Period Drama Hall of Fame

Hunky heroes, spunky heroines, and always a huge cast of wonderful supporting characters. Here are the talented actors who play them - the faces we have come to associate with period drama.

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Helena Bonham Carter
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 banker...
“ A Room with a View, Lady Jane, A Hazard of Hearts, Hamlet, Howard's End, Where Angels Fear to Tread, Frankenstein, Twelfth Night, The Great War, The Wings of the Dove, Henry VIII + more. ” - Basilesque
Keira Knightley
Keira Christina Knightley was born in the South West Greater London suburb of Richmond on March 26th 1985. She is the daughter of actor Will Knightley and actress turned playwright Sharman Macdonald. An older brother, Caleb Knightley, was born in 1979. Her father is English, while her Scottish-born mother is of Scottish and Welsh origin...
“ Oliver Twist, Doctor Zhivago, Pirates of the Caribbean, King Arthur, Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Silk, The Edge of Love, The Duchess.

Most memorable role: Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice - for which role she garnered an Oscar nomination. ” - Basilesque
Anthony Andrews
Anthony Andrews made his West End theater debut at the Apollo Theatre as one of twenty young schoolboys in Alan Bennett's "Forty Years On" with John Gielgud. He began his career at the Chichester Festival Theatre in the UK. His theater credits include spells with the New Shakespeare Company - "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream"...
“ The Pallisers, David Copperfield, Upstairs Downstairs, Brideshead Revisited, Ivanhoe, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Woman He Loved, David Copperfield (again), Love in a Cold Climate, Marple, The King's Speech, Birdsong.

Most memorable roles: Sir Percy Blakeney, The Scarlet Pimpernel; Wilfred of Ivanhow, Ivanhoe. ” - Basilesque
Francesca Annis
Actress, Dune
English actress Francesca Annis, who has enjoyed a 50-plus year career, spanning seven decades in movies, television and the theater, was born in London six days after V-E Day, on May 14, 1945. Her father, Lester, was English, but her mother, Mariquita (aka Mara Purcell), was of Brazilian-French heritage...
“ Great Expectations, The Tragedy of MacBeth, Madame Bovary, Lillie, Wives and Daughters, The Libertine, Jane Eyre, Marple, Cranford + many more.

Most memorable role: Mrs. Gibson, Wives and Daughers. She rivals Mrs. Bennet in the "Most annoying literary mother" stakes. ” - Basilesque
Richard Armitage
Richard Crispin Armitage was born and raised in Leicester, England, to Margaret (Hendey), a secretary, and John Armitage, an engineer. He attended Pattison College in Binley Road, Coventry, and studied at LAMDA (the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art). His first appearance on the screen was in a small role in This Year's Love...
“ North & South, The Impressionists, Miss Marie Lloyd, Marple, Robin Hood, Captain America.

Most memorable role: Mr. Thornton, North & South.

Hasn't been in very many period dramas, but his performance in North & South has made him a veritable costume drama icon. ” - Basilesque
“ The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Black Beauty, Braveheart, Onegin, Sleepy Hollow, Oliver Twist, Aristocrats, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist (again), Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Garrow's Law, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2.

Most memorable role: Flintwinch, Little Dorrit. ” - Basilesque
Gemma Arterton
Gemma Christina Arterton was born in Gravesend, Kent, England, where she was raised. She is the daughter of Sally-Anne (Heap), a cleaner, and Barry J. Arterton, a welder. Her mother's cousin is singer-songwriter Eric Goulden. Her parents divorced when she was age five, and Gemma subsequently lived with her younger sister and her mother...
“ Lost in Austen, Tess of D'Urbervilles.

Most memorable role: Tess Durbeyfield, Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Hasn't been in many period films (yet), but Gemma's performances in such iconic roles as Elizabeth Bennet and Tess Durbeyfield warrant her a place on this list. ” - Basilesque
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.
“ A Hazard of Hearts, Cold Comfort Farm, Madame Bovary, David Copperfield, Gosford Park, Bertie and Elizabeth, Vanity Fair, Marple, Cold Mountain, Cranford, Ballet Shoes, Robin Hood, Poirot, Upstairs Downstairs + more.

Most memorable role: Miss Deborah Jenkyns, Cranford. ” - Basilesque
Hayley Atwell
Born in London, England, Hayley Elizabeth Atwell has dual citizenship of the United Kingdom and the United States. An only child, Hayley was named after actress Hayley Mills. Her parents, Alison (Cain) and Grant Atwell, both motivational speakers, met at a London workshop of Dale Carnegie's self-help bible "How to Win Friends and Influence People"...
“ The Ruby in the Smoke, Mansfield Park, The Shadow in the North, Brideshead Revisited, The Duchess, The Pillars of the Earth, Any Human Heart, Captain America. ” - Basilesque
Paloma Baeza
Actress, Sunshine
Paloma - whose Christian name is the Spanish for 'Dove' - was born on May 1st 1975 in London. Her parents, an English mother and Mexican father were hippie musicians and, when Paloma was a baby they moved to live in Mexico City, where she stayed until she was nine and the parents separated. She returned to England with her mother...
“ Jospeh, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, The Odyssey, Bramwell, Far from the Madding Crowd, Anna Karenina, Rebel Heart, All Forgotten, The Way We Live Now, The Passion.

