->''"It is true that there are few plays of Shakespeare I haven't done."''\\
--'''[[KnightFever Dame]] Creator/JudiDench'''

As in "classically trained [[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespearian]] actor". These actors (male and female), usually Brits, have had some ''serious'' training--often a stint at the RoyalShakespeareCompany--and so have developed redoubtable acting skills.

Of course, they won't necessarily limit themselves to Shakespeare -- or even to theater. It's entirely possible for these people to do comedy, appear in major action movies and even enter LargeHam territory at times (see, for instance, Creator/BrianBlessed).

Used intelligently, Shakespearian Actors can raise ''everyone'''s game, or turn a blah character into a BreakoutCharacter. But beware: being cast alongside one or more Shakespearian Actors makes it painfully clear if someone can't act (see, for instance, ''TeachingMrsTingle'', in which Creator/HelenMirren out-acts all of her co-stars ''combined'' with her hands quite literally tied behind her back). Think of them as the acting equivalent of Spandex: they make good things better, and bad things much, much worse. Another drawback is the tendency to re-use GratuitousIambicPentameter in stories that don't necessarily call for it, otherwise known as [[WilliamShatner Shatner]]-speak.

Because these actors will be critically acclaimed (they can be popular as well), they are more likely than most actors, if they're British, to succumb to the K-strain of KnightFever, i.e. getting a knighthood.

One of the litmus tests for being a Shakespearian actor is to have played a major/lead role for the Royal Shakespeare Company or the Royal National Theatre. These two theatres are the most prominent and prestigious theatres in Great Britain with the globally-known RSC catering (almost) exclusively Shakespeare's plays. (RSC's closest North American equivalents are probably the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.) Even better, see the Website/YouTube entries for the old educational series, ''Playing Shakespeare'', featuring the RSC players of its day, now in retrospect stock-full of future movie stars like Creator/PatrickStewart, Dame Creator/JudiDench, BenKingsley, and Sir Creator/IanMcKellen.

!!Shakespearian Actors in fiction

As we've just seen, real-life Shakespearian Actors take a variety of roles for a variety of reasons, and few jobbing actors--even among this exceptionally talented bunch--can afford to be picky about the sorts of roles they accept. In fiction, though, the Shakespearian Actor tends to be a particular subtype of the high-maintenance diva archetype: one who constantly laments his decision to give up theater and who has nothing but contempt for the tripe he's being asked to deliver. This version is the ClassicallyTrainedExtra.

%% Also note that many of the names are red links. This is because otherwise it would mess up the index.

!!Real examples:

