Famous British Directors

If a film is a tree, directors are the roots of the tree. An idea that buds in a tiny part of the mind is sowed, watered and reaped into a beautiful tree which encapsulates the thought into a 90-minute film that showcases a story, a belief and a conviction that the filmmakers stand by. It is the director who envisions an idea and formulates the same into a film. The entire film unit functions according to the idea envisioned and work collaboratively to come up with a brilliant piece of performance that stands by the idea, thought or story. Since the earliest days of filmmaking, every country has had some ace directors who have given audience some scintillating movies that you just can’t get enough of even after watching it several times. It is to these directors that we owe much of our entertainment. British filmmakers have given world audience some exceptional movies that have been high on content and purely entertaining. The most outstanding quality of British films is that once seen, their work cannot be easily forgotten. Some of the exceptionally talented British directors include Alfred Hitchcock, Ridley Scott, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, David Lean, Christopher Nolan, Danny Boyle and so on. However, these are just a handful of the truckloads of outstanding directors that Britain has been home to. Check with this segment to know more about famous British directors, their life, profile, works and movies.

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

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 1 Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin
7
Famous As: Actor, Comedian
Birthdate: April 16, 1889
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Walworth, London, England
Died: December 25, 1977

Cinema lovers around the world hold Charlie Chaplin in high esteem. One of the biggest stars of the silent film era and an icon, he left the audience in splits with his comedic performances. Even today, his performances in movies like Modern Times and The Gold Rush are considered classic. The legendary actor was also a writer, director and producer.

 2 Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock
5
Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: August 13, 1899
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Leytonstone, London, England
Died: April 29, 1980

Popularly known as the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock pioneered the Hitchcockian style of filmmaking. One of the most studied filmmakers in the world, Hitchcock is also one of the most influential in the history of cinema. In his career, that spanned six decades, he directed some of the greatest films of all time, such as Psycho and Vertigo.

 3 Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes
4
Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: August 1, 1965
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Reading

Sam Mendes is an English filmmaker known for his dark re-inventions of popular stage musicals. The recipient of a Tony Award, Mendes received the Academy Award for his film directorial debut American Beauty. In the 2020 New Years Honours, he was knighted for services to drama. He was also featured on the 100 most powerful people in British culture list.

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 4 Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman
5
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 21, 1958
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New Cross, London, England

Gary Oldman is an English actor who can be best described as a chameleon, for his remarkable ability to imbibe the traits and mannerisms of the character he portrays. Whether playing a Cold War spy or a Sci-fi villain or Winston Churchill, this acting genius has earned the praise of millions of fans around the world.

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 5 Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes
5
Famous As: Actor, Director
Birthdate: December 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ipswich, England

A Tony Award recipient, Ralph Fiennes is one of the most respected English actors of the current generation. He is known for playing important roles in notable films, such as the Harry Potter and James Bond film series. A Stanislavsky Award recipient, he is also known for his work behind the camera.

 6 Richard Attenborough

Richard Attenborough
5
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 29, 1923
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cambridge, England
Died: August 24, 2014

Richard Attenborough is credited with making one of the greatest films of all time - Gandhi. Also an actor, Richard served as the president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Apart from being honored by the British royalty, he was also honored with India's third-highest civilian award, The Padma Bhushan.

 7 Banksy

Banksy
5
Famous As: Graffiti Artist
Birthdate: 1974 AD
Birthplace: Bristol, England

Speaking to world through his spray paints and stencils, Banksy is a popular, though anonymous, graffiti artist. He has a unique style that includes stenciling technique and is known for delivering satirical political and social messages. With fans all over the world, this mysterious artist’s works are worth millions of pounds.

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 8 Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott
5
Famous As: Film Producer, Director
Birthdate: November 30, 1937
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: South Shields, England

British film director, Ridley Scott,is hailed as a master of his craft and his movies are known for their visual style and intricate details. Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, American Gangster, Prometheus, Alien: Covenant and The Martian are some of his acclaimed and successful films. He was knighted in 2003.

 9 Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam
4
Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Actor, Animator, Film actor
Birthdate: November 22, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Minneapolis

 10 Hugh Laurie

Hugh Laurie
5
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 11, 1959
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

A Guinness record holder for the most-watched leading man on TV, three-time Golden Globe-winner and two-time SAG Award-winner Hugh Laurie has also dabbled in blues music and written a novel. From starting his career with sketch comedy, to winning the OBE and CBE, the actor/comedian has come a long way.

