The Best Film Actors of All Time From the British Isles

The Brits just know how to deliver a line. They also display FAR more range than any other group of actors geographically. They are the originators. This is an ongoing list that I will be updating frequently. Much more to come. And if an Australian accidentally finds its' way on to the list don't shoot me! And, this list is in no particular order. Except for Olivier of course.
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1.
Laurence Olivier
Actor, Rebecca
Laurence Olivier could speak William Shakespeare's lines as naturally as if he were "actually thinking them", said English playwright Charles Bennett, who met Olivier in 1927. Laurence Kerr Olivier was born in Dorking, Surrey, England, to Agnes Louise (Crookenden) and Gerard Kerr Olivier, a High Anglican priest. His surname came from a great-great-grandfather who was of French Huguenot origin...
“ I remember wondering what the big deal was with Old Larry. Then I saw Spartacus. An absolute giant of an actor. Check out Rebecca (directed by Hitchcock) and be amazed. ” - wda779
 
2.
James Mason
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...
“ Equally warm and cold depending on the role, this man is one of the greats-ruling the 50's and 60's. That beautiful voice.... ” - wda779
 
3.
Jean Marsh
Actress, Willow
Born in London, Jean Marsh became interested in show business while taking dancing and mime classes as therapy for a childhood illness. After attending a charm school and working as a model, she started acting in repertory and took voice lessons. Her repertory work was supplemented by a number of film appearances as a dancer...
“ Strength and Majesty. ” - wda779
 
4.
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...
“ The Old Warhorse. ” - wda779
 
5.
Ralph Richardson
Sir Ralph Richardson was one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century English-language theater, ascending to the height of his profession in the mid-1930s when he became a star in London's West End. He became the first actor of his generation to be knighted. He became Sir Ralph in 1947, and was quickly followed Laurence Olivier in 1948...
“ An under-used and under-appreciated Thespian who is right up there with Gielgud and Olivier in terms of talent ” - wda779
 
6.
Robert Shaw
Actor, Jaws
Robert Archibald Shaw was born on August 9, 1927 in Westhoughton, Lancashire, England, the eldest son of Doreen Nora (Avery), a nurse, and Thomas Archibald Shaw, a doctor. His paternal grandfather was Scottish, from Argyll. Shaw's mother, who was born in Piggs Peak, Swaziland, met his father while she was a nurse at a hospital in Truro...
“ If I even have to tell you why then you need to get out more often... ” - wda779
 
7.
Richard Burton
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...
“ An over-actor to be sure, he is just too good to be penalized for it. Check him out in the Spy Who Came in From the Cold ” - wda779
 
8.
John Gielgud
Actor, Gandhi
Sir John Gielgud, arguably the greatest Shakespearean actor of the 20th Century, had a theatrical career that spanned 64 years, from a role in a 1924 London production of "The Constant Nymph" to the 1988 production of " Sir Sydney Cockerell: The Best of Friends," and an even-longer film career that lasted 77 years...
“ He is on the Mt. Rushmore of British Thespians ” - wda779
 
9.
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...
“ Her gorgeous looks actually do her a disservice by taking attention away from her insane acting chops ” - wda779
 
10.
Brian Blessed
Actor, Tarzan
Boisterous British actor Brian Blessed is known for his hearty, king-sized portrayals on film and television. A giant of a man accompanied by an eloquent wit and booming, operatic voice, Brian was born in 1936 and grew up in the mining village of Goldthorpe in South Yorkshire. His father was a miner who wanted a better life for his son; Brian lost three uncles in the pit...
“ I can't believe how under-appreciated this guy is. The most booming voice you ever heard. ” - wda779
 
11.
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 is a tour de force. His speech about St. Crispins Day to his troops is as good as Shakespeare gets on the screen ” - wda779
 
12.
Charles Laughton
Actor, Spartacus
Charles Laughton was born in Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England, to Eliza (Conlon) and Robert Laughton, hotel keepers of Irish and English descent. He was educated at Stonyhurst, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (received gold medal). His first appearance on stage was in 1926. Laughton formed own film company...
“ A line delivering machine ” - wda779
 
