An A-Z of Actors: H

Not rushing through this one, so now up to ‘H’. Please add your own favorites in the comments as usual.

British actress Sally Hawkins may be best known to many for her recent role in ‘The Shape of Water’ (2017). (Which I have not seen yet) It gained her an Oscar nomination, and worldwide acclaim. But long before that, she was a stage actress in the UK, also appearing in successful television series and British films, notably working with Mike Leigh on some occasions. In 2002 she appeared in the TV adaptation of ‘Tipping The Velvet’, and later starred in the historical drama series ‘Fingersmith’, also based on a novel. In 2007, she received the Best Actress award for her role as Anne, in Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’. Her film work includes ‘Vera Drake’ (2004), ‘All or Nothing’ (2002), and the wonderful ‘Happy Go Lucky’ (2008), all directed by Mike Leigh. She later starred in ‘Made In Dagenham’ (2010), and was nominated for many awards for Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’ (2013). Still just 42, she continues to work in film, theatre, radio, and television, and it feels like her career has just got going.

English actor Bob Hoskins looked a little like me, and sounded very much like me too. So I always had a fondness for his style, and sometimes gruff manner. He came from a Romany Gipsy background, and was brought up in North London. Starting on stage in 1968, he was soon noticed, and received an offer to star in the landmark TV series ‘Pennies From Heaven’ in 1978. This superb drama from Dennis Potter made him well-known in Britain, and in 1980, he was cast as the gangster Harold Shand in ‘The Long Good Friday’, alongside Helen Mirren. This low-budget film was not expected to do so well, but became one of the iconic British films of the 1980s, attracting international attention for Hoskins. After supporting roles in another seven films, he once again starred in a British gangster film, playing a small-time crook in the employ of a gang boss portrayed by Michael Caine. ‘Mona Lisa’ (1986) also starred Cathy Tyson, as the cynical prostitute he determines to save from her seedy life. This role gained him no less than eleven best actor award nominations, and he won nine of them, including the BAFTA, and Golden Globe. His later work included ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ (1988), ‘Mermaids’ (1990), ‘Nixon’ (1995), and his last film ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’ (2012). He died in 2014, at the age of 71.

Craggy-faced American Philip Baker Hall is now 86 years old. He has the distinction of starring in one of my all-time favourite modern American films, ‘Hard Eight’ (1996). But of course, he has done much more than that. Beginning his career in Broadway and off-Broadway productions as early as 1960, he later moved to working in television, then appearing in his first film in 1970. His career was mostly playing character parts and cameos, often uncredited, but I never failed to notice how he could lift an otherwise mundane film whenever he was on screen. He continued to appear in film after film, usually in tiny roles, and still frequently receiving no named credit for his part. I could not understand how so distinctive and talented an actor was so constantly overlooked by the film industry. ‘Air Force One’ (1997), ‘Boogie Nights’ (1997), ‘The Truman Show’ (1998), ‘Enemy Of The State’ (1998), ‘Magnolia’ (1998), the list goes on and on. Still making films as recently as 2017, he may well be the best actor to ever be ignored by the system.

Sir Nigel Hawthorne was a British actor and star of stage, screen, and television. He could turn his hand to great comedy, chilling villainy, and historical drama. His long career began on stage, in 1950, and his first film role was in 1958. For many years, he dominated the TV schedules in Britain, appearing in such distinguished series as ‘Edward and Mrs Simpson’, ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’, and ‘The Barchester Chronicles’. From 1980-1988 he appeared in every episode of the award-winning comedy series ‘Yes Minister’, playing the devious and cynical civil servant, Humphrey Appleby. Major film roles included ‘Firefox’ (1982), ‘Gandhi’ (1982), ‘Amistad’ (1997), and ‘The Winslow Boy’ (1999). In 1994, he starred opposite Helen Mirren as King George, in ‘The Madness of King George’, winning the BAFTA for Best Actor, and was nominated for an Oscar too. He died in 2001, aged 72. A sad loss to British acting.

My last choice today is very well known, but I have to feature him because he is just too good to leave out. Londoner Tom Hardy is only forty years old, yet he is already a huge star, and has made a big impact on television, and in numerous film roles. He started out on TV, in the marvellous ‘Band of Brothers’, and later starred in period dramas such as ‘The Virgin Queen’, ‘Oliver Twist’, and ‘Wuthering Heights’. His first feature film part was in Ridley Scott’s ‘Blackhawk Down’ (2001), then in 2008, he delivered an unforgettable performance in the prison drama ‘Bronson’, playing the true-life British criminal of that name. He went on to appear in ‘Inception’ (2010), ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011), and ‘Lawless’ (2012). In 2014, he was in five films, including ‘Child 44’, ‘Mad Max Fury Road’, and playing both of the notorious Kray Twins, in the wonderful ‘Legend’. In 2015 he co-starred in ‘The Revenant’, and played a pilot in ‘Dunkirk’ (2017).
Meanwhile, he was also starring in the superb BBC TV drama ‘Peaky Blinders’, and the sublime ‘Taboo’, a period drama series that he also created. I have no doubt that he will be be regarded as being one of the finest actors of his generation.

59 thoughts on “An A-Z of Actors: H

  1. Robert Hardy was an excellent actor but very much underused and under appreciated in my humble opinion. I also have a soft spot for Bob Hoskins.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Of the actors you mentioned, Pete, I’m only familiar with Tom Hardy (“Inception” / “Star Trek: Nemesis”) and Bob Hoskins (“Snow White and the Huntsman” / “Mrs. Henderson Presents” / “Enemy at the Gates” / “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”).

