Lynn's list of excellent actors

by Lynn Ash | created - 28 Dec 2010 | updated - 30 Dec 2010 | Public

1. Colin Firth

Actor | A Single Man

Colin Andrew Firth was born into an academic family in Grayshott, Hampshire, England. His mother, Shirley Jean (Rolles), was a comparative religion lecturer at the Open University, and his father, David Norman Lewis Firth, lectured on history at Winchester University College (formerly King Alfred's...

What if Sue Birtwhistle hadn't forced him to play Darcy in P & P? The world would be the lesser for it.

2. James Marsden

Actor | X-Men

James Paul Marsden, or better known as just James Marsden, was born on September 18, 1973, in Stillwater, Oklahoma, to Kathleen (Scholz) and James Luther Marsden. His father, a distinguished Professor of Animal Sciences & Industry at Kansas State University, and his mother, a nutritionist, divorced...

I have loved this man in everything I have ever seen him in. A beautiful singing voice. And much maligned and underrated because of his handsomeness.

3. Pierce Brosnan

Actor | The World Is Not Enough

Pierce Brendan Brosnan was born in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland, to May (Smith), a nurse, and Thomas Brosnan, a carpenter. He lived in Navan, County Meath, until he moved to England, UK, at an early age (thus explaining his ability to play men from both backgrounds convincingly). His father left...

My favorite: Evelyn

4. Rupert Penry-Jones

Actor | The Four Feathers

Rupert Penry-Jones was born on September 22, 1970 in London, England as Rupert William Penry-Jones. He is an actor, known for The Four Feathers (2002), MI-5 (2002) and Persuasion (2007). He has been married to Dervla Kirwan since August 2007. They have two children.

MI-5 and Persuasion.

5. Jonny Lee Miller

Actor | Mindhunters

Jonny Lee Miller (sometimes credited with an H) was born on November 15, 1972, in Kingston, England, UK, to actors Anna Lee and Alan Miller, and the grandson of actor Bernard Lee. After appearing in many high school plays at his selective state grammar school, Johnny dropped out at 17, to pursue ...

Just saw him in End Game, Masterpiece Contemporary. Excellent.

6. Jeremy Northam

Actor | Gosford Park

Jeremy Philip Northam was born in Cambridge, England to parents John and Rachel, both university professors. John Northam is best known for his translations of Henrik Ibsen. The family moved to Bristol, in 1972, where Jeremy attended Bristol Grammar School. Jeremy graduated from Bedford College, ...

Emma, Gosford Park, Enigma, to name a few. Sings and plays the piano really well.

7. Tommy Lee Jones

Actor | The Fugitive

Tommy Lee Jones was born in San Saba, Texas, the son of Lucille Marie (Scott), a police officer and beauty shop owner, and Clyde C. Jones, who worked on oil fields. Tommy himself worked in underwater construction and on an oil rig. He attended St. Mark's School of Texas, a prestigious prep school ...

Craggy old face! Men in Black I and II.

8. Clint Eastwood

Actor | Gran Torino

Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr., a manufacturing executive for Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and Ruth Wood, a housewife turned IBM operator. He had a comfortable, middle-class upbringing in nearby Piedmont. At school Clint took interest in music...

Unerring taste, good actor, great director as well.

9. Denzel Washington

Actor | Fences

Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is the middle of three children of a beautician mother, Lennis, from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at ...

He made me like Unstoppable. Thought it would be just another train out of control movie.

10. Samuel L. Jackson

Actor | Pulp Fiction

Samuel L. Jackson is an American producer and highly prolific actor, having appeared in over 100 films, including Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Unbreakable (2000), Shaft (2000), Formula 51 (2001), Black Snake Moan (2006), Snakes on a Plane (2006), and the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999-2005), ...

He plays mean well, but everything, really.

11. Liam Neeson

Actor | Schindler's List

Liam Neeson was born on June 7, 1952 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, UK, to Katherine (Brown), a cook, and Bernard Neeson, a school caretaker. Liam worked as a forklift operator for Guinness, truck driver, assistant architect and an amateur boxer. He had originally sought a career as a teacher by ...

From the lion, Aslan to a bereaved stepfather to Schindler. He's really admirable.