13.
Peter Ustinov
Actor, Robin Hood
Peter Ustinov was a two-time Academy Award-winning film actor, a director, writer, journalist and raconteur. He wrote and directed many acclaimed stage plays and led numerous international theatrical productions. He was born Peter Alexander Freiherr von Ustinov on April 16, 1921, in Swiss Cottage, London...
“ The ease with which he acts is marvelous to behold. Born to act ” - wda779
 
14.
Denholm Elliott
Much-loved character actor who specialised in playing slightly sleazy/slightly eccentric and often flawed upper middle class English gentlemen. His career spanned nearly 40 years, becoming a well-known face both in Britain and in the States.
“ "Never do a scene with kids, dogs, or Denholm Elliot"

This is supposedly a quote attributed to many actors advising younger actors who don't want their scenes stolen ” - wda779
 
15.
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...
“ Angela's Ashes is her master-piece. She is a black hole in that film ” - wda779
 
16.
Freddie Jones
Actor, Emmerdale
The British character actor Freddie Jones came to the acting profession after 10 years of working as a laboratory assistant and acting in amateur theater on the side. To kick off his mid-life career change, Jones attended Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in Kent, England, on a scholarship. He then worked in repertory theater...
“ Looks like a mortician, acts like a Master ” - wda779
 
17.
John Hurt
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...
“ Again, the voice is spell-binding. Sounds like a charcoal briquet ” - wda779
 
18.
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...
“ Best...Villain...Ever ” - wda779
 
19.
Ben Kingsley
Ben Kingsley is an English actor. In a career spanning over 40 years, he has won an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA, two Golden Globes and a Screen Actors Guild Award. He is known for his starring role as Mohandas Gandhi in the 1982 film Gandhi, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. He is also known for his performances in the films Schindler's List (1993)...
“ Watch Sexy Beast and be amazed. Never mind Gandhi, and the million other great performances he's given ” - wda779
 
20.
Ian Holm
Sir Ian Holm is an Academy Award-nominated British film and stage actor who was a star of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and played more than 100 roles in films and on television. He was born Ian Holm Cuthbert on September 12, 1931, in Goodmayes, Essex, UK, to Scottish parents who worked at the Essex mental asylum...
“ His turn as the Android in Aliens is one of the scariest things I've ever seen. And hey, he's Bilbo Baggins for God's Sake! ” - wda779
 
21.
Nicol Williamson
Actor, Spawn
Nicol Williamson was an enormously talented actor who was considered by some critics to be the finest actor of his generation in the late 1960s and the 1970s, rivaled only by Albert Finney, whom Williamson bested in the classics. Williamson's 1969 "Hamlet" at the Roundhouse Theatre was a sensation in London...
“ The ONLY Merlin as far as I'm concerned ” - wda779
 
22.
Sean Connery
Actor, Dr. No
Connery's breakthrough came in the role of secret agent James Bond. He was reluctant to commit to a film series, but understood that if the films succeeded his career would greatly benefit. He played the character in the first five Bond films: Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball...
“ For all his faults, (ridiculous action movies, the misogyny) he has more than a few top notch dramatic performances under his belt. Name of the Rose is a master class, as is The Man Who Would Be King ” - wda779
 
23.
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...
“ Just a horse. Always dependable, always engaging, always classy. ” - wda779
 
24.
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...
“ An all time Shakespearean master ” - wda779
 
25.
Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness was an English actor. After an early career on the stage, he was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including The Ladykillers and Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He is also known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946)...
“ 2 words-Obi-Wan ” - wda779
 
26.
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...
“ Such a unique talent. ” - wda779
 
27.
Charles Gray
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...
“ So under-appreciated it hurts me ” - wda779
 
28.
Daniel Day-Lewis
Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (A.K.A. Nicholas Blake) (Poet Laureate of England) and his second wife, Jill Balcon. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema and head of the famous Ealing Studios...
“ THE best of his generation ” - wda779
 
29.
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...
“ Has used a different speaking voice and/or accent in every movie he's done. Look it up if you don't believe me. ” - wda779
 
