Best contemporary British/Scottish/Irish actors and actresses

In no particular order.
And by the way it MY list, so only actors I like. Live with it!
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
 
2.
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...
 
3.
Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman is a talented British born movie actor who played Sid Vicious in Sid & Nancy, Drexl in True Romance, and George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He starred in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the remake of RoboCop. He is also an English filmmaker, musician and author. Renowned for his "big" acting style...
 
4.
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...
 
5.
David Thewlis
Actor, Naked
David Thewlis was born David Wheeler in 1963 in Blackpool, Lancashire, to Maureen (Thewlis) and Alec Raymond Wheeler, and lived with his parents above their combination wallpaper and toy shop during his childhood. Originally, he came to London with his band Door 66, however he changed his plans and entered Guildhall School of Drama...
 
6.
Tommy Flanagan
Actor, Gladiator
Tommy Flanagan was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland. In his twenties, Tommy made his living as a DJ for local dance clubs until a violent attack nearly ended his life. In hospital, his friend Robert Carlyle persuaded Tommy to give acting a try. Mr. Flanagan joined Carlyle's Raindog Theatre Company where he made his stage debut in such productions as 'Wasted I and II'...
 
7.
Martin Compston
Martin Compston grew up in Greenock, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire. He spent his teen years going to see soccer (football) team Celtic with his brother Barry and dreamed one day he would play for them. He attended St. Columba's High School in Gourock, Inverclyde, where he passed through his Standard Grade Exams and obtained three As and two Bs in his Higher results...
 
8.
Jamie Sives
Actor, Rush
 
9.
Jim Broadbent
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 place at an art school...
 
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...
 
11.
Katrin Cartlidge
Katrin Cartlidge began her career as a doing backstage & front of house work at London's Royal Court Theatre, having appeared with their Young People's Theatre group. She progressed to appearing in play readings and workshops before winning a regular role in Brookside. She went on to forge an award-winning career in theatre and film...
 
12.
Emily Watson
Actress, Corpse Bride
Emily Watson was born and raised in London, the daughter of Katharine (Venables), an English teacher, and Richard Watson, an architect. After a self-described sheltered upbringing, Watson attended university for three years in Bristol, studying English literature. She applied to drama school and was rejected on her first attempt...
 
13.
Peter Mullan
He was interested in directing films at the age of 19 and he made several shorts. As he wasn't admitted to the National Film School, he decided to dedicate himself to acting, and made his debut in the theatre in 1988 before moving to cinema and television. Fame came with the parts he played in such films as Riff-Raff by Ken Loach...
 
14.
Paddy Considine
Paddy (Patrick) Considine was born on September 5, 1974 in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire in the U.K. As a teenager, Considine studied a drama course at Burton College where he met with now friend and director Shane Meadows, who cast Considine in his first role in a feature film as the disturbed character Morell in A Room for Romeo Brass...
 
15.
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...
 
16.
Daniel Craig
Actor, Skyfall
Daniel Craig is an English actor. Craig trained at the National Youth Theatre and graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1991, before beginning his career on stage. His film debut was in the drama The Power of One (1992). Other early appearances were in the Disney family film A Kid in King Arthur's Court (1995) and the biographical film Elizabeth (1998)...
 
17.
Rhys Ifans
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 performing and attended youth acting school...
 
18.
Robert Carlyle
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 classes at the Glasgow Arts Centre...
 
19.
Ewan McGregor
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 encouraged him to leave school and pursue his acting goals rather than be unhappy...
 
20.
Cillian Murphy
Actor, Inception
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 at University College Cork...
 
21.
 
22.
Stephen Graham
Stephen Graham was born August 3, 1973, in the small town of Kirkby, in Lancashire, to a paediatric nurse mother and a social worker father. His paternal grandfather was Jamaican, and one his grandmothers was Swedish. After years of small parts, he finally got his big break in an unexpected way, playing the dim-witted Tommy in Guy Ritchie's film Snatch...
 
23.
Ray Winstone
Ray Winstone was born on February 19, 1957, in Hackney Hospital in London, England, to Margaret (Richardson) and Raymond J. Winstone. He moved to Enfield, at age seven, where his parents had a fruit and vegetable business. He started boxing at the age of twelve at the famous Repton Amateur Boxing Club...
 
24.
Tim Roth
Often mistaken for an American because of his skill at imitating accents, actor Tim Roth was born Simon Timothy 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 "Roth"; Ernie was in Brooklyn, New York, to an immigrant family of Irish ancestry...
 
