This is my personal pick of the best, most distinctive and recognisable voices of actors and actresses. I know that there is an obvious bias towards male and British voices but please feel free to have a look and add your comments!
James Mason was a great English actor of British and American films. He was born in Yorkshire, and attended Marlborough and Cambridge, where he discovered acting on a lark, and abandoned a planned career as an architect. Following work in stock companies, he joined the Old Vic under the guidance of Sir Tyrone Guthrie
and of Alexander Korda
Probably more frequently remembered for his turbulent personal life and multiple marriages, Richard Burton was nonetheless regarded as one of the great British actors of the post-WWII period. Burton was born Richard Walter Jenkins in Pontrhydyfen, Wales, to Edith Maude (Thomas) and Richard Walter Jenkins...
James Stewart was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition for The Philadelphia Story (1940) and receiving an Academy Lifetime Achievement award. Stewart was named the third greatest male screen legend of the Golden Age Hollywood by the American Film Institute. He was a major Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract star...
Actor, writer, and gourmet, Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. was born in St Louis, Missouri, to Marguerite Cobb (Wilcox) and Vincent Leonard Price, Sr., president of the National Candy Company. He traveled through Europe, studied at Yale and became an actor. He made his screen debut in 1938, and after many minor roles...
His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was seven) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr...
Ian McShane was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, England, to parents Irene (Cowley) and Harry McShane, a soccer player for Manchester United. His father was Scottish and his mother was of English and Irish descent. Ian originally planned to follow in his father's 'footballer' steps, until his high school teacher encouraged him to be an actor...
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 a remake of Wuthering Heights in 1970 in which he portrayed Heathcliff. After a few more films, Dalton took a break in 1971 to concentrate on the theatre...
Cary Grant was an English actor who became an American citizen in 1942. Known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor, and "dashing good looks", Grant is considered one of classic Hollywood's definitive leading men. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Grant the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema (after Humphrey Bogart)...
Thomas Sean Connery was born on August 25, 1930 in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. His mother, Euphamia McBain (Maclean), was a cleaning lady, and his father, Joseph Connery, was a factory worker and truck driver. He also has a brother named Neil Connery
, who works as a plasterer in Edinburgh. He is of Irish and Scottish descent...
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, he moved to London and joined the National Theatre...
Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, screen-writer and director, is a three-time Academy Award winner and twelve-time nominee. Nicholson is also notable for being one of two actors - the other being Michael Caine
- who have received Oscar nods in every decade from sixties through the naughts...
Alec Guinness de Cuffe was born on April 2, 1914 in Marylebone, London, England, and was raised by his mother, Agnes Cuffe. While working in advertising, he studied at the Fay Compton
Studio of Dramatic Art, debuting on stage in 1934 and played classic theater with the Old Vic from 1936. In 1941...
The British character actor Tom Baker, best known as the fourth incarnation of The Doctor, was born in 1934 in Liverpool, England, to Mary Jane (Fleming) and John Stewart Baker. His father was of English and Scottish descent, while his mother's family was originally from Ireland. Tom, along with his younger sister...
Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, and a living legend, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. Born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the elder of two children in a middle-class family, Eastwood finished high school at the comparatively late age of 19 and worked odd jobs for several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
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 15 and took a series of working-class jobs before joining the British army and serving in Korea during the Korean War, where he saw combat...
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...
Comparing this sultry-eyed blonde to Greta Garbo
and Marlene Dietrich
may seem a bit overzealous, but Honor Blackman's stylish allure over the years cannot be denied. One of four children, Blackman was born in London's East End to a statistician father employed with the civil service and a homemaker mother...
The son of a surveyor, Charles Gray grew up in Queens Park, London, and went to school in his home town of Bournemouth. As a young actor, he received his vocal training from the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and at the Old Vic, having long abandoned his first job as clerk for a real estate agent...
Balding, quietly-spoken, of slight build and possessed of piercing blue eyes -- often peering out from behind round, steel-rimmed glasses -- Donald Pleasence had the necessary physical attributes which make a great screen villain. In the course of his lengthy career, he relished playing the obsessed...
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...
Peter Wilton Cushing was born on May 26, 1913 in Kenley, Surrey, England, to Nellie Maria (King) and George Edward Cushing, a quantity surveyor. He and his older brother David were raised first in Dulwich Village, a south London suburb, and then later back in Surrey. At an early age, Cushing was attracted to acting...
Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was perhaps the only actor of his generation to have starred in so many films and cult saga. Although most notable for personifying bloodsucking vampire, Dracula, on screen, he portrayed other varied characters on screen, most of which were villains, whether it be Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film...
