The Guardian U.K. has posted a stimulating blog on the question of why we Yanks, especially we bardolatrous Yanks, seem to love those British actors.
(Ah me, Ian McKellen is now doing Lear in NYC…put money in my purse!)
Here’s the article.
The other issue is that one can still be a famous Shakespearean actor in Britain. For decades both BBC and Thames Television (which would be reshown in the States on PBS and later, cable television) produced any number of Shakespeare’s plays for television using stage actors which allowed many a performer to gain fame doing classic theatre. There are plenty of fine American actors doing Shakespeare and other classic theatre as their main gig, but the theatre on television option is rarely available.
The Actors Shakespeare Project production of Lear which starred Alvin Epstein a few years ago was a commercial and critical success in both Boston and New York– and gave Epstein (well into his eighties at this point) a great deal of fame he hadn’t had before because his career had been primarily been one of a stage actor with but a few film appearances.
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