Most memorable role: Bathsheba Everdene, Far From the Madding Crowd. ” - Basilesque
Linda Bassett
Actress, The Hours
Linda Bassett was born in the Kentish village of Pluckley - location for the television series The Darling Buds of May. She was brought up in Pimlico, South London, by her typist mother and police officer father. She became interested in acting as a child when she was frequently taken to see plays in London...
“ Oscar and Lucinda, The Life and Crimes of William Palmer, Our Mutual Friend, Far From the Madding Crowd, Don Quixote, Sense and Sensibility, Lark Rise to Candleford, Effie.

Most memorable role: Queenie Turrill, Lark Rise to Candleford. ” - Basilesque
Sean Bean
Sean Bean's 20 year career spans theater, radio, television and movies. Bean was born in Handsworth, Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, to Rita (Tuckwood) and Brian Bean. He worked for his father's welding firm before he decided to become an actor. He attended RADA in London and appeared in a number of West End stage productions including RSC's "Fair Maid of the West" (Spencer)...
“ Caravaggio, Troubles, The Fifteen Streets, Lorna Doone, Clarissa, Sharpe's Rifles, Sharpe's Eagle, Lady Chatterly, Sharpe's Company, Sharpe's Enemy, Sharpe's Honour, Black Beauty, Scarlett, Jacob, Sharpe's Gold, Sharpe's Battle, Sharpe's Sword, Sharpe's Regiment, Sharpe's Siege, Sharpe's Mission, Anna Karenina, Sharpe's Revenge, Sharpe's Justice, Sharpe's Waterloo, Henry VIII, Troy, Sharpe's Challenge, Sharpe's Peril, Crusoe.

Most memorable role: Richard Lovelace, Clarissa. The original 18th century rake. ” - Basilesque
Kate Beckinsale
Actress, Underworld
Kate Beckinsale was born on 26 July 1973 in England, and has resided in London for most of her life. Her mother is Judy Loe, who has appeared in a number of British dramas and sitcoms and continues to work as an actress, predominantly in British television productions. Her father was Richard Beckinsale...
“ One Against the Wind, Much Ado About Nothing, Prince of Jutland, Cold Comfort Farm, Emma, The Golden Bowl, Pearl Harbour, The Aviator.

Most memorable role: Emma Woodhouse, Emma.

Kate starred in some wonderful British productions in the '90s, in her pre-Hollywood years. ” - Basilesque
Claudie Blakley
Claudie Blakley, birth name Claudia, is the sister of Kirsten Blakley, the lead singer with indie band Little Spitfire. Their mother is actress Lin Blakley and their father was Alan Blakley, bassist with Brian Poole's Tremeloes, who had several pop hits in the 1960s. Sadly Alan died of cancer in 1996 and missed seeing his daughters' success...
“ The War Bride, Gosford Park, He Knew He Was Right, Pride & Prejudice, Cranford, Lark Rise to Candleford, Bright Star, Marple.

Most memorable role: Emma Timmins, Lark Rise to Candleford. ” - Basilesque
Crispin Bonham-Carter
Crispin Daniel Bonham-Carter is an English actor and theatre director. He played Mr. Bingley in BBC's Pride and Prejudice in 1995. The previous year, he had starred in the TV sitcom Honey for Tea. Bonham-Carter also starred alongside Ewan McGregor in the 1993 BBC period drama Scarlet and Black playing Rachel Weisz's suitor...
“ Howard's End, Scarlet and Black, Pride and Prejudice, Cadfael, Rag Nymph, Basil, Wuthering Heights, Victoria and Albert, The Impressionists.

Most memorable role: I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Edgar Linton, in Wuthering Heights; though he is better-known for his Mr. Bingley, in Pride and Prejudice.

Cousin of Helena. ” - Basilesque
“ Mansfield Park, Madam Bovary, Doctor Zhivago, Daniel Deronda, Miss Austen Regrets, Lost in Austen, Marple, Ben Hur, Poirot, Downton Abbey.

Most memorable role: Mallinger Grandcourt, Daniel Deronda; with Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham (Downton Abbey) a close second. ” - Basilesque
“ Our Mutual Friend, Vanity Fair, The Way We Live Now, Nicholas Nickleby, The Mayor of Castorbridge, Charles II.

Most memorable role: Rogue Riderhood, Our Mutual Friend. ” - Basilesque
Kenneth Branagh
Actor, Valkyrie
Kenneth Charles Branagh was born on December 10, 1960, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, to parents William Branagh, a plumber and carpenter born in 1930, and Frances (Harper) Branagh, also born in 1930. His brother, William Branagh Jr., was born in 1955 and sister, Joyce Branagh, was born in 1970...
“ Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Frankenstein, Othello, Hamlet. ” - Basilesque
“ Poirot, Great Expectations, The Madness of King George, Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina, Our Mutual Friend, Lorna Doone, The Impressionists, Beau Brummell, Upstairs Downstairs.

