The London List Part II: Sixteen favorite actors born in the UK capital

The Happy and Glorious 2012 Olympics have come to a rocking end earlier today with a celebration of British pop-culture. Just because the Olympics is over though, doesn’t mean the London appreciation has to. The UK capital is one of my favorite city I have been blessed to visit.

Now for Part II, I decided to go with a top 16 instead of 10 for each day of the London 2012 Olympics, and also partly because there are too many London-born actors I love that it’s agonizing to keep it just 10. By the way, I’m including some of the nearby Suburbs of London as well.

Though I may not have seen ALL of their work, I am fond of these actors from seeing their performances in a number of projects [at least three in order to be eligible for this list]. So here they are in ALPHABETICAL ORDER:

Emily Blunt

Born on February 23, 1983, in Roehampton, South West London. I first saw her in The Devil’s Wear Prada when she practically stole every scene. I’ve since seen her in half a dozen films and I think my favorite role of hers are in Jane Austen Book Club [I love her outfits in this movie too!], The Young Victoria, and Salmon Fishing in Yemen. There’s something about her demeanor that makes me connect with her right away. Did you know that she had a stammer when she was a kid? Apparently a teacher asked her to play a character with a different voice and it did the trick and her stammer disappeared.

Michael Caine

Born 14 March 1933, Rotherhithe, London. Who doesn’t love Michael Caine with his cockney accent? It’s practically iconic! I don’t know which is the first film I saw him in, it might’ve been Deathtrap with Christopher Reeve. But it’s his roles in Christopher Nolan’s movies [the Batman trilogy and The Prestige] that perhaps make him become a mainstream star. He’s one of those actors that is always watchable even in not-so-good movies [Miss Congeniality anyone?] My fave roles of him are Alfred, Jasper in Children of Men and Dr. Larch in The Cider House Rules. Did you know his real name is Maurice Micklewhite?

Dominic Cooper

June 2, 1978 in Greenwich, London. In the Liebster post, I asked which actor whom you initially don’t care for but somehow slowly warmed up to. I answered Matt Damon, but I could say the same about Dominic as I did not like his performance as Willoughby in the recent BBC adaptation of Sense & Sensibility, but then he started to pop up in all kinds of movies like An Education, Captain America, My Week with Marilyn, and most recently Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. You know what, I started enjoying seeing him on screen and I have to admit that he’s quite talented.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Born July 19, 1976 in London. I first noticed the unconventionally-handsome bloke with a peculiar name as a cad in Atonement. But no doubt it’s his role in BBC’s Sherlock that impressed me and it no doubt opens a lot of doors for him as well. He was excellent in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Amazing Grace and even in his brief scenes in War Horse. With his upcoming roles in The Hobbit and Star Trek, it’s safe to say Benedict’s moment has definitely arrived.

Idris Elba

Born 6 September 1972, Hackney, London. It’s hard not to notice this tall, hunky East-Londoner when he comes into the screen. Though when I first saw him in some clips of The Wire, I thought he was American (his parents are from Sierra Leone and Ghana). His first role I saw was Rocknrolla, where he just lights up the screen as Gerry Butler’s partner in crime, Mumbles. He’s got such screen charisma and his Cockney accent is to-die-for, though I often just gaze at the way he speak that I don’t pay attention to what he had to say, ahah. I’ve since enjoyed seeing him in Thor and Prometheus, and even in an under-written role in The Losers, he’s still fun to watch. Glad to see him thriving in Hollywood and getting more roles, I think his leading role in Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi adventure Pacific Rim would likely make him an A-lister, if he isn’t already by now.

Tom Hardy

Born September 15, 1977 in Hammersmith, London. As they say, no matter how small a role is, it’s up to the actor to make it memorable. That’s what Hardy did in his scene-stealing performance in Inception with that awesome quote about ‘dreaming a little bigger.’ He has done a few exceptional performances before that though, his role in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson shows his dedication to his craft and his range. Just like Cumberbatch, he impressed me in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy despite his limited screen time, and his heartfelt performance in Warrior should’ve been recognized in last year’s award season.

