I know these tend to drag on, but please continue to add your own choices in the comments.
Gena Rowlands is an American actress who has been active for more than sixty years. She has won four Emmy awards, two Golden Globes, and has also been nominated for an Oscar, finally receiving an honorary one, in 2015. For over thirty years, she was married to the actor and film-maker John Cassavetes, and appeared in many of his films. After drama school, Gena toured with various theatrical companies, and also worked on television before her collaborations with her husband, on ten films together. In 1974, she won awards for her outstanding role in ‘A Woman Under The Influence’, with her portrayal of a disturbed housewife. More critical acclaim followed in 1980, with the wonderful lead role in ‘Gloria’, as the mobster’s moll who tries to help a young boy being hunted by the Mafia. She has rarely stopped working, with parts in films during every year of the 1980s and 1990s, including notable roles in various TV mini-series too. In 2004, she co-starred in ‘The Notebook’, directed by her son, Nick.
Charlotte Rampling is still popular, in her seventies. As a model and singer too, she became one of the faces of ‘The Swinging Sixties’ in England. After an early role in ‘Georgy Girl’ (1966), she went on to be cast in numerous European films, often taken under the wing of a famous director at the time. As well as her film work, she continued to appear in British and American TV dramas, and she has won numerous European awards for Best Actress, during her long career. Some of her film roles might surprise you, but you may well remember the titles. ‘The Damned’ (1969), ‘The Night Porter’ (1974), ‘Zardoz’ (1974), a strange sci-fi, opposite Sean Connery. ‘The Verdict’ (1982), with Paul Newman, ‘Angel Heart’ (1987), with Mickey O’Rourke, and the French film, ‘Under The Sand’ (2000). In 2015, she was outstanding in the British film ’45 Years’, and she also appeared in the recent ‘Red Sparrow’ (2018).
English actor Mark Rylance already had a distinguished career as a stage actor and television regular, before becoming noticed in films. For ten years, he was artistic director of the restored Globe Theatre, in London, and he has won Tony awards and BAFTAs, for various roles. In 2015, he excelled in the role of Thomas Cromwell, in the BBC adaptation of ‘Wolf Hall’, as well as winning the Oscar for best supporting actor, in the film ‘Bridge Of Spies’. He then went on to appear in Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ (2017), and in Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’, this year.
Someone who gets little recognition outside of the UK, Saskia Reeves has had a long and distinguished career, mostly in supporting roles. But her performances are never less than powerful, and she deserves to be better known. Her work so far has led her to collaborate with some of the best, including Mike Leigh, and Stephen Poliakoff. She was outstanding as the incestuous lover, in ‘Close My Eyes’ (1991), and went on to co-star in many TV series and adaptations, including ‘A Christmas Carol’ (1999), and ‘Island At War’ (2004). Later roles saw her starring opposite Idris Elba, in the wonderful BBC drama, ‘Luther’, and in David Hare’s ‘Collateral’ (2018).
I have to finish with one of my favourite British actresses, Miranda Richardson. Her work on stage, screen, and television began in 1981, before she was cast as the true-life killer, Ruth Ellis, in the simply superb ‘Dance With A Stranger’ (1985), where she starred opposite the distinguished Ian Holm, and Rupert Everett. At the same time, she was demonstrating a huge talent for comedy, in the long-running BBC series, ‘Blackadder’, with Stephen Fry, and Rowan Atkinson. Her film career continued, with ‘Empire Of The Sun’ (1987), the wonderful ‘The Crying Game’ (1991), and ‘Damage’ (1992), which earned her a BAFTA. Since then, her career has continued unabated. ‘The Hours’ (2002), ‘The Young Victoria’ (2008), ‘Harry Potter’ (2010), and ‘Churchill’ (2017). She is undoubtedly one of the finest modern British actresses.