Famous 20th Century British Actresses

Find out more about the greatest 20th Century British Actresses, including Cara Delevingne, Rachel Weisz, Julianne Moore, Keira Knightley and Emma Watson.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century British Actresses

 1 

Audrey Hepburn
40
Birthdate: May 4, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ixelles, Belgium
Died: January 20, 1993

British actress Audrey Hepburn is counted among the greatest female screen legends in Golden Age Hollywood. Rising to prominence in the 1950s, she became one of the few people to win Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards. She devoted much of her time in her later life to UNICEF and was actively involved in humanitarian work.

 2 
Kate Winslet
(Actress)

Kate Winslet
41
Birthdate: October 5, 1975
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Reading, England

Actress Kate Winslet’s most enduring character remains that of the protagonist in the 1997 blockbuster film Titanic, which made her an international star. She’s also known for doing period roles in films like Sense and Sensibility, Jude and Hamlet. Some of her other notable films are Iris, Little Children, Steve Jobs and The Reader. She won an Oscar for her performance in The Reader

 3 

Helena Bonham Carter
44
Birthdate: May 26, 1966
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Islington, London, England

Helena Bonham Carter is an English actress who is known for her performances in independent films and huge blockbusters. Some of her notable films are The Wings of the Dove, The King's Speech, Hamlet, Howards End, Fight Club, Les Misérables . She was also part of the Harry Potter series. She was bestowed with the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2012.

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 4 
Rachel Weisz
(Actress)

Rachel Weisz
31
Birthdate: March 7, 1970
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England

One of the most popular and decorated British-American actresses, Rachel Weisz is the recipient of many awards, such as the Academy Award. One of the most beautiful actresses, she has been featured on several magazine covers. In 2010, Rachel Weisz was named the global ambassador for L'Oréal. She has also served as fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez's muse.

 5 
Elizabeth Taylor
(Legend of Classic Hollywood Cinema)

Elizabeth Taylor
20
Birthdate: February 27, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England
Died: March 23, 2011

Considered an incandescent beauty, Elizabeth Taylor was a very popular and successful actor and her legacy is an everlasting one. She shone in movies like A Place in the Sun, Giant, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Butterfield 8 in the 1950s and 60s. Recipient of two Oscars, she married eight times.

 6 
Julie Andrews
(Actress)

Julie Andrews
30
Birthdate: October 1, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Walton-on-Thames, England

A distinguished films, television and Broadway actress, Julie Andrews is best known for her performances in films like Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Victor/Victoria. She has also done voiceovers for animation movie like Despicable Me and Enchanted. The legendary actress has also released multiple albums and authored numerous children’s books as well as her autobiography.

 7 
Maggie Smith
(One of Britain's Most Recognizable & Prolific Actresses)

Maggie Smith
21
Birthdate: December 28, 1934
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ilford, Essex, England

Veteran English actress, Maggie Smith, has an extensive career spanning almost seven decades. One of Britain's most recognizable actresses, she has appeared in more than 60 films and over 70 plays. Making her debut as a stage actress in the 1950s, she quickly moved on to TV and cinema. She has been honored with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's Legacy Award.

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 8 
Helen Mirren
(Actress)

Helen Mirren
24
Birthdate: July 26, 1945
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chiswick, London, England

Helen Mirren is one of the most respected and decorated actresses from England. She has won several prestigious awards, including the Triple Crown of Acting. Before achieving greatness, Mirren fought drug addiction during her 20s. She has also said that she is a naturist at heart and was named by British Naturism as Naturist of the Year in 2004.

 9 
Angela Lansbury
(Actress Whose Career Spanned Over 80 Years)

Angela Lansbury
23
Birthdate: October 16, 1925
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England

Angela Lansbury played a key role in shaping the Golden Age of Hollywood. Recognized as one of the few stars still alive from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, Angela Lansbury has received accolades, such as an Honorary Oscar. In 2014, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

 10 
Vivien Leigh
(Actress)

Vivien Leigh
10
Birthdate: November 5, 1913
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Darjeeling, India
Died: July 8, 1967

British actress Vivien Leigh gained popularity with her award winning performance in films Gone with the Wind and A Street Car named Desire and her Musical Broadway Tovarich. The beautiful actress, who went on to feature in films like That Hamilton Woman and Ship of Fools, had a troubled personal life and suffered from physical and mental health issues.