 11 David Thewlis

David Thewlis
5
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 20, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Blackpool, Lancashire, England
David Thewlis gained fame with his role in Naked, a film that won him a Cannes Film Festival Award. Fans loved him as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter film franchise and Sir Patrick Morgan/Ares in Wonder Woman. He has also written a novel and directed a BAFTA-nominated short film. 

 12 Dominic West

Dominic West
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 15, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sheffield, Yorkshire, England
Dominic West is best known as Jimmy McNulty from The Wire and Noah Solloway from The Affair. West has modeled for Carte Noire and has trekked to the South Pole as part of a fundraiser for wounded soldiers. His performance in Appropriate Adult won him a BAFTA TV award.

 13 Laurence Olivier

Laurence Olivier
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 22, 1907
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dorking, Surrey, England
Died: July 11, 1989
Four-time Academy Award-winning actor Laurence Olivier began his career with stage, mostly playing Shakespearean characters. He founded London’s National Theatre. Some of his noteworthy films were Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, and the movie version of Hamlet. He had received the knighthood, the Order of Merit, and a life peerage.

 14 Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright
4
Famous As: Director
Birthdate: April 18, 1974
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Poole, Dorset, England
Director Edgar Wright is best known for the film Shaun of the Dead, part of “The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy." He also directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and co-wrote Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin and the Marvel film Ant-Man. His signature style includes tracking shots and zooms. 

 15 Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle
5
Famous As: Director
Birthdate: October 20, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, England

Danny Boyle is best known for his Academy Award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. He also amazed audiences with his deft direction in Trainspotting, 127 Hours, and 28 Days Later. He won a BAFTA with his debut film, Shallow Grave. He was the artistic director of the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

 16 Christopher Guest

Christopher Guest
4
Famous As: Screenwriter, Director
Birthdate: February 5, 1948
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Screenwriter, composer, musician, and director Christopher Guest is a multifaceted man. He is known for writing and directing a series of comedy films shot in mock-documentary (mockumentary) style. He has also starred in many of his films, often playing comedic characters. Despite his penchant for portraying comedic characters onscreen, he is known to be a serious person in real life.

 17 Duncan Jones

Duncan Jones
4
Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: May 30, 1971
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Beckenham, United Kingdom
Director, screenwriter, and producer Duncan Jones, son of rockstar David Bowie, is best known for his BAFTA-winning directorial debut, Moon. His other notable works include Source Code and Warcraft. He has also co-written a graphic novel. He married his fiancée, Rodene Ronquillo, the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

 18 Terry Jones

Terry Jones
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales
Died: January 21, 2020
Starting his career as a comedy writer, actor-director Terry Jones later soared to fame as part of the Monty Python comedy team. An avid historian, too, he wrote several books and presented TV documentaries on the topic. In his later years, the BAFTA Cymru award winner struggled with dementia. 

 19 Bonnie Wright

Bonnie Wright
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 17, 1991
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom

Bonnie Wright is an English actress, filmmaker, screenwriter, and activist. She is best known for portraying Ginny Weasley in the popular Harry Potter movie series. Over the years, Wright has been playing a key role in raising awareness about plastic pollution. She also serves as an ambassador for an international non-governmental charity called Lumos.

 20 Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel
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Famous As: Comic Actor Who was Part of The Comedy Duo 'Laurel and Hardy'. and Appeared with His Comedy Partner Oliver Hardy in 107 Short Films
Birthdate: June 16, 1890
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Died: February 23, 1965

Comedian Stan Laurel entertained audiences as part of the iconic duo Laurel and Hardy, along with Oliver Hardy, in over 100 films. He began his career with music-hall sketch comedy and worked as an understudy of Charlie Chaplin in Fred Karno's Army. He was known for his trademark bowler hat.

 21 Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux
4
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: May 20, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Singapore

Renowned British-American documentary filmmaker, Louis Theroux began his career as a journalist with Metro Silicon Valley, Spy magazine and TV Nation series. He gained recognition with his documentary series When Louis Met..., and Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends. The two time BAFTA Award winner has also received appreciation for his documentaries The Most Hated Family in America and My Scientology Movie.

 22 Emily Mortimer

Emily Mortimer
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 6, 1971
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hammersmith, London, England

Emily Mortimer is an English-American screenwriter and actress. Mortimer, who started her acting career in stage productions, went on to establish herself as a bankable actress in the British film and TV industry. In 2010, she became an American citizen and has since been playing important roles in American films.