12. Ralph Fiennes

Actor | The Grand Budapest Hotel

Actor Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born on December 22, 1962 in Suffolk, England, to Jennifer Anne Mary Alleyne (Lash), a novelist, and Mark Fiennes, a photographer. He is the eldest of six children. Four of his siblings are also in the arts: Martha Fiennes, a director; Magnus ...

13. Joseph Fiennes

Actor | Shakespeare in Love

Joseph Alberic Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, to Jennifer Anne Mary Alleyne (Lash), a novelist, and Mark Fiennes, a photographer. He is one of six children. Four of his siblings are also in the arts: Ralph Fiennes, an actor; Martha Fiennes, a director; Magnus Fiennes, a...

Shakespeare in Love. Humor and classic combined.

14. Ed Harris

Actor | The Truman Show

By transforming into his characters and pulling the audience in, Ed Harris has earned a reputation as one of the most talented actors of our time.

Ed Harris was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, to Margaret (Sholl), a travel agent, and Robert Lee Harris, a bookstore worker who also sang professionally. ...

I really liked his portrayal of Beethoven, plus Empire Falls.

15. Don Cheadle

Actor | Crash

Donald Frank Cheadle was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 29, 1964. His childhood found him moving from city to city with his family: mother Bettye (North), a teacher, father Donald Frank Cheadle, Sr., a clinical psychologist, sister Dawn, and brother Colin. After graduating high school in...

Hotel Rwanda

16. Matt Damon

Actor | Good Will Hunting

Matthew Paige Damon was born on October 8, 1970, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Kent Damon, a stockbroker, realtor and tax preparer, and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood education professor at Lesley University. Matt has an older brother, Kyle, a sculptor. His father was of English and ...

The face of Boston, plus everyman.

17. Chris Cooper

Actor | Adaptation.

Christopher Walton Cooper was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to Mary Ann (Walton), a homemaker, and Charles Sherwood Cooper, a cattleman and internist who served as a doctor in the US Air Force. His parents were from Texas, where Cooper was raised.

Educated at the University of Missouri school of ...

He's one of those whom you just have to admire. Loved him in Interstate 60.

18. Kevin Spacey

Actor | The Usual Suspects

Kevin Spacey Fowler, better known by his stage name Kevin Spacey, is an American actor of screen and stage, film director, producer, screenwriter and singer. He began his career as a stage actor during the 1980s before obtaining supporting roles in film and television. He gained critical acclaim in...

Like him but not Lex Luthor so much. I'd love to see one of his London Old Vic productions.

19. Clive Owen

Actor | Closer

British actor Clive Owen is one of a handful of stars who, though he is best known for his art house films, can handle more mainstream films with equal measures of grace and skill. Owen is typically cast as characters whose primary traits are a balance of physical strength, intellect, conflicting ...

Played Helen Mirren's son in Gosford Park. Great.

20. Ben Affleck

Producer | Argo

American actor and filmmaker Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt was born on August 15, 1972 in Berkeley, California, and was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother, Chris Anne (née Boldt), is a school teacher, and his father, Timothy Byers Affleck, is a social worker; the two are divorced. Ben has...

Another Boston bean. Good actor.

21. Sean Penn

Actor | Mystic River

Sean Penn is a powerhouse film performer capable of intensely moving work, who has gone from strength to strength during a colourful film career, and who has drawn much media attention for his stormy private life and political viewpoints.

Sean Justin Penn was born in Los Angeles, California, the ...

I don't care for him personally, but I do respect his acting.

22. Dustin Hoffman

Actor | Rain Man

Dustin Lee Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lillian (Gold) and Harry Hoffman, who was a furniture salesman and prop supervisor for Columbia Pictures. He was raised in a Jewish family (from Ukraine, Russia-Poland, and Romania). Hoffman graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955, ...

Straw Dogs and many other great roles. Didn't like Tootsie, but he was good in it.

23. James Franco

Actor | 127 Hours

Known for his breakthrough starring role on Freaks and Geeks (1999), James Franco was born April 19, 1978 in Palo Alto, California, to Betsy Franco, a writer, artist, and actress, and Douglas Eugene "Doug" Franco, who ran a Silicon Valley business. His mother is Jewish and his father is of ...

Saw him in Inside the Actor's Studio and on Charlie Rose.