Tom Hiddleston

Born February 9, 1981 in Westminster, London. I’ve mentioned it several times before that his breakthrough role in THOR is what made me notice him. His Loki is perhaps one of my favorite superhero villains, but this RADA-trained actor’s certainly capable for more. I’ve since seen him in bit parts in War Horse and Midnight in Paris and I just love his gorgeous voice and charming screen presence. His impersonations are awesome, which are all over YouTube if you’re curious. I’d love to see more of him in Hollywood, he’ll be starring as a love-struck vampire in Jim Jarmusch’ Only Lovers Left Alive.

Jude Law

Born December 29, 1972 in Lewisham, London. One of the most gorgeous Brits with to-die-for green eyes are actually more versatile than I thought. I think The Talented Mr. Ripley was one of the earliest roles I saw him in, but he’s since starred in a whole bunch of films playing a variety of characters. I think I’ve seen him in about a dozen films now, but I don’t know what my favorite role of his would be. Surely one of his memorable is his villainous turn in Road to Perdition.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Born April 29, 1957 in Greenwich, London. I heard that he’s often referred to as the English Robert De Niro. I don’t know about you, but I think he’s far more consistent than his acting hero. The celebrated actor isn’t the most prolific due to his exhaustive preparations for his roles. His intense performance in The Last of the Mohicans and heart-wrenching one The Age of Innocence blew me away, though a few of his key roles such as My Left Foot and The Crucible still eluded me. Did you know that Day-Lewis actually pursued the role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction after Michael Madsen wasn’t available?

Alfred Molina

Born May 24, 1953 in London. Believe it or not, I first noticed Mr. Molina years ago in a very unsympathetic role. He played a brutish Iranian husband in Not Without My Father with Sally Field. His Spanish/Italian heritage makes him so versatile that he could play almost any ethnicity, but it’s also his screen presence that makes him so compelling to watch. I like him in Chocolat, An Education and as a sympathetic villain in Spider-man 2.

Carey Mulligan

Born May 28, 1985 in Westminster, London. I’ve only just seen her less than 2 years ago in her breaking role in An Education. But immediately I like seeing her, she has this sympathetic vibe about her and she’s less pouty than her co-star in Pride and Prejudice and Never Let Me Go. In fact, it’s Carey’s role in that heartbreaking film that made me a fan, she has this very soothing voice as well. Looking forward to seeing her in The Great Gatsby, too bad that movie got delayed until next year.

Gary Oldman

Born March 21, 1958 in New Cross, London. He’s friggin’ Gary Oldman. Need I say more? Well, I will say a bit more. His villainous role in The Professional certainly is not easy to forget, he’s one of those memorable bad guys you love to hate. Then he blew me away as Beethoven in Immortal Beloved, but like Michael Caine, his roles in the Batman trilogy and Harry Potter The Prisoner of Azkaban also shows he’s just as compelling in blockbuster films. I’m not as enamored with the film but his role as a seasoned spy in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was definitely Oscar-worthy. [related post: Chat-worthy Thespian Gary Oldman]

Alan Rickman

Born February 21, 1946 in Hammersmith, London. Wouldn’t you believe it that the first time I saw him in Truly, Madly, Deeply I was not smitten with him? I was only 18 then so what did I know, right? But then his deliciously evil performance as Hans Gruber makes him a favorite amongst action fans, including yours truly. Yet Rickman is perhaps the few actors whose bad guy roles such as in Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves are equally as memorable as his good ones. After all, he is one of my favorite period drama heroes. I also love his comedic chops in Galaxy Quest and the enigmatic Severus Snape is definitely my top favorite Harry Potter characters.