Diana Rigg is an English actress. She has had an extensive career in film and theatre, including playing the title role in Medea, both in London and New York, for which she won the 1994 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. Rigg made her professional stage debut in 1957 in The Caucasian Chalk Circle...
Though his number of film roles amount to a bit over 30, Paul Scofield has cast a giant shadow in the world of stage and film acting. He grew up in West Sussex, the son of a schoolmaster. He attended the Varndean School for Boys in Brighton. The love of acting came early. While still high school age...
Elegant and handsome British actor Jeremy Irons was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight, a small island just off the south coast of England. He is the son of Barbara Anne Brereton (Sharpe) and Paul Dugan Irons, an accountant. Young Jeremy didn't prove very fond of figures. A typical islander, he used to go to mainland England only once a year...
Sir Patrick Stewart was born in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England, to Gladys (Barrowclough), a textile worker and weaver, and Alfred Stewart, who was in the army. He was a member of various local drama groups from about age 12. He left school at age 15 to work as a junior reporter on a local paper; he quit when his editor told him he was spending too much time at the theatre and not enough working...
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
This transatlantic talent was born John Vincent Hurt on January 22, 1940 in Shirebrook, a coal mining village near the busy market town of Chesterfield, in Derbyshire, England. He is the son of Phyllis (Massey), an engineer and one-time actress, and Arnould Herbert Hurt, an Anglican clergyman and mathematician...
Liam Neeson was born on June 7, 1952 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, UK, to Katherine (Brown), a cook, and Bernard Neeson, a school caretaker. Liam worked as a forklift operator for Guinness, truck driver, assistant architect and an amateur boxer. He had originally sought a career as a teacher by attending St...
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...
Al Pacino received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for Serpico (1973); he was also nominated for The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and ...And Justice for All (1979) and won the award in 1993 for his performance as a blind Lieutenant Colonel in Scent of a Woman (1992). For his performances in The Godfather...
Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in New York City. She is the daughter of Natalie Weinstein-Bacal, a Romanian Jewish immigrant, and William Perske, who was born in New Jersey, to Polish Jewish parents. Her family was middle-class, with her father working as a salesman and her mother as a secretary...
Farley Earle Granger was born in 1925 in San Jose, California, to Eva (Hopkins) and Farley Earle Granger, who owned an automobile dealership. Right out of high school, he was brought to the attention of movie producer Samuel Goldwyn
, who cast him in a small role in The North Star
. He followed it up with a much bigger part in The Purple Heart
and then joined the army...
Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to wealthy parents. She was the daughter of Margaret Katherine (Majer), a phys ed instructor, and John Brendan Kelly, Sr., a three-time Olympic Gold winner for rowing. Her uncle was playwright George Kelly
. She was of half Irish and half German descent...
Lee Van Cleef
One of the great movie villains, Clarence Leroy Van Cleef, Jr. was born in Somerville, New Jersey, to Marion Lavinia (Van Fleet) and Clarence LeRoy Van Cleef, Sr. His parents were both of Dutch ancestry. Van Cleef started out as an accountant. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard minesweepers and subchasers during World War II...
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...
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
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...
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
, a musician; Sophie Fiennes
Acclaimed Welsh actor John Rhys-Davies was born in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, Wales, to Mary Margaretta Phyllis (Jones), a nurse, and Rhys Davies, a mechanical engineer and Colonial Officer. He graduated from the University of East Anglia and is probably best known to film audiences for his roles in the blockbuster hits Raiders of the Lost Ark
and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
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...
Sean Pertwee was born into a theatrical dynasty of actors. After training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Sean began his acting career with the Royal Shakespeare Company, most notably starring in Titus Andronicus directed by Deborah Warner
. After touring for three years, Sean continued his...
Iain Glen is a Scottish actor, he was born on June 24, 1961 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was educated at the Edinburgh Academy, an independent school for boys (now co-educational), followed by the University of Aberdeen. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he was the winner of the Bancroft Gold Medal...
Joss Ackland, the distinguished English actor who has appeared in over 100 movies, scores of plays and a plethora of television programs in his six-decade career, was born Sidney Edmond Jocelyn Ackland on February 29, 1928, in North Kensington, London. After attending London's Central School of Speech and Drama...
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
Tom Hardy made his debut in Ridley Scott's 2001 war film Black Hawk Down. Hardy's other notable films include the science fiction film Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), the crime film RocknRolla (2008), biographical psychological drama Bronson (2008), science fiction thriller Inception (2010), sports drama Warrior (2011)...