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Top 10 British Actors Who Totally Stole The Show


Written by Marc Turner They’re not always in the lead roles, but they definitely stand out.. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British actors who stole the show in films. For this list we’re looking at actors in seemingly small roles, or roles with limited screen time, who ultimately overshadowed the rest of the cast. These movies simply wouldn’t have been the same without these guys. Special thanks to our user RichardFB for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British Actors Who Stole The Show


They’re not always in the lead roles, but they definitely stand out.. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British actors who stole the show in films.

For this list we’re looking at actors in seemingly small roles, or roles with limited screen time, who ultimately overshadowed the rest of the cast. These movies simply wouldn’t have been the same without these guys.

#10: Tom Hardy
“The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)

We might’ve included Hardy for his role as John Fitzgerald in “The Revenant”, but this performance as the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut Bane, in part three of Christopher Nolan's acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy, proved a defining moment in the actor’s career. Batman may have the gadgets and the vehicles, but Bane is clearly the coolest character in this film, with his eerie voice and unsettling mask. Plus, Bane’s sympathetic backstory also provides one of the film’s more interesting twists.

#9: Tim Roth
“Planet of the Apes” (2001)

This adaptation of the 1968 film of the same name received mixed reviews, with lead actor Mark Wahlberg criticised for what many dismissed as a rather soulless performance. By contrast, Roth was praised for his portrayal of the brutal and ambitious General Thade, even earning a nomination for best supporting actor at the 2002 Saturn Awards. Roth researched chimp behaviour in detail before the film, and his performance vividly portrays the animals’ unpredictable nature as well as their physical strength. Sadly, far too few people even realize that it was him underneath all the makeup and prosthetics.

#8: Judi Dench
“Shakespeare in Love” (1998)

Judi Dench’s role as Queen Elizabeth I in this film amounted to just eight minutes of screentime, yet it won her an Academy Award for best supporting actress. Even Dench recognised the shortness of her role when she received the statuette, joking that she “should only get a little bit” of the Oscar. For every one of those eight minutes, though, Dame Judi dominated the film with a witty and understated performance as the Tudor ruler. So much so, her role is still what this movie is best remembered for.

#7: Robert Shaw
“Jaws” (1975)

Though he wasn’t the lead for this game-changing thriller, Shaw stole the show as the grizzled veteran shark hunter, Bartholomew Quint. According to reports, the “Jaws” script was still being written as scenes were being filmed, forcing Shaw to improvise many of his lines. But he was still able to deliver one of cinema’s most memorable and chilling monologues, recounting the harrowing story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis after it was hit by two Japanese torpedoes. Decades later, his performance is still as effective as it was in 1975.

#6: Benedict Cumberbatch
“Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013)

The part of Khan Noonien Singh was originally offered to Benicio del Toro in this sequel, but it is hard now to imagine anyone other than Cumberbatch playing the role (with the obvious exception of Ricardo Montalbán from the original series and “Wrath of Khan” film). The central pairing of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock remains the beating heart of the story, but Cumberbatch still steals loads of limelight with his steely yet impassioned performance as one of Star Trek’s most iconic villains. Super-smart, super-strong, and super-bad, Khan makes for an intimidating figure - and one that leaves a lasting impression.

#5: Tom Hiddleston
“Thor” (2011)

With a few notable exceptions, the villains of the MCU have often been criticised for being boring and/or one-dimensional. But no one would say that about the trickster god Loki. He’s the brains to Thor’s brawn, and whilst Chris Hemsworth’s character is a likeable hero, there’s no doubt that Loki is the more complex brother, with his sense of vulnerability and his need for acceptance. In fact, so impressive was Hiddleston in the role, that Loki went on to become the main antagonist in the subsequent “Avengers” movie and a recurring character in later films.

#4: Christian Bale
“The Fighter” (2010)

This true-life flick about boxer Micky Ward was supposed to be Mark Wahlberg’s film. Not only did Wahlberg play the lead role, he also produced the movie and spent five years trying to get it made. But Bale stole the spotlight with his portrayal of Ward’s half-brother Dicky Eklund, himself a former boxer who succumbs to a crack cocaine addiction. Bale’s performance bagged him an Oscar and astounded the real-life Micky Ward, who claimed that if you saw Eklund and Bale from behind, you wouldn’t know who was who.

#3: Daniel Day-Lewis
“Gangs of New York” (2002)

Day-Lewis is renowned for taking method acting to extremes, and for his role as Bill “The Butcher” Cutting he is said to have trained as an actual butcher and even sharpened knives between takes. Whatever he did, it worked, because he easily upstages co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz as the sociopath who ruled the nineteenth-century slums of Lower Manhattan. Bill the Butcher is arguably one of the most frightening cinema characters of all time, and the role won Day-Lewis a BAFTA award and a nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards.

#2: Alan Rickman
“Die Hard” (1988)

Rickman frequently outperformed his high profile co-stars, and in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” it’s rumoured that Kevin Costner had some of Rickman’s scenes cut because he was being outshone. For this list, though, we’ve chosen Rickman’s first major film role as the unforgettable, all-action villain, Hans Gruber. Amidst the gunfire and explosions, it’s Rickman who stands out with a sinister smile and his casual ruthlessness. Even his death scene is epic, with the stunt crew reportedly dropping him prematurely so his reaction was more believable.

#1: Anthony Hopkins
“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

Ask 100 people who the star of this horror classic is and they will probably all give you the same answer: Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. Hopkins won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the terrifying serial killer, yet amazingly his character spent just 16 minutes on screen. When he does appear, he both repels and attracts with his frosty smile and brilliant mind. The American Film Institute once voted Lecter the number one villain of the last 100 years, surpassing Darth Vader and Psycho’s Norman Bates. And it’s tough to disagree.
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