Rufus Sewell

Born October 29, 1967 in Twickenham, suburban London. This is an obvious one as I’ve mentioned the gorgeous Brit often in this blog. Why he’s not more famous and often relegated to supporting roles is beyond me. Sewell is not only VERY easy on the eye but he’s immensely talented and versatile. Whether it’s sci-fi (Dark City), period dramas (Dangerous Beauty, Tristan + Isolde), a Shakespeare adaptation [Shakespeare-Told’s The Taming of the Shrew] or a James Bond-like detective (BBC’s ZEN), we can expect a top notch performance from this raspy-voiced actor. Oh, he makes for a juicy vampire too! Can’t believe he had not played one before Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter as he sure is one sexy prince of darkness! [related post: 44 Reasons We Love Rufus Sewell, Spotlight on BBC Zen]

Mark Strong

Born August 30, 1963 in London. The Italian/Austrian actor (whose real name is Marco Giuseppe Salussolia) first came to my attention as the creepy, limping bloke who beat up my Gerry Butler in BBC’s miniseries The Jury. Yep, that was before he co-starred with GB again in Rocknrolla. Like Molina, Strong also had that ‘ethnic’ look that allow him to play characters of various ethnicity, including a Jordanian Prince in Body of Lies. I feel that he’s got the chops and charisma to play leading roles, but for some reason he’s typecast as villains or unsympathetic supporting roles. I read that he doesn’t mind it though and if you’re looking at his IMDb resume, he’s busier than ever with about five films coming out in 2013, and that’s not counting his TV projects. Good for him! [related role: Actor Spotlight: Mark Strong]

Emma Thompson

Born April 15, 1959 in Paddington, London. I think the fact that she wrote the script for one of my all time favorite film Sense & Sensibility will automatically places her in my good graces forever, but she is also a wonderful actress. Interesting that she used to be married to one of my top 10 Irish thespians Kenneth Branagh. It’s in one of his films, Much Ado About Nothing, that I first noticed her in. Her subsequent roles in The Remains of the Day, Love Actually, Stranger Than Fiction and Last Chance Harvey, Brave (voicing Merida’s mother Elinor)are all wonderful, but S&S‘ Elinor Dashwood shall always be my personal favorite.

Honorable Mentions:

Special Honorable Mention: Sophia Myles
*She was originally on the main list but I had to swap her with Idris Elba who I inadvertently left off the list as I thought he was not born in London.

Born May 18, 1980 in London. Sophia is the only actor here where I noticed from a TV show. I LOVE Sophia as Beth in Moonlight, one of my guilty pleasure show about vampires that’s prematurely canceled. She really is one of the best things on that show. She reminds me a lot of Kate Winslet, especially in the Jane Austen adaptation Mansfield Park in a small role. For some reason, her career didn’t take off after her leading role in Tristan + Isolde. It’s too bad as I think she’s quite talented. I hope she’ll get another big break one of these days.

Other awesome Londoners who’ve made it in Hollywood:

  • Hayley Atwell
  • Helena Bonham-Carter
  • Rebecca Hall
  • Emily Mortimer
  • Thandie Newton
  • Andy Serkis
  • Rachel Weisz

Check out Part I of Favorite London Scenes if you haven’t already

So what’s YOUR favorite London-born actor(s). Do fill me in if they’re not on this list and share your favorite role of him/her.

48 thoughts on “The London List Part II: Sixteen favorite actors born in the UK capital

  1. Pingback: FRC Love In – The Olympics Have Left The Building « FrontRoomCinemaFrontRoomCinema

  2. London has produced many great actors 🙂

    I am glad you put Benny in your list…he is on fire lately.
    I wasn’t a big fan of Hardy before, till I saw him in Stuart- a life backward…I saw his real talent in that movie. I love to see him head to head with Benny again.

    I love Andy Serkis…he is odd but likeable.

