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Top 10 British Recasts of American Characters

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Marc Turner
Those British actors get everywhere, don’t they? Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Recasts of American TV and Film Characters. For this list, we’re looking at British actors playing American parts in rebooted films and TV series. We’re taking a broad view of “American character” to include screen roles that are set wholly in the US or based on predominantly American stories, as well as characters originally created by Americans, or those generally seen as an American role. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British Recasts of American Characters


Those British actors get everywhere, don’t they? Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Recasts of American TV and Film Characters.

For this list, we’re looking at British actors playing American parts in rebooted films and TV series. We’re taking a broad view of “American character” to include screen roles that are set wholly in the US or based on predominantly American stories, as well as characters originally created by Americans, or those generally seen as an American role.

#10: Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan
“The Great Gatsby” (2013)


F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel “The Great Gatsby” had been adapted for film four times prior, and the role of New York socialite Daisy Buchanan was played by an American actress on each of those occasions. For the 2013 version, though, Carey Mulligan scooped the part despite competition from Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. After her audition, Mulligan was reportedly described by co-star Leonardo Di Caprio as “the Next Big Thing in acting”. And her performance in the film was no less impressive, with critics describing her as “ethereal” and “bewitching”.

#9: Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor
“Terminator Genisys” (2015)


Appearing in the “Terminator” franchise, Sarah Connor is widely regarded as one of the greatest female action characters of all time. Of course, she was originally played by the American actress Linda Hamilton, but when the series was rebooted in 2015, the role was given to Berkshire's Emilia Clarke. “Terminator Genisys” received generally negative reviews, but Clarke once said she didn’t mind because she didn’t want to appear in a sequel! Her performance, though, was one of the few positives of the film, earning her a nomination for best international actress at the Jupiter Awards.

#8: Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock
“Venom” (2018)


Venom’s first blockbuster outing came in 2007 when he was played by American actor Topher Grace, in “Spider-Man 3”. But in the character’s 2018 solo film, it was London-born Tom Hardy who stepped into the role of everyone’s favourite Jekyll-and-Hyde symbiote. Hardy’s producer once said the actor gave a “masterclass” on set each day, and fans were delighted to see Venom take centre stage after being somewhat crowded out in “Spider-Man 3”. For fans of the movie, as well as the producers behind the scenes, this is all good news – because Hardy is signed for a further three films.

#7: Hugh Dancy as Will Graham
“Hannibal” (2013-15)


FBI profiler Graham from the “Hannibal” franchise was another played by US actors in the films “Manhunter” and “Red Dragon”. But in the stateside TV series “Hannibal”, Graham’s part was given to British actor Hugh Dancy. Dancy gives a masterful portrayal of the man who can match wits with Hannibal, as the two characters team up to hunt down a long list of brutal killers. Dancy’s critically acclaimed performances helped to earn the show cult status, and earned him three best actor awards as well as nominations for a host of others.

#6: Benedict Cumberbatch as the Grinch
“The Grinch” (2018)


It was tempting to pick Benedict Cumberbatch for his portrayal of the mystic superhero Doctor Strange in the MCU. But instead we’ve gone for his performance as the Grinch in the 2018 American computer-animated film – a role previously played with aplomb by Jim Carrey in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. Cumberbatch is a seasoned pro when it comes to voice work, having previously starred in “Penguins of Madagascar” and “The Jungle Book”. And he perfectly captures the Grinch’s grumpiness and vulnerability as he sets about devising a plan to wreck Christmas in Whoville.

#5: Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates
“Bates Motel” (2013-17)


Norman Bates from Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Psycho” was once voted the second greatest villain of the last 100 years by the American Film Institute. So, these were big boots to fill. In “Bates Motel” – the TV series set prior to the film – a young Norman Bates is portrayed by British actor Freddie Highmore. It represented a dramatic change in direction for the actor, who was previously best known for starring in “Finding Neverland” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. But Highmore makes the part of Bates his own, even writing and directing two episodes of the popular drama.

#4: Henry Cavill as Superman
“Man of Steel” (2013)


Despite being born on the planet Krypton, and being co-created by a Canadian, Superman is generally regarded as the classic all-American superhero. In 2013’s “Man of Steel”, though, the role of Clark Kent was given for the first time to a Brit: Henry Cavill. Interestingly, Cavill had also been due to play the character prior to 2006's Brandon Routh-led reboot “Superman Returns” but the project he was involved with was never made. In the end, he reprised his award-winning role for DCEU flicks including “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League”, to sit at the top table of superhero actors.

#3: Emma Watson as Belle
“Beauty and the Beast” (2017)


In the 1991 Disney adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast”, the part of Belle was voiced by American actress Paige O’Hara. But in the 2017 live-action reboot, the role went to British performer Emma Watson, who won critical acclaim for her progressive take on the character. Watson had once turned down the part of another fairy-tale heroine, Cinderella, because she considered the character to be too “passive”. So, with this in mind, Watson reportedly collaborated on the “Beauty and the Beast” script in order to create a character she considered to be a good role model.

#2: Tom Holland as Spider-Man
“Captain America: Civil War” (2016)


London-born Holland isn’t the first Brit to play Spider-Man, with Andrew Garfield taking the part in “The Amazing Spider-Man” series in 2012. But Holland’s portrayal of the web-slinger is generally considered the most popular, with even comic-book legend Stan Lee calling him “great” in the role. Fans have warmed to Holland’s youth, humour and awkward eagerness – and it doesn’t hurt that his dance training allows him to do his own stunts. Now a fixture of the MCU, Holland is set to reprise his role for multiple movies in the Marvel canon.

#1: Christian Bale as Batman
“Batman Begins” (2005)


Following in the footsteps of George Clooney, Christian Bale became the first British actor to play the Caped Crusader in films. Having fought off competition from Jake Gyllenhaal for the role, Bale initially thought he looked more ridiculous than threatening in his costume. But his world-weary Batman brought a much-needed sense of gritty realism to the character, and helped make “The Dark Knight Trilogy” a huge success. The Guardian newspaper once called Bale’s portrayal of Batman “head and shoulders above” his predecessors’ – though perhaps that’s no surprise considering what had gone before.
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