As of next year, three of America's most famous superheroes will be played by Brits: Superman (Henry Cavill), Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield), and Batman (Christian Bale). No, we're not going to protest out of some misguided jingoism (although we will point out the horror with which our friends across the Atlantic responded to Renee Zellweger playing Bridget Jones once upon a time).
We don't know if it's the popularity of rigorous youth drama programs or what, but the British are invading Hollywood at a rate that rivals the arrival of the Aussies in the late '90s. Looking at the more established young slate of English talent (Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, the Harry Potter trifecta, and Robert Pattinson to name a few), we say welcome to the next gen of Bright Young Brits.
Move over Robert Pattinson, Pettyfer is the new Prince of Young Adult adaptations. Fresh off his portrayal of a sexy alien in "I Am Number Four," he's now the heavily tattooed "ugly" lead in "Beastly," opposite Vanessa Hudgens – and he's being considered for nearly every upcoming teen page-to-screen adaptation, including "City of Bones," "The Hunger Games" and "The Last Apprentice." Soon it won't just be teens and Young Adult-reading adults who know about the blond and beautiful Brit.
She's a well-born model-turned-actress, but her blue-blood pedigree matters not to the legions of "Transformers" fanboys waiting to judge her performance in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" by how closely she can approximate her predecessor Megan Fox's hotness. She doesn't have any other films in production, but if things don't go as planned, she can always return to her titillating career as a Victoria's Secret model.
After this last awards season, it’s impossible to ignore the "Social Network" star, whose on-screen raging outburst made Justin Timberlake's Sean Parker flinch. He’ll next play Peter Parker in Matthew Vaughn's new "Spider-Man" flick. We're not sure what it is about Brits taking over our favorite Superhero films, but if it means more of Garfield (and Cavill), we're all for it. For more evidence of his serious acting chops, check out his brooding, intense performance in the English made-for-television "Red Riding" trilogy or the riveting indie drama "Boy A."
Ages ago he was the blue-eyed, scene-stealing primary schooler from "About a Boy," but he happily grew into the bedroom-eyed scene-stealing bad boy in the first two seasons of the original, British "Skins." Since his breakout performance as Tony Stonem, Hoult has gone toe-to-toe with Colin Firth in "A Single Man," sword-to-sword with Sam Worthington in "Clash of the Titans," and mutant-to-mutant as a young Beast in the upcoming "X-Men: First Class."
The broody brunette played Nicholas Hoult's wild-child younger sister Effy in two seasons of "Skins" before taking over his place as the main character in the third and fourth seasons. Off-screen, Scodelario has also been following in her fictional big brother's footsteps, taking a turn in "Clash of the Titans" and the acclaimed indie drama "Moon." She's set to play Catherine in English director Andrea Arnold's new "Wuthering Heights" adaptation, and she's a perpetual fan favorite to portray Katniss Everdeen in the much-hyped "Hunger Games" trilogy.
The next Man of Steel hails not from a crowded metropolis but from Jersey in the Channel Islands between England and France. Cavill spent most of the last decade playing bit parts in period films, most notably baring all as the womanizing Duke of Suffolk on Showtime's "The Tudors." His come-hither performance, which People named "the Sexiest Courtier Alive," landed him the much-coveted role in Zack Snyder's "Superman" reboot.
The petite beauty broke into Hollywood as the high-school-aged daughter of Oscar winner Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side." But Collins is no Southern belle. The daughter of rocker-turned-composer Phil Collins, she has since scored leading roles in two thrillers, "Priest" with Paul Bettany and "Abduction" with Taylor Lautner, both of which roll out this year. She also snagged the better-than-Bella role of Clary in the "The Mortal Instruments" series, a potential "Twilight"-sized franchise.
Turning in the stand-out performance in an ensemble thriller with Leo DiCpario, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard sounds like a dream come true, but Hardy managed to steal the show in Christopher Nolan's "Inception." The hard-working Englishman (he's made 21 other films since his blink-and-miss introduction in "Black Hawk Down") is now one of Hollywood's most sought-after actors, with roles in five more action-dramas, including Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises."
With such varied movies on her slate as the horror-comedy remake "Fright Night" (with Colin Farrell as the seductive vampire, of course) , the Mia Wasikowska-Michael Fassbender version of "Jane Eyre," and the vampire love-story "Hello Darkness," Poots could be the next Mia or Carey or Keira herself. She's got the looks, and after this year it will be obvious if she has the chops.
Subscribers to premium cable network Starz might recognize Claflin as the valiant Richard from the Golden Globe-nominated medieval miniseries "The Pillars of the Earth." Claflin traded in his 12th-century knight's armor for 19th-century attire as a handsome young missionary (think Orlando Bloom replacement) that falls -- literally -- for a beautiful mermaid in an upcoming summer swashbuckler you may have heard of, "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."
In his home country, Johnson's a hardcore tabloid target for falling in love with, impregnating, and proposing to his much-older "Nowhere Boy" director, Sam Taylor-Wood, but in the rest of the world, he's best known for being one of the bad-ass young stars of "Kick Ass." The controversial blockbuster was a sleeper hit last year, and plans are underway for a sequel in 2012. In the meantime, Johnson will star opposite Glenn Close and Mia Wasikowska in Rodrigo Garcia's 19th Century Irish drama "Albert Nobbs."
Like many of her fellow Brits, Atwell popped up in costume dramas and miniseries for several years before winning the lead female role in the BBC-produced "The Pillars of the Earth." Since most Americans don't have Starz, it's safe to say her breakout performance will be in this summer's "Captain America: The First Avenger," in which she plays Peggy Carter, the patriotic hero's love interest. She's rumored to next appear in "The Great Gatsby" with Leo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan.
This not-quite-14-year-old has already appeared in four movies: the indie action-comedy "Son of Rambow," the Holocaust weepie "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas," the family sequel "Nanny McPhee Returns" and the horror remake "The Wolfman." But Butterfield is poised for Serious Stardom with his next film, as the titular orphan in Martin Scorsese's period drama, "Hugo Cabret," opposite Jude Law, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, and American wünderkind Chloe Moretz.
She's not well-known in America yet, but after 17 films, she's already worked with Oscar winners Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench ("Notes on a Scandal"), nominees Keira Knightley, James McAvoy and Sairose Ronan ("Atonement") and comedians Jack Black, Michael Cera ("Year One") and Ben Stiller ("Greenberg"). We think 2011 is her year, with key roles lined up in Matthew McConaughey's "Killer Joe," the "Three Musketeers" and as one half of the titular lesbian couple in the indie "Jack and Diane."
He first played the lovesick young sailor in Tim Burton's Oscar-nominated musical "Sweeney Todd, " then landed supporting roles in two of Hollywood's biggest movie franchises. He's Caius the vampire in the "Twilight" saga and Grindelwald the legendary wizard in the final "Harry Potter" films. Apparently he can't get enough of period costumes: Campbell-Bower makes his prime-time debut next month as a young King Arthur in the sexy new Starz series, "Camelot."