25.
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...
 
26.
Idris Elba
An only child, Idris Elba was born and raised in Hackney, London, England. His father, Winston, is from Sierra Leone and worked at a Ford motor factory. His mother, Eve, is from Ghana and had a clerical duty. Idris attended school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting. He gained a place in the National Youth Music Theatre - thanks to a £1,500 Prince's Trust grant...
 
27.
Ian McKellen
Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery Lois (Sutcliffe) and Denis Murray McKellen, a civil engineer. He is of Scottish, Northern Irish, and English descent. During his early childhood, his parents moved with Ian and his sister Jean to the mill town of Wigan...
 
28.
Brian Cox
Actor, Troy
Brian Cox is an Emmy Award-winning Scottish actor. He was born on June 1, 1946 in Dundee, Scotland, to Mary Ann Guillerline (McCann), a spinner, and Charles McArdle Campbell Cox, a shopkeeper and butcher. His father was of Irish ancestry and his mother was of Irish and Scottish descent. Cox first came to attention in the early 1970s with performances in numerous television films...
 
29.
Christopher Eccleston
Actor, The Others
Christopher Eccleston trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and first came to public attention as Derek Bentley in Let Him Have It. However, it was a regular role in the television series Cracker that made him a recognizable figure in the United Kingdom. He appeared in the low-budget thriller Shallow Grave...
 
30.
Simon Pegg
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 educated...
 
31.
Tom Wilkinson
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 he had returned to England...
 
32.
Timothy Spall
Timothy Leonard Spall was born in Battersea, London, to Sylvia R. (Leonard), a hairdresser, and Joseph L. Spall, a postal worker. He was raised in London. Spall auditioned and earned a spot with the National Youth Theatre and later showed great promise at RADA where he portrayed the title roles in "Macbeth"...
 
33.
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...
 
34.
Malcolm McDowell
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...
 
35.
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...
 
36.
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...
 
37.
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...
 
38.
Pete Postlethwaite
Actor, Inception
Classically-trained actor Pete Postlethwaite was born Peter William Postlethwaite in 1946 and was a distinguished character actor on stage, TV and film. Growing up in Warrington, Lancashire amid middle-class surroundings, he went to college and while completing his studies developed an interest in theatre...
 
39.
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...
 
40.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
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, leaving his mother to care for Jonny and his 3 younger brothers alone...
 
42.
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...
 
43.
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...
 
44.
David Morrissey
David Morrissey started acting at Everyman's Youth Theatre in Liverpool, where he was born and raised. He made an auspicious debut in One Summer, a series about two Liverpool runaways. Following a degree at RADA, he worked with the theatre company Cheek By Jowl. He has also worked at theatre such as the Manchester Royal Exchange and the National Theatre...
 
45.
Maxine Peake
After graduating from Salford University, Peake trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Her first role out of drama school was in Victoria Wood's sitcom Dinnerladies which ran for two series. She made her professional stage debut at the Bolton Octagon in 1998's "Early One Morning".
 
46.
Michael Sheen
Even though he had burned up the London stage for nearly a decade--and appeared in several films--Michael Sheen was not really "discovered" by American audiences until his critically-acclaimed turn as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the 1999 Broadway revival of "Amadeus". Sheen was born in Newport, Wales, the only son of Irene (Thomas) and Meyrick Sheen...
 
47.
Aidan Gillen
Aidan Gillen is an Irish actor. He is best known for portraying Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish in the HBO series Game of Thrones, CIA operative Bill Wilson in The Dark Knight Rises, Stuart Alan Jones in the Channel 4 series Queer as Folk, John Boy in the RTÉ Television series Love/Hate, and Tommy Carcetti in the HBO series The Wire...
 
48.
Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch was born and raised in London, England. His parents, Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton (Timothy Carlton Congdon Cumberbatch), are both actors. He is a grandson of submarine commander Henry Carlton Cumberbatch, and a great-grandson of diplomat Henry Arnold Cumberbatch CMG...
 
49.
Tom Hiddleston
Tom Hiddleston is best known for his role as Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), and Thor: The Dark World (2013). He has also appeared in Steven Spielberg's War Horse (2011), The Deep Blue Sea (2011), Woody Allen's romantic comedy Midnight in Paris (2011)...
 
50.
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 Cambridge (1980)...
 
51.
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...