Most memorable role: Tom Faggus, Lorna Doone. ” - Basilesque
“ A Room with a View, David Copperfield, Howards End, Jefferson in Paris, The Woman in White, Shakespeare in Love, The Mystery of Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Andersen, The Phantom of the Opera, Marple. ” - Basilesque
“ Black Beauty, The Madness of King George, Shakespeare in Love, The Way We Live Now, Hornblower, Cranford, Downton Abbey, + more.

Most memorable role: Mr. Carson, Downton Abbey. ” - Basilesque
“ He Knew He Was Right, Marple, Jane Eyre, Lost in Austen, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Emma.

Most memorable role: Nora Rowley, He Knew He Was Right. ” - Basilesque
“ Wuthering Heights, The Mill on the Floss, Jane Eyre, Persuasion, David Copperfield, The Mayor of Casterbridge, + more.

Most memorable role: I'm actually going to say Mrs. Musgrove in Persuasion. Though it was a relatively small part, Judy made Mrs. Musgrove seem such a lovely, warm, comfortable sort of person! ” - Basilesque
Brendan Coyle
Brendan Coyle was born in Corby, Northamptonshire to an Irish father and Scottish mother; his parents moved to Corby from County Tyrone, Ireland. Brendan holds Irish citizenship and has previously lived in Dublin and London. However, according to a video clip from the site for "Rockface" he resides in Norfolk...
“ The Glass Virgin, North and South, Lark Rise to Candleford, Downton Abbey.

Most memorable role: Robert Timmins, Lark Rise to Candleford. ” - Basilesque
Timothy Dalton
Dalton quickly moved to television, working mainly with the BBC, and in 1968 made his film debut as Philip II of France in The Lion in Winter. This was the first of several period dramas, which included Wuthering Heights in which he portrayed Heathcliff. After a few more films, Dalton took a break in 1971 to concentrate on the theatre...
“ Wuthering Heights, Cromwell, Mary Queen of Scots, Jane Eyre, Scarlett.

Most memorable role: Edward Rochester, Jane Eyre.

One of only two actors (Toby Stephens being the other) to have played two different Brontëan heroes. ” - Basilesque
“ Sense and Sensibility, The Last of the Mohicans, The Edwardians, War and Peace, Ballet Shoes, Lillie, Rebecca, Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice, The Mill on the Floss, Bramwell, The Forsyte Saga, The Way We Live Now, He Knew He Was Right, Bleak House, + more.

Married to Edward Fox. Mother of Emilia Fox. ” - Basilesque
Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation and has earned numerous awards, including three Academy Awards for Best Actor for his performances in My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood and Lincoln, making him the only male actor in history to have three wins in the lead actor category and one of only three male actors to win three Oscars...
“ A Room with a View, The Last of the Mohicans, The Age of Innocence, The Crucible. ” - Basilesque
“ The Secret Garden, Firelight, Anna Karenina, The Cazalets, King Arthur, John Adams, Marple. ” - Basilesque
Anne-Marie Duff
Actress, Suffragette
Anne-Marie Duff is an English actress, born on 8 October 1970 in Southall, London. Her parents, Brendan and Mary (née Doherty), are from Donegal, Ireland. Her father worked as a painter and decorator and her mother worked in a shoe shop. She first came to the attention of the British public for her...
“ Aristocrats, The Way We Live Now, Doctor Zhivago, Charles II, The Virgin Queen, Margot.

Married to James McAvoy. ” - Basilesque
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...
“ A Room with a View, Henry V, Hamlet, Shakespeare in Love, The Importance of Being Earnest, Ladies in Lavender, Pride & Prejudice, Cranford, Jane Eyre, + more. ” - Basilesque
“ Middlemarch, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Our Mutual Friend, The Turn of the Screw, Nicholas Nickleby, Pollyanna, Marple, Jane Eyre, Little Dorrit.

Most memorable role: Mrs. Boffin, Our Mutual Friend. ” - Basilesque
Ralph Fiennes
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 Fiennes...
“ Wuthering Heights, Onegin, The Duchess.

Most memorable role: Evgeny Onegin. The most Byronic of Byronic heroes. Besides, Ralph looked so dashing in his Beau Brummell-inspired garb. ” - Basilesque
Deborah Findlay
Actress, Jackie
Deborah Findlay was born in 1947 in Surrey and read English at Leeds University. She worked in Leeds with a theatre group touring plays, music, community theatre and cabaret before coming to London to work at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1978. She was in the original production of 'Top Girls'...
“ Jane Eyre, Wives and Daughters, Anna Karenina, Vanity Fair, Cranford, Poirot.

Most memorable role: Rowena Drake, Poirot. ” - Basilesque
Colin Firth
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 College) in Winchester...
“ Valmont, Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare in Love, The Turn of the Screw, The Importance of Being Earnest, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Dorian Gray, The King's Speech.

Most memorable role: Mr. Darcy, duh! ” - Basilesque
Jonathan Firth
Actor, Luther
This charismatic and elegant actor unfairly seems to be best known as the younger brother of British heartthrob, Colin Firth. This is indeed a pity because Jonathan Firth has developed a distinct and interesting resume of his own with performances in radio, theatre, feature films, but more prominently...
“ Wuthering Heights, Middlemarch, Poirot, Far From the Madding Crowd, An Ideal Husband, Victoria and Albert, Luther.

