Actors and Actresses

Hugh Grant as everyone's favorite fictional Prime Minister in "Love Actually". (Photo: Universal Pictures)

British Actors You Should Know: Hugh Grant

Last week actor and producer Hugh Grant was bestowed with the British Film Institute Fellowship, the organization’s highest honor recognizing his outstanding contribution to film. No stranger to accolades and trophies including a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for his breakout role in 1994’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, Grant’s career has spanned over thirty years with appearances in forty films.

Not exactly an up and comer, most of you are probably already familiar with Hugh from his many leading man, rom-com roles in the 90’s and 2000’s.  If you haven’t seen as much of Mr. Grant lately, perhaps it’s because he has been rather occupied with his campaign against the tabloid press for their invasive phone hacking tactics or the fact that he was busy becoming a father four times in four years! 

Saoirse Ronan in her Academy Award-nominated role in "Brooklyn". (Photo: Fox Searchlight)

British (Irish) Actresses You Should Know: Saoirse Ronan

Since the 2016 Oscar nominations have been announced, it gave me a good reason to return to our recurring series highlighting talented performers from the UK. However whenever we choose to include Irish performers in these profiles, I always feel compelled to state that we understand Ireland isn’t part of the United Kingdom.

 In fact in the case of actress Saoirse Ronan, she is actually Irish-American seeing as she was born in the Bronx to Irish parents who then returned to their homeland when she was a young child. My point being, we love the Emerald Isle as well and Miss Ronan is super-talented so it makes sense to tell you about her work regardless.

And when I say super-talented I’m not exaggerating. At the tender age of twenty-one, Ronan has already been nominated for an Academy award twice. Let’s examine the variety and growth of her work thus far in her impressive career with her nominated roles as bookends for the others.

Remembering Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman in his most famous recent role: "Harry Potter's" Potions Master, Severus Snape. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Most of you have probably already heard the heart-breaking news that Alan Rickman passed away today at the age of 69. Reports state that the British actor had been battling cancer. He is survived by his partner of 50 years, Rima Horton. The two married in a private ceremony in 2012.

Anyone who watched Mr. Rickman perform knew the depth and power of his talent. He was an accomplished stage and screen actor who was recognized with nominations for his work in theatre, TV and film. His honors included a BAFTA for his villainous role in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and an Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award for portraying the infamous spiritual healer and Russian political advisor in the TV movie Rasputin. For his most recognized role as the misunderstood and ultimately selfless Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, Alan earned the devotion of a generation and a People’s Choice and MTV Movie award to boot.

In Memoriam candle

In Memoriam 2015

Another year has flown by and with it some of our favorite icons of the arts and entertainment world have gone as well. Please join me in honoring the memory of many of the British actors, musicians and authors who have shared their talents with us over the years. 

The cast of "Downton Abbey" during the Season 6 press tour. (Photo: Stephanie Berger/PBS_

‘Downton Abbey’ Actor Role Reversals

The final series of Downton Abbey may still be a little bit away, but they already have us thinking about what the end will bring for the Crawleys and all the staff we’ve come to know on the estate.

So while we endure the wait, I started to scout out how often the actors who inhabit these well-known characters have actually reversed roles – you know upstairs people playing servants, downstairs folks playing the privileged. Here’s what I found.

Watch: ‘Downton Abbey’ Stars Doing American Accents is Amazing

Allen Leech, Michelle Dockery and Hugh Bonneville at a PBS screening. (Photo: Stephanie Berger/PBS)

The Downton Abbey cast has been out and about quite a bit over the past week or so, doing the press rounds in America as the US premiere date of Season 6 inches ever closer. (FYI: It’s January 3, if somehow you’ve been living under a rock missed this memo.)

This of course has lead to a lot of delightful clips and interviews, largely because this cast is just adorable together, but the best bit thus far has to be their appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week, during which the chat host convinced them to give viewers a look at what Downton Abbey might be like if only it sounded a little different.

Benedict Cumberbatch Imitating Otters Will Brighten Up Your Day

Benedict Cumberbatch as an otter.

We all know Benedict Cumberbatch is pretty perfect, right?

In the past year or so, the Sherlock star has done Shakespeare, read love letters, filmed a new episode of the world’s most popular detective show, gotten cast as the lead in a Marvel movie, been nominated for an Oscar, read a poem for the funeral of a long-dead British monarch, and generally been a great sport about the approximately one million internet memes about him that are going around at any given moment.

The most famous Cumberbatch-related internet phenomenon is probably the whole “Otters Who Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch” thing, which matched photos of otters with Cumberbatch sporting similar facial expressions.  It kind of became a thing online, and Cumberbatch has been asked about it before, which is only part of what makes this clip so incredibly awesome.

British National Treasures You Should Know: Stephen Fry

If you follow UK entertainment news like I do, you may have heard the announcement earlier in the week that Stephen Fry has resigned his position as quizmaster extraordinaire on the comedy panel show QI. Mr. Fry’s final series is in the can and set to premiere this weekend in the UK. In fact, his replacement has already been announced – the formidable writer, presenter, activist and comedy panel show staple, Sandi Toksvig.

Of his tenure on this beloved and critically acclaimed program and his decision to depart, Fry said, "For thirteen years I had one of the best jobs on television. Behind the camera squadrons of quite extraordinarily brilliant researchers, programme makers and uniquely curious (in both senses of the word) people making that job so much easier.”

"In front of the camera generations of lively minds and above all, of course, the wonder of nature that is Alan Davies. After passing the alphabetical halfway mark I thought it time to move on, but I will never cease to be grateful to John Lloyd for devising QI and for everyone else for making it such fun."

If you hadn’t heard about Fry’s exit from the show, that’s understandable. I don’t really have much of a life. If you aren’t familiar with QI, you can see what it’s all about for yourself. Series 1-4 can be streamed on Acorn TV and series 9-11 on Hulu Plus. Also there are loads of clips on YouTube that give you a very good feel for the tone and structure of the show.

However, if you aren’t familiar with all the varied talents Mr. Fry possesses which make him a British national treasure, you and I need to have a talk…

British Actresses You Should Know: Julie Walters

We’re bringing back our continuing series which features British performers with whom we feel you should be acquainted. This time round I’ve chosen to highlight the legendary English actress and comedienne, Julie Walters.

“Whoa there,” you might be saying. “Of course, I know who Julie Walters is.” She's been nominated for Oscars and she's won Baftas and a Golden Globe. If you don't know her, perhaps you should have your Anglophile card revoked!

But what I want to share are some of Julie's lesser known roles that you may not have seen before (or perhaps had forgotten about).

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