Actors You Should Know

British Actors You Should Know: James McAvoy

It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been following this versatile actor for a decade now. Many may be familiar with this talented Scotsman for his high profile role as Charles Xavier in the most recent X-Men franchise.

But the very reason I so enjoy James McAvoy’s work is that I never know what that boy’s going to do next. For that reason I try to make a point of seeing everything he’s in even though I might not think at first glance that it’s my cup of tea.

I hope you’ll indulge me as I take you along on a tour of some of the highlights of McAvoy's career so far.

British Actors You Should Know: James Nesbitt

Today’s “actor you should know” owns half a prize winning race horse, has acted as a UNICEF UK ambassador since 2005 and is the current Chancellor of the University of Ulster, no less. A proud Northern Irishman, James Nesbitt is a big fan of sport (particularly Manchester United and his hometown team, Coleraine) and has recently started presenting travel programs including one entitled James Nesbitt’s Ireland.

You may wonder how this charming, talented fella finds time for his main job – acting. But Nesbitt’s been working steadily since the early 90’s and it doesn’t appear that he’s planning on letting up anytime soon.

Let’s look at a small sampling of his many excellent roles over the years.

British Actors You Should Know: Rupert Graves

Our British Actors You Should Know series rolls on this week by profiling an actor that a lot of you will be at least passingly familiar with – because he’s in Sherlock, and we know how much everyone loves Sherlock. (With good reason!) But, how much do you know about the cast that’s bringing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories into the modern age?

Since we’ve already covered leads Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in this series, it seems only fair to make our way through the rest of the 221b Baker Street gang as we can. Up this week: Rupert Graves, an exceptionally talented actor who’s been working steadily in British film and television for over 25 years, so you’ve probably seen him in a lot of things already. You may just not have known you have.

Read on for some Graves-themed viewing suggestions and let us know what we’ve left off the list in the comments!

British Actors You Should Know: Robert Sheehan

Sometimes when you watch a young actor on screen you just know they’re something special. They have charisma, a presence, something that makes them shine beyond their cast mates.

Irish actor Robert Sheehan is just shy of his twenty-sixth birthday and he’s already made a pretty big name for himself - and not just because he’s got the loveliest green eyes and tousled dark hair. He’s got acting chops aplenty. Let’s look at some of Sheehan’s performances over his already decade long career to see why he’s on so many up-and-coming lists.

British Actors You Should Know: David Bradley

Did you happen to watch An Adventure in Space and Time last week while we were all celebrating the Doctor Who 50th anniversary? If not, you should absolutely go find it on On Demand or iTunes, because it’s excellent, not for the least of which reason is because actor David Bradley is just stunning in the lead role.

After having seen that, we thought some people might be curious about what else the actor’s done, so he seemed an ideal choice for a profile in our British Actors You Should Know series. Much like previous BAYSK Bill Nighy, Bradley has been working in film, television and theater for several decades at this point, and this list is but a sampling of a long and successful career (there’s no way all his roles would fit in one blog post!), though he’s only really broken through into the pop culture mainstream in the past few years.

You’ve seen him in something though, for sure, even if you didn’t know who he was. Take a look at some of his more famous roles.

British Actors You Should Know: Tom Hollander

While you may not know his name, I would wager most of you recognize the diminutive bloke with the dog collar in the center of the photo to your left. Don’t let his stature deceive you because at 5’5”, Tom Hollander is probably one of the most talented actors of any height working today. He’s played proper villains, spies, royalty, politicians and clergymen. He can menace and belittle with the best of them and then in the blink of an eye be as bumbling and endearing as you please. His secret weapon is his unpredictability and he uses it to great effect.

A working film and TV actor since the early 1990s, the demand for Hollander’s dramatic and comedic skills seems to increase with every passing year. And each time I see him on the screen, big or small, I know I’m in for a quality performance.

Let’s look at a brief sampling of Hollander’s work below and perhaps you’ll get a better idea of what I mean.

British Actors You Should Know: Bill Nighy

Our British Actors You Should Know series is on a bit of a trend lately where we talk about actors that you probably actually do know, you just may not realize it yet. Bill Nighy is another one of those people, a total “Hey! It’s That Guy!” kind of actor who has actually been doing film, television and theater work for decades. So, don’t be surprised if you have a few moments of “Oh, that was *him*?” as you go down this list of some of his more memorable performances.

Confession time: Nighy’s list of accomplished – or at least interesting – performances is so long, there’s no way it would fit in one blog post. These are highlights, at best, of an exceptionally long and varied career as one of Britain’s finest character actors. If you like any (or all) of these roles, there are definitely more where they came from. (And if you have a must-see Nighy performance that didn’t make this list, tell us about it in the comments.)

British Actors You Should Know: Tom Hiddleston

Much like previous British Actor You Should Know Benedict Cumberbatch, it’s highly likely that you probably actually do know who Tom Hiddleston is, even if he’s only “Loki from The Avengers” or “Henry V from The Hollow Crown” in your mind and you have no idea what his actual name is as a real live person.

You should probably remember his actual name though, because he’s quite a talented actor with a diverse array of roles under his belt. And given the fact that he’s now garnered quite the online army thanks to his Marvel role, general good nature and focus on worthy charitable causes, it would seem that he’s not going anywhere time soon and will probably be making his mark on many more roles in future. (And it's the sort of acclaim that will be well deserved.)

However, Hiddleston’s career is made of more roles than just Loki. Here’s a look at a few of them.

British Actors You Should Know: Christopher Eccleston

Next up in our British Actors You Should Know series is a gentleman that a great many of you probably already do know – or at the very least have seen before because of a little science fiction program called Doctor Who.. But, did you know that Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston has done a lot more than play a Time Lord?

To what may be the surprise of some, Eccleston is actually a tremendously versatile actor who’s done roles in everything from drama to comedy – with that little bit of iconic sci-fi thrown in for good measure.

Take a look at some highlights from his career to date below: Do you have any favorites?

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