    Great post Ruth 🙂

    1. I know! Must be in the waters 🙂 Ahah, I still get a kick that you call him Benny, but yeah he’s definitely a rising star. Glad to hear you like Hardy now, he’s quite a chameleon and both of them have such great voices!

  3. Great collection of London actors. I forget how many good actors are from here sometimes. Don’t know why, just slips my mind!

    It always amuses me to see Alfred Molina in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark – he’s English and yet… not!

    Oldman is one of my all time favourite actors. Definite a worthy inclusion in this list 😀

    Hardy’s really impressed me. He’s done some stellar work and yes, I did enjoy him in This Means War too!

    1. Oh right, Molina was in the first Indiana Jones!! Him and John Rhys-Davies (who played Salah) are often mistaken for being Middle Eastern I think. Glad you found some people you like here, Jaina.

  4. You know I’m in lurv with Millie Blunt 🙂
    Can’t believe Hiddlestud is younger than moi, but I see Cooper is my age 🙂
    Love me some Jud Law anytime, wish he would get big Hollywood roles.
    I’d love Hardy too if he wasn’t so darn bizarre, but I do love his sexual naughtiness. The post featuring him showering and exposing his pubes 🙂 is still my most visited post ever 🙂

    1. You’re all young’uns! 🙂 I do think Law is a capable leading man, so yeah hopefully he gets some good leading roles. Ahah, Hardy seems to gravitate towards bizarre roles but I like actors who challenge themselves. Ah yeah, I might’ve seen that pic, no wonder it was popular 😉

  5. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth and company:

    Would also include Damien Lewis (Lt./Capt./Major Winters from ‘Band of Brothers). Born in St. John’s Wood, London).

    Dexter Fletcher (‘Snatch’, ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’). Born in North London.

    Edward Fox (‘The Day of the Jackal’). Born in Chelsea, London.

    1. I’m not familiar w/ any of those Jack, I only know Damian Lewis from a TV show I saw at one time. Glad to see there are more London-actors worth mentioning though.

      1. jackdeth72

        Hi, Ruth!

        My choices are more of the Next Generation of London actors and talents to look for in the future.

        I discovered Lewis and Fletcher through their roles in HBO’s ‘Band of Brothers’. Which is a treasure trove of UK talent and makes up a large part of Easy Company throughout the mini-series. Including Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardy in small, early roles.

        Speaking of Tom Hardy, I caught him and Joel Edgerton in ‘Warrior’ this weekend. Excellent work all the way around from a solid, proven cast!

  6. You included Idris! I love you! 🙂 And he has birthday two days after I do, we should really hook up and host a party together 😛

    I love the mention of Sophia Myles, she was the best part of the first Underworld movie and she really deserves better career.

    I really like Blunt but she really needs to work harder – in her last few movies she played the exact same character and she hasn’t been in good film since The Young Victoria.

    1. I almost excluded him from my list as I thought he was born in Sierra Leone!! But yeah, I’d LOVE to co-host a b’day party for Idris w/ you 😉

      Oh right Sophia was in Underworld, forgot about that, I guess she’s um, well-versed with vampire movies. If you haven’t seen Moonlight, it’s worth checking out as she’s great in it. I used to have a crush on Alex O’Loughlin but he’s really not a good actor, ahah.

      I hear ya about Blunt, glad to hear you agree with her wonderful performance in The Young Victoria, I love her and Rupert Friend.

  7. Pingback: London Appreciation Posts: Part I and Part II « The Cinematic Consensus Group

  8. Ted S.

    Pretty good list of actors there, let’s hope some if not all of the young ones have a long career in front of them.

    I think Michael Caine was quite well known before the Batman films, I saw a lot of his films before then. You should check out The Fourth Protocol where he faced off against the future Bond Pierce Brosnan, who played the bad guy in the film. It’s a very underrated spy thriller from the 80s. Also, The Man Who Would Be King where he starred along side another Bond actor, Sean Connery. The Island (1980) was also good and The Hand creep me out. I still don’t know why he decided to starred in Jaws 4, he must’ve been really desperate for a paycheck.

