British actors have played a big part in Hollywood for a number of years; however, only a select few are household names. With the new generation of British actors dominating the silver screen with Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne, and Tom Hardy to name a few, it’s not surprising to see how the majority come from privileged backgrounds. Does that mean talent only manifests itself in the form of a privileged individual? Of course not. Unfortunately, as with any creative industry, it’s all about who you know. Nepotism runs wild and if you’re new to the game well you better be white, straight and middle class. Let’s hope that this changes sooner rather than later. As for now, well, I’ve compiled a list of 5 of the most underrated British actors out there today …
With a list of memorable performances in great films and television series alike, it’s surprising how Neil Maskell hasn’t made the transmission to Hollywood. Maybe it’s a personal choice, who knows? However, he’s without a doubt one of the best performers out there today, with his chameleon-like approach to his roles, he seems to be almost unrecognisable in every performance. The strange thing is, it’s not like he changes his appearance drastically, but it’s his ability to act that separates him from each and every role. That may sound silly, however, there are a lot of actors out there who make a living from doing one performance. Neil Maskell has proven he can do comedy, drama, and horror alike without breaking a sweat.
Notable Performances: Utopia (TV Series), Kill List, The Mimic (TV Series) and Hyena.
Having mostly graced the British TV screens, it seems as if Joe Gilgun is about to make a giant leap into the big league as he stars as the notorious Cassidy in AMC’s Preacher. Oozing with charisma, Joe Gilgun is an impressive actor who’s had a varied career, ranging from the gritty, naturalistic performances in This is England to the comedic in The Misfits. He’s even had a stint in two long running soaps, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. With a handful of films to his name, it seems as if that list is about to get bigger, if all goes well in 2016, which will without a doubt be a huge year for him with the premier of the Preacher descending soon.
Notable Performances: This is England (Film & TV Series), The Misfits (TV Series), Lockout
Bursting onto the scene with Skins, Joe Dempsie was by far one of the highlights of the series with brilliant performances throughout. He looked comfortable on screen and had that special ingredient that made him joy to watch. By some strange twist of nature, however, his co-star, Nicholas Hoult, made a name for himself with a string of big blockbusters, which is odd, considering he was probably one of the weakest links of the series. Admittedly, Nicholas Hoult has greatly improved since then, whereas Joe Dempsie has seemed to take a backwards step. Things looked great when he was cast in Game of Thrones, however, with his character’s fate being left unanswered, it’ll be interesting to see if he’ll return and in which capacity. Having bit parts in other notable series such as Doctor Who and This is England, one can only hope that he’ll receive another good role soon.
Notable Performances: Skins (TV Series), Game of Thrones (TV Series), The Fades (TV Series)
Known for his transformational performances, Peter Ferdinando is by far one of the most underrated actors out there today. A truly phenomenal actor who is able to completely reinvent himself to staggering effect. Having starred in a handful of great British films such as Starred Up and A Field in England, it’s his performances in the underrated Tony and Hyena where his talent really shines. Taking centre stage, he’s able to truly shine in full glory as he plays creepy serial killer Tony (porno tache’ included) and the corrupt London police officer, Michael, in Hyena. He will next be starring in Ben Wheatley’s High Rise which is due to be released in the UK on the 18th March. One can only hope that he’ll be given many more roles in the future.
Notable Performances: Tony, Hyena, Starred Up
A popular face amongst many Brits and he’s even made quite a name for himself in the US too. However despite his wide catalogue of work, he’s not a name who’s spoken alongside the likes of the Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne. You could say that they’re two ‘totally different breeds of actor’ although Stephen Graham has a tremendous amount of talent and deserves to be recognized as such by the public. One might say he isn’t leading guy material, but really? In this day in age, do we really need a piece of ‘eye candy’ to be the lead. He’s an actor who can either be a ball of energy or ticking time bomb.
It’s rare for actors to really dictate the scenes they’re in, but he’s without a doubt one of those rarities. A constant pleasure to watch, who’s even shown to stretch his talents overseas as American gangster Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire. It’s his role as Combo however in This is England where most will recognise him from. A phenomenal performance that is truly chilling to watch.
Notable Performances: This is England (Film & TV Series), Boardwalk Empire (TV Series), Blood
Anyone we forgot? Sound off below!