 11 

Olivia de Havilland
17
Birthdate: July 1, 1916
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: July 26, 2020

The veteran actress of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Olivia de Havilland shot to fame with Gone With the Wind and later established her cinematic career with movies like To Each His Own and The Heiress. Her rivalry with her sister and the court battle against a powerful studio also made headlines.

 12 

Keira Knightley
28
Birthdate: March 26, 1985
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Teddington, England

British actress Keira Knightley’s career took a huge turn, when she appeared in Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace and Bend It Like Beckham, while she was still in her teens. Since then, she has displayed her talent in numerous period and big budget movie including Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Pride and Prejudice and Imitation Game.

 13 

Kate Beckinsale
23
Birthdate: July 26, 1973
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England

Kate Beckinsale is an English actress and model and has worked in films such as Pearl Harbor, Serendipity, The Aviator, Contraband and Total Recall and received critical acclaim for her performance in the film Love and Friendship. She has also worked in various stage and radio productions. The British Heart Foundation is one of the charities that she promotes.

 14 
Emma Thompson
(Only Person to Win Academy Awards for Both Acting & Writing)

Emma Thompson
34
Birthdate: April 15, 1959
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paddington, London, England

One of the most celebrated British actresses, Emma Thompson has received plaudits for her work in films, television and stage. Her film credits include Howards End, The Remains of the Day as well as Sense and Sensibility which she also wrote. Her television appearances include miniseries Angels in America. The award winning actress is also an author, activist and comedian.

 15 
Lena Headey
(Portrayed Cersei Lannister in HBO Series 'Game of Thrones' )

Lena Headey
21
Birthdate: October 3, 1973
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hamilton, Bermuda

 16 
Jodie Comer
(Best Known for Her Role in TV Series 'Killing Eve')

Jodie Comer
14
Birthdate: March 11, 1993
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Liverpool, Merseyside, England, UK

 17 
Naomi Watts
(Actress)

Naomi Watts
28
Birthdate: September 28, 1968
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Shoreham, England

One of the most beautiful actresses of her generation, Naomi Watts has been featured in the world's most beautiful women lists by magazines like Maxim and People. Also a well-known philanthropist, Watts is associated with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) as its goodwill ambassador. She uses her fame to help people suffering from AIDS.

 18 
Joan Fontaine
(Actress)

Joan Fontaine
6
Birthdate: October 22, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: December 15, 2013

Joan Fontaine was a prominent Hollywood actress during the Golden Age. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, she won an Academy Award, becoming the only actor to win the award for a Hitchcock film - Suspicion. Apart from working as an actress, Joan Fontaine was also a licensed pilot, Cordon Bleu-level chef, and well-known interior decorator.

 19 
Tilda Swinton
(Known for Her Roles in Independent Films and Blockbusters)

Tilda Swinton
21
Birthdate: November 5, 1961
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, England

One of the most popular Scottish actresses of her generation, Tilda Swinton is known for portraying negative roles in both blockbusters and independent arthouse films. An Academy Award-winning actress, Tilda is also known for her impressive fashion sense; she was named by The Guardian as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50 in 2013.

 20 
Judi Dench
(Actress)

Judi Dench
18
Birthdate: December 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Heworth, York, United Kingdom

Judi Dench is one of the most respected and decorated English actresses of all time. Counted among the most influential people in the United Kingdom, Dame Judi Dench is a patron of more than 180 charities, such as York Against Cancer. Since 1985, she has been serving as the president of Questors Theatre.

 21 

Natasha Richardson
13
Birthdate: May 11, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Marylebone, London, England
Died: March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson, the daughter of actress Vanessa Redgrave, came to prominence after her Broadway debut in the 1993 revival of Anna Christie. Some of the films that she acted in are Asylum, The Handmaid's Tale, The Parent Trap, Maid in Manhattan and The White Countess. She also worked in many television projects. She died after a skiing accident in Quebec.

