It has always been a hotly disputed topic who are the greatest actors in the world, perhaps in film the debate could be between American, French or even British, but when it comes to theatre and Treading the Boards, surely nobody can hold a candle to the British.
The phrase Classically Trained, is synonymous with RADA and British acting in general. And it is something that Hollywood would rather import than for America to compete seriously with. In this blog we look at the men and women who have taken the stage by the scruff of the neck and proved themselves as theatre’s best of the best.
Why Are There So Many Great British Actors?
So why is it there have been so many great British actors? Obviously we have touched on the point that the teaching of acting in the UK is of the highest standard, and RADA is the greatest of all places in the world study.
Also Britain has the legacy of one of the greatest ever playwrights, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is in the DNA of every British actor, and the great bard give British actors a sense of history and belonging to the stage.
The British way of life with all its Pomp & Circumstance is just made for acting. Dressing up for formal occasions, processions and the many civic ceremonies that exist on this small island is part of who the British are.
So now it is time to take a look at some great British actors from the past and the present.
Dame Judi Dench
Judi Dench epitomizes what being a British actor is all about, her skill and dexterity at playing any role whatsoever elevates her as one of the best stage and screen actors ever. Her early years was spent learning her trade at the Central School of Speech and Drama, then she performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.
Her acting career has been littered with glittering awards, including ten BAFTA’s. And she has also been honored civically as well, receiving The Order of the British Empire, and of course a Dame Commander in 1988.
Surviving breast cancer Maggie Smith is an inspiration to us all, but it is the enjoyment that she has given us in her acting career that will always be remembered the best. She started her acting career at the Oxford Playhouse back in the 1950’s.
As well known for being a serious theatre performer, Maggie Smith has also appeared in over sixty movies during her illustrious acting career. Some of her most memorable performances were in Othello, California Suite, The Pride of Miss Jean Brodie and of course who can forget her memorable performance as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies.
Maggie Smith has won two Oscars and has been nominated six times for her great work in film and theatre. In part two of our blog to see the best of British stage actors we study the life of Sir John Gielgud and go to the Valleys of Wales to learn about Richard Burton.