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Britain’s celebrity expats

Nobody can blame expats for deciding to move abroad, with better weather, wider job prospects and often less strict tax systems making it an extremely attractive option. Celebrities often choose to emigrate from the UK, enabling them to enhance their career in the glitz and glam of Hollywood, all the while escaping the UK’s unforgiving tax structure. But this isn’t always the reason that they flee our rain-battered shores, so let’s look at a handful of our most famous expats and their reasons for jumping ship.

Liam Neeson

Taken star Liam Neeson was born in Ballymena in 1952, but his Hollywood career saw him spend large portions of his adult life living in America. Following the death of his wife Natasha Richardson in 2009, Neeson made the decision to become a US citizen. He cited the support he received from the US public as a key reason for this, although he stated that he remained a “proud Irishman”.

Some might contend that if Neeson were really a proud Irishman he wouldn’t have defected to the US, but who is going to argue with a six-foot-four former amateur boxing champion and on-screen hardman?! Neeson’s sporting talents aren’t solely restricted to his fists: he was also a talented footballer in his youth and was offered a trial, but no contract, with League of Ireland club Bohemians.

Michael Caine

The thought of the UK’s most famous Cockney chilling at his Miami Beach pad in Florida feels (and probably looks) a little awkward. However, as Caine has recently turned 80 and has starred in a number of Hollywood blockbusters, it is unsurprising that he spends long periods of time sunning himself in the States. He also has property in Britain and splits his time between his Florida apartment and his UK home in glamorous Leatherhead, Surrey.

Although he was born with the gloriously English name of Maurice Micklewhite, for some odd reason he decided to change it to the rather drab Michael Caine. After leaving school in his native Rotherhithe, Micklewhite served in the British Army in Korea. Following his stint on the Asian peninsula, Caine worked in theatre and TV for a number of years before his seminal role in Christmas Day favourite, Zulu.

Fun fact: If you say “My cocaine” in Michael Caine’s voice it sounds exactly like Michael Caine introducing himself.

Sean Connery

Before starring as the womanising, world-saving secret agent we all know and love, in the early Fifties Sean Connery looked likely to hold down the more mundane job (in those days, at least) of professional footballer. Doubting the longevity of this career path, he chose to give up fitba at just 23.

Connery also competed as a professional bodybuilder at the famous Mr Universe competition at the age of 18, but also decided against this career due to the dominance of his American fellow contestants.

The James Bond actor left Scotland, where he was born in 1930, in the 1950s and had vowed not to return until Scotland gained independence. He has strong views on Scottish politics but has often received criticism for this, due to the fact that he has not lived there in over 50 years.

As a show of national pride, despite playing a number of non-Scottish characters, Connery refuses to change his accent. The most hilarious example of this was perhaps his portrayal of Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez in Highlander, where he spoke the immortal line: “Haggis? What is haggis?” How’s that for national pride?

He currently lives in the Bahamas, where the weather is rumoured to be nicer than in Scotland.

Guy Pearce

You know that famous Australian actor Guy Pearce? No, no you don’t – because Pearce was born to an English mother and Kiwi father in Ely in 1967. His family temporarily moved to Australia when Pearce was just three years old; however, this move became permanent and his mother carved out her own version of the Australian dream by running a deer farm in their new hometown of Geelong, Victoria.

Like Connery, Pearce also competed as a bodybuilder between the ages of 15 and 22, albeit at amateur level. He followed many Australian film stars by appearing in high-grade television programmes Home and Away and Neighbours, before his breakthrough role in the 1997 film noir hit LA Confidential. As his reputation grew, Pearce starred as Leonard Shelby in Memento, arguably his most memorable (geddit?) role.

Christian Bale

Would the criminal underworld of Gotham still tremble in fear of the Batman if they knew he was born on the Welsh coast? Born in Haverfordwest in 1974 to a South African father and English mother, Bale later moved with his family to England and was educated in Bournemouth.

His acting career began at the tender age of eight, and five years later, at the age of 13, he starred as the lead role in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun. He also spent parts of his childhood in Portugal and moved to America at the age of 17, following his father after his parents’ divorce.

Bale starred in the 2000 film American Psycho, but has no US ancestry. Nor is he psychotic. (Some may have considered his notorious outburst on the set of Terminator: Salvation to give grounds for speculation, but that’s just actors for you.)

Now you know a bit more about some of our most famous expats and have maybe picked up some fun facts that you didn’t know before.

PG Author: Jamie Waddell

This article has been created by Jamie Waddell on behalf of Whichoffshore, a not-for-profit consumer resource providing independent advice on expat life and offshore finance. For advice, information and guides on expat life visit Whichoffshore’s website.

1 Comment

Wes 25-07-2013, 16:12

Christian Bale is not American?

How ironic then that he’d start his climb to fame by starring in a movie called “American” Psycho!!

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