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The British Invasion of Hollywood Part I

Updated on August 10, 2012

The UK have invaded Hollywood in a big way. This is technically not a new thing, with The Beatles in the 60’s and the Rolling Stones in the 70’s. But most recently it has gone a little crazy. This list will show the biggest invasion since (insert world war joke here).

I have noticed that a wave of British celebrity have come across the Atlantic and set up camp, typically in L.A. They have a condo now, bleach their teeth and go to award ceremonies and film premiers and occasionally star in a film or two. There will be an accidental top 10 in this. It was supposed to be a simple feature, but why not make into a top ten? I like spontaneity, it worked for (insert Charlie Sheen joke here).

Anyway, here we go.


There have been a wave of Bits in Hollywood for some time now. Some have been there since the early 1960’s. With some greats such as Anthony Hopkins, Dame Judi Dench, Sean Connery, Malcolm McDowell, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, Ian McKellan, Billy Connoly, Jeremy Irons, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, John Cleese and Helen Mirren.

The dinosaurs, I mean vintage brits have been around for a very long time. And have collectively made over 1500 films, and earned 24 Oscar nominations, with 9 wins between them in this short list.

These amazing actors redefined the movie industry, and it even goes back as far as Carey Grant, who was born and grew up in Bristol.

We have been graced with the elegance and evil personas of these actors, and were responsible for some of the biggest movies/ franchises, financially and critically acclaimed movies of all time. In such greats and must sees as Silence of the Lambs, Mission Impossible series, 007, A Clockwork Orange, The Untouchables, The Italian Job (the original! Not the Mark Wahlberg EPIC fail), Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, Gandhi, Schindler’s List, X-Men, Lord of the Rings, Die Hard, Lolita, Dracula, Van Helsing, Star Wars, The Life of Brian, Harry Potter and Shrek. Phew! Now that is pretty good I think you can agree. The main thing to remember here is that what the British have always done well, and that’s play the bad guy.

New Blood

From the colourful and apparently retro 1980’s and the EPIC 90’s, we have a stream of bad guys played by British actors. Now these may be good characters, but talk about typecasting. “You appear to have a British accent there. Can you join the queue for bad guys please? Thanks.”

With Alan Rickman in Die Hard, Sean Bean in Goldeneye, TIM Roth in Planet of the Apes, Jeremy Irons in Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Alfred Molina in SPIDERMAN 2, Ben Kingsley in Prince of Persia and Ralph Feinnes in Red Dragon. These actors are well known and liked by many movie fans. Alan Rickman is still considered to be one of cinema’s best bad guys. Can any British star portray a bad, bad guy? I haven’t seen one.

The new blood in Hollywood consist heavily of now well respected actors and true artists and hard workers. With the method actor Daniel Day-Lewis (No-one ever comments on how odd that name it). Day-Lewis has only been in 19 movies, and has been nominated for 5 Golden Globes and won 1, as well as been nominated for 2 Oscars and won 2. Whereas the great Dracula himself Christopher Lee, has been in 200 roles with no wins! You have to think that if you really focus on one role instead of doing 200 then a legacy could be sustained. I couldn’t imagine working in 200 jobs, why is 200 films any different? Imagine that. 200 bosses? Jeez.

We then get a wave of awkward and some might say adorable roles from Hugh Grant. Some might say that is. I wouldn’t. Catherine Zeta-Jones followed and married the always young Michael Douglas, and has never actually been in a good movie. What? Entrapment? That was only good because of the booty, and it wasn’t even Catherine’s booty. Traffic possibly and Terminal was good. Chicago of course was the biggest and most critical success she has received. But several bad films later and she becomes just an 80’s actor’s wife. Am I being harsh? Maybe I need to be nicer.

In later years we were graced with Colin Farrell, Simon Pegg, Christian Bale, James McAvor, Clive Owens, Daniel Craig, Ray Winstone, Keira Knightly, Tom Hardy and Daniel Radcliffe. The films that we have been given are all getting very important, and this doesn’t come as a shock. As the Hammer Horror movies are now legendary in the history of film. Without them we may never have the style of horrors we have today and the scares may never mature. But then you could also argue that it raised the bar far too high. And due to the amount of horrors in the 50’s through the 90’s, may have desensitised us all now and filmmakers have to work harder to get a scare. What do you guys think?

I have noticed that there are some, that just plain refuse to act! Acting to me is becoming someone else. And that often means cutting your hair, gain/lose weight, changing your accent, new mannerisms, and possibly some attempt to be different from your last movie. Ray Winstone for instance never loses his Cockney accent and is generally always the gangster type or at least a guy you don’t want to cross. But here is a small list of a few more that don’t act.

Russell Brand

Russell Brand: I mentioned the cutting of the hair. He apparently chooses roles based on the appearance of the character. Brand is a self absorbed, insecure lame actor that is in movies because he is a celebrity. That’s not why I watch movies and I appreciate talent. Rock of Ages is yet another example of his refusal to change roles. He plays the same person in everything.

Jason Statham

The bald headed Transporter has been in over 16 movies as the same person, and also refuses to change his accent for a role. Some might say that you don’t have to. But in order to be an “actor”, one must act yo!

Ricky Gervais

I actually like Gervais. And I don’t know why. But I like it even more that he knows no-one knows why we like him. I find that amusing. But we have to admit that this man doesn’t act differently in anything. I would like to think he has come a long way from The Office, but only his fortune has improved.

