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Originally published Sunday, August 17, 2014 at 6:15 AM

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The List: 4 great, early performances by today’s stars


Tonight in Prime Time

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Most great actors who strike it big, especially the Brits, have a backlog of past performances that predated their stardom in the U.S. Here are just a few of those efforts worth hunting down in DVD and streaming formats:

Benedict Cumberbatch

If you love him in “Sherlock,” check him out in the 2008 BBC TV series “The Last Enemy,” a dystopian thriller set in a not-too-distant society of information overkill. He plays a naive scientist returning from England after a long hiatus in Asia, who unwittingly becomes embroiled in international intrigue.

Maggie Smith

If you enjoy her in “Downton Abbey,” encounter Smith’s alluring younger self in her 1969 Oscar-winning turn as the title character in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” in which a charismatic teacher injects dangerously romantic notions into the minds of her impressionable students.

Martin Clunes

Crazy about him as Doc Martin? He’s about 180 degrees from grouchy as a sweetly amorous undertaker who woos and weds a feisty midwife and presides with her over a lively blended family in the charming 2003-2005 English series “William and Mary.”

Ian McShane

Wild about him in “Deadwood”? Try TV’s “Lovejoy,” a lighthearted, six-series McShane vehicle that cast him as a lovably roguish and sexy antiques dealer whose sometimes shady business practices land him in all manner of jams, mysteries and flirtations.

Misha Berson, Seattle Times arts writer



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