Star quality and talent, two qualities deeply desired in and around Hollywood, are certainly not traits found among Americans only. Over the history of American film, while the vast majority of those on the screen have been born in the United States, the presence of talented and memorable actors from far-off lands has nevertheless been relatively commonplace.
Sometimes in fact, actors prove so convincing in playing American roles that the vast majority of the theater-loving American public — and the theater-loving public around the world — is none the wiser. For anyone who’s keeping score, however, there are plenty of big names from outside the U.S. who prove “Made in America” isn’t essential to Hollywood success. Here are some of the United States’ favorite actors, all of whom hail from beyond American shores.
1. Keanu Reeves
A Canadian citizen, Keanu Reeves has starred in some of the most popular films in recent history. From “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” to “Speed,” “Point Break,” and “The Matrix” franchise, his hold on the movie-loving public around the planet is assured, and, because of his particular style of acting and delivery of lines, it’s nearly impossible to imagine any movie in which he’s starred existing without him. Reeves is an undeniable box office draw, whose A-list status and ongoing success have also allowed him the time and resources to pursue other artistic endeavors, including playing in a rock and roll band, producing a documentary, and writing a book.
2. Nicole Kidman
One of Australia’s most highly regarded Hollywood actors, Nicole Kidman was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Australian parents, and she got her first big break when she starred opposite Tom Cruise in “Days of Thunder” at the tender age of 23. Since that time she has starred in numerous, notable films including “Cold Mountain,” “Far and Away,” “Moulin Rouge,” and “The Hours,” for which she won an Academy Award. She has also enjoyed success on the stage, but her movies — and occasionally her personal life — are what she’s most known for.
3. Hugh Jackman
Another Australian import to Hollywood, Hugh Jackman has starred or appeared in a wide range of successful films, including the popular “X-Men” series, which has also spawned a spin-off franchise based on his Marvel character, Wolverine. Born in Sydney, Jackman has been working in film, theater, and television since his early twenties. He was nominated for an Olivier award for his role in a London-based production of “Oklahoma!” and has also been the host of the Tony Awards four different times and the Academy Awards once.
4. Michael Cain
British actor and author Michael Cain has appeared in over 115 films, including many that were made in Hollywood, and every one of them was better because he was in it. Known for his strong cockney accent, Cain has enjoyed critical success on both sides of the pond with American films like “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “The Cider House Rules” and “Inception” and British films like “Zulu” and “Alfie.” He has been knighted by the Queen, and, along with Jack Nicholson, is one of only two actors who has been nominated for an Academy Award in every decade from the 1960s through the 2000s.
5. Charlize Theron
South African star, Charlize Theron, intended to be a dancer, but after a knee injury changed her plans, she found herself pursuing acting. Working since the mid-1990s, she has already had a very distinguished film career that includes an Academy Award for her role in “Monster” and a number of high-grossing box office hits. Most recently seen in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Theron also did a comic stint on television for the critically acclaimed TV show, “Arrested Development.”
6. Ryan Gosling
One of the most popular romantic leads and gifted actors working in Hollywood today, Canadian Ryan Gosling started his career as a child on “The Mickey Mouse Club” along with fellow mouseketeers Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. It was after he became an adult, however, that he made his star power known. He has starred in a number of hit Hollywood movies, including “The Notebook,” “Blue Valentine,” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” He even recently branched out and tried his hand a directing.
While it’s true that Hollywood is an unabashedly American place, the actors who make its movies aren’t. From Australia to South Africa, as this list shows, there are plenty of faraway places whose sons and daughters feel so essential to American cinema, it’s hard to imagine the movies without them.