Films: Brits as Americans, and why I love it

Posted by Sam Bouchat on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 11:00 am.

Henry Cavill, the newest Superman in 2013′s “Man of Steel,” Andrew Garfield, who played Peter Parker in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Lincoln“‘s Daniel Day-Lewis and the Batman Trilogy‘s Christian Bale all have a couple of things in common. First, they are actors playing men in cinema that represent the pinnacle of the American Dream — Superman, the country and world’s greatest superhero; Spider-Man, the American every-boy who succeeded against all odds; Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest president and the man who brought this country toward its pinnacle of freedom and Batman, the eccentric billionaire playboy who uses hard American work and intellect to guard his New York-style city.

Another thing they all have in common? They’re all British actors. Brits have infiltrated American cinema, taking over the coveted roles of men and women who on-screen define the personification of the United States, despite the actors’ country of origin. What exactly does this mean?

Firstly, that directors and casting professionals are able to overlook regional biases when casting their parts. Sure, Christopher Nolan, director of the Batman Trilogy, is himself British, and guilty of stuffing his cast with Brits playing non-Brits (Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Tom Wilkinson), but they acted their roles with huge skill and many people have to do a double-take when told that Bane and Commissioner Gordon actually have a rather adorable English accents in real life.

Mr. Lincoln was portrayed brilliantly by a British gentleman, and I’m not sure any American actor would have been able to pull off the part with as much aplomb as Daniel Day-Lewis.

I look forward to more movies where actors and actresses from all parts of the globe portray characters of different origins. Acting before giant cameras, swinging lights and bobbing booms is hard enough — managing to pull off a different accent just adds spice to the performance.