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Brit Talent: The Actors to Watch

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The UK has always excelled in terms of its performing arts heritage – heck, we produced Shakespeare – and whilst the constant debate surrounding the fortunes of the British film industry continues, one thing is for certain: we produce some very fine actors. 

Here are my pick of Brit-actors who have been making waves and wyou should keep your eye on in the next couple of years:

Robert Pattinson

PattinsonPerhaps a contentious choice, as 'RPatzz' has already created quite a following as Edward in the Twilight series, but his inclusion in this run-down of exciting British talent is not without reason.

Dismissed by some critics more quickly than an offer for a free massage from Freddy Krueger, Pattinson has shown himself to be a versatile actor who is a genuine old-style Hollywood star, comparable to the likes of (and cue gasps of horror here...) James Dean and Clark Gable.

Pattinson has a rare glamorous and refined quality which makes him captivating to watch on-screen and his recent appearance with Reese Witherspoon in Water For Elephants demonstrated his slightly nostalgic sensibilities when it comes to acting. Adorning many a school-girl's bedroom wall, Robert Pattinson is set to stay on course for super-stardom with the release of Bel Ami in March this year. Now please, put those fangs away...

Carey Mulligan

MulliganHailed by some as the 'next Audrey Hepburn' and most recently seen in Drive with Ryan Gosling and alongside Michael Fassbender in Shame, Carey Mulligan has become something of a hit, especially in America.

With her breakthrough role as Kitty Bennet in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Mulligan has shown herself to be a diverse and significant screen presence.

Although she ran the risk of being type-cast after appearing in An Education and Never Let Me Go, Mulligan's ability to use a facial expression to replace pages of dialogue has earned her worldwide recognition.

We'll see her next in The Great Gatsby, in which she plays Daisy, opposite Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby and things really are looking good for the girl once advised to settle down and marry a lawyer instead of pursuing a career in acting.

Tom Hiddleston

HiddlestonIf you'd walked into McDonald's five years ago and asked your average patron who Tom Hiddleston was, chances are you'd have been met with a blank stare.

Walk into McDonald's today and, well, you'd probably receive the same response. But, Tom Hiddleston is quickly making a name for himself on both the independent British film circuit (The Deep Blue Sea) and in Hollywood (his most recent part was in Spielberg's box office hit War Horse).

Not bad for an actor who as recently as 2007 was doing the mandatory acting rounds in Casualty. The Cambridge graduate's success as Loki in Thor and in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris secured him a place on the Hollywood stage and he is due to reprise his role as Loki in the upcoming The Avengers (2013). With his striking good looks and versatility, Hiddleston's future is looking as promising as our next actor's...

Benedict Cumberbatch

CumberbatchKnown to a TV audience for his re-invention of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch is becoming as popular as his name is silly.

Cumberbatch studied drama at the University of Manchester, after taking a year out to teach English at a Tibetan monastery (talented and clever!) and, like Hiddleston, he has made the transition from TV to film with great ease.

With hits such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and War Horse under his belt, it appears that there's no stopping this enigmatic actor and runner-up of Heat's Weird Crushes of 2010 competition. We can look forward to seeing him in the (as yet untitled) Star Trek sequel as well as in the second The Hobbit film. As long as he doesn't totally ditch the deerstalker in favour of a permanent life in Hollywood, we'll be happy.

Felicity Jones

JonesYour mum will no doubt be familiar with this Oxford graduate's rural tones as Emma Grundy in Radio 4's The Archers.

First seen on screen in The Worst Witch, Felicity Jones is destined to become one of Britain's most promising and dynamic stars. Like Crazy will, when it is released at the end of this month, raise her multiplex profile considerably (as Chalet Girl did) and 2012 is set to be a very good year for Jones, who was recently made a face of Burberry's marketing campaign.

Also a keen theatrical actor, Jones' girl-next-door look and real acting depth will ensure that many big roles will be coming her way as well as, in the future, an Oscar (you heard it here first). Look out for her. As critic Roger Ebert wrote in his review of Like Crazy, she's 'destined to become [a] genuine star'. You can't argue with that.

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