Younger brother of Colin. ” - Basilesque
Tara Fitzgerald
Actress, Legend
Tara Fitzgerald was born in Sussex, England. Her mother, Sarah Fitzgerald, is Irish, and her father, Michael Callaby, was Italian. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to Freeport, in the Bahamas where her grandfather, David Fitzgerald, was a well-established lawyer. Her sister, Arabella Fitzgerald...
“ The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, The Woman in White, I Capture the Castle, Marple, The Virgin Queen, Jane Eyre.

Most memorable role: Helen Graham, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. ” - Basilesque
Barbara Flynn
Actress, Miss Potter
Born on 5th August 1948 in Hastings, East Sussex, England. She started her television career in 1970 in the TV series A Family at War, cast as Freda Ashton. She became better known following her appearances in The Beiderbecke Affair, The Beiderbecke Tapes and The Beiderbecke Connection, alongside James Bolam. She has narrated recent documentaries such as: "Frontier House"...
“ The Barchester Chronicles, Wives and Daughters, Lorna Doone, The Forsyte Saga, Hornblower, Poirot, He Knew He Was Right, Elizabeth I, Miss Potter, Cranford.

Most memorable role: Sarah Ridd, Lorna Doone. ” - Basilesque
“ Portrait of a Lady, Hard Times, Edward & Mrs. Simpson, A Hazard of Hearts, The Importance of Being Earnest, Daniel Deronda, Nicholas Nickleby, Poirot, Oliver Twist, Marple, + more. ” - Basilesque
“ Pride and Prejudice, Rebecca, The Scarlet Pimpernel, David Copperfield, Henry VIII, The Virgin Queen, Marple, Ballet Shoes, Dorian Gray.

Appeared in Pride and Prejudice with mother Joanna David. ” - Basilesque
James Fox
James Fox is the second of three sons, born to the theatrical agent Robin Fox and his actress wife Angela Worthington - aka Angela Fox. His brothers are the actor Edward Fox and the producer Robert Fox. He started acting as a child actor and used his real name, until he reached his early 20s...
“ The Remains of the Day, Gulliver's Travels, The Old Curiosity Shop, Anna Karenina, Hans Christian Andersen, Poirot, Marple, Colditz, Sherlock Holmes, + more. ” - Basilesque
Laurence Fox
RADA-trained Laurence Fox is the third son of the actor James Fox and his wife Mary. He is a rising British actor who has appeared in several important films, plays, and television programs. He comes from a theatrical family and promises to have an illustrious career ahead of him.
“ Gosford Park, Marple, Becoming Jane, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, A Room with a View.

Most memorable role: Mr. Wisley, Becoming Jane.

Yet another member of the Fox clan! Son of James and nephew of Edward. Married to actress Billie Piper. ” - Basilesque
Michael Gambon
Sir Michael Gambon was born in Cabra, Dublin, Ireland, to Mary (Hoare), a seamstress, and Edward Gambon, an engineer. After joining the National Theatre, under the Artistic Directorship of Sir Laurence Olivier, Gambon went on to appear in a number of leading roles in plays written by Alan Ayckbourn...
“ The Wings of the Dove, Sleepy Hollow, Wives and Daughters, Gosford Park, The Lost Prince, Amazing Grace, Cranford, Brideshead Revisited, Emma.

Most memorable role: Squire Hamley, Wives and Daughters. ” - Basilesque
Romola Garai
Actress, Amazing Grace
Born in Hong Kong to father Adrian (banker) and mother Janet (journalist), Romola Garai's unusual name is the female version of Romolo, an Italian name for boys (from Latin Romulus, the founder of Rome). She grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong until she was eight when her family returned to lay roots in Wiltshire...
“ Daniel Deronda, Nicholas Nickleby, I Capture the Castle, Vanity Fair, Mary Bryant, As You Like It, Amazing Grace, Angel, Atonement, Glorious 39, Emma.

Most memorable role: A hard one. . . It's a three-way tie between Gwendolen (Daniel Deronda), Mary Bryant, and Emma.

Rivals Keira Knightley as today's "First Lady of Costume Drama"! ” - Basilesque
Ioan Gruffudd
Ioan Gruffudd was born on October 6, 1973 in Cardiff, Wales, UK to educators Gillian (James) and Peter Gruffudd. He has a brother, Alun, who is two years younger and a sister, Siwan, who is seven years younger. He got got his start at age 13 in the Welsh soap opera People of the Valley. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1992 to 1995...
“ Poldark, Wilde, Titanic, Hornblower, Great Expectations, The Forsyte Saga, King Arthur. ” - Basilesque
“ Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Victoria & Albert, In Search of the Brontës, Wide Sargasso Sea, Lark Rise to Candleford. ” - Basilesque
Tom Hardy
With his breakthrough performance as Eames in Christopher Nolan's science fiction thriller Inception, 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 television debut in the miniseries Band of Brothers...
“ Colditz, The Virgin Queen, Marie Antoinette, Oliver Twist, Wuthering Heights.

