Best British and Irish actors

by Anna Solod | created - 27 Nov 2010 | updated - 12 Feb 2011 | Public

1. Simon Pegg

Actor | Shaun of the Dead

English actor, writer and comedian Simon Pegg was born Simon John Beckingham in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, to Gillian Rosemary (Smith), a civil servant, and John Henry Beckingham, a jazz musician. His parents divorced when Pegg was seven. He later took his stepfather's surname, "Pegg". He was ...

2. Nick Frost

Actor | Paul

Nick Frost is an English actor, screenwriter and comedian. He is known for his work in the series of British comedic genre films The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World's End (2013). He also co-starred in Paul (2011), with frequent collaborator ...

3. Dylan Moran

Actor | Black Books

Irish comedian Dylan Moran was born in Navan, County Meath in 1971. Leaving school without any qualifications at age 16, Moran quickly became attracted to stand-up comedy and debuted, in 1992, at a comedy club in Dublin, The Comedy Cellar. A year later, he won the Channel Four comedy newcomer's "So...

4. Bill Bailey

Actor | Hot Fuzz

Bill Bailey is known for his sharp wit and classic sense of humor. he is most famous for being in Never Mind The Buzzcocks, celebrity game-show in which he is a team captain. Bill is a stand up comedian, and has also starred in cult comedies such as Spaced and of course Black Books. He was given ...

5. Paul Bettany

Actor | Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Paul Bettany was born in Harlesden, London, England, into a theatre family. His father, Thane Bettany, died in 2015 but his mother, Anne Kettle, has retired from acting. His maternal grandmother, Olga Gwynne (her maiden and stage name), was a successful actress, while his maternal grandfather, ...

6. Jason Statham

Actor | Crank

Jason Statham was born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, to Eileen (Yates), a dancer, and Barry Statham, a street merchant and lounge singer. Statham has done quite a lot in a short time. He has been a Diver on the British National Diving Team and finished 12th in the World Championships in 1992. He has ...

7. Vinnie Jones

Actor | Snatch

Vincent Peter Jones was born on January 5, 1965 in Watford, England. He first came to public notice as a professional footballer, playing in the English Football League. Noted as one of soccer's hard men, he leaped to fame when a photographer, at a match, snapped him "marking" Newcastle United's ...

8. Ewan McGregor

Actor | Moulin Rouge!

Ewan Gordon McGregor was born on March 31, 1971 in Perth, Perthshire, Scotland, to Carol Diane (Lawson) and James Charles McGregor, both teachers. His uncle is actor Denis Lawson. He was raised in Crieff. At age 16, he left Morrison Academy to join the Perth Repertory Theatre. His parents ...

9. Rhys Ifans

Actor | The Amazing Spider-Man

Rhys Ifans was born and raised in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, the son of teacher parents, Beti Wyn (Davies) and Eirwyn Evans. He was educated in two Welsh language schools - Ysgol Pentrecelyn, where his mother taught, and Ysgol Maes Garmon. During his childhood, Ifans showed an interest in...

10. Robert Carlyle

Actor | The Full Monty

Robert Carlyle was born in Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland, to Elizabeth, a bus company employee, and Joseph Carlyle, a painter and decorator. He was raised by his father after his mother left him when he was four. At the age of 21, after reading Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," he enrolled in acting ...

11. Tom Wilkinson

Actor | Michael Clayton

Popular British character actor Tom Wilkinson was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, and comes from a long line of urban farmers. He is the son of Marjorie (Percival) and Thomas Wilkinson. Economic hardships forced his family to move to Canada for a few years when Wilkinson was a child; after ...

12. Daniel Craig

Actor | Casino Royale

One of the British theatre's most famous faces, Daniel Craig, who waited tables as a struggling teenage actor with the National Youth Theatre, went on to star as James Bond in Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).

He was born Daniel Wroughton Craig on ...

13. Tom Hardy

Actor | Inception

With his breakthrough performance as Eames in Christopher Nolan's science fiction thriller Inception (2010), English actor Tom Hardy has been brought to the attention of mainstream audiences worldwide. However, the versatile actor has been steadily working on both stage and screen since his ...

14. Gerard Butler

Actor | The Phantom of the Opera

Gerard James Butler was born in Paisley, Scotland, to Margaret and Edward Butler, a bookmaker. His family is of Irish origin. Gerard spent some of his very early childhood in Montreal, Quebec, but was mostly raised, along with his older brother and sister, in his hometown of Paisley. His parents ...

