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Top 10 Biggest Moments of British Overacting

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Paul Grover
Once more, but with less feeling. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 biggest moments of overacting by British actors. For this list, we’ll be looking at the big screen moments where UK actors hammed it up a little too much. While Britain has long been home to some of the globe’s finest thespians, even the best of them can be guilty of going a tad overboard at times. Perhaps maybe more than a tad! Special thanks to our user RichardFB for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Biggest Moments of British Overacting


Once more, but with less feeling. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 biggest moments of overacting by British actors.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the big screen moments where UK actors hammed it up a little too much. While Britain has long been home to some of the globe’s finest thespians, even the best of them can be guilty of going a tad overboard at times. Perhaps maybe more than a tad!

#10: Ian McDiarmid Fighting Mace Windu
“Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” (2005)


The “Star Wars” prequels revealed a shady politician to be the galaxy’s ultimate evil. Some things never change! In the original trilogy, it was long assumed that Emperor Palpatine’s grotesque facial features were down to his extreme old age. After all, who could have predicted he’d had his face melted by his own force lightning, courtesy of Samuel L. Jackson? It was in that very scene when Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid threw subtleness by the wayside and gloriously hammed it up to ten for his brutal transformation.

#9: Michael Sheen’s Giggle
“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” (2012)


While the UK's screen talent are a largely well respected lot, there’s no shortage of brilliant British actors who decided to let it all hang out as the villain of a Hollywood blockbuster. “The Twilight Saga” knew its target audience and was never trying to win any Academy Awards, so why wouldn’t Michael Sheen want to have some fun with the role of vampire big bad Aro? His over enthusiastic laugh upon meeting a mortal/immortal hybrid girl is one of the series’ highlights, even if it wasn’t intended to be.

#8: Kenneth Branagh Crashing the Party
“Wild Wild West” (1999)


Who do you cast as a rambunctious, southern villain who’s still bitter from backing the losing side in the American Civil War? Why Sir Kenneth Branagh, of course! The British actor and director was barely recognizable in the role, and not just because the lower half of his body was missing, replaced by mechanical spider legs at one point. Clearly, they nailed the old West aesthetic! No scene spotlighted Kenneth’s bravado more than his introduction into the movie, where he chews all the scenery in sight!

#7: Ben Kingsley Gets Angry
“Sexy Beast” (2000)


Despite being an acclaimed Oscar winner, Ben Kingsley has been known to dial it up to the extreme on various occasions. No one could ever accuse the man of lacking range mind you, as “Sexy Beast”’s Don Logan is about as far as it gets from playing Gandhi. The unhinged London gangster even has the hulking Ray Winstone cowering like a frightened puppy in this scene, where Kingsley delivers the full hair dryer treatment. It’s an argument unlike any other, as Don defiantly refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer!

#6: Liam Neeson’s Pink Elephant
“Darkman” (1990)


Liam Neeson is known for regularly playing calm and collected characters, even when he’s telling people he’s going to find and kill them. But, the Northern Irishman was neither calm nor collected in this 1990’s classic. Before he went on to critical and commercial acclaim with his “Spider-Man” trilogy, director Sam Raimi introduced audiences to “Darkman”. The film was every bit as violent and cheesy as Raimi’s “Evil Dead” movies and Neeson had no problem jumping in guns blazing. But it's the pink elephant scene that is the leading example of Liam let completely off the leash!

#5: Gary Oldman Wants Backup
“Leon” (1994)


Before taking on more nuanced roles later in his career, Gary Oldman was known for loud and fiery performances throughout the nineties, more often than not as a crazed antagonist. Perhaps the most memorable of these portrayals was as corrupt cop Norman Stansfield in “Leon”. The character is pushed to the edge by Jean Reno’s eponymous assassin, and reaches visible breaking point when telling a henchman just exactly how much backup he wants. It doesn’t get much louder or clearer than that!

#4: John Alderton Tries to Resist
“Zardoz” (1974)


From this scene we can decipher that John Alderton’s character, creatively named ‘friend’, hates women. And fertility. But most of all, he categorically will not go to the second level! Whatever that is. The hippy-looking cult surrounding him aren’t especially happy with that, and the whole thing feels like a glimpse toward a modern-day hipster cafe at brunch. From the film’s giant boulder head, to the nearly nude and very hairy Sean Connery we learn… nothing. Absolutely nothing. The overacting isn’t even out of place in this one!

#3: Jeremy Irons Faces the Dragon
“Dungeons & Dragons” (2000)


You may have trouble reconciling that this is the same Jeremy Irons that you’ve seen from literally any other movie. But fair play to the chap, he could have just sleep-walked through the role to collect the pay cheque, but not Jeremy! He bust a gut for this performance and clearly had a ball doing so! The OTT acting nearly manages to distract from the god-awful CGI of the dragon – but not quite. The production budget was clearly spent mostly on Irons, and he really gives it some welly!

#2: Alan Rickman’s Relentless Fury
“Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (1991)


Forget Hans Gruber in “Die Hard”. Because, was Alan Rickman ever more villainous than he was for this film? His casting in the ‘90s Robin Hood adaptation went a long way toward quelling qualms over the questionable decision to give Kevin Costner the lead role, as Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham runs riot. And has a blast doing so. Alan totally steals the show with his larger than life portrayal of the evil taker of taxes. And oh, don’t let him near the cutlery, either!

#1: Eddie Redmayne Being Evil
“Jupiter Ascending” (2015)


The Wachowski’s gave us “The Matrix”. Then they gave us, well, this. Eddie Redmayne is another example of an Academy Award winner who decided to just go bat dropping crazy for a villain role in a big budget feature – letting loose as the irrepressible Balem Abrasax. He turns the volume up to ten here, literally and figuratively, for a burst of sudden energy followed by an unexpected shift. It’s a far cry from Redmayne’s more critically acclaimed roles, and a standard-setter for overacting everywhere. Even the melodrama master Nicolas Cage would struggle to match this – and that’s saying something.
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