15 Underrated Actresses from the British Isles

There are many talented actors from England, Ireland, and Scotland that have made a name for themselves in their homeland but have yet to break into super-stardom overseas and in America. Below are 15 actresses from the British Isles that I believe deserve more recognition than they currently get.


15. Naomi Harris


Credits: 28 Days Later, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ninja Assassin

Naomi Harris made quite the impression, first in 28 Days Later and then in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels with her spunky attitude and obvious talent. Her casting as the main girl in the latest Bond movie is sure to skyrocket her out of the underrated territory and make her the household name she deserves. 


14. Emily Watson


Credits: War Horse, Red Dragon, Corpse Bride, Punch-Drunk Love, Angela’s Ashes

Emily Watson has had some juicy roles in the past but none that would make her an A-lister according to Hollywood. Luckily, she has at least 7 more movies to look forward to, hopefully at least one of which will help her off the underrated list.


13. Samantha Morton


Credits: John Carter, In America, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Minority Report, The Libertine

Samantha’s role as Mary Stuart in Elizabeth: The Golden Age almost stole the show from Cate Blanchett. Her steady resolve and unique beauty only add to her talent as an actress. She’s shown up in many American movies but hasn’t gotten that Hollywood star power just yet.


12. Emilia Fox


Credits: Merlin, The Pianist, Ballet Shoes, Silent Witness, Helen of Troy, Dorian Gray

Emilia was a definite presence as the unlucky Cassandra in the low- budget Helen of Troy and again as a powerful sorceress in Merlin. She has an intense stare and silent skill that makes her memorable on screen and hopefully she’ll get some juicier roles soon.


11. Holliday Grainger


Credits: The Borgias, Bel Ami, Jane Eyre, The Bad Mother’s Handbook

Holliday as Lucrezia Borgia is one of those absolutely perfect casting decisions. She has gained many loyal fans since last year’s premiere of the show and that number is only going to grow as more and more people notice her beauty and talent.


10. Natalie Dormer


Credits: The Tudors, Game of Thrones, Captain America: The First Avenger, Casanova, The Fades

Natalie’s performance as Anne Boleyn in the series The Tudors was beyond award-winning. She was truly a talent and it’s only a matter of time before Game of Thrones viewers find that out for themselves. Not to mention she has a great comedic turn, just check her out in Casanova.


9. Freema Agyeman


Credits: Doctor Who, Law & Order: UK, The Carrie Diaries

Freema became a geeky favorite after she played Martha in Doctor Who. She has a unique look and a fun spirit. Hopefully her upcoming role in The Carrie Diaries will give her the American exposure she needs before it’s inevitably cancelled.


8. Miriam Margolyes


Credits: Harry Potter series, Mulan, Romeo + Juliet, James and the Giant Peach, Balto, Babe

Miriam has one of those faces (and voices) that you recognize whenever she’s in a movie, even if you don’t know her name. She is a distinguished character/voice actor and like many other character and voice actors, hasn’t gotten the name recognition she deserves.


7. Sophia Myles


Credits: Tristan + Isolde, Moonlight, Underworld, Outlander, Dracula

Sophia Myles is perhaps best known for playing the beautiful but tragic Isolde opposite James Franco. Her resume is actually quite extensive, including horror blockbusters and indie films alike. She was also one of the best Lucy Westenra’s on screen.


6. Sarah Bolger


Credits: The Tudors, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Moth Diaries, Locke & Key, In America

Sarah Bolger is yet another talent from The Tudors who went mostly unrecognized. She’s had some smaller roles as well but it was turn as the strong and sympathetic Mary Tudor that won over many fans’ hearts. She’s a fresh young face with lots of potential.


5. Anne-Marie Duff


Credits: The Virgin Queen, Notes on a Scandal, Shameless

Anne-Marie Duff as Queen Elizabeth was a powerful role to behold. She is an accomplished actress with many heavy hitting roles below her belt and surprisingly she has is not a well recognized name in Hollywood, something I hope soon rectified.


4. Ruta Gedmintas


Credits: The Tudors, Lip Service, Prowl, Miss Conception 

Ruta has the rare talent of beating typecast. She played the beautiful and feminine love interest of Henry the Eighth in The Tudors just as well as she plays the androgynous emotionally torn lesbian in Lip Service. I can’t wait to see what type of role she takes on next.  


3. Imogen Poots


Credits: Fright Night, Cracks, 28 Weeks Later, Centurion

Imogen is actually becoming more well-known in America, especially with her recent role in the Fright Night remake. However her talent is better on display in 28 Weeks Later and Cracks. Imogen’s refreshing face and personality are a welcome addition to today’s films.


2. Romola Garai


Credits: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Amazing Grace, Atonement, As You Like It, Emma, Vanity Fair

Keira and Saoirse were not the only great things about Atonement. Garai was the one who gave the amazing performance as older Briony. She has an impressive resume, including many different Shakespeare adaptations. Her performance in I Capture the Castle brings the book to life splendidly.


1. Sienna Guillory


Credits: Resident Evil series, Helen of Troy, Eragon, Inkheart, Silence Becomes You, The Virgin Queen

Sienna was chosen to play Helen of Troy in the 2003 TV movie and not only provided one of the most beautiful faces ever seen, but a realistic and sympathetic portrayal of the famous Greek. Her talent spans indies and blockbuster action movies alike and she will soon be reprising her role as Jill Valentine in Resident Evil: Retribution.


Coming Soon: 15 Underrated Actors from the British Isles!