The Best Female Action Stars

These women have made their mark and held their own in the male-dominated world of action movies. These women are by no means the only actresses to have had roles in action movies, but they are, in my opinion, the best.

When I selected these women I looked at:

- The quality of their acting
- The quantity of the work they'd done in the action genre
- How believable they were in the roles
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Sigourney Weaver
Actress, Aliens
Sigourney Weaver was born Susan Alexandra Weaver in Leroy Hospital in Manhattan, New York City. Her father, TV producer Sylvester L. Weaver Jr., originally wanted to name her Flavia, because of his passion for Roman history (he had already named her elder brother Trajan). Her mother, Elizabeth Inglis (née Desiree Mary Lucy Hawkins)...
“ Does she need a description? Sigourney Weaver's Lt. Ellen Ripley was probably the first female action hero, due to her role in Alien and its sequels. ” - notforrental
Angelina Jolie
Actress, Maleficent
Angelina Jolie is an Oscar-winning actress who became popular after playing the title role in the "Lara Croft" blockbuster movies, as well as Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wanted, Salt and Maleficent. Off-screen, Jolie has become prominently involved in international charity projects, especially those involving refugees...
“ Angelina's beautiful, but she's also proven that she can pull off deadly. She started off with Tomb Raider, where she kicked butt with the best of them, and progressed through Mr & Mrs Smith, Wanted and most recently, as the titular character in Salt, where she took on a role originally written for Tom Cruise and dominated the screen and the box office. And she didn't have a stunt double. ” - notforrental
Lucy Lawless
New Zealand icon Lucy Lawless, is most famously known for her role as "Xena the Warrior Princess". Lucy is married to producer Rob Tapert (Robert Gerard Tapert) and resides in New Zealand. They have two sons, Julius Robert Bay Tapert and Judah Miro Tapert, who were both born in New Zealand. Lucy also has a daughter, Daisy Lawless, from her first marriage to Garth Lawless...
“ Lucy Lawless' Xena: Warrior Princess, was a badass. Plain and simple. ” - notforrental
Uma Thurman
Actress, Pulp Fiction
Uma Karuna Thurman was born in Boston, Massachusetts, into a highly unorthodox and Eurocentric family. She is the daughter of Nena Thurman (née Birgitte Caroline von Schlebrügge), a fashion model and socialite who now runs a mountain retreat, and of Robert Thurman (Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman)...
“ Two words: Kill Bill. Uma played the sword-wielding assassin out for revenge superbly. ” - notforrental
Jennifer Garner
Jennifer Garner, who catapulted into stardom with her lead role on the television series Alias, has come a long way from her birthplace of Houston, Texas. Raised in Charleston, West Virginia by her mother, Patricia Ann (née English), a retired teacher of English, and her father, William John Garner...
“ She's probably best known as secret agent Sydney Bristow in the TV show Alias, where her stunts rivaled those of James Bond, but she's also played ninja assassin Electra in two movies, Daredevil and Electra, and while the second wasn't so good plot-wise, the action part was sound. ” - notforrental
Milla Jovovich
Milla Jovovich is an Ukrainian-born actress, supermodel, fashion designer, singer and public figure, who was on the cover of more than a hundred magazines, and starred in such films as The Fifth Element, Ultraviolet, and the Resident Evil franchise. Milica Bogdanovna Jovovich was born on December 17...
“ Milla Jovovich began her career as an action star with Sci Fi movie The Fifth Element, where she played Leeloo, and went on to play the one of the most notable female warriors in history, Joan or Arc. Then came Resident Evil, where she played the zombie-killing heroine Alice. And it had sequels. Lots of sequels. ” - notforrental
Carrie-Anne Moss
Actress, The Matrix
Carrie-Anne Moss was born on August 21, 1967, in Vancouver, British Columbia, the youngest of two children of Barbara and Melvyn Moss. At age 20, she moved to Europe to pursue a career in modeling; in Spain she was cast in a regular role in the TV show Dark Justice, which was produced in Barcelona for its first season...
“ The Matrix's Trinity is amazing, simply amazing, and very, very believable. ” - notforrental
Cameron Diaz
A tall, strikingly attractive blue-eyed natural blonde, Cameron Diaz was born in 1972 in San Diego, the daughter of a Cuban-American father and an Anglo-German mother. Self described as "adventurous, independent and a tough kid," Cameron left home at 16 and for the next 5 years lived in such varied locales as Japan...
“ First, she was an Angel (one of Charlie's, to be precise) and then she was a...well, an ogre. But Shrek's Princess Fiona was certainly badass, and beat up Robin Hood and his merry men - among others - very thoroughly. She went on to star in Knight & Day, alongside Tom Cruise, and held her own very well, even proving, in some instances, to be the tougher of the two. ” - notforrental
Summer Glau
Actress, Serenity
Summer is a native of San Antonio, Texas. She's been a ballerina most of her life. Her debut was in various commercials and a guest appearance on the WB's Angel. She has gone on to star on the TV series Firefly as well as its follow-up movie Serenity and the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
“ In the short-lived cult-hit Sci-Fi TV series Firefly, Summer Glau's River Tam was the damaged girl genius, but in the 2005 big screen movie, Serenity, River became a monster killer along the lines of Milla Jovovich's Alice. If you've never seen Firefly, or Serenity, see them. They're great. ” - notforrental
