Why British Actors End Up with All the Good Roles – Key & Peele
An actor who grew up on the streets of Brooklyn has a hard time performing opposite a classically trained Brit in a movie about American gang violence. (Contains strong language.)
What challenges do actors face in breaking into the US film and television industry, and how does the UK industry differ?
In recent years, the dominance of British actors in Hollywood has become increasingly apparent. From Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston to Sophie Turner and Emma Watson, it feels as though every other blockbuster movie or critically acclaimed TV show features a British star. So, what’s the reason for this phenomenon?
In a sketch from their hit Comedy Central show, “Key & Peele”, comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele explored the issue in a humorous yet thought-provoking way. The skit showcases two Hollywood agents discussing their frustrations with British actors constantly landing the most coveted roles. One agent argues that the Brits are simply better actors, while the other believes it’s all just a matter of accent.
While the skit was intended to be light-hearted, there are some valid points to be made. Firstly, there is no denying the incredible talent of British actors. From the classical training they receive in prestigious drama schools like the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art to the abundance of quality British television that allows actors to hone their craft, it’s no surprise that they stand out in a crowded industry.
Secondly, the use of the American accent in film and television has become so ubiquitous that the presence of a British accent can add a unique layer of intrigue to a character. It’s an unexpected deviation from the norm that can make a character more memorable and interesting.
But it’s not just the talent and accent that give British actors an edge in Hollywood. The UK also has a thriving theatre scene that provides actors with more opportunities to showcase their abilities and gain exposure. In contrast, the US has a more commercially-driven film and television industry that can be difficult for actors to break into without the right connections.
Furthermore, the British entertainment industry has a history of cross-pollination with Hollywood, with many British actors earning their big breaks by appearing in British-produced movies and TV shows that gain traction stateside. For instance, it was through his work on the UK’s “Sherlock” series that Benedict Cumberbatch became a familiar face to American audiences before landing his breakout role in “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
Ultimately, there are many factors that contribute to the dominance of British actors in Hollywood. While talent and accent play a significant role, it’s also a matter of opportunities, exposure, and cultural exchange. As for whether or not it’s fair that British actors get all the good roles, well, that’s up for debate. But one thing is for certain: the British invasion of Hollywood is here to stay.