* Creator/JennyAgutter: Veteran of both the RSC and the National Theatre, including the title role in ''HeddaGabler'' among ''many'' others.
* Creator/RogerAllam: Old hand at the RSC, has turned his hand to film, musicals, television and radio.
* Creator/CateBlanchett: While not a member of the RSC, is a classically trained theatre actress with a Shakespeare background who has her name mentioned in the same breath as the most famous RSC alums.
* Creator/GemmaArterton
* Creator/BrianBlessed
* HughBonneville, aka the [[DowntonAbbey Earl of Grantham]].
* Creator/KennethBranagh: Almost singlehandedly revived the Shakespeare film genre with a string of hits in the Nineties.
* JeremyBrett
* Sir RichardBurton
* BrianCox.
* Creator/BenedictCumberbatch has not yet played for the RSC, but has played lead roles in Royal National Theatre productions; he has twice been nominated for an Olivier Award (winning for ''{{Frankenstein}}'' in 2012).
* Creator/TimothyDalton: The fourth cinematic Film/JamesBond, and his background can be seen in the way he played 007. He also appears in ''Film/FlashGordon'', a [[ThoseWackyNazis Nazi spy]] in {{Disney}}'s ''Film/TheRocketeer'', and as a medium-sized ham in ''Film/HotFuzz''. Is also the last Lord President of the [[Series/DoctorWho Time Lords]]. Also [[WesternAnimation/ToyStory3 Mr. Pricklepants]].
* Daniel Davis has reportedly been in all but six of Shakespeare's plays, presumably thanks to his ''ridiculously'' good English accent. (He's from Arkansas.) Also performed with both the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
* Dame Creator/JudiDench: M in the last half-dozen or so ''Film/JamesBond'' films. Also stole ''Film/ShakespeareInLove'' as Queen Elizabeth I with roughly nine total minutes of screen time. She picked up an AcademyAward as Best Supporting Actress for the performance.
* ChiwetelEjiofor, the Operative from ''Film/{{Serenity}}''. Has played ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'' -- and won the 2008 Olivier for Best Actor in a Play -- and Orsino from ''Theatre/TwelfthNight''.
* Both Creator/RalphFiennes and Joseph Fiennes (the latter played the title role in ShakespeareInLove).
* KateFleetwood
* Sir Creator/JohnGielgud
* Sir AlecGuinness aka [[StarWars Obi-Wan Kenobi]]: Spoke the very first lines at the Stratford Festival (namely, "[[Theatre/RichardIII Now is the winter of our discontent]]").
* Creator/TomHiddleston, in cahoots with Kenneth Branagh, turned Loki into a sympathetic/tragic Shakespearean villain in the first ''Film/{{Thor}}'' film. He then went on to portray [[HenryIV Prince Hal]]/HenryV for a BBC TV series. Oh and he was nominated at the Olivier awards for Best Newcomer in a Play twice, one in 2008 for playing Cassio in ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'' with the aforementioned Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role and the other one -- also in 2008 -- for his double performance as Cloten and Posthumus in the lesser-known Shakespeare play ''Cymbeline''. He won for ''Cymbeline''. He also starred and was met with public and critical praise as Caius Martius in ''Theatre/{{Coriolanus}}'' from December 2013 to February 2014.
* Creator/JeremyIrons
* Sir Creator/DerekJacobi: Has entered the LargeHam zone by playing TheMaster in ''Series/DoctorWho'' on two occasions (although one is non-{{Canon}}).
* Creator/JamesEarlJones
* Creator/RaulJulia
* Creator/BenKingsley
* Creator/AlexKingston of ''Series/{{ER}}'' and ''Series/DoctorWho'' fame.
* DanLauria, the father on ''Series/TheWonderYears''.
* AdrianLester of ''{{Hustle}}''
* John Lithgow.
* Sir Creator/IanMcKellen
* Dame Creator/HelenMirren
* Creator/DavidMorrisey
* EveMyles
* Jason Narvy, Skull from [[/index]]''Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers'' to ''Series/PowerRangersInSpace'', has a doctorate in the craft.
** Also Creator/OliviaTennet (Dr. K) from ''Series/PowerRangersRPM''. Shortly after her stint on the show, she left for the Globe Theatre in London to participate in workshops with the Young Shakespeare Company as a prize for winning a national Shakespeare competition in New Zealand.
* [[index]]Creator/PeterOToole: Trained at RADA and began his acting career on stage at the Bristol Old Vic before doing a stint the RSC.
* Sir Creator/LaurenceOlivier, Lord Olivier: ''the'' Shakesperian actor.
* NathanielParker of ''TheInspectorLynleyMysteries'' fame began his career at the RSC.
* Creator/RosamundPike
* Creator/ChristopherPlummer
* Creator/VanessaRedgrave
* IanRichardson, worked for the RSC for fifteen years before making glorious infamy as on of fiction's most MagnificentBastards ala [[HouseOfCards Francis Urquhart]].
* Sir Ralph Richardson
* Creator/AlanRickman
* Creator/LievSchreiber is one of the more prominent Americans of this type.
* Creator/WilliamShatner performed at the Stratford Festival in the 1960s. He repeated some of his roles on TV as well.
* SharonSmall has played for both the Royal National Theatre and the Donmar Warehouse.
* Sir Creator/PatrickStewart: his classical training has allowed him to dodge being [[TypeCasting type cast]] by either ''Franchise/StarTrek'' or ''Film/XMen'', and he's returned to the RSC since (most recently, as Claudius to Creator/DavidTennant's ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'').
* Creator/CatherineTate did small parts in her youth for the RSC, and in 2011 played Beatrice opposite Creator/DavidTennant's Benedick in ''Theatre/MuchAdoAboutNothing''.
* Creator/DavidTennant, the Tenth Doctor in ''Series/DoctorWho'', was an RSC man (including a well-regarded [[RomeoAndJuliet Romeo]]) before his stint in the TARDIS, and moonlighted as a critically-acclaimed ''{{Hamlet}}'' between filming the 2009 specials. He then played Benedick opposite real-life best friend and former ''Who'' co-star Creator/CatherineTate in ''MuchAdoAboutNothing''.
* Creator/EmmaThompson: Oddly has never played for either the RSC or the RNT[[note]]in fact, she's done surprisingly little theatre work in general[[/note]], but starred on film as Queen Catherine in ''Film/HenryV'' and Beatrice in ''Film/MuchAdoAboutNothing'' (both opposite Kenneth Branagh), as well as Helena in ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream'' and The Fool in ''Theatre/KingLear'' onstage.
* In addition to [[Creator/RalphFiennes Fiennes]], [[Creator/AlanRickman Rickman]], and [[Creator/EmmaThompson Thompson]], many ''Film/HarryPotter'' actors:
** MichaelGambon (the [[TheOtherDarrin second]] Dumbledore)
** Zoe Wanamaker (Madam Hooch)
** Creator/TimothySpall (Peter "Wormtail" Pettigrew)
** Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge)
** MaggieSmith (Professor [=McGonagall=])
** KateFleetwood (Mary Cattermole)
** HelenMcCrory (Narcissa Malfoy)
* PollyWalker (Atia of the Julii of ''Series/{{Rome}}'' fame).
* Creator/DavidWarner
* Creator/OrsonWelles
* BenWhishaw
* John Dunsworth, AKA Jim Lahey from TrailerParkBoys was classically trained
* PenelopeWilton (aka [[Series/DoctorWho Harriet Jones, Prime Minister]] and [[Series/DowntonAbbey Isobel Crawley]]) is a Royal National Theatre veteran many times over with a CV that includes [[Creator/AntonChekhov Chekhov]] and [[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespeare]]. (Yes, [[RunningGag we know who she is]].)