The 20 best British actresses

My top 20 British actresses of the last 20 years.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Helen Mirren
Actress, The Queen
Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. Mirren attended St...
“ From "The Queen" to "The Last Station" every performance of Mrs. Mirren is amazing. ” - jeremi-ros
 
2.
Judi Dench
Actress, Skyfall
Judi Dench was born 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 Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre...
“ Everything in her parts is a pure perfection ” - jeremi-ros
 
3.
Maggie Smith
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 Robert Stephens and to playwright Beverley Cross...
“ Not only professor McGonagall now but still actress who can play unforgottable roles. ” - jeremi-ros
 
4.
Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson was born in London on April 15, 1959, into a family of actors - her father was Eric Thompson, who has passed away, and her mother, Phyllida Law, 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...
“ Obviously one of the best in her generation, Mrs. Thompson knows how exactly her character should behave. ” - jeremi-ros
 
5.
Kate Winslet
Actress, Titanic
Ask Kate Winslet what she likes about any of her characters, and the word "ballsy" is bound to pop up at least once. The British actress has made a point of eschewing straightforward pretty-girl parts in favor of more devilish damsels; as a result, she's built an eclectic resume that runs the gamut from Shakespearean tragedy to modern-day mysticism and erotica...
“ After "Little Children" and "Revolutionary Road" maybe not so british, but I like to think that she is. ” - jeremi-ros
 
6.
Kristin Scott Thomas
Kristin Scott Thomas was born in Redruth, Cornwall, England, to Deborah (Hurlbatt) and Lieutenant Commander Simon Scott Thomas. Her ancestry includes Welsh, English, and Dutch. Her father was a pilot for the British Royal Navy and died in a flying accident in 1964. Her stepfather was also a pilot and died six years later under similar circumstances...
“ She is cold but heart-touching and I prefer her parts in the british than in french or american movies. ” - jeremi-ros
 
7.
Vanessa Redgrave
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, Vanessa Redgrave...
“ Even in small part of Older Briony she was outstanding and as Older Ann Lord she was much better than younger one. ” - jeremi-ros
 
8.
Tilda Swinton
The iconoclastic gifts of the visually striking and fiercely talented actress Tilda Swinton have been appreciated by a more international audience of late. She was born Katherine Mathilda Swinton on November 5, 1960, in London, England. Her mother, Judith Balfour, Lady Swinton (née Killen), was Australian...
“ The perfect balance between mainstream and small, european cinema. Great parts in both. ” - jeremi-ros
 
9.
Julie Christie
Julie Christie, the British movie legend whom Al Pacino called "the most poetic of all actresses", was born in Chukua, Assam, India, on April 14, 1941, the daughter of a tea planter, Frank St. John Christie, and his wife, Rosemary (Ramsden), who was a painter. Her family was of English, and some Scottish...
“ Playing in "Away from Her" she proved that she didn't tell the last word in the film-world. ” - jeremi-ros
 
10.
Brenda Blethyn
Actress, Atonement
After twenty years of hard work on stage and both television and film, there are not many other actresses who deserved the success, recognition and stardom which Brenda Blethyn has now achieved. Born in 1946 in Ramsgate, Kent, England, she started her career at British Rail in the 1960s. Saving money during her time there...
“ The best in Mike Leigh's "Secrets and Lies", Mrs. Blethyn gets about one great part a year. ” - jeremi-ros
 
11.
Eileen Atkins
Actress, Cold Mountain
Eileen Atkins was born in a Salvation Army Women's Hostel in north London. Her father was a gas meter reader; her mother, a seamstress and barmaid. A drama teacher taught her how to drop her Cockney accent, and she studied Shakespeare and Greek tragedies. Her breakthrough role in "The Killing of Sister George" took her to Broadway.
“ Cinema too rarely has an idea how to use her great talent. ” - jeremi-ros
 
12.
Miriam Margolyes
Actress, Babe
A veteran of stage and screen, award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes has achieved success on both sides of the Atlantic. Winner of the BAFTA Best Supporting Actress award in 1993 for The Age of Innocence she also received Best Supporting Actress at the 1989 LA Critics Circle Awards for her role in Little Dorrit and a Sony Radio Award for Best Actress on "Radio" in 1993...
“ The best supporting actress of the last 20 years, I wonder to see her in the leading role ” - jeremi-ros
 
13.
“ I'm completly sure she was better than Hillary Swank and should won an Oscar. Her Vera Drake was one of the best performances I've ever seen. ” - jeremi-ros
 
14.
Rachel Weisz
Actress, The Mummy
Rachel Hannah Weisz was born on 7 March, 1970, in London, U.K., to Edith Ruth (Teich), a psychoanalyst, and George Weisz, an inventor. Her parents both came to England around 1938. Her father is a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and her mother, from Vienna, is of Italian and Austrian Jewish heritage. Rachel has a sister, Minnie, a curator and photographer...
“ In her characters is heart and wisdom and, of course, they have lovely smile. ” - jeremi-ros
 
15.
Naomi Watts
Actress, King Kong
Naomi Ellen Watts was born on September 28, 1968 in Shoreham, England, to Myfanwy Edwards "Miv" (Roberts), an antiques dealer and costume/set designer, and Peter Watts (Peter Anthony Watts), the road manager to Pink Floyd. Her maternal grandfather was Welsh. Her father died when Naomi was seven and she began to follow her mother and her brother around England...
“ She is still waiting for her one great role but she is good even during the waiting. ” - jeremi-ros
 
16.
Charlotte Rampling
Actress, Swimming Pool
Tessa Charlotte Rampling was born 5 February 1946 in Sturmer, England, to Isabel Anne (Gurteen), a painter, and Godfrey Lionel Rampling, an Olympic gold medalist, army officer, and colonel, who became a NATO commander. She was educated at Jeanne d'Arc Académie pour Jeunes Filles in Versailles, France and at the exclusive St...
“ Great not only in Ozon's movies but the best in them. ” - jeremi-ros
 
17.
Julie Andrews
Julia Elizabeth Wells was born on October 1, 1935, in England. Her mother, Barbara Ward (Morris), and stepfather, both vaudeville performers, discovered her freakish but undeniably lovely four-octave singing voice and immediately got her a singing career. She performed in music halls throughout her childhood and teens...
“ I still believe that great parts are not only behind her. ” - jeremi-ros
 
18.
Rebecca Hall
Actress, The Prestige
Rebecca Hall was born in London, UK, the daughter of Peter Hall, a stage director and founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Maria Ewing, an opera singer. Her father is English. Her mother, who is American, is of Dutch, Scottish, Sioux, and African American origin. Her parents separated when she was still young...
“ "Every year dicovery" plays in movies of Allen, Howard, Nolan and she is very good at it. ” - jeremi-ros
 
19.
“ Mom from "Bridget Jones Diary" and Helena in "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger", Mrs. Jones likes pathetic, funny characters but in her performances, they are very human. ” - jeremi-ros
 
20.
Saoirse Ronan
Actress, Atonement
Saoirse Una Ronan was born in The Bronx, New York City, New York, United States, to Irish parents, Monica Ronan (née Brennan) and Paul Ronan, an actor. When Saoirse was three, the family moved to Ireland, and Saoirse grew up in its County Carlow. Saoirse made her first TV appearance with a small role in a few episodes of the TV series...
“ OK, maybe not yet, but I believe she is the future of great british women acting tradition. ” - jeremi-ros