 23 Jerry O'Connell

Jerry O'Connell
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 17, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York City, U.S.

 24 Samantha Morton

Samantha Morton
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 13, 1977
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England

Samantha Morton’s journey from growing up in foster care to becoming a Golden Globe-winning actor is truly inspirational. Apart from her appearances in independent films, mostly dramas with dark themes, she is also known for her BAFTA-winning directorial debut, The Unloved. Fans have loved her in Longford and In America.

 25 Richard E. Grant

Richard E. Grant
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 5, 1957
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mbabane, Hhohho, Swaziland

 26 Sophie Hunter

Sophie Hunter
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Famous As: Theatre Director
Birthdate: March 16, 1978
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hammersmith, London

Sophie Hunter is an English playwright, opera director, and former performer. She is credited with co-founding and popularizing a theatre company called Boileroom, which was honored with the Samuel Theatre Trust Award in 2007 for its play The Terrific Electric, which marked Sophie Hunter's directorial debut.

 27 Tony Scott

Tony Scott
4
Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: June 21, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tynemouth, England
Died: August 19, 2012

Tony Scott was an English actor, film director, and producer. He directed several highly successful action and thriller films including Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop II. He graduated from the Royal College of Art and began his career directing commercials. He soon shifted to films and enjoyed tremendous success. He died by suicide in 2012.  

 28 Roddy McDowall

Roddy McDowall
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 17, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Herne Hill, London, England
Died: October 3, 1998
Roddy McDowall is best remembered as Cornelius and Caesar from the original Planet of the Apes movie series and as Galen from the 1974 spin-off series. His portrayal of Octavian in Cleopatra earned him a Golden Globe nomination. He was also a talented photographer and was associated with several boards.

 29 Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen
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Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: October 9, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England

Steve McQueen is a British filmmaker and video artist best known for his film 12 Years a Slave. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, making him the first black filmmaker to win the award. He is also a prominent visual artist and a recipient of the Turner Prize, the highest award given to a British visual artist. 

 30 Richard Osman

Richard Osman
5
Famous As: Television Presenter
Birthdate: November 28, 1970
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: BBillericay, Essex, England, United Kingdom

Richard Osman is an English writer, television presenter, comedian, and producer. He is credited with creating the popular British TV quiz show Pointless. He is also renowned for his work as creative director of the famous TV production company Endemol UK. Also an influential writer, Richard Osman's novel The Thursday Murder Club is expected to be adapted into a film.

 31 Peter Serafinowicz

Peter Serafinowicz
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 10, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Liverpool, England

 32 Kevin McKidd

Kevin McKidd
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 9, 1973
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Elgin, Moray, Scotland, UK

Kevin McKidd is a Scottish-born American actor, singer, and television director. He is best known for portraying Owen Hunt in the popular medical drama TV series Grey's Anatomy. He is also known for playing important roles in popular films like Danny Boyle's 1996 black comedy-drama Trainspotting and Chris Columbus' 2010 action fantasy Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

 33 Victoria Wood

Victoria Wood
4
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: May 19, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Prestwich, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK
Died: April 20, 2016

Multi-talented English comedian, Victoria Wood was also an actress, lyricist, singer, composer, pianist, screenwriter, producer, and director. Wood started her career with the TV show That's Life! and established herself as one of Britain's greatest stand-up comedians. She wrote sketches, dramas, and popular sitcoms and her self-deprecating humor got her 14 BAFTA nominations of which she won four. 

 34 Sam Taylor-Johnson

Sam Taylor-Johnson
4
Famous As: Filmmaker
Birthdate: March 4, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England, UK
Sam Taylor-Johnson, a British filmmaker and photographer, belongs to the Young British Artists group. Her notable works include Nowhere Boy, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Love You More. Her film Nowhere Boy was screened at 53rd annual London Film Festival as its closing presentation in 2009. She is known for directing the famous film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey.

 35 Martin McDonagh

Martin McDonagh
4
Famous As: Playwright, Screenwriter, Filmmaker
Birthdate: March 26, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Camberwell

The director and writer of the Academy Award-winning short film, Six Shooter, Martin McDonagh is also well known as a playwright and stage director. The Beauty Queen of Leenane is one of the his noted works. The crime drama film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was another successful venture of McDonagh. He says he prefers films to plays.

