They’re too talented for the Brat Pack. Too contemporary for the Rat Pack. And they’d probably scoff at any attempt to group their talents by anything so mundane as their birthplace. Nonetheless, the bevy of English and Scottish lads currently invading our shores is redefining the look of British acting the way Michael Caine, Sean Connery, and Albert Finney did 30 years ago. Meet the U.K.’s newest VIPs:
BEN CHAPLIN Age: 27 You’ve seen him: As the mutt-loving chap who fell for Janeane Garofalo’s voice in The Truth About Cats & Dogs. Next: He’s a suave swindler in an adaptation of Henry James’ Washington Square with Jennifer Jason Leigh. Vibe: He could be Hugh Grant’s sweeter sibling — the one who’d never pick up a hooker.
CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON Age: 33 You’ve seen him: As the uptight flatmate in Shallow Grave and as the oppressed title character in Jude. Next: He’ll play a Hasidic jeweler in A Price Below Rubies opposite Renee Zellweger and Julianna Margulies. Vibe: Physically frail, emotionally powerful — he could be a psycho or a suffering saint.
JUDE LAW Age: 24 You’ve seen him: Totally naked (and Tony nominated) in Broadway’s Indiscretions. Next: He’ll play a former athlete in the thriller Gattaca with Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, and a hustler in Clint Eastwood’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Vibe: Charming and mischievous — the Lost Boy of the group.
JONNY LEE MILLER Age: 24 You’ve seen him: As Sick Boy, Ewan McGregor’s Trainspotting canine target-practice partner, and as a convincing Old West cowpoke in Larry McMurtry’s Dead Man’s Walk. Next: He plays a WWI shell-shock victim in Regeneration and costars in the marital-strife drama Afterglow, with Nick Nolte and Julie Christie. Vibe: Take one part frat boy, one part grungoid, and stir.
LINUS ROACHE Age: 32 You’ve seen him: As the tormented gay clergyman in 1994’s Priest. Next: He’s the sought-after English journalist in Henry James’ The Wings of the Dove, with Helena Bonham Carter and Alison Elliott. Vibe: Emotionally restrained but troubled; good powder-keg potential.
RUFUS SEWELL Age: 29 You’ve seen him: As the Hollywood-bound country boy in Cold Comfort Farm and as Fortinbras to Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. Next: He’ll show up in this fall’s period drama The Courtesan and the eerie thriller Dark City with William Hurt. Vibe: Wide-eyed but hardly inexperienced.