Most memorable role: Possibly one of the better Heathcliffs the screen has seen. Also very good as Bill Sykes in Oliver Twist. ” - Basilesque
“ The Moonstone, Our Mutual Friend, Wives and Daughters, Marple, Under the Greenwood Tree, Upstairs Downstairs.

Most memorable role: Lizzie Hexam, Our Mutual Friend.

Married to Matthew MacFadyen. ” - Basilesque
Shirley Henderson
Actress, Trainspotting
Shirley Henderson grew up in Fife, Scotland. She began performing young and at the age of 13 found herself singing in a boxing ring between bouts after winning a local singing competition. She went on to sing in the local working men's clubs on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. After deciding upon acting as a career, she uprooted to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama...
“ Clarissa, Rob Roy, The Way We Live Now, Charles II, Marie Antoinette, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

Most memorable role: Marie Melmotte, The Way We Live Now. ” - Basilesque
Ciarán Hinds
Actor, Frozen
Ciaran Hinds was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on February 9, 1953. He was one of five children and the only son. His father was a doctor who hoped to have Ciaran follow in his footsteps, but that was not to be. It was his mother Moya, an amateur actress, who was the real influence behind his decision to become an actor...
“ Persuasion, Ivanhoe, Jane Eyre, The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Phantom of the Opera, Amazing Grace, Rome, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

Most memorable role: Captain Frederick Wentworth, Persuasion. ” - Basilesque
Douglas Hodge
Douglas Hodge is a five times Olivier-nominated actor/director, who has worked extensively in film and on television. He is an acclaimed classical actor working at the National Theatre, the RSC, Shakespeare's Globe, the Royal Court Theatre and in the West End and on Broadway where he has won the Tony...
“ Middlemarch, The Way We Live Now, Vanity Fair, Mansfield Park, Robin Hood. ” - Basilesque
Tom Hollander
Tom Hollander was born the second child of educated parents, both teachers. He grew up in Oxford, (UK). Hollander credits the happy atmosphere of the Dragon School with his childhood introduction to acting. There, encouraged by an influential teacher named Andrew Roberts, he won the title role in "Oliver"...
“ Wives and Daughters, Nicholas Nickleby, Gosford Park, The Lost Prince, The Libertine, Pride & Prejudice, Pirates of the Caribbean, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, John Adams, Desperate Romantics.

Most memorable role: Osborne Hamley, Wives and Daughters. ” - Basilesque
Celia Imrie
Celia Diana Savile Imrie is an English actress. She is known for her appearances with Victoria Wood; including Claire in Pat and Margaret (1994), Philippa Moorcroft in Dinnerladies (1998-2000) and playing various characters in the sketch show Victoria Wood As Seen On TV (1985-87), including Miss Babs in the spoof soap opera sketches Acorn Antiques...
“ Upstairs Downstairs, The Return of the Native, The History of Tom Jones, Love in a Cold Climate, Doctor Zhivago, Daniel Deronda, Marple, Cranford.

Has a son with Benjamin Whitrow (Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice 1995). ” - Basilesque
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, Jacobi's...
“ The Pallisers, Little Dorrit, Henry V, Hamlet, Cadfael, Gladiator, Gosford Park, Marple, The Old Curiosity Shop, Margot, The King's Speech, Ironclad, The Borgias, Titanic: Blood and Steel, Effie, + more. ” - Basilesque
Toby Jones
Widely regarded as the one of greatest stage and screen actors both in his native Great Britain and internationally, Toby Edward Heslewood Jones was born on September 7, 1966 in Hammersmith, London. His parents, Freddie Jones and Jennie Heslewood, are actors as well. Toby has two brothers: Rupert, a director...
“ Ever After, Aristocrats, Victoria and Albert, The Way We Live Now, Ladies in Lavender, Finding Neverland, Elizabeth I, Amazing Grace, The Painted Veil, The Old Curiosity Shop, Poirot.

Most memorable role: Waddington, The Painted Veil. ” - Basilesque
“ The Brontes of Haworth, Out of Africa, Enchanted April, The Buccaneers, Oliver Twist, The Railway Children, Lorna Doone, + more. ” - Basilesque
Damian Lewis
Actor, Homeland
Damian Lewis was born on February 11, 1971, in St. John's Wood, London, England, to Charlotte Mary (Bowater), from an upper-class background, and J. Watcyn Lewis, a city broker whose own parents were Welsh. He was raised on Abbey Road in London until the age of 8 with his siblings Gareth, William, and Amanda...
“ Poirot, Robinson Crusoe, Band of Brothers, The Forsyte Saga, Colditz.

