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Background of actors playing historic roles
User logged in as Gary
It's an interesting question and I think you are right. I don't really know what the reason is but US film actors and actresses do seem to shy away from those roles. I wonder how much of that is due to the performers' reticence or whether directors consider British actors a safer bet for playing historic figures.
I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that many British film actors have training in classical theater, which is much less common among those from the USA, and which may lend itself to portraying these sorts of roles. Our classically-trained actors tend to stay in the theater rather than going on screen. But it is an interesting phenomenon that you point out.
Meryl Streep can only do so much, Damian!
Meryl would certainly do a fine job but what about other US actresses?
It's funny because back in the classic Hollywood era US actresses were not so reticent about playing famous historical roles. Bette Davis took on Elizabeth I twice, Katherine Hepburn took on Mary Queen of Scots, Norma Shearer played Marie Antoinette. Their modern successors in the US don't seem to want to follow in their footsteps, they prefer to leave it to the Brits or to Aussies like Cate Blanchett. Why is that?