Author Topic: Brit thesps in the USA  (Read 1347 times)

Brit thesps in the USA
« on: September 28, 2018, 08:51:48 PM »
One thing that fascinates me is the US-based British acting community. Not the big stars or the olde Hollywood raj but the post-1950s/60s set of character actors who pop up whenever a British person is needed in a small part...

People like Bernard Fox, Alan "Alfred" Napier, Patrick Macnee post-Avengers, Ian Abercrombie, more recently, Jane Leeves, Jim Piddock, voice acting kingpin Robin Atkin Downes...

I've long been fascinated by these types. Some of them are big-ish names (Cleese and Idle have settled into this niche), some begin their careers doing British TV, some move to the US to start their careers, some aren't British at all (watching Time After Time, full of these people, two Irish actors, Dublin-born Keith McConnell,  and Westport's Joseph Maher pop up, both of whom got lots of notices in local papers, while some of the other cast are Aussie).Talking of Aussies, Anthony Lapaglia began as this. Not just in Frasier, but he played a comedy punk in the New Twilight Zone.


Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2018, 08:56:38 PM »
From I think the 90s on Jim Norton started cropping up in one ep of American shows. He did L.A. Law, Cheers, Frasier, Star Trek while also popping up in small roles in British tv shows. Must have been picking up gigs in between theatrical work.

Cuellar

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2018, 08:57:08 PM »
[tag] Bruce Springsteen etc etc [/tag]

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2018, 09:02:29 PM »
[tag] Bruce Springsteen etc etc [/tag]

dammit, too slow.

Phil_A

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2018, 09:17:09 PM »
Babylon 5 is full of these ex-pat British actors, mainly because I think J. Michael Straczynski is a huge nerd for British telefantasy(and they probably worked for considerably less than US actors I suspect). Including the likes of Christopher Neame, Aubrey Morris, Jim Norton, Robin Sachs, David McCallum, Michael York, William Morgan Shepherd, and (inevitably) David Warner. Robin Atkin-Downes played the leader of a creepy rogue telepath cult in the fifth season.

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2018, 09:20:10 PM »
Loved seeing Bishop Brennan in B5, he also played Albert Einstien in a couple of episodes of TNG.

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2018, 09:22:26 PM »
From I think the 90s on Jim Norton started cropping up in one ep of American shows. He did L.A. Law, Cheers, Frasier, Star Trek while also popping up in small roles in British tv shows. Must have been picking up gigs in between theatrical work.
His wife also did bits in Hollywood in the 80s. Mary Larkin, the female lead in Psychomania.

I know that Straczynski tried to get some of the regular cast of Blake's 7 in, but couldn't, though Christopher Neame did appear in B7.

mothman

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2018, 09:37:17 PM »
Cary Elwes is another one. Though he seems to appear more often these days playing Yanks, but his accent isn't great. Then there's... Amanda Pays. Couple others I'll remember eventually.

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2018, 10:01:49 PM »
Cary Elwes is another one. Though he seems to appear more often these days playing Yanks, but his accent isn't great. Then there's... Amanda Pays. Couple others I'll remember eventually.
Pays again went from the likes of Minder on the Orient Express to US stuff quite quickly - double whammy of A.D. and Max Headroom.

mothman

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2018, 10:10:57 PM »
David McCallum, I guess.

Phil_A

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2018, 10:25:23 PM »
Pays again went from the likes of Minder on the Orient Express to US stuff quite quickly - double whammy of A.D. and Max Headroom.

She's in an early X-File playing Mulder's ex-girlfriend, giving an absolutely terrible performance. The rumour goes that they actually considered having her replace Scully as the series' female lead, but saner heads prevailed.

The same episode also had Mark "Son of William" Shepherd playing the bad guy, yet another British actor you only ever see in US shows.

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2018, 10:31:32 PM »
She's in an early X-File playing Mulder's ex-girlfriend, giving an absolutely terrible performance. The rumour goes that they actually considered having her replace Scully as the series' female lead, but saner heads prevailed.

The same episode also had Mark "Son of William" Shepherd playing the bad guy, yet another British actor you only ever see in US shows.
Yes, at least his dad would pop up in the Sweeney, Day of the Triffids, Hawk the Slayer, all that jazz.