15. Mark Strong

Actor | The Imitation Game

British actor Mark Strong, who played Jim Prideaux in the 2011 remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), is often cast as cold, calculating villains. But before he became a famous actor, he intended to pursue a career in law.

Strong was born Marco Giuseppe Salussolia in London, England, to an ...

16. Tim Roth

Actor | Pulp Fiction

Often mistaken for an American because of his skill at imitating accents, actor Tim Roth was born Timothy Simon Roth on May 14, 1961 in Lambeth, London, England. His mother, Ann, was a teacher and landscape painter. His father, Ernie, was a journalist who had changed the family name from "Smith" to ...

17. Jude Law

Actor | The Talented Mr. Ripley

Jude Law is an English actor. Law has been nominated for two Academy Awards and continues to build a prolific body of work that spans from early successes such as Gattaca (1997) and The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) to more recent turns as Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes:...

18. Colin Firth

Actor | A Single Man

Colin Andrew Firth was born into an academic family in Grayshott, Hampshire, England. His mother, Shirley Jean (Rolles), was a comparative religion lecturer at the Open University, and his father, David Norman Lewis Firth, lectured on history at Winchester University College (formerly King Alfred's...

19. Hugh Laurie

Actor | House M.D.

Hugh was born in Oxford, England on June 11, 1959, to Patricia (Laidlaw) and William George Ranald Mundell "Ran" Laurie, a doctor, both of Scottish descent. He was educated at Eton and Cambridge. Son of an Olympic gold medalist in the sport, he rowed for the England youth team (1977) and for ...

20. Clive Owen

Actor | Closer

British actor Clive Owen is one of a handful of stars who, though he is best known for his art house films, can handle more mainstream films with equal measures of grace and skill. Owen is typically cast as characters whose primary traits are a balance of physical strength, intellect, conflicting ...

21. Rufus Sewell

Actor | Dark City

Rufus Sewell was born on the 29th of October 1967 in Twickenham, England. His mother, Jo, was Welsh, and was an artist and painter. His father, Bill, was an Australian animator who died when Rufus was 10. He has one brother, Caspar. He attended London's Central School of Speech and Drama and left ...

22. Sacha Baron Cohen

Actor | Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

British actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was born in Hammersmith, London. He is the son of Daniella (Weiser), a movement instructor, and Gerald Baron Cohen, a clothing store owner. His father, born in England and raised in Wales, was of Eastern European Jewish descent, while his mother was born...

23. Malcolm McDowell

Actor | A Clockwork Orange

Malcolm John Taylor was born on June 13, 1943 in Leeds, England, to working-class parents Edna (McDowell), a hotelier, and Charles Taylor, a publican. His father was an alcoholic. Malcolm hated his parents' ways. His father was keen to send his son to private school to give him a good start in life...

24. 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, ...

25. Ben Kingsley

Actor | Gandhi

Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Bhanji on December 31, 1943 in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. His father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was a Kenyan-born medical doctor, of Gujarati Indian descent, and his mother, Anna Lyna Mary (Goodman), was an English actress. Ben began to act in stage plays during ...

26. Hugh Grant

Actor | Love Actually

Hugh Grant, one of Britain's best known faces, has been equally entertaining on-screen as well as in real life, and has had enough sense of humor to survive a media frenzy. He is known for his roles in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), with Andie MacDowell, Notting Hill (1999), opposite Julia ...

27. Colin Farrell

Actor | The Lobster

Colin Farrell is one of Ireland's best rising stars in Hollywood and abroad today. His film presence has been filled with memorable roles that range from an inwardly tortured hit man, to an adventurous explorer, a determined-but-failing writer, and the greatest military leader in history.

Farrell ...

28. Cillian Murphy

Actor | 28 Days Later...

Striking Irish actor Cillian Murphy was born in Douglas, the oldest child of Brendan Murphy, who works for the Irish Department of Education, and a mother who is a teacher of French. He has three younger siblings. Murphy was educated at Presentation Brothers College, Cork. He went on to study law ...

29. Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Actor | Match Point

Jonathan Rhys Meyers was born Jonathan Michael Francis O'Keefe on July 27, 1977, in Dublin, Ireland, to Mary Geraldine (Meyers) and John O'Keeffe, a musician. He and his family moved to County Cork, Ireland, when the actor was nearly a year old, and then, at the age of 3, his father left the family...

30. Ralph Fiennes

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 ...

