The Commendables

This list is a supplement to my Underrated Actors "Great Character Actors" List that has become quite popular here on the IMDb. This list will comprise some of my favorite actors who are too notable/recognizable to be listed on the aforementioned list. I didn't feel comfortable adding these well-known names to the "underrated" list because of their names being well known to audiences in the States and abroad. While they occasionally garnered a lead role, most have been secondary or supporting players...a few have even garnered the supporting actor Oscar. These gentlemen can truly be referred to as Commendables.
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1.
Donald Pleasence
Actor, Halloween
Balding, quietly-spoken, of slight build and possessed of piercing blue eyes -- often peering out from behind round, steel-rimmed glasses -- Donald Pleasence had the necessary physical attributes which make a great screen villain. In the course of his lengthy career, he relished playing the obsessed...
“ One of the true greats! So many know the face but forget the name...while his lead role in the Halloween series brought him late period popularity, his earlier roles in the Great Escape, You Only Love Twice, THX 1138, Will Penny and the underwhelming but interesting Death Line (1972) are also noteworthy. ” - aladdinsane85
 
2.
Burgess Meredith
Actor, Rocky
One of the truly great and gifted performers of the century who often suffered lesser roles, Burgess Meredith was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1907 and educated in Amherst College in Massachusetts before joining Eva Le Gallienne's stage company in New York City in 1933. He became a favorite of dramatist Maxwell Anderson...
“ Like Pleasance, Meredith was an extremely busy support player on both the big and small screens. Always a pleasure to catch him in something I haven't seen before. ” - aladdinsane85
 
3.
Rutger Hauer
Blonde, blue-eyed, tall and handsome Dutch actor Rutger Hauer has an international reputation for playing everything from romantic leads to action heroes to sinister villains. Hauer was born in Breukelen, a town in the province of Utrecht, the Netherlands. He is the son of Teunke (Mellema) and Arend Hauer...
“ This Dutch actor is well known to American and European audiences, and has starred in too many good roles to list here. Arguably his most famous role is that of Roy Batty in "Blade Runner" (1982. ” - aladdinsane85
 
4.
“ This terrific actor was once #10 on my Greatest Character Actors List which has proved to be quite popular here on the Imdb. I have decided to move Mr. Macy to this list as I've deemed him to be too notable for the aforementioned one.....the man still deserves an Oscar at some point down the line.....hopefully he'll get that one role that trumps Jerry Lundegaard in "Fargo". ” - aladdinsane85
 
5.
Paul Giamatti
Actor, Sideways
Paul Giamatti is an American actor who has worked steadily and prominently for over twenty years, and is best known for leading roles in the films American Splendor, Sideways, and Barney's Version (for which he won a Golden Globe), and supporting roles in the films Cinderella Man, The Illusionist, and San Andreas...
“ Like William H. Macy before him, Giamatti was once ranked high on my "Underrated Actors (Great Character Actors) List", but I've deemed him to be notable enough to warrant inclusion on this list. This man has been nominated for an Oscar once, and gave a sterling performance as John Adams in the miniseries of the same name.....I also can say that his best role thus far has been that of the late Harvey Pekar in "American Splendor". ” - aladdinsane85
 
6.
Ben Johnson
Born in Oklahoma, Ben Johnson was a ranch hand and rodeo performer when, in 1940, Howard Hughes hired him to take a load of horses to California. He decided to stick around (the pay was good), and for some years was a stunt man, horse wrangler, and double for such stars as John Wayne, Gary Cooper and James Stewart...
“ A Peckinpah regular and the best supporting actor Oscar winner of 1971. Also look for him in a late career role in Red Dawn (1984) ” - aladdinsane85
 
7.
John Turturro
Highly talented, lightly built American actor who always looks unsettled and jumpy has become a favourite of cult/arthouse film aficionados with his compelling performances in a broad range of cinematic vehicles. Turturro was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Italian-American parents, Katherine (Incerella)...
“ Terrific leading and supporting player who won a Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor for his role in "Barton Fink." ” - aladdinsane85
 