30.
Angela Lansbury
British character actress, long in the United States. The daughter of an actress and the granddaughter of a high-ranking politician, Lansbury studied acting from her youth, departing for the United States as the Second World War began. She was contracted by MGM while still a teenager and nominated for an Academy Award for her first film...
“ Watch the original Manchurian Candidate NOW! ” - wda779
 
31.
Patrick McGoohan
Actor, Braveheart
Though born in America, Irish actor Patrick McGoohan rose to become the number-one British TV star in the 1950s to 1960s era. His parents moved to Ireland when he was very young and McGoohan acquired a neutral accent that sounds at home in British or American dialogue. He was an avid stage actor and...
“ Not born in the UK but raised and trained there. Too good for us Yanks to claim him as ours anyway. ” - wda779
 
32.
Donald Pleasence
Actor, Halloween
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...
“ So unique. Anything but an "everyman". ” - wda779
 
33.
Julie Christie
Julie Christie, the British movie legend whom Al Pacino called "the most poetic of all actresses", was born in Chukua, Assam, India, on April 14, 1941, the daughter of a tea planter, Frank St. John Christie, and his wife, Rosemary (Ramsden), who was a painter. Her family was of English, and some Scottish...
“ Such quality. Everyone should watch "Don't Look Now" with Donald Sutherland. ” - wda779
 
34.
Brendan Gleeson
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 school play production of "Waiting for Godot"...
“ Just solid every time out. ” - wda779
 
35.
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...
“ The original Hannibal. What a work-horse! How many movies does this guy do a year??? 50? And they are always good! ” - wda779
 
36.
Nigel Hawthorne
Actor, Amistad
Born in Coventry, England on 5 April 1929. Raised in South Africa. Returned to the UK in the 1950s. Extensive theatre work in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. His portrayal of "Sir Humphrey Appleby" in the BBC comedy Yes Minister won him international acclaim in the 1980s. In 1992, he was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for his "George III" in Alan Bennett's hit stage play...
“ The madness of King George is a brilliant performance quite simply. ” - wda779
 
37.
Vivien Leigh
Vivian Mary Hartley was born on November 5, 1913, in Darjeeling, India. She was to live in this beautiful country for the next six years. Her parents wanted to go home to England but because of World War I they opted to stay in India. At the end of the war the Hartleys headed back to their home country...
“ Gone with the Wind! ” - wda779
 
38.
Dominic West
Actor, 300
“ The Wire, The Wire, The Wire ” - wda779
 
39.
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...
“ Ages like the finest of wines... ” - wda779
 
40.
“ Greatest recorded voice I have ever heard. Lord of the Rings animated 1977. The best Gandalf in my opinion, trumping John Huston and Ian McKellan. ” - wda779
 
41.
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...
“ Has he registered a single bad performance in his career? No. ” - wda779
 
42.
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...
“ Fantastic in Elizabeth and many other great films. ” - wda779
 
43.
Toby Jones
Distinguished stage, television, and film actor 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, and Casper, a fellow actor. He studied Drama at the University of Manchester from 1986 to 1989...
“ The UK just churns out those great character actors by the bushel. ” - wda779
 
44.
Honor Blackman
Actress, Goldfinger
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...
“ Pussy Galore is not a chick or a broad. She will kick your ass! ” - wda779
 
45.
Christopher Lee
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...
“ More credits than any actor ever in a career. ” - wda779
 
46.
“ Wish he was in more big budget films. Problem is, he's too good. ” - wda779
 
47.
Rex Harrison
Rex Harrison was born Reginald Carey Harrison in Huyton, Lancashire, England, to Edith Mary (Carey) and William Reginald Harrison, a cotton broker. He changed his name to Rex as a young boy, knowing it was the Latin word for "King". Starting out on his theater career at age 18, his first job at the Liverpool Rep Theatre was nearly his last - dashing across the stage to say his one line...
“ Made a few bad movies but once again, big surprise, this Brit can just flat out deliver lines like God. ” - wda779
 