 22 

Christina Hendricks
12
Birthdate: May 3, 1975
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Christina Hendricks is an actress and producer. She began her career as a model and enjoyed international success for several years before transitioning into acting. As an actress, she was able to replicate her success and appeared in films like Drive and Lost River. She is the recipient of several awards, including two Screen Actors Guild Awards. 

 23 
Helen McCrory
(Actress)

Helen McCrory
10
Birthdate: August 17, 1968
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paddington, London, England
Died: April 16, 2021

Helen McCrory is a British actress known for playing real-life characters in films. In the 2017 New Year Honours, McCrory was appointed OBE for services to drama. Apart from being an actress, she also works closely with the London-based children's charity Scene & Heard, contributing as one of its honorary patrons.

 24 
Elizabeth Hurley
(Best Known for Her Role ‘Vanessa Kensington’ in ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’)

Elizabeth Hurley
14
Birthdate: June 10, 1965
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Basingstoke, Hampshire, England

Best known for her roles in the Austin Powers franchise, Bedazzled, and The Royals, Elizabeth Hurley began her career as an Estee Lauder model. A trained ballerina, she has also been in the news for her relationship with Hugh Grant and her marriage to textile magnate Arun Nayar.

 25 
Hayley Atwell
(Actress)

Hayley Atwell
19
Birthdate: April 5, 1982
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England, UK

 26 

Sienna Rose Miller
11
Birthdate: December 28, 1981
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Sienna Rose Miller is a British-American actress. From being a photography model, who posed topless for Pirelli calendar, to becoming a prominent actress in the American film and TV industry, Miller's journey has been quite inspirational so far. Also known for her charity work, Miller touched the lives of many when she traveled to Haiti after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

 27 
Olivia Colman
(Known for Her Comedic, Dramatic Roles in Film and Television)

Olivia Colman
20
Birthdate: January 30, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Norwich, United Kingdom

 28 

Thandie Newton
12
Birthdate: November 6, 1972
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England

A critically acclaimed and award-winning actress, Thandie Newton is also an activist—she led a flash mob in 2013 for gender equality and justice. An actress with an affinity for Buddhism, Thandie was named Sexiest Vegan of 2014 by PETA. During the 2019 New Year Honours, she was appointed OBE for services to charity and film.

 29 
Rebecca Hall
(Actress)

Rebecca Hall
9
Birthdate: May 3, 1982
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England, UK

 30 

Naomi Campbell
15
Birthdate: May 22, 1970
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Streatham
Naomi Campbell is one of the “Big Six” supermodels of the 1980s and the 1990s, who has graced both the ramp and print. She has also released a music album, been part of a fashion reality show, started a web series, and founded charitable organizations such as Fashion for Relief.

 31 
Jessica Tandy
(Actress)

Jessica Tandy
4
Birthdate: June 7, 1909
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: September 11, 1994

Jessica Tandy was an English-American actress who completed the triple crown of acting in 1990 after winning Tony Awards, an Academy Award, and Primetime Emmy Award. She is also the oldest actress to win an Oscar. Also known for her good looks, Tandy was named in People magazine's list of 50 Most Beautiful People at the peak of her career.

 32 
Kelly Reilly
(Actress)

Kelly Reilly
10
Birthdate: July 18, 1977
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Surrey, England

Kelly Reilly began her career as a stage artist and then graduated to acting in television series, some of which became very popular. Considered a natural actress, she has worked in acclaimed projects like The London Cuckolds, Above Suspicion, True Detective, Britannia and Yellowstone. She did some notable films too like A Single Shot, Sherlock Holmes, Orson Welles and Calvary.

 33 
Minnie Driver
(Actress)

Minnie Driver
11
Birthdate: January 31, 1970
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Minnie Driver is best known for her Academy Award-nominated role of Skylar in Good Will Hunting. She is also known for her supporting roles in the films Circle of Friends and Take and the series Speechless, About a Boy, and Will & Grace. She is a jazz musician, too. 

 34 
Kim Cattrall
(Actress)

Kim Cattrall
8
Birthdate: August 21, 1956
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Liverpool, England

Popular as Samantha Jones from the hit series Sex and the City, Golden Globe-winning actor Kim Cattrall found it difficult to recreate the same magic on screen, barring her performance in the 2014 comedy Sensitive Skin. Her comeback with the Fox series Filthy Rich in 2020 was commendable.

