1. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    Actors: British vs American.

    Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by Macaberz, Jul 2, 2013.

    I saw the British English vs American English thread and couldn't help but remember some observation I made a while ago. In almost every movie, series or television show I have ever laid eyes on, the ones with British actors seem much better.

    Just two sidenotes there:

    1. I am speaking in general terms, of course there are exceptions, but in general British actors seem better to me.
    2. I am not British myself, so I have no patriotic reason to make the claim that British actors are better, I geniunely just feel that way.

    I am not so much interested in the why question as a quick google search seems to point into one direction: schools. It seems that British acting schools/classes are simply better. Moreover, most British actors begin on the stage and slowly enter into the world of cinema. They seem to be eased in a lot more than their American counterparts.

    Lastl -this is highly subjective- I feel American actors seem to aim for fame or end up strangled by it whilst their British counterparts seem more serious about their craft. But like I said, that is just how I feel about it.

    With all that said, my question to you guys is, how do you feel about British and American actors? Do you think there is a real difference in skill, education or seriousness? Or is hollywood perhapse to blame?

    Let me know your thoughts!
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think there is some merit in your observations, though some of it may simply be that it is the creme de la creme of British actors that manage to break into the American Media Mega-Monster, so you're seeing a disproportionate representation. But there can be no doubt that the American film industry is much more concerned with fresh faces they can throw at the screen, rather than seasoned actors with illustrious pedigrees of thespian education. In America an actor is a commodity, something to be packaged, licensed, branded and cross-marketed. I've not done any research; that's just some 2+2ing. But, and just as a side note, in the last 10 - 15 years, it's been the Australians that have really come into their own in American media. The Aussies do a bangup job of feigning an American Midwestern Accent (the legendary "flat accent"), but I can always spot them for that voiced T in the middle of words that is oh-so not American. ;) :D
     
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  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    A couple thoughts --
    As far as television shows and movies, it's more than just the actors that make the show special -- it's the writers, directors, producers, etc. So, it may be the overall talent. But, as Wrey points out, it also is a function of the target audience and the reason for the film being made. The big Hollywood hits are targeted for worldwide blockbuster success, and play to the lowest common denominator. Specifically, the films are set to maximally appeal to teenage boys, since they spend the most money at the movies, and their tastes seem to drive a lot of movie-going. (Families, dates, teen group outings -- boys aren't going to see a chick flick or something exclusively "mushy," unless they're doing it for other purposes on a romantic date.)

    There are plenty of high quality American made independent films. I think they'd match up very strongly against any exclusively British, Aussie or any other country-specific film. The fact is that any film composed solely of folks from one country (with the possible exception of the U.S., given it's primary role as world-wide entertainment producer), is going to be a smaller production, and therefore more likely to be made for artistic purposes. That is, it's more likely to be made to focus on telling a good story in some thought provoking way -- the producers aren't seeking primarily financial success, but want to convey something to people. That's always going to make a better film.

    As far as television, I've often thought U.S. television contained a lot of ridiculous crap. But then I see some of the shows from other countries and they're occasionally even more ridiculous. So, I don't think we've got the market cornered in inanity, by any stretch.
     
  4. Kingtype
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    Kingtype Always writing or thinking things XD Staff Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    [MENTION=51076]Macaberz[/MENTION]:

    I know you'll want an expert opinion on this.

    But to bad you'll have to settle for mine ;)

    Anyway if we compared currently then I'd say Britain has better younger actors but America has better older actors. Then again I can't really name any older British actors. Well I can name a few and they are amazing. But it seems like America has an advantage in that area with the likes of Robert De niro, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Micheal Madsen, John Travolta (he was better when he was younger though), Samuel Jackson, Clint Eastwood etc

    And then on the other side Matt Smith, David Tennant, Henry Cavill, Daniel Craig, Benedict Cumberpatch and so on and so forth.

    So I'd say its about a stalemate when we compare it as a whole. But at the moment I'd say Britain is better.
     
  5. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    Well, the Brits (and Irish--he has dual citizenship apparently) have Daniel Day Lewis, so the war is won. Also, the Office UK (TV, I know) is far better than the American spin on it (and I love both).
     
  6. Kingtype
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    Kingtype Always writing or thinking things XD Staff Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    Ah Daniel Day Lewis.

    Competition is over.

    No seriously......I forgot about him. Game over man, game over! Britain takes it due to the Lewis factor.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    American media has had a hit & miss history regarding the rebooting of Brit shows under an American paradigm. The Office was a pretty good translation in my opinion, Being Human was not. :( Till Death Us Do Part, though, translated famously well into All In The Family. And just as another side note, scripts sometimes go the other way. Who's the Boss was recreated in the U.K. as The Upper Hand. Don't know how well that show faired over there. Anyone?
     
