Top 27 British Actresses You Need to Know About
Are you a fan of British cinema? If so, you’re in for a treat! In this article, we’ll be discussing 27 of the most talented and famous British actresses. These women have starred in everything from dramas to action movies to romantic comedies, and they’ve earned critical acclaim for their performances.
1. Dame Judi Dench
Dame Judi Dench has been performing for over 60 years, and she’s won a plethora of awards, including 7 Academy Award nominations, 6 British Academy Film Awards, 2 Golden Globes, a Tony Award, and 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards. She’s perhaps best known for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love, M in GoldenEye, and Armande Voizin in Chocolat.
2. Dame Maggie Smith
Like Dench, Dame Maggie Smith has a career spanning over 60 years. She’s won 2 Academy Awards and is one of only 6 actresses to have won both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. You may recognize her from her roles as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter series or Lady Crawley in Downton Abbey.
3. Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter is known for playing dark and quirky roles, and she’s been nominated for numerous awards, including 2 Academy Awards and 8 Golden Globe Awards. She’s starred in several Tim Burton films and is perhaps best known for her role as Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series and the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland.
4. Emily Blunt
Emily Blunt gained fame for her role as Emily in The Devil Wears Prada, but she’s gone on to star in many other movies, including The Young Victoria and The Girl on the Train. She’s won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award and has been nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
5. Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson is an actress, comedian, and screenwriter who has won 2 Academy Awards, 2 Golden Globe Awards, and a BAFTA Award. She’s starred in many films, including Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually, and Nanny McPhee.
6. Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley has starred in a variety of films, including the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Pride and Prejudice, and Atonement. She’s been nominated for 2 Academy Awards and 3 Golden Globe Awards.
7. Tilda Swinton
Tilda Swinton is known for her avant-garde style and her roles in films such as Orlando, Michael Clayton, and We Need to Talk About Kevin. She’s won an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Venice Film Festival Award.
8. Carey Mulligan
Carey Mulligan has starred in films such as An Education, The Great Gatsby, and Mudbound. She’s won a BAFTA Award and has been nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Carey Mulligan may not have a damehood (yet), but she’s certainly one of the most talented actresses of her generation. Her performances in historical and period dramas, such as Far from the Madding Crowd and The Great Gatsby, are particularly noteworthy.
Mulligan’s range as an actress is impressive, as she’s equally at home in dramas like Drive and Shame. Her ability to convey complex emotions with subtle gestures and expressions is truly masterful.
She’s been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards and two Academy Awards, proving that her talents are widely recognized and appreciated by audiences and critics alike.
Carey Mulligan is an English actress who has received critical acclaim and nominations for multiple awards, including Golden Globe Awards, Academy Awards, and a Tony Award. She first debuted on stage at the Royal Court Theatre, followed by her film debut in Pride & Prejudice. Her breakthrough role was in An Education in 2009, where she won a BAFTA Award. She has since starred in movies such as Inside Llewyn Davis, The Great Gatsby, and the Netflix series Collateral. Her notable role was Daisy in The Great Gatsby.
9. Judi Dench
Judi Dench is a beloved British actress who has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. With her incredible talent and versatility, Dench has become a true icon in the entertainment industry. From her early stage work to her iconic performances on the big screen, Dench has proven time and again that she is one of the most gifted performers of her generation. Her captivating presence and natural charisma have made her a fan favorite, and her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades.
10. Helen Mirren
Dame Helen Mirren has won an Academy Award, 4 BAFTA Awards, and 3 Golden Globe Awards. She’s known for her roles in films such as The Queen, Hitchcock, and RED. Helen Mirren is a legendary British actress who has dazzled audiences with her stunning performances both on stage and on screen.
With her incredible range and depth, Mirren has established herself as one of the most talented and versatile performers of her generation. Her captivating presence and natural charisma have made her a fan favorite, and her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades. Whether she’s playing a powerful queen, a ruthless detective, or a vulnerable woman, Mirren always brings her A-game to every role.
11. Dame Judi Dench
First on our list is the iconic Dame Judi Dench, known for her impressive range and powerful on-screen presence. In 2003, she was awarded the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire honor, recognizing her significant contributions to the arts.
Dench has won numerous awards throughout her career, including an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and ten BAFTA Awards. She’s also a celebrated theater actress, having won several Olivier Awards.
You may recognize her from her roles in Shakespeare in Love, Philomena, and Skyfall, but Dench’s talents go far beyond these popular films. Her ability to inhabit a character and bring them to life on screen is truly unparalleled.
Favorite Role: Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown
12. Dame Helen Mirren
Next up is another Dame, Helen Mirren. Mirren was awarded the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire honor in 2003, putting her in the same esteemed company as Dench.
Mirren is one of the few actors to have earned the Triple Crown of Acting, winning an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award. She’s also won a Golden Globe and several BAFTA Awards, solidifying her place as one of the greatest actresses of our time.
Some of her most notable roles include Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, Alma Reville in Hitchcock, and Prospera in The Tempest. Mirren brings a level of nuance and depth to each of her performances that is simply mesmerizing.
Lucky Role: Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen
13. Julie Andrews
Last but certainly not least is the incomparable Julie Andrews. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and has won numerous awards throughout her career, including an Academy Award, several Golden Globe Awards, and several Grammy Awards.
Andrews is perhaps best known for her roles in Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and The Princess Diaries, but she’s also an accomplished singer and voice actor. Her contributions to the arts have been nothing short of legendary.
She continues to work in the industry, having recently voiced characters in the Despicable Me series. Andrews’ career is a testament to the power of talent and hard work.