Most memorable role: Soames Forsyte, The Forsyte Saga. ” - Basilesque
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...
“ Oliver Twist, A Little Princess, Little Dorrit, The Age of Innocence, Cold Comfort Farm, Vanity Fair, Dickens, Ladies in Lavender, Marple, Wallis & Edward. ” - Basilesque
“ David Copperfield, The Pallisers, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Mansfield Park, Anna Karenina, A Hazard of Hearts, Around the World in 80 Days, A Tale of Two Cities, The Importance of Being Earnest, He Knew He Was Right, Oliver Twist, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Poirot, + more. ” - Basilesque
Jodhi May
Jodhi was born in 1975. She was born and brought up in London, England, UK. She went to Wadham College, Oxford University 1994-1997. She studied and received a Masters in English. During her time at Wadham she read a lot of literature. She has been acting since she was twelve.
“ The Last of the Mohicans, The Woodlanders, Aristocrats, The Turn of the Screw, The House of Mirth, Daniel Deronda, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Emma. ” - Basilesque
James McAvoy
McAvoy was born on 21 April 1979 in Glasgow, Scotland, to Elizabeth (née Johnstone), a nurse, and James McAvoy senior, a bus driver. He was raised on a housing estate in Drumchapel, Glasgow by his maternal grandparents (James, a butcher, and Mary), after his parents divorced when James was 7. He went to St Thomas Aquinas Secondary in Jordanhill...
“ Lorna Doone, Band of Brothers, Becoming Jane, Atonement. ” - Basilesque
Ian McKellen
Widely regarded as the 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 UK and US, Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery Lois (Sutcliffe) and Denis Murray McKellen...
“ David Copperfield, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Cold Comfort Farm, Swept from the Sea, David Copperfield (again).

Most memorable role: Amos Starkadder, Cold Comfort Farm. "There will be no butter in hell!!" ” - Basilesque
“ The Wings of the Dove, The Affair of the Necklace, The Forsyte Saga, Under the Greenwood Tree, Lark Rise to Candleford, Marple.

Most memorable role: Sir Timothy Winter, Lark Rise to Candleford. ” - Basilesque
Jonny Lee Miller
Actor, Elementary
Jonny Lee Miller (sometimes credited with an H) was born on November 15, 1972, in Kingston, England, UK, to actors Anna Lee and Alan Miller, and the grandson of actor Bernard Lee. After appearing in many high school plays at his selective state grammar school, Johnny dropped out at 17, to pursue acting full time...
“ Mansfield Park, Mansfield Park (again), Byron, Emma.

Most memorable role: Mr. Knightley, Emma.

Only actor to have played two Jane Austen heroes. ” - Basilesque
Carey Mulligan
Actress, Drive
Carey Mulligan is a British actress, born May 28, 1985, in Westminster, London, England, to Nano (Booth), a university lecturer, and Stephen Mulligan, a hotel manager. Her father is of Irish descent and her mother is Welsh, originally from Llandeilo. Her first major appearance was playing Kitty Bennet in Pride & Prejudice alongside Keira Knightley...
“ Pride & Prejudice, Bleak House, Marple, Northanger Abbey, My Boy Jack.

Most memorable role: Ada Clare, Bleak House. ” - Basilesque
Sophia Myles
Actress, Underworld
Sophia Jane Myles was born on March 18, 1980 in Hammersmith, London, England. She has a younger brother, Oliver. Her parents are Jane and Peter Myles, who is a vicar, a priest in the Anglican Church who is in charge of a parish and receives a salary, but not the tithes of the church. Her mother works in publishing...
“ The Prince and the Pauper, Mansfield Park, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, The Abduction Club, Colditz, Tristan + Isolde, Marple. ” - Basilesque
Matthew Macfadyen
David Matthew Macfadyen was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, to Meinir (Owen), a drama teacher and actress, and Martin Macfadyen, an oil executive. He is of Scottish and Welsh descent. Because of his father's career, he spent at least part of his childhood in Indonesia, before finishing his education back in England and winning a place at RADA in 1992...
“ Wuthering Heights, The Way We Live Now, Pride & Prejudice, Marple, Little Dorrit Robin Hood, The Pillars of the Earth, The Three Musketeers.

Attained period drama heart-throb status for his leading roles in Pride & Prejudice and Little Dorrit.

Most memorable role: I leave that you for you to decide! Did you fall in love with him as Mr. Darcy, or Arthur Clennam? ” - Basilesque
Sophie Marceau
Actress, Braveheart
Sophie Marceau was born Sophie Danièle Sylvie Maupu in Paris, France, to Simone (Morisset), a shop assistant, and Benoît Maupu, a truck driver. She grew up far from the studio spotlights. When she was 14 she was living in the Paris suburb of Gentilly with her father. She learned from friends that director Claude Pinoteau was looking for new faces for a movie about teenagers called The Party...
“ Braveheart, Anna Karenina, Marquise, Firelight. ” - Basilesque
“ Byron, He Knew He Was Right, A Good Woman, Wallis & Edward, Amazing Grace, Lark Rise to Candleford, Ben Hur. ” - Basilesque
Jeremy Northam
Actor, The Net
Jeremy Philip Northam was born in Cambridge, England to parents John and Rachel, both university professors. John Northam is best known for his translations of Henrik Ibsen. The family moved to Bristol, in 1972, where Jeremy attended Bristol Grammar School. Jeremy graduated from Bedford College, University of London...
“ Wuthering Heights, Poirot, Emma, An Ideal Husband, The Winslow Boy, Gosford Park, The Tudors, Creation, Glorious 39.

