2011 Acting British Imports

2011's Top 10 British and Irish imports

By Andrea Miller and Emma Badame on April 6, 2011
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(L to R) James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Andrew Garfield. Photos: Dave Hogan/Jemal Countess/Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Making it in America is a key marker of success in a few artistic endeavours but perhaps none is so inextricably linked to acceptance in the U.S. as acting. Once Hollywood, that fickle mistress, opens her arms and lets you in with choice roles, bold-name status in tabloids AND dailies and collaborations with the biggest directors around, you are set.

These talented thesps from across the pond are experiencing that level of cross-over success, carving out a space for themselves among a slew of almost-famouses and with flamboyant, erudite British comedian Russell Brand set to own the box office two weekends in a row - first with kids flick HOP and now with the highly-anticipated remake Arthur - we thought it was wise to survey which other Brits are set to make it big this year.

From your new Spider-Man to an icy-eyed wunderkind, we're counting down 2011's Top 10 British acting imports.

Find out who made the cut after the jump!

Dominic Cooper
(Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
#10 DOMINIC COOPER

As seen in: Mamma Mia!, An Education, Tamara Drewe

Why he’s on the list…This sexy Brit with the bedroom eyes has been operating under the radar for some time but with a solid performance in An Education and a serious punk rock sneer in the dark comedy Tamara Drewe, Cooper is now playing Iron Man's dad (Howard Stark, duh) in Captain America: The First Avenger and is attached to high-profile gigs like My Week with Marilyn and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.



Hayley Atwell
(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
#9 HAYLEY ATWELL

As seen in: Cassandra's Dream, Brideshead Revisited, The Duchess

Why she’s on the list…The pretty Londoner was quietly making a name for herself with supporting roles but joining an institution like a Marvel comic book franchise means A LOT more people will start to know your name. Playing Peggy Carter in Joe Johnston's upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger is likely why she's now rumoured to be playing Jordan Baker in Baz Luhrmann's Great Gatsby and why she's on our list as one to watch.



Nicholas Hoult
(Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
#8 NICHOLAS HOULT

As seen in: About a Boy, A Single Man

Why he’s on the list…How is it that the kid with the wild eyebrows and pudgy little face grew into a man who wouldn't look out of place in a Burberry ad? Looks aside, Hoult followed up his mature performance alongside Colin Firth in A Single Man with a role in Clash of the Titans but he's now ready to play with the big boys, er, men, with an upcoming part in X-Men: First Class and the title role in Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Killer, followed by Mad Max: Fury Road



Saoirse Ronan
(Eduardo Parra/Getty Images)
#7 SAOIRSE RONAN

As seen in: Atonement, The Lovely Bones, The Way Back

Why she’s on the list…After wowing audiences with her mature,startling performance as a teenager whose misunderstanding has grave side effects in Atonement, not to mention earning an Oscar nom for her work, the now-16-year-old Irish native has continued to hone her craft, moving from slow-burning dramas to physically demanding roles and will play an assassin twice, so she's not one to be messed with. Cross your fingers the rumours of her joining Peter Jackson's The Hobbit turn out to be true.



Tom Hardy
(Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
#6 TOM HARDY

As seen in: Inception, Bronson, RocknRolla

Why he’s on the list…This ruggedly handsome Brit came to mainstream audiences via Christopher Nolan's masterful Inception but he'd been steadily building up a fanbase at home, with standout roles in Bronson, Layer Cake and RocknRolla. Now, he's the actor to sign, landing a starring role in fighting drama Warrior and working with directors like McG (This Means War) and Swedish star Tomas Alfredson (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy).



Andrew Garfield
(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
#5 ANDREW GARFIELD

As seen in: Never Let Me Go, The Social Network

Why he’s on the list…It's likely no one would have pegged the slender Brit as the next in line to replace Tobey Maguire when the powers-that-be decided Spider-Man needed a big-screen back story but after seeing him stretch his acting muscles in The Social Network, it's clear Garfield is a capable, inherently watchable actor from whom the best has yet to come. Watch for him next in Adrian Lyne's thriller-drama Back Roads.



Russell Brand
(Ethan Miller/Getty Images )
#4 ROBERT PATTINSON

As seen in: Twilight series, Remember Me

Why he’s on the list…We wouldn't dream of putting together a list of hot British thesps and not include the one and only RPattz, who went from scruffy bit player in Harry Potter to one of the most sought-after faces in show business. With two more Twilight flicks to go - Breaking Dawn, Part 1 and 2 - Pattinson has started to plot his post-tween fandom career, choosing an adaptation like Water for Elephants with Reese Witherspoon, Bel Ami with Uma Thurman and David Cronenberg mind-bender Cosmopolis. Aww, our Pattinson is growing up.



Russell Brand
(Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
#3 RUSSELL BRAND

As seen in: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek

Why he’s on the list…Talk about a man who was destined for fame. After overcoming his myriad addictions, ditching the eyeliner, infusing his wardrobe with items beyond leather jeggings and using his innate charm and elevated vocabulary to steal the spotlight whenever the camera was pointed his way, Brand has arrived and with a role in a movie that made Dudley Moore famous, the Essex lad seems destined for the same level of stardom.



James McAvoy
(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
#2 JAMES MCAVOY

As seen in: Atonement, The Last King of Scotland, Wanted

Why he’s on the list…A quick scan of his resume indicates why this Scottish looker deserves to be on any list detailing actors whose careers are skyrocketing towards the A-list. McAvoy has shown himself to be adept at action, humour, intense drama and everything in between, giving nerds their young Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class, working with Robert Redford in upcoming Lincoln drama The Conspirator and giving Wanted another shot with a sequel.



Michael Fassbender
(Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
#1 MICHAEL FASSBENDER

As seen in: Fish Tank, Inglourious Basterds, Jane Eyre

Why he’s on the list…Though his work on Tarantino's revisionist historical caper hinted at the talent and good looks that Fassbender likely possessed, his performance alongside Mia Wasikowska cemented that this Irish-German thesp gives good smolder. He's set to give fangirls something to swoon over in X-Men: First Class and has five other movies filming this year. Get ready to laugh at the notion that there was a time when you didn't know who he was.


Who do you think are the hottest British imports? Tell us in the comments below and check out who made our list last year!

russell brand, michael fassbender, james mcavoy, captain america: the first avenger, hayley atwell, hop, nicholas hoult, arthur, saoirse ronan, dominic cooper

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