31. Jim Sturgess

Actor | 21

Jim was born in London, the son of Jane O. (Martin) and Peter J. S. Sturgess. He was raised in Surrey. First and foremost his interest was music. However, he began to develop a secret passion for acting, at age 8, when he auditioned for local theatre to get out of class. Whilst music appeared cool,...

32. Jim Broadbent

Actor | Moulin Rouge!

One of England's most versatile character actors, Jim Broadbent was born on May 24, 1949, in Lincolnshire, the youngest son of furniture maker Roy Laverick Broadbent and sculptress Doreen "Dee" (Findlay) Broadbent. Jim attended a Quaker boarding school in Reading before successfully applying for a ...

33. Charlie Hunnam

Actor | Sons of Anarchy

Charles Matthew Hunnam was born in Newcastle, England on April 10, 1980, to Jane (Bell), a business owner, and William Hunnam, a scrap metal merchant. At 18 years of age, he made a guest appearances in the popular TV series Byker Grove (1989).

He gained fame in Britain thanks to his television role ...

34. Orlando Bloom

Actor | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Orlando Jonathan Blanchard Bloom was born in Canterbury, Kent, England on January 13, 1977. His mother, Sonia Constance Josephine (Copeland), was born in Kolkata, India, to an English family then-resident there. The man he briefly knew as his father, Harry Bloom, was a legendary political activist ...

35. Bill Nighy

Actor | Love Actually

Bill Nighy is an award-winning British character actor. He was born William Francis Nighy on December 12, 1949 in Caterham, Surrey, England, to Catherine Josephine (Whittaker), a psychiatric nurse from Glasgow, and Alfred Martin Nighy, who was English-born and managed a garage in Croydon.

At school,...

36. Michael Caine

Actor | The Quiet American

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 ...

37. Daniel Day-Lewis

Actor | There Will Be Blood

Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Nicholas Blake, Poet Laureate of the U.K., and his second wife, actress Jill Balcon. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema and head of the famous Ealing ...

38. Brendan Gleeson

Actor | Calvary

Brendan Gleeson was born in Dublin, Ireland, to Pat and Frank Gleeson. From a very young age, he loved to learn, especially reading classical text in and outside the classroom. He took great attention to Irish play writers such as Samuel Beckett, which eventually led to him performing in his high ...

39. Ewen Bremner

Actor | Trainspotting

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Ewen Bremner has worked with many of the most respected directors in world cinema, including Danny Boyle, Mike Leigh, Ridley Scott, Joon-Ho Bong, Werner Herzog and Woody Allen. Ewen has established himself by creating unique characters in critically acclaimed films, as ...

40. Stephen Walters

Actor | Layer Cake

Stephen Walters, an Royal Television Society (RTS) Best Actor nominee, was born on 22 May 1975 in Merseyside, England (UK), where he spent the remainder of his childhood. A regular both on British television and film, for many years he has played a wide range and variety of character roles in both ...

41. Christian Bale

Actor | The Dark Knight

Christian Charles Philip Bale was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK on January 30, 1974, to English parents Jennifer "Jenny" (James) and David Charles Howard Bale. His mother was a circus performer and his father, who was born in South Africa, was a commercial pilot. The family lived in different ...

42. Danny Dyer

Actor | The Football Factory

Danny Dyer was born in Canning Town, east London, UK on 24th July 1977. Danny was spotted at his local Sunday School, by an agent who auditioned him for the part of Martin Fletcher in the Granada Television series Prime Suspect 3 (1993). At the age of 14 he was given the part and found himself ...

43. Richard Coyle

Actor | Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Richard Coyle was born and raised in Sheffield, in the UK with his four brothers. He began his career when, studying politics and philosophy at York University (1992 - 1995), he got interested in amateur dramatics and traveled to the Edinburgh festival twice.

A decision to raise funds to study at ...

44. Alan Rickman

Actor | Die Hard

Alan Rickman was born on a council estate in Acton, West London, to Margaret Doreen Rose (Bartlett) and Bernard Rickman, who worked at a factory. He had English, Irish, and Welsh ancestry. Alan had an older brother David, a younger brother Michael and a younger sister Sheila. When Alan was 8 years ...

45. Martin Freeman

Actor | The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Martin Freeman is an English actor, best known for portraying Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy, Tim Canterbury in the original UK version of sitcom mockumentary The Office (2001), Dr. John Watson in the British crime drama Sherlock (2010) and Lester Nygaard in the dark ...

46. Frank Harper

Actor | Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Frank Harper was born in 1962 in London, England. He is an actor and director, known for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), The Football Factory (2004) and Bend It Like Beckham (2002).