Six royal roles that won an Oscar

It's Oscars night and that means the eyes of the world are on Hollywood for the biggest, glitziest and most famous film awards of them all. There will be dozens of statuettes handed out this evening but the some of the most intense interest will be in who takes home the acting prizes. This year, Hollywood royalty is hot favourite for a prize with Leonardo di Caprio the man to beat for best actor. But in the past, royal roles have bagged the golden statue for several actors. Here are 6 royal roles which have won Oscars for the women and men who brought them to life on the screen.

Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lion in Winter, Best Actress (shared), 1969

It's not really surprising that it's the great powerhouses of the English monarchy who provide parts that win Oscars.  Katherine Hepburn won her fourth and final Academy Award for her role as Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 1968 film, A Lion in Winter. She shared the prize with Barbra Streisand who was recognised for her part in Funny Girl, the only time the Best Actress Oscar has been awarded jointly.

Charles Laughton as Henry VIII, The Private Life of Henry VIII, Best Actor 1933 

Henry VIII didn't just dominate the 16th century, the Tudor dynasty and a huge chunk of royal history. He is also the character to win more Best Actor nominations than any other. So far three men have been up for an Oscar for playing the much married monarch but only one of them has bagged the gong. Charles Laughton won Best Actor in 1933 making him the first British actor to scoop the prize. He was recognised for his performance as Henry in the comedy, yes comedy, The Private Life of Henry VIII. There would be a gap of three decades before Henry made his presence felt again at the Oscars with Robert Shaw being nominated for his portrayal of the king in A Man for All Seasons in 1966 while Richard Burton as Henry VIII was in the running in 1969 for Anne of the Thousand Days.

Dame Helen Mirren, The Queen, Best Actress 2007

Perhaps the best known of recent royal role wins is that of Dame Helen Mirren who won just about every prize going for her portrayal of Elizabeth II in The Queen.  The film, which was set in the days following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, was released in 2006 with Dame Helen collecting the Best Actress Oscar award in February 2007 wearing one of the best pever Oscar dresses. She was gorgeous in gold and aid tribute to the Queen in her acceptance speech.


Colin Firth as King George VI, The King's Speech, Best Actor 2011

Colin Firth played George VI in The King's Speech (released in 2010) which told the story of the unexpected monarch through his struggle to overcome his stutter.  And while Helena Bonham Carter was also nominated for her portrayal of Bertie's wife, later better known as the Queen Mother, it was the make believe king who took home the gold statuette when the awards were held in early 2011.

Dame Judi Dench as Elizabeth I, Shakespeare in Love, Best Supporting Actress 1999

Dame Judi Dench collected the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1999 for her performance as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love.  It's one of the shortest ever appearances to win an Academy Award and as well as winning for her star turn as Gloriana, many commentators believe it was also an opportunity to recognise Dame Judi's performance as another royal - the year before she had just missed out on the Best Actress Oscar for her potrayal of Queen Victoria in Mrs Brown.

Yul Brynner as King Mongkut of Siam, The King and I, Best Actor 1957

It's rare for a musical performance to bag the Best Actor award but Yul Brynner achieved this difficult feat in 1957 when he took home the Oscar for his performance as King Mongkut of Siam in The King and I. His co-star, Deborah Kerr, just missed out on the Best Actress Award but then Oscar history is filled with favourites who didn't quite grab the gong. Just a word of warning, Leo - don't put it in the bag just yet.


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