Today: June 20, 2024

Top Ten British Movie Hard Men

Actor and producer  Tom Benedict Knight may not be one of Britain’s most recognised faces but following his role in Paul Tanter’s He Who Dares,  it’s clear that he soon will be. So, to celebrate the DVD release, join us as FilmJuice count down ten of Britain’s toughest actors…

Daniel Craig
Although beginning his career on BBC drama Our Friends In The North, Daniel Craig has since carved himself out as a tough on-screen presence, perhaps thanks to a certain Mr. Bond. However, his name was already being whispered in Hollywood thanks to high-profile performances in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Layer Cake (2004) in which he played an unnamed kingpin of a London underworld. Although the majority perceived Craig to be an odd casting decision for James Bond, Casino Royale silenced the naysayers, with many citing Daniel Craig as the best screen incarnation of 007 to date – enhanced even further by Sam Mendes’ Skyfall (2012).

Jason Statham
Jason Statham, otherwise known as The Stath, made his debut in Guy Ritchie’s modern Brit classic Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998), as well as his follow-up Snatch (2000). This led to appearances in John Carpenter’s Ghosts Of Mars and The One (with Jet Li) until the Stath finally landed the lead in French action flick The Transporter (2002). Most recently Statham has starred alongside action heavyweights in The Expendables (2010, and its sequel two years later) and featured in a post-credits cameo at the end of Fast And Furious 6 (2012), sparking off an internet meltdown. A former diver, The Stath performs all of his own stunts.

Tom Hardy
Watching US Miniseries Band Of Brothers, many were surprised many to see Tom Hardy crop up as a young army private. Parts in Black Hawk Down and Layer Cake followed before Hardy cemented his hard man status with a searing performance as Charles Bronson in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson in 2008. A scene-stealing supporting turn in Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010) led to his casting as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, with a role as an MMA fighter in Warrior stashed in between. Next year, Hardy will take on the role of Mad Max in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Gerard Butler
Initially trained as a lawyer, Butler turned to acting in the mid-90s. After roles in Tomorrow Never Dies and Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life, he became a familiar face on the big screen, adding romcoms (PS I Love You) and animation (How To Train Your Dragon) to his rapidly growing CV. However, he became the iconic on screen tough guy in 2010 when he played Spartan King Leonides. His “This is Sparta” moment has since become the stuff of cinema legend.

Charlie Hunnam
Kick-starting his career in his late teens in Russell T. Davies’ television drama Queer As Folk, Charlie Hunnam was offered a slew of Hollywood roles. However, he opted to return to the UK instead. He has since starred as Peter Dunham in Green Street (2005), a drama about football hooliganism. Despite a dodgy cockney accent, Hunnam established himself as an archetypal tough guy. He’s now back in the US in the acclaimed US drama Sons Of Anarchy in which he plays the leader of a motorcycle club. Last year, he also starred as the lead in Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy action Pacific Rim.

Ray Winstone
Mostly known for his tough men roles, Ray Winstone has carved out a credible career trajectory ever since his debut in Scum (1979). Citing Albert Finney as a key inspiration, Winstone has starred in films ranging from Cold Mountain (2003), The Departed (2006) to Indiana Jones And the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008). His grittier roles have come in the form of British films Nil By Mouth (1997), Sexy Beast (2000) and 44 Inch Chest (2009). Winstone will next be seen in Darren Aronofsky’s guaranteed blockbuster Noah, alongside Russell Crowe.

Tamer Hassan
A south-East London boy, Tamer Hassan was a recognisable face of television drama before his debut in The Calcium Kid in 2004. Always starring as the stereotypical hardnut, Hassan’s credits include The Football Factory and Layer Cake, as well as The Business alongside other gritty British crime thrillers Dead Man Running and Bonded By Blood.

Vinnie Jones
A former footballing sensation, ever since Vinnie Jones’s acting debut in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, he has capitalised on his tough guy image, knowingly typecast as an aggressive presence in each film he is in. A role in Snatch (2000) followed, leading to a spot amongst an ensemble in Gone In 60 Seconds that same year. Arguably his biggest role to date was as Juggernaut in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Despite a stint in Celebrity Big Brother a few years back (he came third), Vinnie has recently starred alongside Arnie and Sly in prison thriller, Escape Plan (2013).

Dominic West
In real life, Old Etonian Dominic West is a true gent. On screen however he’s become a household name playing some of cinema’s toughest, nastiest roles. Appearances in the 300, Centurion, John Carter and Punisher: War Zone, where he played disfigured mob boss Jigsaw, prove that this is one Brit actor who is guaranteed to play well when cast against type.

Clive Owen
Rising to fame through playing roguish con man Stephen Crane in Chancer (1990-1991), Clive Owen’s boasted numerous big screen credits before turning to tough guy roles in The Bourne Identity and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City followed in 2005, with Owen famously starring in the scene guest directed by Quentin Tarantino. It was the no-holds barred Shoot  ‘Em Up (2007) however that really reminded audiences what a hard man he can be.

He Who Dares is released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 7th 2014 from STUDIOCANAL.

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