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British acting trio ‘Spy’ golden opportunity

Cumberbatch, Hardy, Strong hope to vault to next level

Tomas Alfredson gained international attention with his 2008 vampire pic “Let the Right One In” and for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” his English-language debut that has made some $11 million since its release Sept. 16, he assembled a heavyweight cast, with Gary Oldman taking the part of Smiley alongside Colin Firth and John Hurt.

Yet the second-tier names are no less worth noteworthy. In Mark Strong, Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch, the helmer has selected some of Britain’s hottest emerging actors.

Casting agent Jina Jay has nothing but praise for the trio, emphasizing above all their uniqueness.

The 48-year-old Strong made his breakthrough with the lead role in the 2004 BBC miniseries “The Long Firm,” where his onscreen magnetism caught the eye of Ridley Scott, who later cast him opposite Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Body of Lies.”

Since then, he’s played an icily compelling villain in Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes,” made a brief appearance in “The Guard” as a memorably melancholy thug, and even managed to survive “Green Lantern” with his dignity relatively intact.

Similarly indebted to Britain’s national broadcaster is Cumberbatch, who in the past 12 months has become a household name at home, thanks to his show-stopping turn as Sherlock Holmes in Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s update of Arthur Conan Doyle’s hero for the BBC. He’ll been seen in Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse,” and is now filming “The Hobbit.” He’s also developed a sterling reputation for his stage work, most recently in Danny Boyle’s “Frankenstein” at London’s National Theater.

Hardy, meanwhile, garnered critical praise for his performance in Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Bronson,” though his entree to Hollywood came a few years earlier, with supporting roles in “Band of Brothers” and feature “Black Hawk Down.”

But it was “Bronson” that made Hollywood sit up and take notice. Hardy was a member of the dream team in Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” and is re-teaming with Nolan for 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises.”

For Jay, who helped cast “Munich” and “Atonement,” the process this time proved an unexpected pleasure. “Given Tomas’ reputation, and Peter Straughan and Bridget O’Connor’s stunning screenplay,” she says, “the actors were all happy to take meetings the old-fashioned way — sitting down for lunch, and over cups of tea, and discussing the material at length with the filmmakers.” How terribly, terribly British.

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