Popular expat American actors?
December 22, 2006 11:09 PM   Subscribe

Are there any popular American actors/actresses that do mostly productions not targeted for Americans?

I don't mean American actors in American stuff that catches on overseas, or an American that does a guest star or cameo bit in a foreign production. I mean an American who lives in and works on primarily stuff produced in another country, maybe even non-English speaking stuff, and has been fairly successful doing so.
posted by Brian James to Society & Culture (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
He's Canadian but Mark Rowswell is the quintessential example.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:15 PM on December 22, 2006

Robert Vaughn is an American currently starring in the BBC's "Hustle", a UK production which the A&E Network imports to the US. So he might fit your criteria. The majority of his long career has been in American productions, so "mostly" would only apply if you're talking about current work.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:52 PM on December 22, 2006

Don Lane did a lot for Australian television in his day. I'm not sure if your after current examples only though.
posted by a. at 12:27 AM on December 23, 2006

David Hasselhoff?
posted by toxic at 12:54 AM on December 23, 2006

Would John Barrowman count? He was born in Scotland, but was raised in the United States from a very young age. He returned to the UK after finishing college and is very successful there now, between his role of Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who / Torchwood plus his very popular participation in Dancing on Ice.
posted by Lokheed at 3:03 AM on December 23, 2006

Ruby Wax.

Not particularly well known as an actress, but still well known as a 'personality' in the UK. She's been in sitcoms, and was the ambassador's secretary in Omen2.
posted by veedubya at 3:07 AM on December 23, 2006

I'm sure you don't mean for this question to be political, but.. You need to figure out what you mean by American.
  • Any American citizen (Jet Li, I think)
  • People born in the USA (Bruce Lee)
  • People with n (where n >= 5?) generations of American ancestors (presumably Jim Kelly)
  • White people born in the USA (I won't even bother..)
And who knows what other categories..

There are lots of famous Hong Kong and Indian actors/performers who hold Canadian or American citizenship, for example. Also, lots of children of immigrants go back to their families home country to become famous.
posted by Chuckles at 4:08 AM on December 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

They're not all Americans, but in Japan, gaijin tarento often appear on game show panels and other TV shows. The Wikipedia page lists a number of them.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:05 AM on December 23, 2006

Mark Dacascos is an American martial artist featured in several movies made for foreign audiences in Europe and Asia, most notably Brotherhood of the Wolf.
posted by junkbox at 7:36 AM on December 23, 2006

Woody Allen's films make a lot more money in Europe than they do in the US.
posted by HotPatatta at 8:54 AM on December 23, 2006

Rich Hall was once pretty popular in the US (I think) but now seems to only do UK stuff, like being a panelist on HIGNFY and QI.
posted by smackfu at 8:56 AM on December 23, 2006

Rachel DeWoskin, daughter of an American Sinologist, went to work in China about ten years ago and got sort of accidentally famous as a soap opera star. I seem to remember hearing that a few other people had the same thing happen — unexpected fame as a "token American" on TV at a time when there weren't so many Mandarin-speaking Americans in China — but DeWoskin's the one I always remember because she went to my high school.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:22 AM on December 23, 2006

How about Stuart Milligan (Jonathan Creek and other TV shows)? A familiar face in the UK, if not exactly a household name. Mac McDonald (Red Dwarf and others) is another one.

I also second Lokheed's suggestion of John Barrowman.
posted by teleskiving at 9:33 AM on December 23, 2006

Megan Dodds
posted by blue_beetle at 9:34 AM on December 23, 2006

Laura Linney is the first that springs to mind. She also does a faultless British accent.n
posted by mycapaciousbottega at 10:34 AM on December 23, 2006

Molly Ringwald has done quite a number of films for European audiences. Since Breakfast Club, most of her significant roles were not in US films.
posted by plinth at 10:35 AM on December 23, 2006

Not an actor, but a singer, this NPR report is about a normal USian who is making in big in Nepal.

Oh, and I too have heard of Americans making it big in Chinese soap operas, might be a good area to research.
posted by jrb223 at 11:41 AM on December 23, 2006

Tata Young is a huge pop singer and movie star in Thailand, and there are many other Thai-American actors working in Thai films and TV.

Todd "Tongdee" Lavelle is a white guy from New Jersey who is a big folk singer in Thailand and has done some TV shows as well.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 1:14 PM on December 23, 2006

Actually, Mark Dacascos is probably currently best known for playing the Chairman on Iron Chef America.
posted by booksherpa at 1:33 PM on December 23, 2006

There's also The Lady Esther, née M. L. Ciccone in Bay City, Michigan.
posted by rob511 at 2:33 PM on December 23, 2006

The above comment interprets the word actor extremely generously, of course.
posted by rob511 at 2:36 PM on December 23, 2006

Who's the guy who plays Ridge on The Bold and the Beautiful? Ron Moss, I think. He's actually fairly famous in Australia. He always seems to be out here for appearances. A few years ago, an Australian band wrote a song called "The Bold and the Beautiful" and Ron Moss actually performed it with them on the big late night chat show. He also recently did a hilarious commercial here where he parodied "The Man from Snowy River" and put on an atrocious Ocker accent. As David Hasselhoff is to German, Ron Moss is to Australia.
posted by web-goddess at 3:30 PM on December 23, 2006

Speaking of Ruby Wax, anyone notice her Wikipedia entry lists her as having died on both July 22, 1999 _and_ this past Wednesday on December 20, 2006? Whisky Tango Foxtrot, over.
posted by codswallop at 3:45 PM on December 23, 2006

I worked on a film for the BBC and was surprised to run into Elizabeth McGovern on the set (I had a nice lunch with her in the BBC cafeteria). She's married to a British producer/director, lives in the UK, and does most of her work for British TV.
posted by grumblebee at 4:02 PM on December 23, 2006

Whisky Tango Foxtrot indeed, Ruby Wax isn't dead, not in 1999 or this past Wednesday nor today.
posted by Dreama at 3:40 AM on December 24, 2006

Suzi Quatro has always been more popular overseas than in the US. Well, except for her role as Leather Tuscadero.
posted by macadamiaranch at 7:49 PM on December 25, 2006

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