I’m crazy about the British heist flick The Bank Job, which drops on DVD Tuesday. If The Long Good Friday and The Lavender Hill Mob had spawn, it would star Jason Statham as a petty thief duped into stealing risqué photos of Princes Margaret. Even better: Stephen Campbell Moore (pictured, left) plays one of Statham’s buds. I’ve worshiped Stephen since he portrayed lovah-boy King Edward VIII in Wallis & Edward. Now he’s on the Life on Mars spin-off Ashes to Ashes. Seeing him in a big feature made me all warm inside, and got me thinking about all the British and Irish actors who are pretty darn famous at home, but who play second bananas in other projects. You know, the thesps you hope will get a high profile U.S. role one day so your friends don’t think you’re crazy when you say “Hey, that’s Jeff from Coupling” or “David Oyelowo (pictured, right) is da bomb.” Here are ten of my faves. (All these shows or TV movies are available on DVD, unless otherwise noted.)
1. Rafe Spall. You may remember him as: One of the bumbling mustachioed coppers working alongside Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz. Check him out as: a naïve juror carrying on a passionate, illicit affair with a worldly colleague during the real life obscenity trial over Lady Chatterley’s Lover in The Chatterley Affair.
2. Jodhi May. You may remember her as: Madeleine Stowe’s suicidal sister in The Last of the Mohicans. Check her out as: the orphaned Jewish opera singer who steals Hugh Dancy’s heart in Daniel Deronda.
3. Richard Coyle. You may remember him as: The scheming investment banker who tries to take down Russell Crowe in A Good Year. Check him out as: “insane Welshman” Jeff Murdock in the comedy Coupling or as a demon hunter in Strange (get this on YouTube).
4. Michael Fassbender (German born, but raised in Ireland and lives in London). You may remember him as: The sword wielding Spartan Stelios in 300. Check him out as: Fallen angel (and champion seducer) Azazeal in Hex.
5. Helen Baxendale. You may remember her as: Ross’s wronged English wife Emily on Friends. Check her out as: As a relationship challenged advertising exec (and amateur actress) in the BAFTA winning dramedy Cold Feet.
6. Keeley Hawes. You may remember her as: Jason Statham’s wife in The Bank Job or the voice of Lara Croft. Check her out as: A heartless lesbian seductress in Tipping the Velvet or goodhearted secret agent Zoe in MI5.
7. Rebecca Hall. You may remember her as: Christian Bale’s doomed wife in The Prestige. Check her out as: Charlotte Brontë’s famous madwoman in the attic in the breathtaking Jane Eyre prequel, Wide Sargasso Sea.
8. David Oyelowo. You may remember him as: The Ugandan doctor who saves James McAvoy in The Last King of Scotland. Check him out as: A father suspected of murdering his pregnant wife in the mystery Five Days.
9. Kris Marshall. You may remember him as: The super-horny Brit who travels to America to get laid in Love Actually. Check him out as: A bumbling junior detective in Murder City and as Pasha in the recent remake of Doctor Zhivago.
10. Elaine Cassidy. You may remember her as: The youngest of the housekeeper ghosts taunting Nicole Kidman in The Others. Check her out as: An heiress who falls in love with the female pickpocket who nearly defrauds her in Fingersmith or filling Helena Bonham Carter shoes in Masterpiece’s enchanting new version of A Room with a View.
After the jump, your anglophile What to Watch for the week…
Monday: Download Eddie Izzard’s Live at the Ambassadors (his West End standup debut) from his official site.
Tuesday: DVD’s of Beau Brummell: This Charming Man (starring Rome’s James Purefoy), The Bank Job, and Penelope all hit stores.
Wednesday: At 12:35am, watch Russell Brand on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
Thursday: At 11:30pm, Ricky Gervais visits Letterman.
Friday: Watch Doctor Who at 9pm on Sci Fi. Rose Tyler Returns! Then download BBC Radio 4’s Friday Night Comedy podcast.
Saturday: Catch Topsy-Turvy and Secrets & Lies during Sundance’s Mike Leigh Double Feature.
Sunday: The third season of Shameless premieres on Sundance at 9pm. TiVo Foyle’s War on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery! (this episode is directed by the master himself, BBC Pride and Prejudice helmer Simon Langton).
So who (and what) did I miss? What actors hiding in the background haveexcited you? (And Richard Armitage fans, don’t despair, he’ll get hisown column at month’s end.)