8.
Steve Buscemi
Actor, Fargo
Steve Buscemi was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Dorothy (Wilson), a restaurant hostess, and John Buscemi, a sanitation worker. He is of Italian (father) and English, Dutch, and Irish (mother) descent. He became interested in acting during his last year of high school. After graduating, he moved to Manhattan to study acting with John Strasberg...
“ Probably everyone knows this face. A versatile actor comfortable with both comedy and drama. ” - aladdinsane85
 
9.
Walter Brennan
In many ways the most successful and familiar character actor of American sound films and the only actor to date to win three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Walter Brennan attended college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studying engineering. While in school he became interested in acting and performed in school plays...
“ Three wins for best supporting actor. Enough said. ” - aladdinsane85
 
10.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Actor, Capote
Film and stage actor and theater director Philip Seymour Hoffman was born in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Fairport on July 23, 1967. He was the son of Marilyn (Loucks), a lawyer and judge, and Gordon Stowell Hoffman, a Xerox employee, and was mostly of German, Irish, English and Dutch ancestry...
“ Adept at both serious drama and comedy films (ala the Big Lebowski and Patch Adams) This man deservedly won a best actor Oscar for his role in "Capote." ” - aladdinsane85
 
11.
Jeff Daniels
Actor Jeff Daniels was born in Athens, Georgia, but was raised in Chelsea, Michigan. He is the son of Marjorie J. (Ferguson) and Robert Lee Daniels, who owned The Chelsea Lumber Company and was also mayor of Chelsea. Jeff attended Central Michigan University, but became involved in acting and dropped out to pursue a career as an actor...
“ What can't this man do? From chick flicks (Terms of Endearment), to horror (Aracnophobia), to war (Gettysburg), to drama (Speed) to everything in between (Pleasantville and Dumb and Dumber)...the man is amazing! ” - aladdinsane85
 
12.
Brian Cox
Actor, Troy
Brian Cox is an Emmy Award-winning Scottish actor. He was born on June 1, 1946 in Dundee, Scotland, to Mary Ann Guillerline Cox, maiden surname McCann, a spinner, and Charles McArdle Campbell Cox, a shopkeeper and butcher. His father was of Irish ancestry and his mother was of Irish and Scottish descent...
“ This busy actor has become a familiar face to American audiences by making appearances in the Minus Man (1999), Super Troopers (2001), The Bourne Identity (2002), X2 (2003), Zodiac (2007) and Red (2010). He also is listed on my "Favorite British Actors" List", here on Imdb. ” - aladdinsane85
 
13.
Stacy Keach
Stacy Keach has played to grand success a constellation of the classic and contemporary stage's greatest roles, and he is considered a pre-eminent American interpreter of Shakespeare. His SRO run as "King Lear" at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. received the best reviews any national leader has earned in that town for decades...
“ Reliable lead and character actor who has starred in plenty of good roles during his career, including Tully in "Fat City", Col. Kane in "The Ninth Configuration" and as Cameron, the elder statesman of hate in "American History X." ” - aladdinsane85
 
14.
Dennis Hopper
Actor, Speed
With an amazing cinematic career of more than five decades, Dennis Hopper was a multi-talented and unconventional actor/director, regarded by many as one of the true "enfants terribles" of Hollywood. Hopper was born on May 17, 1936 in Dodge City, Kansas, to Marjorie Mae (Davis) and James Millard Hopper...
 
15.
Claude Rains
Actor, Casablanca
William Claude Rains, born in the Clapham area of London, was the son of the British stage actor Frederick Rains. The younger Rains followed, making his stage debut at the age of eleven in "Nell of Old Drury." Growing up in the world of theater, he saw not only acting up close but the down-to-earth business end as well...
 
16.
Robert Shaw
Actor, Jaws
Robert Archibald Shaw was born on August 9, 1927 in Westhoughton, Lancashire, England, the eldest son of Doreen Nora (Avery), a nurse, and Thomas Archibald Shaw, a doctor. His paternal grandfather was Scottish, from Argyll. Shaw's mother, who was born in Piggs Peak, Swaziland, met his father while she was a nurse at a hospital in Truro...
 
17.
Lee Van Cleef
One of the great movie villains, Clarence Leroy Van Cleef, Jr. was born in Somerville, New Jersey, to Marion Lavinia (Van Fleet) and Clarence LeRoy Van Cleef, Sr. His parents were both of Dutch ancestry. Van Cleef started out as an accountant. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard minesweepers and sub chasers during World War II...
 