Most memorable role: Mr. Knightley, Emma. ” - Basilesque
Judy Parfitt
Of regal bearing and imposing stance, British classical actress Judy Parfitt is the possessor of the chilliest blue orbs in all of London and has used them to her advantage over the years with her portrayals of haughty, bossy, scheming and deliciously malevolent patricians. Born in Yorkshire, she was...
“ David Copperfield, Les Miserables, Hamlet, Villette, Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, Wilde, Ever After, Girl With a Pearl Earring, Poirot, Little Dorrit, + more.

Most memorable role: Mrs. Clennam, Little Dorrit. Also the best-ever Lady Catherine de Bourgh (P&P). ” - Basilesque
Nathaniel Parker
Actor, Stardust
Nathaniel Parker was born in England in 1962. The son of Sir Peter Parker and Dr. Jill Parker, he decided at the age of nine that acting would be his career of choice. His first public performances were with the National Youth Theatre, a breeding ground for many British actors. After attending The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA)...
“ Hamlet, The Black Candle, Poirot, Wide Sargasso Sea, Othello, Far From the Madding Crowd, Vanity Fair, Bleak House, Stardust, Landgirls.

Most memorable role: Gabriel Oak, Far From the Madding Crowd. ” - Basilesque
“ Hard Times, Wives and Daughters, Doctor Zhivago, Amazing Grace, Miss Potter, Little Dorrit, Creation, Marple.

Most memorable role: Dr. Gibson, Wives and Daughters.

Seems to have carved a niche for himself as "Costume drama heroine's caring, protective dad", in which part he is regularly cast. ” - Basilesque
“ Scarlet and Black, Emma, Mrs. Dalloway, The Forsyte Saga, Cranford, The Duchess.

Most memorable role: Major Gordon, Cranford. ” - Basilesque
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...
“ Mary Queen of Scots, Howard's End, Mrs. Dalloway, Byron, The White Countess, Atonement, Anonymous + more.

Mother of Natasha and Joely Richardson. ” - Basilesque
Alan Rickman
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 old...
“ Romeo & Juliet, Thérèse Raquin, The Barchester Chronicles, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Mesmer, Sense and Sensibility.

Most memorable role: Colonel Brandon, Sense and Sensibility. ” - Basilesque
“ Persuasion, Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, The Forsyte Sage, Daniel Deronda, The Impressionists, Poirot.

Most memorable role: Anne Elliot, Persuasion. ” - Basilesque
Julia Sawalha
Actress, Chicken Run
Julia Sawalha has made many film and television appearances since her debut role as Lynda Day on Press Gang, though she has always said that the character that resembles her real-life personality most is Lynda. Since her 5 years on "Press Gang" where she worked opposite her real-life love (at the time) Dexter Fletcher...
“ Martin Chuzzlewit, Pride and Prejudice, The Wind in the Willows, Hornblower, Cranford, Lark Rise to Candleford.

Most memorable role: Dorcas Lane, Lark Rise to Candleford. ” - Basilesque
Greta Scacchi
Actress, The Player
Greta Scacchi was born in Milan, Italy, to Pamela, an English dancer and antiques dealer, and Luca Scacchi , an Italian art dealer and painter. She grew up in Milan and Sussex, England. In 1975, her mother and second husband moved to Australia, where, after she left school, Greta worked as an Italian interpreter on a ranch...
“ Jefferson in Paris, Emma, Daniel Deronda, Marple, Miss Austen Regrets, Brideshead Revisited. ” - Basilesque
“ Pride and Prejudice, The Secret Garden, Howard's End, Emma, An Ideal Husband, Dickens, Marple.

Most memorable role: Miss Bates, Emma.

Though best known as Sybil Fawlty, Prunella Scales has also starred in many costume dramas over the years. ” - Basilesque
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 in June of 1989 after completing three years of training...
“ Middlemarch, Cold Comfort Farm, Hamlet, The Woodlanders, A Knight's Tale, Charles II, Tristan + Isolde, The Illusionist, Amazing Grace, The Pillars of the Earth. ” - Basilesque
“ Young Winston, The Strauss Family, The Onedin Line, Our Mutual Friend, Captains and the Kings, The Four Feathers, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Woman He Loved, Heidi, Dr. Quinn - Medicine Woman, Marple, + more. ” - Basilesque
Fiona Shaw
Fiona Shaw was born July 10, 1958 in County Cork, Ireland. She attended secondary school at Scoil Mhuire in Cork City, and later received a degree in University College Cork. She was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and was part of a contingent of actors to emerge from the college who were considered 'new wave'...
“ Persuasion, Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, The Triumph of Love, Dorian Gray.

Most memorable role: Mrs. Croft, Persuasion. ” - Basilesque
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...
“ A Room with a View, The Secret Garden, David Copperfield, Gosford Park, Ladies in Lavender, Becoming Jane, Downton Abbey, + many more. ” - Basilesque
Toby Stephens
Toby Stephens began his acting career while a stagehand at the Chichester Festival Theatre, in end-of-season productions mounted by the crew. In his brief professional career, he has already won the Sir John Gielgud Prize for Best Actor and the Ian Charleson Award for his performance in the title role of "Coriolanus" at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1994...
“ Twefth Night, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Cousin Bette, Onegin, The Great Gatsby, Poirot, Sharpe's Challenge, Jane Eyre, Robin Hood, Marple.