  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I dunno -- I think we've got some pretty amazing American actors: Kevin Spacey, Leo DiCaprio, Gary Sinise, Tom Hanks... There are a bunch of others I'm forgetting right now.

    And of course, Oz is also in the mix -Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe are pretty damn good as well.
     
  9. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    Don't forget Ben Kingsley either, that man is a genius.

    More on to the point, you might be right Kingtype, though it is hard to make any objective statement about such a large industry. And yes, producers, script, directors are all contributing factors to a movie's success and appeal. One of the things that lead me to believe British actors are a bit more skillfull is the fact that I remember much more of their names than of their American counterparts. And it's not because I haven't watched any American movies, I have. Then there is one more thing, why would American studios hire so many British and Irish actors for their movies if they weren't better?

    I am not trying to say that they are better, but it just appears to me that way, and the fact that the industry hires alot of British and Irish talent only seems to confirm that.
     
  10. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    [MENTION=42079]Kingtype[/MENTION]

    seriously? I'm an Irishman who was brought up on English TV and I have no idea who Matt Smith is, has David Tennant ever been in a movie? Henry Caville is the new Superman (his movie debut I think), I like DC (though not as Bond) and Cumberpatch..... he came up in a quiz recently... that's all I know of him.

    American actors beat the Brits hands down, the guys you mentioned, De Niro, Pacino, Nicholson, Eastwood, The Duke, Joe Pesci, James Gandolfini, the list is endless dude, mega-hitters.

    Lets not forget the Irish lads either, Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Soairse Ronan (huge at the minute) Cillian Murphy, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Pierce Brosnan, Gabrielle Byrne, Liam Neeson, Colm Meeney (star trek), Brenda Fricker (Oscar winner), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) Chris O'Dowd also huge at the minute) and the old guard of Richard Harris (a man called horse) and Peter O'Toole (Honorary Academy Award Winner) and of course the beautiful Maureen O'Hara.

    DD Lewis by the way travels on an Irish Passport - we are very proud to claim him :)

    I think we come a very close second to America :)

    The Aussies may have snuck in ahead of the Brits if Mel Gibson wasn't American after all
     
  11. Kingtype
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    Kingtype Always writing or thinking things XD Staff Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    [MENTION=52161]erebh[/MENTION].

    Your probably older then me. Matt Smith is the Doctor (So is David) and Cumberpatch is Sherlock.

    I doubt we were brought up on the same TV. Though I do watch a lot of older TV.

    I know more American actors then British. In the list you put up I only know Colin Farrel, Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Daniel Day Lewis and of course Mr.Mcdowell. But the point I was saying was the younger British actors are better then the younger American actors (at the moment) based on viewing pleasure radar.

    But yes both Britain and America have equal talented older actors.
     
  12. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    still, the English guys you mention are only stars of the small (English) screen. I think if you want to compare the best of the best you need to go to the big screen and England don't have that many, the only young British actor I can think of is R Pattinson, oh and the harry potter kids
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Who answer more to the American paradigm in their genesis and marketing. They're fresh young faces that are arguably easy on the eye. They make for great photo-opp and paparazzi cock-tease. But they're not exactly going to alter the paradigm any time soon.
     
  14. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    This is correct.

    But this, a sentence later, is wrong. The goal of these movies is to to appeal to everyone, or "hit all four quadrants" in industry speak. (Those quadrants being young males, old males, young females, and old females) In fact, your previous sentence directly contradicts what you wrote here; if major blockbusters maximally appealed to teenage boys, not only would they be completely different, but they wouldn't make hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide.

    They wouldn't be "blockbusters" at all, as their appeal would be too niche, hitting only a single quadrant. The demographics back me up; most blockbuster audiences follow a roughly 50/50 gender split, and are mostly 20+.

    Focus-

    I have no clue. In fact, I would say this question is impossible to answer without being more specific. Do you mean there are more really good British actors than American ones? Do you mean the best British actors are better than the best American actors? Do you mean nowadays, or over all of film history?

    In terms of all-time great actors, off the top of my (limited knowledge) head, the first ten that come to mind for both;

    Britain- Malcolm McDowell, Michael Caine, Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, Christopher Lee, Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Daniel Day-Lewis, Clive Owen, Peter Sellers.

    USA- Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Jimmy Stewart, George C Scott, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando.

    Both are amazing lists. Of course, I am neglecting a lot of great names from each, and have an American bias because I have seen far more films from that country. However, is either list clearly better than the other? I wouldn't say so.

    And as noted above, the question is far too vague as originally formulated.
     