    1. Guess what Ted! I had just come back from my friend’s house who has quite a few of DVDs and he lent me ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ and ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ Hope to check out both of those soon! 🙂

      1. Ted S.

        Cool, I think you’ll enjoy The Man Who Would Be King. You’ll have to set sometime aside to finish Lawrence of Arabia and if the DVD is the uncut version, then you’ll need to have more time to finish it. I’ll be picking up the Blu-ray in November and I might go see it on the big screen, if there’s a theater showing it. They’re re-releasing it on the big screen before it hits BD, I’m talking about Lawrence of Arabia.

  9. Oh, you can just imagine how stupid the smirk on my face was when I saw the fourth name on your list. (To think a year ago I didn’t even know who he was.) Other favorites here are Hardy, Hiddleston, Law, DDL, Mulligan and Oldman.

    I like how the list is a mix of rising stars and established names. Nice touch.

    1. Yeah, I didn’t know who he was either, though he did impress me in Amazing Grace, but just didn’t realize how awesome he was. Glad you like the mix, I like ’em young or old so long as they have screen charisma 🙂

  10. Great mix of actors, young and old. There has been a lot of talent coming out of London lately — Tom Hardy, Idris Elba and Carey Mulligan are all favorites of mine. Also, nice subtle jab at Keira Knightley. 😀

    1. He…he.. glad you noticed. I’m just baffled how Keira kept getting roles, like the Jack Ryan movie, ugh I wish they had cast Sophia Myles instead, I mean she looked like a real woman!

  11. Ah, Rachel Weisz didn’t make the Top 16? That’s ok. I’ll let it slide. She got a mention.

    And how great has Emily Blunt been recently? She’s getting better and better.

    1. Y’know, lists are funny. As soon as I published it, I had second thoughts about not putting Rachel on the main list. I could easily swap her with Jude Law as I probably enjoy her performances more.

      I’ve always loved Emily, she’s just lovely to watch.

  12. I think London has always been pretty much the Thespian HQ, of course I love your list. I had to look up Kate Winslet, she was born in Reading, not London.

    1. Thespian HQ, I like that! Yeah, Kate would’ve made my list if she were born in London. It took quite a bit of research to get the name of the city right, hence I included ’em in the post 🙂

  13. YAY! Love the Law love! 🙂 I always forget about his performance in Road to Perdition, which is anything but forgettable. There are so many greats from London.

    Have you seen Tamara Drewe? Dominic Cooper is great in that, and I’ve heard good things about his performance in The Devil’s Double.

    By the way, I’ll answer your Liebster questions in the next couple of days, and I’ll give you a heads-up once I have.

    1. Yeah I think it’s kind of an unexpected role from Jude, but it worked so well.

      No haven’t seen Tamara Drewe, and I don’t think I can handle The Devil’s Double from what I’ve read so far. Sadam’s kids were crazy!

      Looking forward to reading your Liebster post!

  14. PrairieGirl

    Another stunning pic from Ivan of the Eye and the river, and the colors… wow! Fantastic list. Rufus is on top for me, of course, but also love Idris Elba, Michael Caine, Jude Law and Alan Rickman. The only thing missing is their pix! (I know, I know, you said you didn’t have the time to include them, but I guess that’s probably why I noticed and missed them ;-D.)

    1. I think most people already know what these actors look like 🙂 It already took me forever to select them, so I’d rather people just read what I have to say for each.

  15. Another great list Ruth. I admire the effort and time you put into these things. If truth be told though, I’m glad the Olympics is over with, it completely consumed the tv. (the scots done well in the medals honours though ;-)) 2014 will be the Commonwealth games in Glasgow also. I’m dreading that.

    1. I hear ya, Mark, but I actually don’t even watch any of the sporting events, just the opening and closing ceremony. Wow, that is cool that Glasgow got to host such a high profile event, but I get what you mean, hopefully it won’t be too much of an inconvenient for all the residents.

