sir John Barry's tour of Evensong, then as Sally ...
Dame Wendy Hiller
20. Michael Redgrave
Actor | The Lady Vanishes
Sir Michael Redgrave was of the generation of English actors that gave the world the legendary John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, Britain three fabled "Theatrical Knights" back in the days when a knighthood for thespian was far more rare than it is today. A superb actor, Redgrave ...
Sir Michael Redgrave
Actress | The V.I.P.s
Rare is the reference to Margaret Rutherford that doesn't characterize her as either jut-chinned, eccentric, or both. The combination of those most mundane of attributes has led some to suggest that she was made for the role of Agatha Christie's indomitable sleuth, Jane Marple, whom Rutherford ...
Dame Margaret Rutherford
22. Imelda Staunton
Imelda Staunton was born on January 9, 1956 in Archway, London, England as Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton. She is an actress, known for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Pride (2014). She has been married to Jim Carter since October 1983. ...
23. Ian McKellen
Widely regarded as one of greatest stage and screen actors, both in his native Great Britain and internationally, twice nominated for the Oscar and recipient of every major theatrical award in the UK and US, Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery ...
Sir Ian Mckellen
Helena Bonham Carter is an actress of great versatility, one of the UK's finest and most successful.
Bonham Carter was born May 26, 1966 in Golders Green, London, England, the youngest of three children of Elena (née Propper de Callejón), a psychotherapist, and Raymond Bonham Carter, a merchant ...
Actress | The English Patient
The acclaimed Cornish actress Dame Kristin Scott Thomas was born in Redruth, Cornwall, to Deborah (Hurlbatt) and Lieutenant Commander Simon Scott Thomas. Her father was a pilot for the British Royal Navy and died in a flying accident in 1964. Her stepfather, Lt. Cdr Simon Idiens, was also a pilot, ...
Dame Kristin Scott Thomas
26. May Whitty
Actress | Night Must Fall
Born Mary Whitty on June 19, 1865 to a Liverpool newspaper editor and his wife, she became known as May Whitty to the world.
She first stepped on the London stage in 1882. She worked as an understudy at the St. James Theatre, and then, began playing leading roles when she joined a traveling stock ...
27. John Mills
Actor | The Family Way
Sir John Mills, one of the most popular and beloved English actors, was born Lewis Ernest Watts Mills on February 22, 1908, at the Watts Naval Training College in North Elmham, Norfolk, England. The young Mills grew up in Felixstowe, Suffolk, where his father was a mathematics teacher and his ...
Sir John Mills
28. Vanessa Redgrave
Actress | Atonement
On January 30, 1937, renowned theatre actor Michael Redgrave was performing in a production of Hamlet in London. During the curtain call, the show's lead, Laurence Olivier, announced to the audience: "tonight a great actress was born". This was in reference to his co-star's newborn daughter, ...
29. Rex Harrison
Actor | My Fair Lady
Rex Harrison was born Reginald Carey Harrison in Huyton, Lancashire, England, to Edith Mary (Carey) and William Reginald Harrison, a cotton broker. He changed his name to Rex as a young boy, knowing it was the Latin word for "King". Starting out on his theater career at age 18, his first job at the ...
Actress | The Crying Game
Miranda Richardson was born in Southport, Lancashire, England on March 3, 1958, to Marian Georgina (Townsend) and William Alan Richardson, a marketing executive. She has one sister, eight years her senior. Her parents and sister are not involved in the performing arts. At an early age she performed...
31. Derek Jacobi
Actor | Gladiator
Preeminent British classical actor of the first post-Olivier generation, Derek Jacobi was knighted in 1994 for his services to the theatre, and, in fact, is only the second to enjoy the honor of holding TWO knighthoods, Danish and English (Olivier was the other). Modest and unassuming in nature, ...
Sir Derek Jacobi
32. Peter Ustinov
Actor | Spartacus
Peter Ustinov was a two-time Academy Award-winning film actor, a director, writer, journalist and raconteur. He wrote and directed many acclaimed stage plays and led numerous international theatrical productions.
He was born Peter Alexander Freiherr von Ustinov on April 16, 1921, in Swiss Cottage, ...
Sir Peter Ustinov. Double oscar winner supporting actor.
33. Judi Dench
Actress | Skyfall
Dame Judi Dench was born Judith Olivia Dench in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with the ...
Dame Judi Dench. Oscar winner supporting actress.
34. Michael Caine
Actor | The Prestige
Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London, to Ellen Frances Marie (Burchell), a charlady, and Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, a fish-market porter. He left school at age 15 and took a series of working-class jobs before joining the British army and serving in Korea during the Korean ...
35. Kenneth Branagh
Actor | Henry V
Kenneth Charles Branagh was born on December 10, 1960, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to parents William Branagh, a plumber and carpenter, and Frances (Harper), both born in 1930. He has two siblings, William Branagh, Jr. (born 1955) and Joyce Branagh (born 1970). When he was nine, his family ...