For many people, Wales is one of the countries that comprises the United Kingdom. However, many famous actors call Wales their homeland. Ten of these famous Welsh actors are discussed here. Were you aware that these actors came from Wales? As you will see, the career paths of many of these Welsh actors crossed.
10 Welsh Actors to Check Out
1. Richard Burton
Richard Burton, a Shakespearean actor and star of stage and screen who is known for his baritone voice, was born Richard Walter Jenkins on November 10, 1925 in Pontrhydyfen, Wales. The twelfth of 13 children, his mother died when he was two, and his father, a coal miner, abandoned the family. He was raised by his sister. Even as a child, he had a great speaking and singing voice and loved poetry, but he was also good at sports with a special love for rugby. His career could have gone either way.
His schoolmaster, Philip Burton, became his theater mentor at school and after he left school. Eventually, Richard took Burton’s name and became his ward. In 1941, Richard joined the RAF but continued to perform in theatrical productions, catching the attention of critics and other theatrical notables, such as John Gielgud, who also became a mentor. His movie career began in the UK in 1949, and his first Hollywood film was My Cousin Rachel with Olivia de Havilland in 1952.
In 1963, he filmed Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor. The film was the start of their relationship. This relationship, and much of his personal life, got as much attention as his acting. A box office draw and one of the highest paid actors of the 1960’s, he starred in other movies with Elizabeth Taylor, such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? However, his best performances were in his solo movies, such as Beckett, The Night of the Iguana, and Where Eagles Dare. Probably one of the most famous Welsh actors, he won two Golden Globe Awards, an Emmy, and a Grammy, but despite seven nominations, he never won an Academy Award. He died on August 5, 1984, in Céligny, Geneva, Switzerland.
2. Anthony Hopkins
Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins, CBE, born in Margam, Glamorgan, Wales, on December 31, 1937, is one of the best known living Welsh actors, with a career spanning stage, film, and television. At 15, he met Richard Burton, who influenced and encouraged him. A graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in 1957, he was noticed by Laurence Olivier while training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He joined the Royal National Theatre at Olivier’s invitation. Playing Richard the Lionheart in The Lion in Winter in 1968 was his breakthrough in movies.
His most famous role is Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, for which he won an Academy Award. He has been nominated for and won many other awards. Currently, he is appearing in the HBO series, Westworld.
In an interview for the release of the Silence of the Lambs prequel, Red Dragon, Hopkins discussed how he prepares for a role. He stated that he reviews his lines as much as needed, which can be over 200 times, until they sound natural, and he can say them without thinking. It provides an easy delivery with room for some improvisation. After he is done with a scene, he discards the lines from his memory.
3. Hugh Griffith
Hugh Emrys Griffith, a film, stage, and television actor, was born in Marian-glas, Anglesey, Wales, on May 30, 1912. He is best known for his role in Ben-Hur, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1959. Four years later, he received a second best supporting actor nomination for Tom Jones. Griffith and his co-star, Anthony Perkins, were both nominated for the Best Actor Tony for their roles in Look Homeward, Angel in 1958. Hugh Griffith died May 14, 1980 in London
4. Jonathan Pryce
Jonathan Pryce, CBE, was born John Price in Carmel, Flintshire, Wales on June 1, 1947, He studied at the Royal Academy of Art and began his career among the successful Welsh actors as a stage and television actor in the 1970s. His breakthrough film debut was in Terry Gilliam’s film, Brazil. He has appeared in Evita, Pirates of the Caribbean, Glengarry Glen Rose and is a two-time Tony winner, once for Comedians and once for Miss Saigon. Originally slated as a guest actor, he is now appearing regularly as the High Sparrow on the HBO series, Game of Thrones.
5. Owen Teale
Owen Teale was born in Brigend, Wales on May 20, 1961. Trained at the Guildford School of Acting, he appeared on a episode of Dr. Who and on the BBC shows The Thin Blue Line and Murphy’s Law. His movie debut was in War Requiem in 1989. He played Will Scarlett in John Irvin’s 1991 version of Robin Hood. He is currently the second of the Welsh actors in the HBO series Game of Thrones. Griffith plays Ser Alliser Thorne.
6. Rhys Ifans
Rhys Ifans, actor and musician, was born Rhys Owain Evans in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales on July 22, 1967. One of the newest Welsh actors, his first notable film role was in Twin Town in 1997 with his brother, Llyr. Two years later, he played Spike in the Julia Roberts/Hugh Grant film, Notting Hill. He also appeared as The Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man and Xenophilius Lovegood in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:Part 1. On the CBS series, Elementary, he occasionally plays Sherlock Holmes’ older brother, Mycroft. Most recently, he appeared in the Epic series, Berlin Station. He is also in the rock groups Super Furry Animals and the Peth.
7. Ian White
Ian White was born in Bangor, Wales, on September 17, 1971. His 7’1″ stature was helpful during his professional basketball career. After he retired from basketball, he became a stuntman and an actor. The roles he has taken could make it hard to recognize him. He has played Predators in Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem; an Engineer alien in Prometheus; Sheikh Sulieman in Clash of the Titans; Olympe Maxime in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; and Moroff in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He is also among the Welsh actors who have appeared on Game of Thrones. His roles on that series include White Walkers; a non-speaking giant; Ser Gregor Clegane; the giant, Wun Wun; and the giant, Dongo, the Doomed.
8. Iwan Rheon
Iwan Rheon, singer, musician, and television, stage, and film actor, was born in Carmathen, Carmathenshire, Wales on May 13, 1985. From an early age, Rheon was exposed to the Welsh tradition of Eisttedfod, a festival of music, literature, and performance. However, he started his music career at 16 and started performing in school plays at 17. That is the same time that he joined the Welsh soap, Pobol Y Cwm as Macsen White. He left that role to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Acting. While up to this point he has done mostly television, he is still really early in his career. Nevertheless, he has gained a lot of notice and been nominated for quite a few awards. He is also among the Welsh actors on the HBO series, Game of Thrones. He plays the well-known villian, Ramsay Bolton.
9. Owain Yeoman
Owain Sebastian Yeoman was born in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales on July 2, 1978. With an MA in English Literature from Brasenose College at the University of Oxford, he is among the Welsh actors who studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He made his film debut in the movie, Troy in 2004. Most recently, he played agent Wayne Rigsby on the Mentalist for six seasons and was cast as Sherlock Holmes’ boarding school classmate on Elementary.
These are just ten among many well-known Welsh actors. Several of them have promising careers ahead of them. So, keep track of them and see what else they accomplish. Also, check out the cast of Game of Thrones and see how many more come from the small country of Wales. Then, research the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and see who else is among their illustrious alumni. It seems to be a school that sets its students on a solid career path. Please share any information that you learn with us on our Facebook page.