10 Best Gay British Actors

Friday, March 25 by William Gish

The 10 best gay British actors comprise a diverse group of thespians. From the modern film success of Ian McKellen to the campy horror career of Dennis Price and the theatrical pedigree of Graham Payn, these men conquered an array of mediums.

  1. Ian McKellan – He is Gandalf, Magneto, Shakespeare’s Richard III, a Knight of the British Order and openly gay. McKellan is one of the most mercurial and talented actors of his generation, which surely makes him one of the ten best gay British actors.
  2. John Gielgud – Sir John Gielgud was one of the most prolific English actors of his generation. This 10-best caliber gay British actor appeared in “Gandhi,” “Julius Caesar,” “Caligula,” and “The Elephant Man.” Gieglud was a closeted homosexual–being gay was illegal for most of his life–and appeared in films for nine decades.
  3. Nigel Hawthorne – Hawthorne was a very private man who did not take kindly to being involuntarily outed in mid-90’s by paprazzi who spotted him at gay clubs with his long-time partner. One of the ten best gay British actors, Hawthorne was a diverse presence; he played Martin Van Buren in “Amistad,” side characters in Monty Python films and skits and was evil villain behind Wesley Snipes’ rampage in “Demolition Man.”
  4. Kenneth Williams – Williams was a diverse and flamboyant actor who appeared in a number of films, television shows and radio dramas. One of the ten best gay British actors, he is most well known for the “Carry On” film series, “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and television shows like “BBC Sunday Night Theatre” and “What's My Line?”
  5. Alan Cumming – Cumming is technically bisexual, but he is currently in a committed relationship with a man whom he has publicly stated that he would marry were it permitted by law in New York, where they live. The Scottish thespian is wily and theatrical; he has been fantastic in a number of films, including “Titus” and “Goldeneye” and the “X-Men” films.
  6. Dennis Price – Price is one of the ten best gay British actors for his lead turn in the classic comedy “Kind Hearts and Coronets.” Over the course of his storied career, Price starred in films that ran the gamut from camp to high art, including “Son of Dracula,” Spanish horror film “Drácula contra Frankenstein,” “Computer Killer,” “Theater of Blood,” “Vodoo Blood Death,” “Oscar Wild” and “Good Time Girl.”
  7. Dirk Bogarde – Bogarde claimed that the man he spent many years living with was nothing more than a platonic friend. The world knew better. This gay British actor appeared as a leading man in films like “Death In Venice,” “A Bridge Too Far,” and “A Tale of Two Cities.”
  8. Rupert Everett – Rupert Everett has been a constant and welcome presence in contemporary mainstream film since the 90’s. The openly gay actor has starred in a number of popular pictures, including “An Ideal Husband,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” and “Shakespeare In Love.” He combines traditional British chivalry with self-depreciating humor and a subtle sense of absurdity.
  9. Graham Payn – Payn was born in South African to British parents and spent his lengthy career in the United Kingdom. The gay actor was the life partner of playwright Noel Coward and rose to prominence in the London theater scene after appearing in a number of Coward’s plays.
  10. Wilfrid Brambell – One of the ten best gay British actors, Brambell wasn’t incredibly well known to American audiences, but was a top-notch thespian nonetheless. His most well known role is his tongue-in-cheek turn at Paul McCartney’s grandfather in “A Hard Day’s Night.”
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