Most memorable role: Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre.

Son of Maggie Smith. ” - Basilesque
Dan Stevens
Dan Stevens was born at Croydon in Surrey on 10th October 1982. His parents are teachers. He was educated at Tonbridge School and trained in acting at the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. He studied English Literature at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Whilst he was a Cambridge undergraduate, he acted in several student drama productions...
“ Frankenstein, Dracula, Marple, Sense & Sensibility, The Turn of the Screw, Downton Abbey.

Most memorable role: Matthew Crawley, Downton Abbey. ” - Basilesque
Mark Strong
British actor Mark Strong, who played Jim Prideaux in the 2011 remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, 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 Austrian mother and an Italian father...
“ Sharpe's Mission, Emma, Anna Karenina, Henry VIII, Oliver Twist, Tristan + Isolde, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, The Young Victoria, Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, The Eagle.

Most memorable role: Mr. Knightley, Emma. My favourite Mr. Knightley. . . ” - Basilesque
David Suchet
Best known in the United Kingdom and abroad as Agatha Christie's suave Belgian super-sleuth Hercule Poirot in scores of late 1980s and '90s mini-movies, London-born actor David Suchet's early interest in the theater led to his membership with the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain in the 1960s following graduation from high school...
“ Poirot, Henry VIII, The Way We Live Now, Dracula, + more.

Most memorable role: Poirot, of course! Was also brilliant in The Way We Live Now. ” - Basilesque
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...
“ Henry V, Howards End, Much Ado About Nothing, The Remains of the Day, Sense and Sensibility, Brideshead Revisited. ” - Basilesque
“ Persuasion, Emma, The Railway Children, Gosford Park, Nicholas Nickleby, A Room With A View, Poirot.

Most memorable role: Mary Musgrove, Persuasion.

Emma's younger sister. ” - Basilesque
“ Lady Jane, Little Dorrit, Poirot, Jeeves and Wooster, The Remains of the Day, Lorna Doone, Charles II, Marple, Pride & Prejudice, Poirot (again), Miss Austen Regrets, Dorian Gray. ” - Basilesque
Peter Vaughan
Actor, Brazil
A true character actor in the best sense of the word, offbeat British thespian Peter Vaughan's hefty frame could appear intimidating or marshmallow benevolent; his beady, hollow eyes menacing or tender; his mere presence menacing or avuncular. Adept at playing both sides of the law, his characters usually possessed a strange...
“ The Pallisers, Bleak House, The Moonstone, Our Mutual Friend, Les Miserables, Hornblower, An Ideal Husband, Lorna Doone, Lark Rise to Candleford, + more. ” - Basilesque
“ Anna Karenina, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, The Woman in White, Great Expectations, Mansfield Park, Wives and Daughters.

Most memorable role: Molly Gibson, Wives and Daughters. ” - Basilesque
Polly Walker
Actress, John Carter
Polly Alexandra Walker was born on May 19, 1966 in Warrington, Cheshire, England. She graduated from Ballet Rambert School in Twickenham, began her career as a dancer, but an injury at age 18 forced her to change direction. She started at London's Drama Centre to the Royal Shakespeare Company, where she portrayed small parts before graduating to small roles on television...
“ Lorna Doone, Poirot, Enchanted April, Emma, Robinson Crusoe, The Woodlanders, The Mayor of Castorbridge, Marple. ” - Basilesque
“ Onegin, The Virgin Queen, Miss Austen Regrets, Little Dorrit, Lark Rise to Candleford, Poirot. ” - Basilesque
“ Howard's End, Persuasion, Jane Eyre, Hornblower, Desperate Romantics, Poirot.

Most memorable role: Mr. Elliot, Persuasion.

Son of Timothy West and Prunella Scales. ” - Basilesque
Timothy West
A versatile British actor noted for his great power and command on the classical stage and in several other mediums including radio, film and television, Timothy West was born on October 20, 1934 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, the son of actors (Harry) Lockwood West and his wife Olive (Carleton-Crowe)...
“ Rebecca, Ever After, Bleak House, A Room with a View, Poirot, + more. ” - Basilesque
“ The Return of the Native, Jane Eyre, Our Mutual Friend, Charles II, Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, Lark Rise to Candleford, The Paradise.

Most memorable role: Mr. Wilfer, Our Mutual Friend. ” - Basilesque
“ Wives and Daughters, Victoria & Albert, Pride & Prejudice, Marple, Downton Abbey, South Riding.

Most memorable role: Isobel Crawley, Downton Abbey. ” - Basilesque
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...
“ Sense and Sensibility, Jude, Hamlet, Titanic, Quills, Finding Neverland.

Most memorable role: Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility. ” - Basilesque
Greg Wise
He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and is the son of distinguished architect Professor Douglass Wise. It was assumed that he would be an architect, so he studied architecture in Edinburgh. He dropped out, though, after a while, and went to Glasgow to study drama. He did his first professional job on stage...
“ The Buccaneers, Sense and Sensibility, The Moonstone, Hornblower, Marple, Cranford.

Most memorable role: Willoughby, Sense and Sensibility.

Married to Emma Thompson. ” - Basilesque