Dutch actors who have made it big in Hollywood
The Netherlands might be small, but its influence is mighty. This little country, with a population of fewer than 18 million people, has even managed to leave its mark on Hollywood! There are a number of Dutch people who have managed to make a name for themselves outside of the Netherlands. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous Dutch actors and actresses (who you might not even know have Dutch roots!).
Famous Dutch people
Anyone who spends time watching Dutch TV would be forgiven for thinking the Netherlands has few celebrities. Indeed, it regularly feels as though the same 10 faces can be seen across all the major networks and TV shows in the Netherlands.
But, in reality, there are plenty of famous Dutch people, ranging from DJs and models to sportspeople and actors - and some of them have even managed to break through on the international scene.
Some examples of contemporary Dutch people who are famous not just here but also abroad include Eddie van Halen, who co-founded the band Van Halen with his brother Alex, the fashion model Doutzen Kroes, the supermodel Yolanda Hadid, and DJ Martin Garrix.
Famous Dutch actors in Hollywood
Want to know more about Dutch people who have made it big in Hollywood? Here are a couple of Dutch actors and actresses who are famous in the United States and around the world.
They might not all advertise it, and you might not be able to pick up their original nationality from their accents, but all of these actors are actually Dutch citizens!
Starting off with probably the most successful Dutch actor to break through in Hollywood in recent years, Michiel Huisman got his big break on the international stage when he took on the role of Daario Naharis in season four of HBO’s Game of Thrones in 2014. Born in Amstelveen in 1981, the past several years have seen Huisman star in a number of titles on the big and small screen, including The Age of Adeline (2015), The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018), and The Flight Attendant (2020).
Marwan Kenzari is another more recent addition to the list of internationally successful Dutch actors. Born in The Hague in 1983, Kenzari starred in a number of Dutch films and TV shows before his international career took off in 2016 when he starred in Ben Hur. Since then, Kenzari has enjoyed roles in blockbusters such as Aladdin (2019) and Black Adam (2022), as well as the record-breaking Netflix original The Old Guard (2020).
With a name like Rutger Hauer, you might’ve been able to guess that this actor - most famous for his role as Roy Batty in Blade Runner (1982) - had Dutch roots. Born in Breukelen (a town near Utrecht) in 1944 and married to fellow actor Ineke ten Kate, Hauer’s career spanned multiple decades, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that in 1999 he was named the Best Dutch Actor of the Century by the Dutch public.
Another movie star who started life off in The Hague, Carel Struycken has appeared in a number of popular films and series, including but not limited to Men in Black (1997), The Addams Family (1991) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1992). More recently, he’s assumed roles in Doctor Sleep (2019) and The Eden Theory (2021).
But it isn’t only Dutch men that have made a name for themselves in the American film and TV industry - several Dutch women have also starred in various international titles, soaring to worldwide fame.
Carice van Houten
Carice van Houten is another Dutch actor who became a household name after starring in Game of Thrones (2012-2019). Originally born on the outskirts of Leiden, Van Houten played Melisandre in seasons two to eight of the hit HBO show, but has also appeared in a number of other projects, including Brimstone (2016) and The Fifth Estate (2013). She also played a leading role in the Dutch war film Zwartboek (2006), which made it onto the shortlist of nominees for the 79th Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.
Famke Janssen has dozens of big blockbusters under her belt - she may have started out life in Amstelveen, but she’s definitely made her mark in Hollywood. Not only has she starred in four X-Men movies as Jean Grey / Phoenix but - perhaps even more impressively - Janssen has secured the esteemed title of Bond Girl after starring in GoldenEye (she’s in pretty great company, too, sharing the honour with the likes of Jane Seymour, Halle Berry and Rosamund Pike).
Now, this is a name you’ll certainly know - but you might not be aware that the late great Audrey Hepburn had some rather regal Dutch roots. Born to a Dutch mother, Baroness Ella van Heemstra, and a British father, Hepburn spent a large part of her youth in the Netherlands. She split her time between several Dutch cities, including The Hague, Arnhem and Amsterdam, before relocating to London in 1948 to pursue her love of ballet.
Born in Amsterdam in 1980, Katja Herbers has had an extremely successful and varied career. She has had a number of roles in several big Dutch productions, but the highlight of her international career has got to be her role of Emily Grace in seasons two and three of the hit HBO show Westworld. More recently, she was cast in one of the leading roles in the Parapount+ original series Evil.
Dutch actors who are famous in the Netherlands
Of course, there are plenty of actors who lead extremely successful careers right here in the Netherlands, without ever making a name for themselves on the international stage. Here are a couple of Dutch actors and actresses who are famous on home soil.
Barry Atsma might be a familiar name (or at least a familiar face) even to people who aren’t familiar with the world of Dutch celebrities. While he is Dutch - and has starred in some highly acclaimed Dutch films and TV series - he was actually born in the UK. This connection (and his impeccable English skills) mean he recently starred in the BBC series The Split and Hollywood blockbuster The Hitman’s Bodyguard. His Dutch resume is equally impressive, however, featuring titles such as Klem, Bankier van het verzet, and Komt een vrouw bij de dokter - for which he won the Gouden Kalf for Best Actor!
Georgina Verbaan is probably best known for her recurring role as Hedwig Harmsen in the Dutch soap opera Goede tijden, slechte tijden, but she’s also starred in a number of feature films. Like the country, the world of Dutch celebrities is fairly small, so it’s likely not surprising to hear that one of Verbaan’s most notable roles is in Klem, where she stars alongside Atsma. Aside from this, she’s had roles in Costa!, Mannenharten, and De club van lelijke kinderen.
Anyone who has ever watched any Dutch television will probably recognise Frank Lammers. Aside from his role as Ferry Bouman in the record-breaking Netflix show Undercover and the tie-in movie Ferry, he also stars as the fumbling but loveable dad in the adverts for the supermarket chain Jumbo.
If you can name a Dutch romcom, chances are Lies Visschedijk starred in it. Her most iconic role has got to be Soof in the Soof trilogy and TV series, but she’s also had big roles in the likes of Alles of tafel, All You Need Is Love, Gooische vrouwen, and Alles is Liefde, to name but a few!
Actors with Dutch ancestry
While these stars aren’t really Dutch, apparently their families do have some Dutch roots - some might be more obvious than others.
Did you know that this Golden Globe and Emmy-award-winning actress had a Dutch mother? Seymour might have been born in England, but her mother, Mieke van Tricht, was a nurse from the Dutch city of Deventer. Seymour even speaks Dutch, and she frequently went on holidays to the Netherlands as a child.
With a name like “Smulders” you might not be surprised to learn that Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother fame has Dutch roots. Born Jacoba Francisca Maria Smulders in Canada in 1982, the actress has a British mother and - you guessed it - a Dutch father.
Robert De Niro
You’ll have to dig a little deeper into Robert De Niro’s family history in order to find his connection to the Netherlands, but it is there! Back in 2018, a genealogy expert discovered that the Oscar-winning actor was a descendent of Nicholas (Klaas) Admiral, who was born in a village near Alkmaar.
And last but certainly not least, the Netherlands might be able to take a tiny little bit of credit for the Hollywood superstar that is Angelina Jolie. Apparently, Jolie’s mother was the great-niece of former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok.
Famous people from the Netherlands: They're everywhere!
Well, there you have it! This small but mighty country has even managed to leave its mark on the glamorous world of Hollywood.
Want to learn more about famous things and people you didn’t know were Dutch? Check out our lists of 10 famous Dutch inventions, nine things you didn’t know were Dutch, and seven English words that originally came from the Dutch language.
Thumb: lev radin via Shutterstock.com.
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