  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mostly, they're appealing to males, roughly 14-24. They are the biggest spenders on movies and are capable of bringing other demographics with them. Yes, sometimes Hollywood does decide to make a movie that will appeal to other demographics (for example, the Sex and the City movies), and they'll try to add in some things to appeal to other demographics -- you're right that they do want to try to appeal to everyone. But the core group are teenage boys.
     
  16. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're gonna argue over who's better, UK or US, at least get their nationalities right ;)
     
  17. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    Again, neither the numbers nor basic logic (they're blockbusters, so they have to appeal to EVERYONE) back you up. I think you're getting advertising demographics confused with movie audiences.

    I challenge you to find me a single blockbuster ($500+ million worldwide) where the male/female audience ratio is more skewed than 60/40, or where most of the audience wasn't 20+. They don't exist.

    As easy as it is for you to dismiss modern Hollywood blockbusters as catering to teen boys, it's simply wrong. Teen girls love these movies. Older men love these movies. Older women love these movies. My girlfriend is 30, and adores both "The Avengers" and the "Iron Man" series. She tried to drag me along to see "Iron Man 3", but was unsuccessful.

    That's why they're blockbusters, and it's why studios greenlight them. Because a large percentage of the world population wants to see these pictures.

    There ARE films that mostly cater to the teen male demographic. However, they're not blockbusters, and rarely even make their money back. (Examples like "Ninja Assassin" and "Crank 2" come to mind)
     
  18. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    Haha, well I did preface the lists by writing "my limited knowledge", didn't I? :)

    With Day-Lewis and O'Toole, I tend to lump in those pesky Irishmen with the British. No excuse on Cary Grant, though. That is just straight dumb. Regardless, even with alterations, I still don't believe one can definitively state either list is "better" than the other.
     
  19. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the movie follows the book I think 50 Shades may prove you wrong. While we're at it, Bridget Jones was about 90% chick flick, the other 10% getting dragged to the cinema.

    You may find this interesting, http://www.policymic.com/articles/39439/summer-2013-movies-why-do-summer-blockbusters-ignore-women
     
  20. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    We fought for 800 years not to be lumped in with the British, you'll do well to remember that this Thursday ;) your struggle wasn't as drawn out but we did help you :)
     
  21. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    What about the Canadians - we've given you Eugene Levy, Tom Green, Jim Carey, Mike Myers, Keanu Reeves, Ryan Reynolds, William Shatner.
    okay, stop laughing their are some good ones too!
    - Elias Koteas, Ryan Gosling, Maury Chakin, Bruce Greenwood, Donald Sutherland, Kenneth Welsh.
     
  22. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    Care to make a friendly bet that the film will not make $500 million worldwide?

    Too bad it only made $281 million worldwide.

    http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=bridgetjonessdiary.htm

    I might get the birth country of a few classic actors wrong, but when it comes to the economics of movies, I know a lot, considering I was once offered a job as a quant analyst for films.

    I can say with confidence that the writer of that article is a complete idiot and has no clue what she is talking about.

    Edit-

    Well, my excuse is that I'm Russian by birth! :)
     
  23. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I said, if it follows the book's success :)


    What's 219 mill between friends? Did the series make 500 mil?


    Jesus was born in a stable, it didn't make him a horse :)

    Just as a by the way, what were the demographics of Titanic? I'm asking because I've no idea but I suspect one film had to be made for women...
     
  24. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    So, are you up for a bet?

    Well, I chose "$500+ million worldwide" as my definition of a blockbuster for a reason. Namely, a movie can't achieve such success without appealing to both genders and a range of ages.

    True, but Jesus also didn't live in a stable for 5 years, learn the language of horses, and adopt a good deal of their culture and mindset! :)

    Good question! After a bit of searching, I found this;

    http://articles.latimes.com/1998/jun/26/entertainment/ca-63618

    They mention exit polls showing "60% females". 40% males is still a huge percentage, though, and within the "60/40" split I mentioned for all blockbusters.
     
  25. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    Allow me to make amends, I am not really asking a question in order to get a definitive answer. This whole discussion is highly subjective and very much opinion driven, after all, what makes a good actor to begin with? What I am interested in hearing is the opinion of other forum members. In a sense I am trying to figure out if it's just me that thinks that British actors -generally speaking- are more talented than their American counterparts.

    Also to clarify a bit, I do count Irish actors as British. I know they aren't British but for the sake of argument I am simply putting them in the same bag.

    Of course other countries have their fair share of talent too but I've been watching alot of movies lately and all the lead actors were British or Irish. If anybody feels like defending American actors, tell me why directors would go through the trouble of hiring foreign talent if similarily gifted actors could be found on their own soil?

    So once again, I am not looking for a definitive answer, but I am very much interested what other people think and feel about this. :)
     

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