Yvonne Strahovski
Actress, Dexter
Yvonne was born and raised in Australia. Her parents were Polish immigrants. She attended the Santa Sabina College for her high school education. She then went on to study Performance at the University of Western Sydney's School of Contemporary Arts, graduating in 2003. Shortly afterwards, she landed her first role on television in an episode of Fear Factory...
“ She plays CIA Agent Sarah Walker in Chuck, and it's Sarah's job to kick the butt of anyone who threatens her asset, the titular character. And she always kicks butt in killer style. ” - notforrental
Kate Beckinsale
Actress, Underworld
Kate Beckinsale was born on 26 July 1973 in England, and has resided in London for most of her life. Her mother is Judy Loe, who has appeared in a number of British dramas and sitcoms and continues to work as an actress, predominantly in British television productions. Her father was Richard Beckinsale...
“ ...Plays a vampire how vampires should be played. She doesn't sparkle, and though she does fall in love with a human, she fights so darn well that it doesn't matter. Underworld's Selene is a brutally efficient killing machine, who retains just enough heart to be likable. Ironically, after the first Underworld movie, her next action heroine was vampire hunter Anna Valerious in Van Helsing, where she also kicked butt. ” - notforrental
Maggie Q
Actress, Nikita
Margaret Denise Quigley was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to a father of Polish and Irish descent (originally based in New York) and a Vietnamese mother. Her parents met during the Vietnam War. Maggie has two older half-siblings from her mother's previous marriage, and two older sisters. The family moved to Hawaii and settled in Mililani...
“ Maggie Q's was one of Ethan Hunt's team in MI:III, but she first caught my attention as rogue spy Nikita in Nikita (2010). Nikita kicks a lot of butt, and she's also believable, which is always good. If you haven't watched Nikita, check it out. It's really quite good. ” - notforrental
Jessica Biel
Jessica Biel, with her good looks and talent, has become one of Hollywood's most sought-out actresses. She was born in Ely, Minnesota, to Kimberly (Conroe) and Jonathan Edward Biel, who is a business consultant and GM worker. Biel was raised in Boulder, Colorado. She is of Hungarian Jewish, Danish, English, and German descent...
“ Jessica Biel's character in Blade: Trinity was a great female action hero. Abigail Whistler was funny, quirky, and very good at her job, which was killing vampires. ” - notforrental
Rachel McAdams
Rachel Anne McAdams was born on November 17, 1978 in London, Ontario, Canada, to Sandra Kay (Gale), a nurse, and Lance Frederick McAdams, a truck driver and furniture mover. She is of English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish descent. Rachel became involved with acting as a teenager and by the age of 13 was...
“ Rachel McAdams is not only very, very beautiful, but lately, she's been proving that she's also a badass. In the thriller Red Eye, her character started off as a helpless victim, before revealing that she was actually made of tough stuff. And in Sherlock Holmes (2009) she brings her character Irene Adler (the titular character's decidedly criminal love-interest) to charming, thieving, femme fatale life and easily keeps up with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. ” - notforrental
Noomi Rapace
Actress, Prometheus
Swedish actress Noomi Rapace was born in Hudiksvall, Gävleborgs län, Sweden, the daughter of Swedish actress Nina Norén and Spanish Flamenco singer Rogelio Durán. Her parents did not stay together, and when Rapace was five she moved to Iceland with her mother and stepfather, where she lived for three years...
“ Wow. Lisbeth Salander. When I first read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I didn't realise quite how much of an action heroine the titular character was. After seeing the Swedish movies, I realised that Noomi definitely deserves a spot among the notable action heroines. After all, Lisbeth does some pretty bad stuff. And now Rapace is going on to star in Sherlock Holmes 2, and from the pictures, it looks like her character might give Irene Adler a run for her money... ” - notforrental
Alice Braga
Actress, I Am Legend
Alice Braga Moraes born April 15, 1983 is a Brazilian actress. She has appeared in several Brazilian films, most notably as Angélica in 2002's highly acclaimed City of God and as Karina in 2005's Lower City. She came to international prominence after appearing opposite Will Smith in I Am Legend (2007) and has since become a familiar face in Hollywood...
“ In 2010, with the release of Predators, the Predator franchise finally got its own Ripley-equivalent in the form of Israeli sniper Isabel. She proved to be a believable and capable hero, and she could certainly go head to head with her co-star Adrian Brody. ” - notforrental
Rooney Mara
Actress and philanthropist Rooney Mara was born on April 17, 1985 in Bedford, New York. She made her screen debut in the slasher film Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, went on to have a supporting role in the independent coming-of-age drama Tanner Hall, and has since starred in the horror remake A Nightmare on Elm Street...
“ The second Lisbeth Salander. Rooney portrayed the eponymous tattooed girl in David Fincher's 2011 adaptation of Stieg Larsson's best-selling trilogy. She's a great actress. I believed her in every aspect of the role, but especially the action. And she can hold her own alongside Daniel Craig (Mr Bond himself). 'Nuff said. ” - notforrental