Clive Owens

This is another that I like, but he never really changes much does he? Try a little bit Clive. He’s always the dark character that doesn’t say much and doesn’t shave. Why do these people get roles if they don’t change? The reason I bring this up as that there a number of UK actors out there that not only act well, but change their accent whenever it is needed and not stick with the same old stale persona.

Actors like Anthony Hopkins, although mostly doesn’t lose the accent, still does. And he isn’t afraid of changing his persona when needed.

Tom Hardy, Christian Bale, Kate Winslet, Daniel Day-Lewis and James McAvor all act, and it pays off.


TV shows are also the new wave of UK actors assuming the role of an American. This is famously done well in House, with Hugh Laurie. Executively produced by Bryan Singer, this little show has gone the distance with 8 seasons, 177 episodes. House was the most watched TV show in 2008. It stars Hugh Laurie, giving his best American accent even though he is very firmly born in the UK.

More examples are, Idris Elba and Dominic West, both from England and both in the hit US show The Wire.

Sonya Walger in Lost, Damien Lewis and James McAvor in Band of Brothers, Natascha McElhone in Californication, and, Tim Roth as Dr Cal Lightman in Lie to me. He doesn’t lose his accent either. And, Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica, Joseph Feinnes in Flash Forward and Jared Harris guest star in Mad Men.

This year there are 2 superhero movies that star British actors and one more in 2013 that have a Brit in the leading role.

And those are 3 of the most important fictional characters in American entertainment, Batman (played by Christian Bale), Spiderman (Played by Andrew Garfiled) and the Man of Steel himself, Superman, (Played by Henry Covall).

But even more importantly, we have Brits playing the bad guys as well. With Tom Hardy playing Bane against Christian Bale’s Batman, Rhys Ifans goes against Andrew Garfiled’s Spiderman as The Lizard. And we have a history of this, with Patrick Stewart in X-Men, Ian Mckellan goes against him as Magneto, Brian Cox as Col. William Stryker in X-Men 2, Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut in X-Men 3, Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Thor and Mark Strong as scary as ever in Kickass as Frank D’Amico.

Coming up next

Coming soon, is part 2 of the British Invasion. Celebrities that don't act! Extremely talented Directors, and the top ten best and worst British Celebrities according to me...

Please let me know what you think of this part...and also any thoughts on the content..

Click here for more Movie reviews, Actor and Director Features, Top Tens and New Releases. is growing. Come and help us grow.

I'll be back!


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      p.s in reference to the actors who dont act part.. bruce willis, ashton kutcher, adam sandler (i could list hundreds) always play exactly the same type of person in every movie.. you dont bang on about them though do u? your anti british essay is a compliment to how well we our doing in your country your batman movies for example were cheesy and pathetic until the dark knight era popped up with the serious british actors.. now they are grossing record amounts of money into hollywood.. youre welcome ;) americans are becoming second fiddle to alot of other nations now with things.. noticed youre all becoming very anti china now too couldnt be because theyre a bigger richer more powerful country than yours could it???

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      lol mikeandrusty all your biggest icons are being played by british people a australian.. and as for amerricans winning awards us brits cant even dream of why dont u google who won the biggest award of the oscars the most times ;) americans are overly proud and cant take to being second at anything.. well this isnt a debate its a fact.. google daniel day lewis. And he isnt the only one we are winning lots of awards hence pages like this "brits taking over" deal with it :)

    • mikeandrustys profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      I agree but it may not be fair to say they are taking roles from Americans when there are so many talented home grown actors already getting the biggest breaks. I still don't fully understand why Brits are used to be bad guys, or why in fact that people from a fantasy world are always British! But the amount of US actors winning Oscars and being in bigger movies is much greater than what the UK have been able to achieve. Although not with a lack of trying I'll grant you.

    • mikeandrustys profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hey I love your honesty! I like your points here about not actually knowing they were British when you first saw them. They were chosen because US tv executives were looking for lesser known to US audiences to play characters on new shows, and not have all the baggage about knowing everything about them and remembering them in previous roles. You know what we are all like. We can't get a character out of our heads when we see them in something else sometimes. How many of us still see Kevin when we see Mccauley Culkin in the news? Thank you for your comments and I hope the next part is just as good if not better!

    • ndaffinee profile image


      6 years ago from Jumbled Brain, USA

      A lot of this I have to agree with. Again, some I'm biased on because they're hotties, but hey, at least I'm honest right? LOL. Anyway, there are definitely some really great British actors taking over and they do it so well! I love that you included the ones that use American accents because there are so many of them I thought were American for a very long time. Idris Elba for example I swore was faking the accent in Takers until someone told me that was his true accent! All the movies I'd seen him in before he spoke with an American accent and so I assumed he was from here. Dominic West is another one I had no idea about. My beloved Hugh Laurie I thought was American when I started watching House and then I saw him on 101 Dalmations with Glen Close (another great actress) and in an episode of Friends and that British accent made me look him up. Great assessment you have here!

    • Two Minute Review profile image

      Two Minute Review 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania, United States

      Indeed the invasion is alive and well. But worse is that they are taking roles that should go to Americans!! Christian Bale (British) and Eric Bana (Australian) played American superheroes. Anthony Hopkins (Welsh) played not one but TWO US presidents (John Quincy Adams in Amistad and Richard Nixon in Nixon)...


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