  16. Fantastic post, Ruth! Some great, classic talent in this list 😉

    I love Emily Blunt! I think she’s gorgeous and very talented; she has a great knack for comedy.

    Michael Caine had always been one of those actors I knew were good but never really wowed me. That changed with his AMAZING performance in The Dark Knight Rises. So moving!

    Dominic Cooper is a young actor that I’ve gotten to like, especially in Captain America and Mamma Mia!

    I’ve only seen Benedict Cumberbatch in tiny roles in Atonement, Tinker Tailor and War Horse but he’s made a good impression!

    Idris Elba was one of the highlights of Prometheus, for me.

    Tom Hardy is steadily becoming one of my favorite actors. Solid in Inception, frightening and powerful in TDKR and super underrated in Warrior. He’s awesome.

    Same about Tom Hiddleston. I LOVE him as Loki and he was one of the best things about Midnight in Paris.

    Jude Law is an amazing, versatile actor. I’m a big fan of his and I could watch him in practically anything. I especially like him in Road to Perdition, The Holiday and A.I.

    Daniel Day-Lewis, just wow. One of my all-time favorites. He’s an acting god. His performance in TWBB is the most stunning thing I’ve ever witnessed. I didn’t know he was born in London; I’ve always considered him Irish.

    Alfred Molina was brilliant in Spider-Man 2!

    Carey Mulligan is becoming one of my top actresses. She was stellar in two movies this past year: Drive and Shame.

    Gary Oldman is another acting legend. His villain in Léon was just mind-blowing.

    Alan Rickman is pretty awesome and he was BORN to play Severus Snape!

    I haven’t seen a lot of Rufus Sewell but I like his work in The Holiday a lot.

    Mark Strong is excellent at playing villains. Loved him in Sherlock Holmes and TTSS.

    Last but not least, I love Emma Thompson so much. She’s incredibly talented and reminds me of my mother.

    Among your honorable mentions, I’m a big fan of Helena Bonham-Carter, Rebecca Hall, Emily Mortimer, Thandie Newton, Andy Serkis (who I met at Comic Con) and Rachel Weisz.

    1. I LOVE long comments, thanks Fernando! You could create a post on your own on this topic 🙂 Ooh man, you should check out more Rufus, he’s brilliant but grossly underrated, I can give you some suggestions if you like. Mark Strong is great also, but I’d love to see him in something other than villain role, maybe in a love story?

      Hey, I met Andy Serkis at Comic-con too, he was sitting 2 chairs down from me as I sat right behind the Q&A mic. Too bad I did not strike a conversation with him. I wish I had known you then so we could’ve met up in San Diego!

      1. I did write a lot, didn’t I? hehe I just really liked this post!

        Any Rufus Sewell suggestions?

        Mark Strong didn’t play a villain in TTSS but it still wasn’t a big departure from his usual roles. Like you say, a love story would be a great way for him to show his versatility.

        And yes, I wish we’d known each other last year so we could’ve met at Comic Con! That would’ve been very nice. Maybe soon 🙂

        1. Hi Fernando! Rufus Sewell suggestions? Oh my, there are sooo many! If you like sci-fi, check out the underrated Dark City. He’s also great in A Knight’s Tale, Tristan + Isolde, The Illusionist, and also in miniseries The Pillars of the Earth and BBC’s ZEN. Hope you check out some of those 🙂

  17. I love and admire each one of the 16 (ok, maybe not a big Dominic Cooper or Jude Law fan, but still, they are talented men). My favorites are obvious Cumberbatch, Hiddleston, Rickman and Oldman! London is indeed a magical city! Great post!

    1. Magical city w/ magical men 🙂 I hear ya about Dominic and Jude, but you’re right they’re both very talented. I just realized too that most of these actors have very interesting names.

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