Reminded of another one - Tony "not that one" Jay, voice of Frollo, the Supreme Being. Began as an ex-pat in South African radio, moved back to the UK, did bits and bobs in various shows, then got spotted in the RSC, and went over to do Beauty and the Beast.


A lot are either posh or Cockney. I always liked that Don Knight, whose entire career bar the Michael Caine film Too Late the Hero was US-based never shed his Manc accent.

wosl

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2018, 10:33:05 PM »
Steve Valentine.  Don't remember seeing him in anything over here before he cropped up in Night Stand. 

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2018, 11:12:31 PM »
Steve Valentine.  Don't remember seeing him in anything over here before he cropped up in Night Stand.
No, AFAIK started his career in the US.
It's weird when you see them in something genuinely British. Like Arthur Malet (Mr Dawes Jr in Mary Poppins, Tootles in Hook, Clive Dunn-ish prop man in Columbo - Dagger of the Mind) popping up in SOS Titanic, as it was shot on the Queen Mary.

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2018, 09:52:54 PM »
Abi Titmuss seems to have becomeone of these.

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2018, 09:57:32 PM »
David McCallum, I guess.

All I could think of.


mothman

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2018, 09:10:59 AM »
Seriously? Abi Titmuss? Blimey.

On the Oz side, Holly Valance.

James Frain seems to have become another permanent ex-pat. And for longer then I realised - was reminded the other day he’s one of the baddies in Reindeer Games (in 2000, so long before his “breakout” role in The Tudor’s).

Rich Uncle Skeleton

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2018, 10:42:10 AM »
Loved seeing Bishop Brennan in B5, he also played Albert Einstien in a couple of episodes of TNG.

And let's not forget his role as a butler/waiter at a fancy club in an episode of Frasier!

Absorb the anus burn

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2018, 10:44:11 AM »
[tag] Debbie Harry etc etc [/tag]

Absorb the anus burn

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2018, 10:50:33 AM »
Loved seeing Bishop Brennan in B5, he also played Albert Einstien in a couple of episodes of TNG.

You should try collecting 1970s-80s archive TV. You can see a young Bishop Brennan as the train compartment rapist in Brian Clemens' Thriller...... You can see him cooked in a sauna with Brian Cox by Prunella Scales in Unnatural Causes.... You can see him as a bank robber along with Martin Shaw, Alun Armstrong, Bob Hoskins, Paul Eddington in the seminal Villains....

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2018, 11:07:17 AM »
[tag] Debbie Harry etc etc [/tag]

Bah. Beaten to it.

Also, I've got all my lesson planning done, so fuck y'awl.

Bennett Brauer

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2018, 11:51:43 AM »
Also, I've got all my lesson planning done, so fuck y'awl.

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Glebe

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2018, 04:41:51 PM »
Babylon 5 is full of these ex-pat British actors, mainly because I think J. Michael Straczynski is a huge nerd for British telefantasy(and they probably worked for considerably less than US actors I suspect). Including the likes of Christopher Neame, Aubrey Morris, Jim Norton, Robin Sachs, David McCallum, Michael York, William Morgan Shepherd, and (inevitably) David Warner. Robin Atkin-Downes played the leader of a creepy rogue telepath cult in the fifth season.

I never watched Babylon 5, but I believe Guy Siner was in it too... and with that, the obligatory pic of Siner in Lost Highway:



Btw, has Edward Woodward been mentioned yet?

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #23 on: December 07, 2018, 04:47:09 PM »
Btw, has Edward Woodward been mentioned yet?
Related to that in the "silly 80s TV show" stakes, I was going to say the chap who played Devon in Knight Rider, but it turns out he was Irish.

mothman

  • I don't know why
Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2018, 05:39:28 PM »
Simon MacCorkindale. Died in 2010, but in the early 00s he moved back to the UK and was in Casualty for a while. Looking him up, it transpires he turned down the role of Captain Archer in Star Trek: Enterprise...