Important Role: Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music
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14. Rachel Weisz
Rachel Weisz is a British actress who made a name for herself in the early 1990s with her roles in Death Machine and Chain Reaction. She has since won multiple awards, including an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and British Academy Film Award. Her recent film appearances include Constantine, The Foundation, The Lovely Bones, and A Streetcar Named Desire, where she played the role of Blanche Dubois.
15. Emma Watson
Emma Watson is best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, which she began filming at a young age. Since then, she has become an influential activist for women’s rights and was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine. She has also appeared in movies such as The Tale of Despereaux, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Beauty and the Beast.
16. Tilda Swinton
Tilda Swinton has had a successful career in independent films, big-name movies, and TV shows. She is known for her ability to transform into various roles and has been nominated for multiple awards, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, BAFTA Awards, and British Academy Scotland Awards. Her notable film appearances include Constantine, The Deep End, Julia, and We Need to Talk About Kevin, where she played the role of Eva.
17. Kate Beckinsale
Kate Beckinsale is an English actress and model who gained popularity after her debut role in Much Ado About Nothing. She has since starred in small-scale films such as Brokedown Palace and Pearl Harbor, as well as the comedy film Love & Friendship, which received worldwide acclaim. Her notable role was as Lady Susan Vernon in Love & Friendship.
18. Brenda Blethyn
Brenda Blethyn is a British actress known for her numerous television and movie roles throughout her career. She has won multiple awards, including one BAFTA, one Golden Globe, and two Academy Award nominations. Her notable role was as Vera Stanhope in the crime drama series, Vera.
19. Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews is a true icon of the entertainment industry. With a career spanning almost eight decades, she has won countless awards and accolades for her work on stage and screen. From her early performances in The Boy Friend and My Fair Lady to her unforgettable role as Maria in The Sound of Music, Andrews has captured the hearts of audiences around the world.
My favorite role: Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins
20. Emilia Clarke
Emilia Clarke rose to fame with her stunning performance as Daenerys Targaryen in the hit TV series Game of Thrones. But her talent extends far beyond the world of Westeros. Clarke has also appeared in a number of films, including Me Before You and Solo: A Star Wars Story. With her natural charm and undeniable talent, she is sure to remain a star for years to come.
My favorite role: Daenerys in Game of Thrones
21. Hayley Atwell
Hayley Atwell has made a name for herself both on stage and on screen. She is perhaps best known for her role as Peggy Carter in the Marvel Universe films, but her work in productions like A View from the Bridge and The Pride has also earned her critical acclaim. Atwell is a true powerhouse performer, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
My favorite role: Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger
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22. Julie Walters
Julie Walters is a true British treasure. With a career spanning over four decades, she has won countless awards for her performances in film, television, and on stage. Her roles in the Harry Potter series and Mamma Mia! have made her a favorite of audiences of all ages. With her talent and charm, Walters is sure to remain a beloved figure in the world of entertainment.
My favorite role: Molly Weasley in the Harry Potter series
23. Vivien Leigh
Vivien Leigh is a true icon of the silver screen. Her performances in Gone with the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire have cemented her place in cinematic history. Leigh’s personal struggles with mental health and other issues have only added to the power of her performances, making her an inspiration to actors and audiences alike.
My favorite role: Streetcar Named Desire
24. Audrey Hepburn: A True Survivor Story
Audrey Hepburn’s journey to success was not an easy one. Her early years were full of struggles and hardships that most people couldn’t even imagine. Born in Belgium in 1929, Hepburn’s life took a turn for the worse when her father left her and her mother when they were living in the Netherlands during World War II. They had no choice but to survive on their own, and at one point, Hepburn had to eat tulip bulbs just to stay alive.
Despite these challenges, Hepburn’s determination and talent helped her rise to fame in the United States as an actress, starring in iconic films like My Fair Lady, Charade, Roman Holiday, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Despite her success, Hepburn never forgot about her difficult beginnings and continued to actively participate in humanitarian work until her passing in 1993.
My Favorite Role: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
25. Olivia de Havilland: A Hollywood Legend
Olivia de Havilland was a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. Collaborating with fellow actor Errol Flynn in iconic films such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and Captain Blood, de Havilland won her first Academy Award for To Each His Own and her second for The Heiress.
But it was her brave lawsuit against Warner Brothers that cemented her legacy in Hollywood history. Known as the “de Havilland statute,” her victory changed the way studios could treat their actors and made her a hero to many in the entertainment industry.
My Favorite Role: The Heiress
26. Millie Bobby Brown: The Next Big Thing
Millie Bobby Brown rose to fame quickly after her breakout role in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. Since then, she has proven her acting abilities in films like Godzilla: King of Monsters and Enola Holmes, showcasing her talent and versatility as an actress.
At only 20 years old, Brown has a bright future ahead of her and has already made a significant impact on the entertainment industry.
My Favorite Role: Stranger Things
27. Sophie Turner: Queen of the North
Sophie Turner became a household name for her portrayal of Sansa Stark in the epic television series Game of Thrones. Her strong and fierce character, combined with her beauty and charm, captivated audiences worldwide.
Since then, Turner has continued to impress with her acting abilities in other films and television shows, proving that she is a talented actress with a bright future ahead of her.
His Favorite Role: Is Game of Thrones
These women are just a few of the many talented British actresses who have made their mark in the entertainment industry. From Audrey Hepburn’s survivor story to Olivia de Havilland’s Hollywood legacy, Millie Bobby Brown’s rising star, and Sophie Turner’s fierce portrayal of Sansa Stark, these actresses have left a lasting impression on the world of television and film.