Great Britain has always had a rich tradition in the dramatic arts. This is hardly surprising given the great playwrights it has produced over the years, like Middle English author Geoffrey Chaucer and the original bard William Shakespeare being just two of the more obvious examples. The current older generation of British actors is nothing short of formidable, boasting among its hordes English actor Patrick Stewart — of X – Men and Star Trek fame — and actress Dame Maggie Smith, popular for her performance as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter franchise, along with her roles in Keeping Mum and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
As well as Britain’s fantastic array of actors and actresses who work predominantly in film, the United Kingdom is home to a wide range of hugely talented older Thespians who dabble in stage acting; Dame Judi Dench, for example, has a wide variety of stage acting credits and film credits, which span from her portrayals of Maria in Twelfth Night on Broadway in the late 1950s and Sally Bowles in the West End production of Cabaret in 1968 all the way up to her performance in the James Bond film Skyfall several years ago.
Although this generation of actors and actresses hailing from the UK is a force to be reckoned with, the newer and younger up-and-coming set should by no means be ignored. Young British actors and actresses have in recent years landed main roles in some of the biggest film series in the world, including the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises. These professionals are the new faces of Britain, representing the nation’s youth worldwide. There has been a definite shift away from the older, more theatrical class of British actors, with the new generation appearing as more ‘ordinary’, down to earth and approachable characters, while simultaneously (and rather paradoxically) garnering more ‘celebrity’ status worldwide than their predecessors. This list counts seven of the current richest young British actors and actresses, and their various achievements and accolades.
5. Emma Watson — $40 million
At number five is Harry Potter darling, Emma Watson. Although the actress was born in France, she has English parents and grew up in England, and so considers herself British. While living in Oxfordshire, England, Watson trained at the Oxford Branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts for several years as a child, before auditioning for and being cast in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The Harry Potter series marked Watson’s cinematic debut at the tender age of 11, and she made a household name for herself through her starring role in every film in the franchise. Since then she has branched out into different sorts of films, having in recent years starred in The Bling Ring and showcased newly-cropped hair in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Watson has also studied English at the University of Oxford and Brown University, and has modelled for numerous companies and magazines, including “Elle” and “British GQ”.
4. Kiera Chaplin — $42 million
Number four is Northern Irish star Kiera Chaplin, worth in the vicinity of twenty eight million pounds. Born in Belfast in 1982 as Kiera Sunshine Chaplin, the actress’ distinctive surname comes from the marriage of her grandmother Oonagh O’Neill to the world-famous actor Charlie Chaplin. She is also the great-granddaughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill, author of “Beyond the Horizon” and winner of four Pulitzer prizes.
With such a star-studded family tree, it is unsurprising that Chaplin ended up pursuing drama in one form or another. As well as acting, she is also a producer, and has featured in the photography of magazines such as “Vanity Fair”, “Vogue”, “Elle” and “GQ”. She has acted in such films as The Importance of Being Earnest and Absolument Fabuleux, and has a 30% stake in Hollywood-based film company Limelight Productions.
3. Keira Knightley — $48 million
At number three is English actress and model Keira Knightley. With an estimated net worth equivalent to thirty-one million pounds, Knightly grew up in South London and had her own agent from the age of three. She struggled greatly with reading and writing while at school, and although she was never officially diagnosed with dyslexia she believes that she suffered from it. With no professional help, Knightly managed to mostly overcome her difficulties through hard work by the time she was in her early teens. Knightly has featured in numerous films since her childhood, including her role as Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. She has also starred in a film scripted by her mother, Sharman MacDonald, The Edge of Love, with Carey Mulligan. The two actresses work very well together, and have also co-starred in the adaptation of the novel Never Let Me Go.
2. Robert Pattinson — $64 million
The penultimate actor on this list is the reluctant vampire-portrayer Robert Pattinson. Pattinson was born in London, England in the year 1986, and has a net worth of around forty-five million pounds. His first mainstream role was that of Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter series. However, his most famous role to date has been his turn in the Twilight series, in which he played sparkling un-dead heartthrob Edward Cullen. Pattinson has been made no real secret about his disenchantment with his career as Edward Cullen, no doubt compounded by his messy break-up with Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart. However, Pattinson is a gifted and passionate musician — proficient on both guitar and piano — and his music was featured in the Twilight films, which is a point in their favour. The films also served him well in that he learned how to drive on set in a crash course of just ten hours. On top of this, the films have made him one of the most desired men in the world, a fact which seems to please the dark and brooding Pattinson less than it would most.
1. Daniel Radcliffe — $86 million
Topping the list of Britain’s richest young actors is quintessential star of, surprise surprise, the Harry Potter franchise: Daniel Radcliffe. Radcliffe was born in 1989 in England, and landed his first acting job in the title role of David Copperfield in 1999. Two years later, Radcliffe was cast as the world’s most famous bespectacled wizard in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and the rest is history. In 2007 Radcliffe took his first stage role in Equus, which boasted worldwide acclaim but caused consternation as Radcliffe had to be naked on stage, which clashed with his squeaky clean schoolboy image as developed in the earlier Harry Potter movies. However, he proved unphased by his critics and has successfully shaken off his family-friendly image, engaging in somewhat racy scenes in his recent starring role as Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings.