For a relatively small country Wales has its fair share of famous celebrities - from the world of film, stage, music, politics, literature and design. Read on to find out more about some Wales’ best know stars, as well as some very surprising Welsh connections:
Born: Near Swansea, South West Wales
Catherine has starred in many high profile films and conquered Hollywood, winning an Academy Award, a
Tony Award, plus a BAFTA back on home soil. She grew up in the charming seaside village of Mumbles, close to Swansea in South West Wales, and enjoyed performing from a young
age – one of her first stage appearances was as the title role in Annie at the Swansea Grand Theatre. Despite building her career and living much of her life outside Wales, Zeta Jones and her husband Michael Douglas have a home in beautiful Limeslade, which overlooks Mumbles Lighthouse.
Luke is a Welsh theatre and film actor. He is known to theatregoers for his stage roles in Rent, Miss Saigon, Small Change and Piaf, and to filmgoers for his roles in Immortals, The Three Musketeers, Clash of the Titans, and Tamara Drewe.
Sir Anthony Hopkins
Born: Port Talbot, South West Wales
Best known for actor, winning an Academy Award for his role serial killer ‘Hannibal Lecter’ in The Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins was born just across from Swansea Bay in Port Talbot. Richard Burton, who he met aged 15, inspired and encouraged the young Hopkins’ acting dreams and he enrolled at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, making his first professional stage appearance at the Palace Theatre, Swansea, three years after graduating. Visit the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff to
see fantastic performances by the stars of tomorrow. In 2007 he celebrated his 70th birthday with a party at the Margam Park Orangery near Port Talbot.
- Richard Marquand
Born: Llanishen, Cardiff
Best known for directing Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. He has also directed the critically acclaimed 1981 drama film Eye of the Needle and the 1985 thriller Jagged Edge.
Born: Colwyn Bay, North Wales
Starred as James Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill.
Born: Newport, Southern Wales
Famous for playing the fictional character of Q in 17 James Bond films.
Born: Holywell, North Wales
Award-winning actor and singer who was involved in big-budget productions such as Evita, Tomorrow Never Dies, Pirates of the Caribbean and The New World.
Born: Near Aberdare, Southern Wales
Ioan is known for his appearances in Fantastic Four and its sequel; Titanic and King Arthur as Lancelot. More recently he played Tony Blair in W, the biopic of George W Bush and appeared in the TV movie ‘Under Milk Wood’.
Born: Pantgals, North Wales
The opera and concert singer Bryn Terfel hails from Gwynedd in North Wales. In his mid-twenties, Terfel made his operatic debut at the Welsh National Opera. Though the Welsh-speaking performer is in demand all over the world – he has graced the stages of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and Carnegie Hall among many others – the Welsh National Opera has a special place in his heart. Terfel released an album of Welsh traditional songs in 2000 entitled We'll Keep a
Welcome – The Welsh Album – it features the fabulous Risca Male Choir, who you can catch in concert all around Wales.
Born: Newport, Southern Wales
The actor Michael Sheen has had a prolific and dazzling career on both stage and screen, notably playing the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in several films, including The Queen. Sheen was born in Newport and grew up in Port Talbot. It was there that The Passion was staged, one of the most
ambitious community theatre projects of the 21st century. Sheen starred in and was creative director of the 72-hour National Theatre Wales production, which ran over Easter weekend in 2011 and included more than 1,000 local amateurs and even more volunteers. Of the extraordinary play, Sheen said: ‘It’s quite rare to be in the middle of an experience knowing it is probably the most meaningful one I will ever have in my life.’ Sheen supports a number of Welsh charities and is an Honorary Fellow of numerous Welsh educational institutions including the Royal Welsh College of Music and
Born: Pontrhydyfen, near Port Talbot, South West Wales
Born Richard Jenkins, the twelfth of thirteen children, Richard Burton was raised by his older sister and greatly influenced by his teacher and mentor Philip Burton, whose name he took on as his own. Burton acted on stage and screen, most famously in Cleopatra – the most expensive film of its time – opposite Elizabeth Taylor, who he went on to marry not once, but
twice. A proud Welshman and Welsh speaker, Burton is said to have had it written into his contracts that he wouldn’t work on 1 March – St David’s Day. A great friend of Dylan Thomas,
he read the part of First Voice in the famous 1954 version of Under Milk Wood, recorded shortly after Thomas died; Burton, in turn, was buried with a copy of Dylan Thomas’ Selected
Poems when he died in 1984.