24. Donald Sutherland

Actor | The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The towering presence of Canadian actor Donald Sutherland is often noticed, as are his legendary contributions to cinema. He has appeared in almost 200 different shows and films. He is also the father of renowned actor Kiefer Sutherland, among others.

Donald McNichol Sutherland was born in Saint ...

Didn't like the Kiera Knightley P & P, but loved his Mr. Bennet even though he wasn't sardonic enough. What he did he did well.

25. Morgan Freeman

Actor | Se7en

With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this ever popular American actor has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. Morgan was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Mayme Edna (Revere), a teacher, and Morgan Porterfield Freeman, a barber. The young Freeman...

From Driving Miss Daisy to playing God. What a range!

26. Robin Williams

Actor | Mrs. Doubtfire

Robin McLaurin Williams was born on Saturday, July 21st, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator, Anselm J. McLaurin. His mother, Laurie McLaurin (née Janin), was a former model from Mississippi, and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a Ford ...

Comic genius- that term really applies to him. Also does serious roles well.

27. Ben Kingsley

Actor | Gandhi

Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Bhanji on December 31, 1943 in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. His father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was a Kenyan-born medical doctor, of Gujarati Indian descent, and his mother, Anna Lyna Mary (Goodman), was an English actress. Ben began to act in stage plays during ...

I guess Ghandi is my favorite, but he's excellent in many roles.

28. Russell Crowe

Actor | Les Misérables

Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham),...

A Beautiful Mind may be my favorite but I liked his action roles, too.

29. Jackie Chan

Actor | Ngo si seoi

Hong Kong's cheeky, lovable and best known film star, Jackie Chan endured many years of long, hard work and multiple injuries to establish international success via his early beginnings in Hong Kong's manic martial arts cinema industry.

Jackie was born Kong-sang Chan on Hong Kong's famous Victoria ...

A surprise to me; he was wonderful in Karate Kid

30. Robert De Niro

Actor | Raging Bull

One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943 in Manhattan, New York City, to artists Virginia (Admiral) and Robert De Niro Sr. His paternal grandfather was of Italian descent, and his other ancestry is English, Dutch, German, French and Irish. He was trained at...

I loved Everybody's Fine. Such a truthful role and story.

31. Mark Wahlberg

Producer | The Fighter

American actor Mark Wahlberg is one of a handful of respected entertainers who successfully made the transition from teen pop idol to acclaimed actor. A Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee for The Departed (2006) who went on to receive positive critical reviews for his performance in The Fighter (...

Late to my list. Should blow us all away in The Fighter.

32. Kevin Bacon

Actor | Footloose

Kevin Norwood Bacon was born on July 8, 1958 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Ruth Hilda (Holmes), an elementary school teacher, and Edmund Norwood Bacon, a prominent architect who was on the cover of Time Magazine in November 1964.

Kevin's early training as an actor came from The Manning Street. ...

My Dog Skip is one of his roles I really like. Isn't he mocking himself in some TV ad right now?

33. Bill Nighy

Actor | Love Actually

Bill Nighy is an award-winning British character actor. He was born William Francis Nighy on December 12, 1949 in Caterham, Surrey, England, to Catherine Josephine (Whittaker), a psychiatric nurse from Glasgow, and Alfred Martin Nighy, who was English-born and managed a garage in Croydon.

At school,...

Love him in Love Actually, but he makes a creepy Davey Jones in the Pirates films.

34. Timothy Hutton

Actor | Ordinary People

Timothy Hutton was born in Malibu, California, to Maryline (Poole), a teacher, and actor Jim Hutton (Dana James Hutton). He set Hollywood ablaze when he burst onto the acting scene in the early 1980s. After only a small number of significant roles in TV movies, he bagged the part of Conrad in the ...

My favorite roles for him are TV roles: in Leverage and Nero Wolfe Mysteries.

35. Rupert Friend

Actor | Hitman: Agent 47

Rupert Friend was born on October 1, 1981 in Oxfordshire, England as Rupert William Anthony Friend. He is an actor and writer, known for Hitman: Agent 47 (2015), The Young Victoria (2009) and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008). He has been married to Aimee Mullins since May 1, 2016.

The Young Victoria: well done

36. Alan Rickman

Actor | Die Hard

Alan Rickman was born on a council estate in Acton, West London, to Margaret Doreen Rose (Bartlett) and Bernard Rickman, who worked at a factory. He had English, Irish, and Welsh ancestry. Alan had an older brother David, a younger brother Michael and a younger sister Sheila. When Alan was 8 years ...

Forgot he was in Die Hard. Played a mid-life crisis husband in Love Actually well, and Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility is probably my favorite.

37. Robert Downey Jr.

Actor | Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. has evolved into one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. With an amazing list of credits to his name, he has managed to stay new and fresh even after over four decades in the business.

Downey was born April 4, 1965 in Manhattan, New York, the son of writer, director and ...

Iron Man plus Sherlock Holmes. I think he's really excellent.

38. Jude Law

Actor | The Talented Mr. Ripley

Jude Law is an English actor. Law has been nominated for two Academy Awards and continues to build a prolific body of work that spans from early successes such as Gattaca (1997) and The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) to more recent turns as Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes:...

Yes, Sherlock Holmes, but my favorite part of his is in The Holiday.

39. Rupert Graves

Actor | V for Vendetta

Born in a seaside resort town, Britain's Rupert Graves was born a rebel, resisting authority and breaking rules at an early age. In his teens he became a punk rocker and even found work as a circus clown and in traveling comedy troupes. In 1983 he made his professional stage debut in "The Killing ...

My favorite: Death at a Funeral 2007.

40. Benedict Cumberbatch

Actor | The Imitation Game

Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch was born and raised in London, England. His parents, Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton (Timothy Carlton Congdon Cumberbatch), are both actors. He is a grandson of submarine commander Henry Carlton Cumberbatch, and a great-grandson of diplomat Henry Arnold ...

Excellent new Sherlock Holmes.

41. Martin Freeman

Actor | The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Martin Freeman is an English actor, best known for portraying Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy, Tim Canterbury in the original UK version of sitcom mockumentary The Office (2001), Dr. John Watson in the British crime drama Sherlock (2010) and Lester Nygaard in the dark ...

The British The Office, plus Love Actually, and last but not least, the new Masterpiece Mysteries Sherlock Holmes--is a great Dr. Watson.

42. Kenneth Branagh

Actor | Henry V

Kenneth Charles Branagh was born on December 10, 1960, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to parents William Branagh, a plumber and carpenter, and Frances (Harper), both born in 1930. He has two siblings, William Branagh, Jr. (born 1955) and Joyce Branagh (born 1970). When he was nine, his family ...

I love all his Shakespearean work; he played a Nazi general in a great TV film entitled Conspiracy--excellent. Now I'm waiting for each Wallender that appears-- really good.

43. Johnny Depp

Actor | Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Johnny Depp is perhaps one of the most versatile actors of his day and age in Hollywood.

He was born John Christopher Depp II in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 9, 1963, to Betty Sue (Wells), who worked as a waitress, and John Christopher Depp, a civil engineer.

Depp was raised in Florida. He dropped ...

My favorites of his: Pirates...Black Pearl and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. He makes strange choices, but with his talent, I guess he can do it successfully.

44. Antonio Banderas

Actor | The Mask of Zorro

Antonio Banderas, one of Spain's most famous faces, was a soccer player until breaking his foot at the age of fourteen; he is now an international film star known for playing Zorro in the eponymous film series.

He was born JosÃf© Antonio DomÃf­nguez Banderas on August 10, 1960, in MÃf¡laga, ...

I like Take the Lead and Evita the best. He's great in both.

45. Tony Shalhoub

Actor | Monk

Anthony Marcus Shalhoub was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin. His father, Joseph Shalhoub, who owned a grocery chain, emigrated from Lebanon to the United States as an orphan at age ten, later marrying Shalhoub's mother, Helen (Seroogy), who herself was born in Wisconsin, to Lebanese parents...

He's great in film roles--from alien in MIB I & II to The Siege, but he's made Monk his own possession. I hope he liked it, too.

46. Gary Sinise

Actor | Forrest Gump

Gary Alan Sinise was born in Blue Island, Illinois, to Mylles S. (Alsip) and Robert L. Sinise, A.C.E., a film editor. He is of Italian (from his paternal grandfather), English, Scottish, Irish, French, German, and Swedish ancestry. His family moved to Highland Park, where he attended high school. ...

Yes, he plays an angry amputee in Forrest Gump, a great detective in CSI New York, and I also admire him for what he does for the troops.