10 famous actors from Norfolk and Suffolk
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Oscar winner Olivia Colman is a former pupil of Gresham’s School near Holt, where she was tipped as a star of the future. As well as her acclaimed role playing Queen Anne in The Favourite, she’s recently been seen as the reigning monarch in series five of glossy Netflix drama The Crown and has received a host of award nominations, including the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in The Father opposite Anthony Hopkins. She’s appeared in TV shows including Peep Show, W1A, Broadchurch and The Night Manager and her next role will apparently see her enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the Disney+ series Secret Invasion.
A giant of the acting world, in his later years John Hurt made his home in north Norfolk and was a great supporter of local arts organisations including Sheringham Little Theatre. Cinema City in Norwich and was the first chancellor of Norwich University of the Arts.
His screen debut was in the TV series Z Cars and his ground-breaking portrayal of Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant lead to starring roles in I, Claudius, Alien, The Elephant Man, Scandal and many more films.
Actor, TV presenter and all-round national treasure Stephen Fry grew up in Booton in Norfolk and has a home in west Norfolk.
While studying at Cambridge University he became friends with Hugh Laurie and joined the Cambridge Footlights with contemporaries including Emma Thompson. After leaving university he continued his double act with Hugh Laurie and they starred in the sketch shows A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster and Blackadder together.
He has appeared frequently on film and TV – he hosted the quiz show QI for 12 years - and put Swaffham on the map when it was the setting for the fictional town of Market Shipborough in the ITV series Kingdom, in which he starred.
Sir John Mills
Acting legend Sir John Mills was born in Belton near Great Yarmouth, grew up in Felixstowe and worked for corn merchants Pauls in Ipswich. But the stage and screen was his calling and he followed his sister Annette to London and went on to star in In Which We Serve, Scott of the Antarctic, Ice Cold in Alex and Ryan’s Daughter. He retained a fondness for East Anglia and leant his name to the home of the Eastern Angles theatre company.
Suffolk-based actor BIll Nighy spent the early years working at the Liverpool Everyman and at The National Theatre before finding wider fame in film and TV productions. Some of his most memorable performances include washed up pop singer in Love Actually, directed by another Suffolk resident, Richard Curtis and his turn in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. He is also a great supporter of the county’s arts scene, including the HighTide theatre festival and Leiston Film Theatre.
Star of The Professionals, The Chief, Inspector George Gently and Judge John Deed Martin Shaw has been a resident of Norfolk for many years.
Born in Ipswich and raised in Norwich, Pirates of the Caribbean and Hunger Games star Sam Claflin first trod the boards at Norwich Theatre Royal as a member of its prestigious Arts Course, where he played a number of lead roles, including Fagin in Dodger.
His most recent credits include Peaky Blinders and he’ll soon be seen in the eagerly-anticipated small screen adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Daisy Jones and the Six his which he stars as fictional 70s rock star Billy Dunne.
One of the greatest actors of his generation, Ralph Fiennes was born in Wangford near Southwold and lived in the county for six years before the family moved to Ireland. His most memorable films include Schindler’s List, The English Patient, The Constant Gardener, The Grand Budapest Hotel and, of course, Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films.
Norwich’s Sam Clemmett also got an early taste for treading the boards at the Theatre Royal and went on to star in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End. He has quickly become an actor in demand, having starred in ITV’s Endeavour he will soon be seen in The War Below, which is released next month.
Spooks star Miranda Raison grew up on the north Norfolk coast and has had a home at Aldeburgh for many years. A versatile actor who moves between TV, theatre and film her credits include Kenneth Branagh’s big screen remake of Murder on the Orient Express and the thriller Widow’s Walk, which was filmed on location in Suffolk.