Step Aside, Hiddlesbatch: Here’s the Next Wave of the Hollywood British Invasion

To spare the Internet from GIF-infused, incoherent blather about how big of a star Toby Kebbell ( recently seen — kind of — as Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) will be, I’ve focused my energies on a more productive endeavor. More and more British actors are breaking into the Hollywood A-list arena with scene-stealing performances in popular current film and TV series. Here are some of the talented British actors primed to skyrocket to new levels of fame and acclaim faster than you can say Benadryl Cabbagepatch.

Toby Kebbell in Rocknrolla Toby Kebbell Kebbell, the inspiration for this post, is going to be huge. Huge, mark my words! At 32, Kebbell has been “around” for awhile, featured in middling blockbusters (Alexander, Prince of Persia, Wrath of Titans) and promising indies (Dead Man’s Shoes, Control). To fully appreciate Kebbell’s manic charisma, watch Guy Ritchie’s British gangster flick RocknRolla. Any fan of Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, and/or Gerard Butler needs to see Rocknrolla. ASAP. If Kebbell can craft a complex, vivid villain in motion capture, then I can’t imagine what his Doctor Doom will be like in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. After Doctor Doom and Koba charms the pants off the Internet (like the best British baddies often do), Hollywood won’t be able to resist. Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Belle Gugu Mbatha-Raw Like Kebbell, Mbatha-Raw has been around the film and TV scene for some time. Along with Boris Kodjoe, she co-headlined the short-lived spy series Undercovers back in 2010Mbatha-Raw and Kodjoe have great chemistry, but the show, created by J.J. Abrams, is most definitely a product of his post-Lost slump. (Although, if you ask me, Lost is his slump. I digress!) Mbatha-Raw made (another) splash this year in historical drama, Belle. Proving to mainstream American audiences that people of color can star in pretty period dramas (duh), Mbatha-Raw is slowly becoming a recognizable face and name. Up next for her is a supporting role in the bound-to-be-crazy-hopefully-in-a-good-way Jupiter Ascending as well as the American crime drama The Whole Truth.

Jack O'Connell in Starred Up Jack O’Connell He’s Cook! Or at least, he was in the flawed albeit still addictive third series of Skins. Like Nicholas Hoult and Dev Patel before him, O’Connell is following the more successful Skins alums in a transition to film roles. With lead roles in indie prison drama Starred Up and the Angelina Jolie-directed Oscar bait WWII drama Unbroken, O’Connell is primed to become quite popular come awards season. Jeremy Irvine, eat your horse heart out.

Gwendoline Christie in Game of Thrones Gwendoline Christie Speaking of horse hearts, once TV viewers decide to take the plunge into the complex web that is Game of Thrones, it doesn’t take long to gravitate towards favorite characters. Brienne of Tarth, played by Gwendoline Christie, is among the top five universally beloved GoT characters. From the lovable Not a Lady, Not Yet A Knight, Christie will hopefully use her sword saber-wielding skills in her role in the much anticipated Star Wars VII. Before Star Wars, she’ll be seen in Mockingjay, the latest installment in the Hunger Games movie franchise. With ties to Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, and Star Wars, Christie is already a geekdom goddess.

John Boyega in Attack the Block John Boyega Depending on how well Star Wars VII will also depend on how well the actors starring in it fare in their future. That being said, I have a feeling that John Boyega (and Christie) will be just fine regardless of the outcome. Unlike Jake Lloyd and to a lesser extent Hayden Christensen, John Boyega is sure to launch a varied and successful acting career after his lead role in the upcoming Star Wars VII. How am I so certain? Attack the Block — a small, British sci-fi indie movie that shouldn’t be as good as it is. Boyega is excellent as Moses, the leader of teen hooligans, who must save their hood from invading aliens.  If I can believe in Boyega fighting aliens as a cool, high-functioning sociopath with a buried heart of gold, then I’m pretty sure he’s a perfect fit for Star Wars. Let’s just hope his career is more Ford and less Hamill. (Though voicing The Joker is not a bad gig!)

These British actors and actresses aren’t the only ones primed to take Hollywood by storm (Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario, Michael Socha, Lenora Crichlow, etc.)  Who else do you think is part of the next wave of the Hollywood British Invasion?


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