48.
Paul Scofield
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...
“ Ah what a master. ” - wda779
 
49.
Jean Simmons
Actress, Spartacus
Demure British beauty Jean Simmons was born January 31, 1929 in Crouch End, London. As a 14-year-old dance student, she was plucked from her school to play Margaret Lockwood's precocious sister in Give Us the Moon, and she went on to make a name for herself in such major British productions as Caesar and Cleopatra...
“ Ah the sad eyes of Jean Simmons... ” - wda779
 
50.
Alan Bates
If there was ever an actor whose choice of film projects suggested a pure love of acting rather than an interest in commercial gain, it would have to be Alan Bates. A supremely talented and versatile actor, Bates hasn't attained the stardom of far lesser performers because of his preference for challenging and interesting work and an avoidance of being type-cast...
“ Solid, solid, solid. The Lion in Winter is a classic! ” - wda779
 
51.
“ If he didn't have such a horrible alcohol problem he could have been the greatest "heavy" of all time. My personal favorite on this list. ” - wda779
 
52.
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...
“ Should be a dame. Perhaps she is? Either way she should be. ” - wda779
 
53.
Peter O'Toole
A leading man of prodigious talents, Peter O'Toole was raised in Leeds, England, the son of Constance Jane Eliot (Ferguson), a Scottish nurse, and Patrick Joseph O'Toole, an Irish bookie. As a boy, he decided to become a journalist, beginning as a newspaper copy boy. Although he succeeded in becoming a reporter...
“ 3 words-Lawrence of Arabia ” - wda779
 
54.
Richard Harris
A genuine star of cinema on screen and a fiery hell raiser off screen, Richard St John Harris was born on October 1, 1930 in Limerick, Ireland, to a farming family. He was the son of Mildred Josephine (Harty) and Ivan John Harris, and was an excellent rugby player, with a strong passion for literature...
“ Notable for so many great performances, I point to Cromwell as a highlight ” - wda779
 
55.
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...
“ A living legend that has paid his dues in spades. Famous for his portrayal of Alex DeLarge, but ignored for his turns in Time After Time and Caligula. That's right I said Caligula. Horrible film, but Malcolm delivers on his end of the bargain. ” - wda779
 
56.
Nigel Terry
Actor, Excalibur
British actor Nigel Terry primarily dedicated himself to the classical stage. When he extended himself into film and TV outings, it was mostly for historical or period roles. Over the years, he grew quite comfortable in both a pair of hose and a suit of armor. Terry was born Peter Nigel Terry on August 15...
“ I just like this guy. ” - wda779
 
57.
Ray Milland
Ray Milland became one of Paramount's most bankable and durable stars, under contract from 1934 to 1948, yet little in his early life suggested a career as a motion picture actor. Milland was born Alfred Reginald Jones in the Welsh town of Neath, Glamorgan, to Elizabeth Annie (Truscott) and Alfred Jones...
“ Ray + Hitchcock = Classic ” - wda779
 
58.
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...
“ The Dame is her name. That honor speaks for itself. ” - wda779
 
59.
Gabriel Byrne
Byrne was the first of six children, born in Dublin, Ireland. His father was a cooper and his mother a hospital worker. He was raised Catholic and educated by the Irish Christian Brothers. He spent five years of his childhood in a seminary training to be a Catholic priest. He later said, "I spent five years in the seminary and I suppose it was assumed that you had a vocation...
“ Sneaky performance in Michael Mann's "The Keep". Obviously, his turn in The Usual Suspects was a classic. ” - wda779
 
60.
Richard Attenborough
Lord Richard Attenborough was born in Cambridge, England, the son of Mary (née Clegg), a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council, and Frederick Levi Attenborough, a scholar and academic administrator who was a don at Emmanuel College and wrote a standard text on Anglo-Saxon law. Attenborough...
“ The Grandfather we all wish we had ” - wda779
 
61.
“ Deliciously proper and snooty. ” - wda779
 
62.
Anthony Hopkins
Actor, Hannibal
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...
“ Dr. Lectar is simply a top 10 all time movie character ” - wda779
 
63.
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...
“ Pretty damn consistent. ” - wda779
 
