Hollywood is ours: How UK stars took over American cinema

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Thanks to Harry Potter and Downton, the likes of Bale, Hardy and McAvoy are the biggest actors in Hollywood.

The invasion began 12 years ago, when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone graced cinema screens with fumbling child actors and a cast made up of around half of Britain’s population. It continued for ten years, watching Potter and co. grow and become everlasting icons of British culture, alongside tea and biscuits and bad teeth. Once we’d sunk the hook in to American audiences, we sent over the quintessentially English TV series’ in the droves. Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Doctor Who, even Coronation Street.

Before Harry Potter, Brit actors were always the bridesmaid, never the bride

Even before Harry Potter, actors such as Peter Cushing, Alan Rickman and Terence Stamp were making their name on the US silver screen – but always the bridesmaid, never the bride. General Moff Tarkin? Incinerated within a Death Star. Hans Gruber? Dropped from a window to his death. General Zod? Crushed beneath Superman’s house of crystal. The American hero defeated the British villain, and order was restored.

Back then, that was all. Hollywood liked Americans fighting the British, and had a strange fascination with psychotic Anglo-villains, but never a real obsession with our acting talent. Work through the fangasmic craze of Harry Potter, however, and the system has changed.


Now, UK TV programmes are shipped over the Atlantic, and in what seems to be the afterglow of Rowling’s wizard outing, the US pines after Downton Abbey and its traditional wartime setting, full of English accents and especially British habits. And after years of CSI and NCIS, it must have been a breath of fresh air once Sherlock drifted across the waves and brought with it its sophisticated plots and, yes, more British accents.

At the cinema, you can witness the invasion first-hand: Cumberbatch embarrasses Captain Kirk, and Hardy wages war on Bruce Wayne

Yet that’s just TV. Go to the cinema, and you can witness the invasion first-hand, as Benedict Cumberbatch embarrasses Captain Kirk, and Tom Hardy wages war on Bruce Wayne. These are villains again, bringing evil to American ideals, so are they just Grubers and Zods, only causing havoc in HD? I don’t think so. Sure, Americans love to watch a Brit have the shit kicked out of him, but now films are showcasing the best cinema has to offer in Brit-on-Brit action, with Brit actors pummelling each other until one either dies or just decides they can’t give two fucks anymore and would prefer be tutting in a queue at the Post Office.

Stereotypes aside, the big Hollywood action movies are cluttered with British stars: Christian Bale and Tom Hardy. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Brad Pitt even spent half of a zombie action flick in Wales. Wales. That’s the equivalent of Jason Bourne finding out that his true identity was Bruce Forsyth all along.

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x-men fassbender mcavoy

Now the invasion is in full swing post-Potter, and the US is being held hostage by British talent. Even their most beloved shows are under our control. Game of Thrones?  Huge British cast. Walking Dead? Rick Grimes is ours. House? You get the picture.

However much they may mock our dental hygiene, the US simply cannot get enough of the UK

Besides the inherent control over US entertainment, it’s a love affair that, however much they may mock our dental hygiene and posh characters, the US just cannot get enough of the UK. Is it because British actors are just better? More pleasing to listen to? Film shows that the Brit almost always has what becomes the favourite character; Gary Oldman’s career, especially, thrives off such an idea.

So America, be warned. We have your Loki, your Superman, your Batman (I’m just going to pretend recent Batman news didn’t occur, as should everyone), your Christian Gray, and Olympus has Fallen let a Scot protect your President. Just think: how long before we have replaced your President? Because if war does erupt, we’ll take each and every one of them back, and leave you with Aaron Eckhart. No, don’t cry – it hasn’t happened. Yet.


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Featured image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Inset images: ITV; 20th Century Fox

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