 35 

Annabelle Wallis
12
Birthdate: September 5, 1984
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK

 36 
Jane Seymour
(Actress)

Jane Seymour
8
Birthdate: May 15, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hayes, Middlesex, England

Jane Seymour is a British-American actress who was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for service to drama. Over the years, Seymour has also played a major role as a celebrity ambassador for a national non-profit organization called Childhelp, which works towards helping victims of child abuse and neglect.

 37 
Naomie Harris
(Actress)

Naomie Harris
10
Birthdate: September 6, 1976
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England

Naomie Harris went on to establish herself as a prominent actress after starting her career as a child star. In the 2017 New Year Honours, she was appointed an OBE for services to drama by Queen Elizabeth II. In 2019, she was named in Powerlist's 100 most influential Black Britons list.

 38 
Diana Rigg
(Actress)

Diana Rigg
13
Birthdate: July 20, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Doncaster, Yorkshire, England, UK

 39 

Nathalie Emmanuel
7
Birthdate: March 2, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England

 40 
Catherine Bell
(Actress Known for Her Roles in the TV Series 'JAG', 'Army Wives' and 'The Good Witch')

Catherine Bell
8
Birthdate: August 14, 1968
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England

Catherine Bell is an actress, producer, and model. She is best known for her roles in the TV series JAG and Army Wives. As a young woman, she enrolled at UCLA but dropped out to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. She struggled for a few years but was eventually able to establish herself as a versatile actress. 

 41 

Geri Halliwell
8
Birthdate: August 6, 1972
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Watford

Geri Halliwell is a British singer-songwriter who achieved international fame as part of the popular girl group, The Spice Girls, which has sold more than 85 million records worldwide. Also a well-known philanthropist, Geri Halliwell has worked closely with the United Nations Population Fund, becoming its goodwill ambassador in 1998. She is widely regarded as a girl power icon.

 42 
Claire Foy
(Actress)

Claire Foy
13
Birthdate: April 16, 1984
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Stockport, Greater Manchester, England

 43 
Joan Collins
(Actress)

Joan Collins
12
Birthdate: May 23, 1933
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paddington, London, United Kingdom
Joan Collins, sister of renowned author Jackie Collins, is best known for her Golden Globe-winning role of Alexis Carrington in Dynasty, an iconic soap of the 1980s. She has also written several books, including beauty books, memoirs, and novels. A seasoned theater actor, she also received the DBE and OBE.

 44 
Amanda Holden
(Actress)

Amanda Holden
11
Birthdate: February 16, 1971
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Portsmouth, Hampshire, England

Amanda Holden is an English actress, TV personality, author, and musician. Her autobiography book No Holding Back was ranked first on the Sunday Times bestseller list. Apart from being a media personality, Amanda Holden is also known for her charity work; in 2018, she posed as a mermaid underwater as part of a PETA awareness campaign against the SeaWorld.

 45 

Gwendoline Christie
7
Birthdate: October 28, 1978
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Worthing, England

 46 
Vanessa Redgrave
(Is an English Actress, Activist)

Vanessa Redgrave
11
Birthdate: January 30, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom

 47 
Joanna Lumley
(Actress)

Joanna Lumley
9
Birthdate: May 1, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Srinagar

Joanna Lumley is a British actress and prolific activist. In recognition of her work as part of the Gurkha Justice Campaign, Joanna is fondly called as the daughter of Nepal in Nepal. Also known for supporting various other charity organizations and animal welfare groups, Joanna Lumley was appointed an OBE in the 1995 New Year Honours by the queen.

 48 

Michelle Dockery
6
Birthdate: December 15, 1981
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Barking, Essex, England, UK

 49 
Keeley Hawes
(Actress)

Keeley Hawes
10
Birthdate: February 10, 1976
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paddington, London, England

 50 
Olivia Cooke
(Actress,Soundtrack,Producer)

Olivia Cooke
8
Birthdate: December 27, 1993
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oldham, Greater Manchester, England, UK