64.
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)...
“ The Iron Horse! As dependable as a Pack Mule, this Thespian, captured the Spirit of Tolkein as well as anyone did in the Rings films. I just love this guys' work. Gravitas. ” - wda779
 
65.
Jeremy Irons
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...
“ He will break your heart in "The Mission". ” - wda779
 
66.
Albert Finney
Actor, Big Fish
Albert Finney came from the theatre, where he was especially successful in plays of William Shakespeare, to the movies. There he became a leading figure of the young Free Cinema. His debut in cinema was in 1960 with The Entertainer of Tony Richardson who had directed him also in theatre plays various times before. His typical role were young prolets like, e.g. Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
“ An over-all bad-ass! ” - wda779
 
67.
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...
 
68.
Roddy McDowall
Roderick McDowall was born in London, the son of a Merchant Mariner father and a mother who had always wanted to be in movies. He was enrolled in elocution courses at age five and by ten had appeared in his first film, Murder in the Family, playing Peter Osborne, the younger brother of sisters played by Jessica Tandy and Glynis Johns...
“ Maybe the greatest character actor ever. ” - wda779
 
69.
Diana Rigg
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...
“ I am in LOVE with this woman! ” - wda779
 
70.
Clive Revill
A grand, well-respected actor of stage, film and television, most people think New Zealander Clive Revill is British. Although most people think of the curly, red-haired gent as a comic eccentric best known for his sterling work on the musical stage, he has been highly regarded for his formidable dramatic work in Shakespearean roles...
 
71.
Kelly Macdonald
Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald was born and raised in Glasgow. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she was raised by her mother, a sales executive in the garment industry. She has one brother, David. As a hobby, she acted in an amateur theatrical club, which she enjoyed a great deal. Macdonald was working as a barmaid...
“ Trainspotting, No Country for Old Men, and Boardwalk Empire are 3 examples of her subtle brilliance. ” - wda779
 
72.
Tom Baker
Actor, Doctor Who
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...
“ THE Doc! ” - wda779
 
73.
Basil Rathbone
Basil Rathbone was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1892, but three years later his family was forced to flee the country because his father was accused by the Boers of being a British spy at a time when Dutch-British conflicts were leading to the Boer War. The Rathbones escaped to England, where Basil and his two younger siblings...
 
74.
Roger Moore
Roger Moore will perhaps always be remembered as the man who replaced Sean Connery in the James Bond series, arguably something he never lived down. Roger George Moore was born on October 14, 1927 in Stockwell, London, England, the son of Lillian (Pope) and George Alfred Moore, a policeman. He first wanted to be an artist...
“ The most non-chalant actor of all time. As prim and proper as they come. ” - wda779
 
75.
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 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...
“ Very under-rated as Bond. ” - wda779
 
76.
Julie Andrews
Julia Elizabeth Wells was born on October 1, 1935, in England. Her mother, Barbara Ward (Morris), and stepfather, both vaudeville performers, discovered her freakish but undeniably lovely four-octave singing voice and immediately got her a singing career. She performed in music halls throughout her childhood and teens...
“ I just can't remember what movie she's famous for...ha ha ” - wda779
 
77.
Jonathan Pryce
From Holywell to Hollywood Jonathan Pryce, CBE is a critically acclaimed and award winning actor from North Wales. Renowned for his immense versatility and powerful presence he has transcended the industry, effortlessly moving between Hollywood studio films and the classical West End to bold independent cinema and the broadway musical...
“ A great character actor, his long career contains many top-notch turns. He scared me to death in "Something Wicked this way Comes". And of course, he is the star of Brazil, a classic Terry Gilliam work. ” - wda779
 
78.
“ I have a soft spot for this chaps' mug. Part of that insane cast for Braveheart ” - wda779
 
79.
Joan Plowright
Dame Joan Ann Plowright, the Baroness Olivier, is one of the most distinguished actors of her generation. She may be best remembered as the third wife and widow of Laurence Olivier, generally considered the greatest anglophone actor of the 20th Century, but she had a distinguished career of her own on stage and screen spanning six decades...
 