Born: Swansea, South West Wales
Dylan is considered one of the most important and innovative poets in the 20th century. Dylan Thomas died while in New York on a promotional tour, aged just 39. Visitors to Wales can learn more about Dylan Thomas at Swansea’s Dylan Thomas Centre and Laugharne’s Boat House, where he wrote many of his most famous works.
Sir Tom Jones
Born: Treforest, Southern Wales
Tom first rose to fame in the mid 1960s with an extravagant live act featuring his trademark tight trousers and huge billowing shirts. Following several hits in the UK, he travelled to America and became a permanent fixture on the Las Vegas Circuit. It was during this time he had a number of hits including It’s Not Unusual, What’s New Pussycat and Delilah. Jones began his career singing in working men’s clubs across South Wales – he returned to the region in 2005 for a special performance in his home town Pontypridd to mark his 65th birthday, his first show there since 1964. As a teenager, Jones shopped at Spillers in Cardiff – the oldest record store in the world – and it was here he exclusively launched a vinyl
version of the single Evil in 2012. In 2016, he appeared at the Hay Festival in Mid Wales – not to sing, but to discuss his autobiography.
Dame Shirley Bassey
Born: Tiger Bay, Cardiff
Shirley Bassey was born in Tiger Bay, Cardiff. The area, which has since been rebranded Cardiff Bay, is forever immortalised in The Girl From Tiger Bay, a song written especially for Bassey in 2009 by Welsh band The Manic Street Preachers. In 1959 Bassey achieved the first number one single by a Welsh artist with As I Love You, and went on to sing not one, but three James Bond theme songs – Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever and Moonraker. She became a Dame in 2000 in recognition of her services to the performing arts. Wales
Millennium Centre, which opened in Cardiff Bay in 2004, honoured Dame Shirley Bassey as one of five ‘Welsh legends’; head to the state-of-the-art venue for a dose of high quality musical entertainment
Some of his film credits include the independent horror film Deathwatch in Prague and Fakers for director Richard Janes. He recently appeared as Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in ‘The Edge of Love’, alongside Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller. He will soon be back on the small screen playing Kevin Walker in the hit US TV show ‘Brothers and ‘Sisters’.
Born: Neath, Southern Wales
Katherine became the first British classicial artist to have two number one albums in the same year. She has performed in many concerts around the World.
Born: Bangor and raised in Nefyn on the Llŷn Peninsula, North Wales.
Duffy is our latest newcomer. Her debut album ‘rockferry’ released in March 2008 was a big hit. In the first half of 2008 she was the fifth best selling artist worldwide, selling 2.25 million copies, gaining success and recognition on both sides of the Atlantic.
Born: Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire
He is known for his portrayal of characters such as Spike in Notting Hill and Jed Parry in Enduring Love and as a member of the Welsh rock groups Super Furry Animals and The Peth.
At the time of his transfer to Real Madrid in 2013 Gareth Bale was the world’s most expensive footballer, the Spanish club forking out €100.8 million for him. In 2014 he became the first Welshman to score a goal in a European Cup or UEFA Champions League Final, helping secure UEFA Champions League victory for Real Madrid, and in 2016 he helped the team lift the cup for the second time in three years. Home is where the heart is for Bale, who played an integral part in Wales reaching the semi-finals of the 2016 European Championships. When asked about what motivated him in that tournament, Bale said ‘the dragon on my shirt – that’s all I need.’ Could Bale be at the UEFA Champions League Final in 2017? He’s sure to reach a new career high if so – the match will take place in his birth-city Cardiff, at the National Stadium of Wales.