    Male actors that come to mind, already mentioned here, are William Holden, Rutger Hauer, Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, and Ed Harris. But I’m going to add my favorite actor on the old TV show, “Gilligan’s Island”—Alan Hale, Jr., who played the “Skipper.”

    Female actors who come to mind are Tippi Hedren, Jean Harlow, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, and Rita Hayworth. You’ll probably scold me for this one, but I just love Elizabeth Hurley in the first two “Austin Powers” films, and she was one sexy devil in “Bedazzled.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hurley was/is good to look at, I agree. Whether she is an ‘actress’ is debatable of course.
      I left out many famous choices as usual, so thanks for adding Hepburn and Harlow. I mainly remember Alan Hale as a chubby-faced, usually happy actor who appeared in a lot of ‘family’ films.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Some of my favourites here! I didn’t know Bob Hoskins was from a Romany background. Love Sally Hawkins and am looking forward to seeing The Shape of Water. I missed it when it came here first time for only one night but it will be back before long – I hope.
    I’m very glad I received a notification about your post because while in Canada I inadvertently unsubscribed from your blog and wasn’t sure if I’d properly subscribed again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mary. You are not shown on my list of followers, but something must have worked, if you got the notification. Hope you had a nice family time in Canada.
      (It was Bob’s grandmother who was Romany, I believe. He was born in Suffolk, brought up in London)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Had a great time in Canada, thanks. Cousins and I felt like we’d known each other forever and my aunt was gratifiyingly surprised and delighted to see me at her birthday pasrty. Packed a lot in to the two weeks but need to go back one day. Hardly scratched the surface of Vancouver let alone other parts of the country.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Three actresses today: Wendy Hiller for “Pygmalion”, “Major Barbara”, “Outcast of the Islands” and “I Know Where I’m Going”, Australian actress Wendy Hughes for “Lonely Hearts”, “Careful, He Might Hear You”, “Newsfront”” and :Paradise Road” and Rosemary Harris, because she’s my favorite actress on stage or screen and that’s good enough for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And again are all mentioned. But I still have the German-speaking actors.
    I add: Guenther Maria Halmer, Henry Huebchen and the wonderful great Christiane Hoerbiger. She is an Austrian actress and comes from a family of actors. A “grande dame” of the German film.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great letter! Philip Baker Hall was also hilarious as the Library Detective on the TV show “Seinfeld”, but I have to add Gene Hackman. An incredible career beginning with “Bonnie & Clyde”, then “French Connection”, “Scarecrow”, “The Conversation” and more in the 70’s, and even perfect supporting roles in big hits like “The Firm” – here are my ten favorite Hackman roles:

    https://johnrieber.com/2017/01/30/happy-birthday-gene-hackman-ten-roles-that-defined-a-hollywood-legend/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I can’t get enough of Tom Hardy. I’ll mention Gene Hackman and Anthony Hopkins. Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Hopper never let me down on the screen. Salma Hayek is one of the most beautiful women in the world…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for mentioning Salma, Cindy. She is one of my rare screen ‘crushes’, and was wonderful as ‘Frida’. Hopper was always reliable, even when just playing Hopper, and I thought he was excellent in ‘Paris Trout’, and ‘The American Friend’. All solid choices.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Well I was looking forward to H as three of my current favourites are in this category. You’ve already mentioned the first, Tom Hardy, and he comes top of the list for me, closely followed by another English actor Tom Hiddleston, although starring as Loki in The Avengers series he has done more serious work. Not living anywhere near London I’ve not had chance to see him on stage, but he’s won a couple of Olivia awards for his stage acting. I especially like his performance as Hank Williams in the movie ‘I Saw the Light’ (but I think American peeps hate that movie ~ especially because of casting an English man as an American icon!) He was also very good in the TV series The Night Manager. My 3rd has to be Chris Hemsworth, yes another Avenger ~ Thor, but if anyone fits that Viking God role perfectly, he does. For his acting chops check out In The Heart of the Sea. I don’t suppose he’ll ever win an Oscar, but he’s more than just a pretty face. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, FR. I like Hiddleston a lot, especially in The Night Manager. He was also about the only good thing in the film ‘High Rise’ (2015). Hardy goes without saying of course, and I am happy to take your word for Hemsworth, as I don’t know much about him.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My earliest recollection of Bob Hoskins is in the series of short public help TV programmes about adult illiteracy. He played the illiterate van driver whose mate was helping him to read. This was years before he became a star.
    Robert Hardy, of course – he was also an eminent expert on the longbow as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember ‘On The Move’. It was very successful in addressing the Adult Literacy problem.
      Hardy had such a distinctive voice, and I have seen him in documentaries about the Longbow.
      Thanks for adding all this, BF.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

      1. A third Hardy would be Oliver Hardy, a guy whose trademark look of disdain often broke the fourth wall.
        Rutger Hauer, who you’ve mentioned before.
        Laurence Harvey and Trevor Howard. Ian Hendry who I think was meant to play Carter in Get Carter. He got a lesser part in that.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I think people underestimated his talent. Hollywood so often used him as a supporting actor. (I feel the same about another one, but I won’t mention him because we haven’t gotten to his letter yet! haha)

        Liked by 1 person

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