Quote from: Simon MacCorkindale link=http://www.simonmaccorkindale.net/2009/02/smcfp-interview-10thfebruary-2009 date=2009
... I was offered, not Captain Picard, but whatever the Captain would have been, so before I did Casualty I made a choice of doing Casualty as opposed to whatever the Captain would have been on Star Trek [Jonathan Archer] But I didn’t want to do that, I can’t do sci-fi, it just drives me up the wall, it’s all rubbish and spouting that gibberish every day, was no thank you very much. The thing I loved about Casualty was although there was a lot of gobbledygook at least it was all about real life and people and medical situations and that became the challenge. Actually talking about all the so called scientific stuff that really most of the time doesn’t make any sense to anybody what so ever, and looking at a whole bunch of silly people in makeup was just not what I wanted to do with my life so Captain Picard would not be a choice Captain Pugwash might be rather appropriate.

Mate. Gibberish? Made-up science? People in silly make-up? You were in Manimal, for fuck's sake.

Brundle-Fly

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2018, 06:04:38 PM »
Interesting examples of variable Brit actor ambition (or industry fickleness) are Meantime (1983) and The Full Monty (1997).

Certain main cast members didn't appear that interested in capitalising on the movies' success and furthering their careers by going to Hollywood. Or they simply weren't pursued by U.S. casting agents, perhaps? Meantime (1983) launched Gary Oldman and Tim Roth's careers Stateside but not Phil Daniels. Similarly, The Full Monty put Mark Addy, Tom Wilkinson, possibly Robert Carlyle on the big movie map but not so much Hugo Speer.

Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels (1998) Jason Fleyming, Jason Statham, fuck even Vinnie Jones have done their blockbusters but Dexter Fletcher and Nick Moran mainly have stayed in Blighty to write/direct well-received mid-budget movies : Wild Bill (2011) Sunshine On Leith( 2013) and Moran's Telstar: The Joe Meek Story (2008)

mothman

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Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2018, 06:18:47 PM »
Actually, I can remember seeing one episode of a documentary series, which followed Nick Moran as he went to Hollywood to try to get an agent and cash in on his LS&2SB fame. He didn't get very far, at least not within the limited time period the film crew were there. This would have been in around 1999 or 2000 based on where I think I was when I watched it.

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #27 on: December 07, 2018, 06:20:34 PM »
[quote Btw, has Edward Woodward been mentioned yet?
[/quote]

What do you call a man with four planks on his head?

I dunno but Edward Woodward would.

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #28 on: December 07, 2018, 07:43:39 PM »
Actually, I can remember seeing one episode of a documentary series, which followed Nick Moran as he went to Hollywood to try to get an agent and cash in on his LS&2SB fame. He didn't get very far, at least not within the limited time period the film crew were there. This would have been in around 1999 or 2000 based on where I think I was when I watched it.
He played a Scottish footballer in Soccer Dog - European Cup, which is set in "Portisburgh, Scotland", but shot in the Danish colony town of Solvang, California.


Also RE: The Full Monty, Paul Barber never got noticed by the Hollywood eyes.

MacCorkindale I think moved to the US pretty sharpish. 79 - Quatermass in UK, Riddle of the Sands, then immediately, an episode of Hart to Hart shot at Burbank, and the Dukes of Hazzard as Cousin Gaylord, then a stint in Falcon Crest, second lead in the Sword and the Sorcerer- filled with people like this, Christopher Cary, Nina van Pallandt (well, previously British-based), then kind of juggled between isles for a while.

There were a few British actors of that generation who came through period dramas, mainly PBS exposure, Ben Cross, Nigel Havers, Anthony Andrews, Christopher Cazenove, who all got varying degrees of US work. Then, Julian Sands, Cary Elwes (who stuck and became an American, basically), Bruce Payne, etc.


RE:Devon in Knight Rider, Edward Mulhare, he was from North Cork City, and growing up had the accent that the Young Offenders sitcom is full of, but went to drama school, then to London, where he was a regular bit parter in the Adventures of Robin Hood, before getting Broadway jobs. He was one of those Hollywood ex-pat Brits who were actually Irish, see Richard Todd (briefly Hollywood-based, and only Irish by birth), Keith McConnell,Joseph Maher, James Lancaster, Shay Duffin, Sean McClory, even Dan O'Herlihy and Colm Meaney did a few English roles in their careers in the US, and the UK, to think of it.

Re: Brit thesps in the USA
« Reply #29 on: December 07, 2018, 07:52:53 PM »
Colm Meaney did a few English roles in their careers in the US, and the UK, to think of it.
Including as an ill-fated British airline pilot in Die Hard 2, I recall. Though presumably he was already playing jinxed everyman Chief O'Brien in Star Trek by that point?