 36 Jonathan Nolan

Jonathan Nolan
4
Famous As: Screenwriter
Birthdate: June 6, 1976
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England

Jonathan Nolan is a British-American television producer, director, screenwriter, and author. He is credited with creating the CBS science fiction crime drama Person of Interest. He is also credited with co-creating HBO's popular science fiction Western television series Westworld. Along with his brother Christopher Nolan, Jonathan has co-written popular films, such as The Dark Knight and Interstellar.

 37 Shaun Evans

Shaun Evans
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 6, 1980
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Liverpool, England

Shaun Evans is an English actor best known for playing Endeavour Morse in the popular detective drama TV series, Endeavour. Also known for his skills as a director, Shaun Evans has helmed a couple of episodes of TV series Casualty and Endeavour.

 38 Graham McTavish

Graham McTavish
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 4, 1961
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland, UK

 39 Guy Ritchie

Guy Ritchie
4
Famous As: Director
Birthdate: September 10, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England

As a 15-year-old who left school to take up entry-level jobs in the entertainment industry, Guy Ritchie has turned out pretty well. As a filmmaker, he has made some high-grossing films, such as Aladdin and The Gentlemen. Apart from being a filmmaker and writer, Guy Ritchie also practices Shotokan karate, Judo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

 40 Simon Monjack

Simon Monjack
4
Famous As: Film Director, Screenwriter, Producer
Birthdate: March 9, 1970
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London Borough of Hillingdon
Died: May 23, 2010

Simon Monjack was an English filmmaker, screenwriter, and make-up artist. Much of his professional life was overshadowed by his personal life, which included his marriage to American actress Brittany Murphy. Monjack's death attracted the attention of media as he died five months after Murphy's death due to complications similar to Murphy's undoing. 

 41 Peter Ustinov

Peter Ustinov
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 16, 1921
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Swiss Cottage, London, England
Died: March 28, 2004

Peter Ustinov was a British actor, writer, and filmmaker. An intellectual, Ustinov held several academic posts and served as the president of the World Federalist Movement. Over the course of his illustrious career, Peter Ustinov won many prestigious awards, such as the Golden Globes, Emmy Awards, Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, and BAFTA Awards.

 42 Martin Clunes

Martin Clunes
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 28, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom
Martin Clunes is best known as Martin Ellingham from Doc Martin and as Gary Strang from Men Behaving Badly, winning a BAFTA for the latter. The OBE honoree has also starred in the film Shakespeare in Love, voiced Kipper the Dog in Kipper, and narrated several animal-centric documentaries.

 43 David Morrissey

David Morrissey
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 21, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Everton, Liverpool, England
David Morrissey is best known for his portrayal of The Governor in The Walking Dead. A talented Shakespearean theater actor, he has also delivered an award-winning performance as Macbeth. He has also been seen in films such as Sense and Sensibility and The Reaping, and has directed various projects.

 44 Delroy Lindo

Delroy Lindo
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 18, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Eltham, London, England, UK

 45 Paddy Considine

Paddy Considine
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 5, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England

Paddy Considine is an English actor, musician, screenwriter, and director. The quintessential antihero of the British film industry, Paddy Considine is also famous for playing emotionally vulnerable characters. As a musician, he is credited with forming bands, such as She Talks To Angels and Pedestrians. He is currently an important member of the rock band Riding the Low.

 46 Tracey Ullman

Tracey Ullman
9
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 30, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Slough, Berkshire, England, UK

British-American actor Tracey Ullman began her career with sketch-comedy shows such as Three of a Kind and later had her own Fox show, The Tracey Ullman Show, which featured 30-second segments of The Simpsons in between, making the latter a hit, too. She rose to become the third-richest comedian from Britain.

 47 David Soul

David Soul
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 28, 1943
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

 48 Rupert Sanders

Rupert Sanders
3
Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: March 16, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England
Director Rupert Sanders is best known for his work in the blockbuster film Snow White and the Huntsman and the movie adaptation of the sci-fi manga franchise Ghost in the Shell. He also won two Golden Lions for directing the commercial The Life for the video game Halo 3: ODST

 49 Alex Garland

Alex Garland
3
Famous As: Novelist, Screenwriter, Film Director
Birthdate: May 26, 1970
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London

Alex Garland is an English filmmaker and writer best known for penning the critically acclaimed novel, The Beach, which was adapted into a movie after being translated into 25 languages. Apart from writing screenplays of films like 28 Days Later, Garland has also directed movies like Ex Machina, which earned him an Oscar nomination and a couple of BIFA awards.

 50 Alexander Siddig

Alexander Siddig
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 21, 1965
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wad Madani, Gezira, Sudan