British actors have long had a reputation as being some of the best in the world. And RADA has been churning out classically trained actors for decades that are happy to take on Shakespearean roles as well as TV sit-com dramas. Broadway and Hollywood have been consistently featuring British actors but normally they are type-cast according to their accents. But times are changing there is a new breed of British actors that are making quite a stir over the other side of the Atlantic.
The American Actor
Unlike their British counterparts that attend specific drama training schools such as RADA and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), American actors learn their trade in the studio both for TV and film. This is not to say that American actors are inferior in any way or shape. It is just a different psychology between the two countries on how their actors actually learn. The classic approach by Britain offers a much more broad-based foundation to grow acting talents, and therefore prepares the actor for just about any genre of acting including film, TV and theater.
One of the new breed of British actors who studied at LAMDA is really making a name for himself on both sides of the Atlantic. Benedict Cumberbatch has appeared on radio, film, TV, and theater. This explains his versatility to be able to play villains, superheroes, and every other manner of character.
The artistic director of RADA, Edward Kemp, explained that this versatility comes from the wide range of topics in their curriculum. For instance, one main difference between American and British actors is the amount of time that budding British actors spend on developing different accents. They can easily switch the way they speak to represent a multitude of characters almost effortlessly. Mr Kemp goes on to explain that RADA students regularly attend singing lessons, not particularly to start off singing careers but to develop vocal and hearing flexibility.
For years the American film and theater industries were seen to be biased in what roles they offered British actors. Now the pendulum seems to have gone full swing and American actors are complaining that they are being typecasted into the type of roles they are being offered. The successful American actor Matthew McConaughey has spoken on this very subject and complained that his agent would only put him forward for roles that he had already played. And that he had to take time out to unbrand himself to give him more options. Names such as Lawrence Olivier, John Gielgud, Judi Dench, and Maggie Smith have been legendary both in their acting careers and the awards they have been lavished with. But are they superior to Humphrey Bogart, Robert de Niro, or Robert Downey Junior? I suppose the deciding factor is how popular the movies they have made have been. And more importantly how much was taken at the box office in terms of dollars. There is no real answer to the question, Are British Actors the Best in the World? When it comes down to it personal taste is the ultimate decision maker.