80.
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'...
 
81.
John Hallam
Talented and diverse Irish born character actor whose career has embraced British institutions from Raffles to Dr Who. After apprenticing in provincial theatre this commanding, actor appeared in two contrasting war films in 1968 - The Charge of the Light Brigade and Carry On up the Khyber. His next two roles were equally diverse...
 
82.
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...
 
84.
Charles Dance
Charles Dance is an English actor, screenwriter, and film director. Dance typically plays assertive bureaucrats or villains. Some of his most high-profile roles are Tywin Lannister in HBO's Game of Thrones, Guy Perron in The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Sardo Numspa in The Golden Child (1986), Dr. Jonathan Clemens in Alien 3 (1992)...
 
85.
James Purefoy
James Brian Mark Purefoy was born and brought up in Taunton, Somerset, England, the son of Shirley (Taylor), who ran an employment agency, and Anthony Chetwynd Purefoy. After leaving school at the age of sixteen, he took a succession of different jobs, including working on a pig farm and as a porter at Yeovil District Hospital...
 
86.
Deborah Kerr
Born Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer in Scotland in 1921, she was the daughter of a soldier who had been gassed in World War I. A shy, insecure child, she found an outlet for expressing her feelings in acting. Her aunt, a radio star, got her some stage work when she was a teenager, and she came to the attention of British film producer Gabriel Pascal...
 
87.
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...
 
88.
Cary Grant
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)...
 
89.
Patrick Macnee
British actor Patrick Macnee was born on February 6, 1922 in London, England into a wealthy and eccentric family. His father, Daniel Macnee, was a race horse trainer, who drank and gambled away the family fortune, leaving young Patrick to be raised by his gay mother, Dorothea Mary, and her lover. Shortly after graduating from Eton (from which he was almost expelled for running a gambling ring)...
“ I love anything he narrates ” - wda779
 
90.
Peter Cushing
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...
“ This guy just worked and worked and worked.... ” - wda779
 
91.
David Niven
David Niven was named after the Saint's Day on which he was born, St. David, patron Saint of Wales. He attended Stowe School and Sandhurst Military Academy and served for two years in Malta with the Highland Light Infantry. At the outbreak of World War II, although a top-line star, he re-joined the army (Rifle Brigade)...
“ 3 words-Guns of Navarone ” - wda779
 
92.
Peter Sellers
Often credited as the greatest comedian of all time, Peter Sellers was born to a well-off English acting family in 1925. His mother and father worked in an acting company run by his grandmother. As a child, Sellers was spoiled, as his parents' first child had died at birth. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force and served during World War II...
“ The best comedic actor ever to me. Dr. Strangelove is a master class. ” - wda779
 
93.
Terence Stamp
Actor, Wanted
Terence Henry Stamp was born and lived in Canal Road, Bow, until German bombers forced his family to move to Plaistow. An icon of the 1960s, he dated the likes of Julie Christie, Brigitte Bardot and Jean Shrimpton. After an extremely successful early career, starring in Modesty Blaise, Poor Cow and Far from the Madding Crowd...
“ General Zod is really a softie underneath it all ” - wda779
 
94.
Bill Nighy
Bill Nighy is an award-winning British character actor. He was born 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, he gained 'O'-levels in English Language and English Literature and enjoyed reading...
 
95.
Michael Caine
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...
“ Up the apples and pears.... ” - wda779
 
96.
John Cleese
John Cleese was born on October 27, 1939, in Weston-Super-Mare, England, to Muriel Evelyn (Cross) and Reginald Francis Cleese. He was born into a family of modest means, his father being an insurance salesman; but he was nonetheless sent off to private schools to obtain a good education. Here he was often tormented for his height...
 
98.
Bernard Lee
Actor, Dr. No
Best remembered as 'M' in the James Bond films, Bernard Lee was a popular character player in British films throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Born into a theatrical family, he made his stage debut at age six and later attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He first appeared on the West End stage in London in 1928...
“ The male equivalent of Judi Dench ” - wda779
 
99.
 
100.
“ Unforgettable in Braveheart ” - wda779