Imelda Staunton

After years of toiling in supporting roles, often taking whatever came her way, actress Imelda Staunton finally received the chance to display her considerable talents when she starred as the titular character in director Mike Leigh's period drama, "Vera Drake" (2004), a role that earned the British thespian a nomination for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. Prior to her critical success on both sides of the pond, Staunton worked hard to gain prominence in her native England, spending almost three decades in small supporting roles on stage, television and in film. Though she considered herself a serious actress, Staunton relied on song and dance in the early days of her career, establishing a small degree of success for her leading role in "Guys and Dolls." Over the course of the theatre portion of her career, she managed to win several Olivier Awards, though she found her transition to the screen slow and arduous. But with "Vera Drake," Staunton blew the Hollywood doors wide open, leading to bigger and better roles in films like "Nanny McPhee" (2006), "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2007) and "Alice in Wonderland" (2010), proving that talent always wins out in the end no matter how long the struggle.