18.
Tom Skerritt
Actor, Alien
Lean, ruggedly handsome leading man and supporting actor whose "outdoor" looks have improved with age, Tom Skerritt attended Wayne State University and UCLA, and was first noticed in a UCLA production of "The Rainmaker" before making his movie debut in War Hunt. However, he spent most of the next decade in television...
“ An actor in both lead and support roles whose career has extended nearly 5 decades. Audiences will remember him best for his roles in Alien as "Dallas", MASH as "Duke Forrest", and as the Reverend McLean in "A River Runs Through It." ” - aladdinsane85
 
19.
Martin Balsam
Martin Henry Balsam was born on November 4, 1919 in the Bronx, New York City, to Lillian (Weinstein) and Albert Balsam, a manufacturer of women's sportswear. He was the first-born child. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant, and his mother was born in New York, to Russian Jewish parents. Martin caught the acting bug in high school where he participated in the drama club...
 
20.
Jonathan Pryce
From Holywell to Hollywood, Jonathan Pryce, CBE is a critically acclaimed and award winning actor from North Wales, internationally regarded as the one of greatest ones both on stage and screen. Renowned for his immense versatility and powerful presence he has transcended the industry, effortlessly...
 
21.
Eli Wallach
One of Hollywood's finest character / "Method" actors, Eli Wallach was in demand for over 60 years (first film/TV role was 1949) on stage and screen, and has worked alongside the world's biggest stars, including Clark Gable, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, Peter O'Toole, and Al Pacino, to name but a few...
 
22.
David Strathairn
David Russell Strathairn was born on January 26, 1949 in San Francisco, California. He is the son of Mary Frances (Frazier), a nurse, and Thomas Scott Strathairn, Jr., a physician. He has two siblings, Tom and Anne. His ancestry includes English, Scottish, Irish, Portuguese, Native Hawaiian, and one sixteenth Chinese (the latter three from his paternal grandmother)...
“ The great actor has appeared in such films such as "the Bourne Ultimatum", "Dolores Claiborne", and "Matewan". He was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in 2005 for his impressive portrayl of journalist Edward R. Murrow in "Good Night and Good Luck." ” - aladdinsane85
 
23.
Tim Curry
Timothy James Curry was born on April 19, 1946 in Grappenhall, Cheshire, England. His mother, Maura Patricia (Langmead), was a school secretary, and his father, James Curry, was a Methodist Royal Navy chaplain. Curry studied Drama and English at Birmingham University, from which he graduated with Combined Honors...
 
24.
John Goodman
John Stephen Goodman is a U.S. film, television, and stage actor. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Virginia Roos (Loosmore), a waitress and saleswoman, and Leslie Francis Goodman, a postal worker who died when John was a small child. He is of English, Welsh, and German ancestry. John is best known for his role as Dan Conner on the television series Roseanne...
 
25.
John C. Reilly
Character actor, dramatic leading man, or hilarious comic foil? With an astonishing range of roles already under his belt, John C. Reilly has played an eclectic host of rich characters to great effect over the years, from seedy ne'er-do-wells, to lovable, good-natured schlepps. The fifth of six children...
 
26.
J.K. Simmons
Actor, Whiplash
J.K. Simmons is an American actor. He was born Jonathan Kimble Simmons in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, to Patricia (Kimble), an administrator, and Donald William Simmons, a music teacher. He attended the Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; University of Montana, Missoula, MT (BA in Music). He had originally planned to be a singer and studied at the University of Montana to become a composer...
 
27.
“ Sort of the "American Everyman" actor, Nelson starred in the excellent horror film Poltergeist" in 1982 and later starred in the hit T.V. series "Coach". In 2004 he provided a voice for "The Incredibles." ” - aladdinsane85
 
28.
Powers Boothe
Actor, Sin City
Incisive, gravelly-voiced screen tough guy Powers Boothe was born on June 1, 1948 in Snyder, Texas, a sharecropper's son. Used to hard physical work "chopping cotton" as a youngster, he went on to become the first member of his family to attend university. He then proceeded to study acting via a fellowship with Southern Methodist University...
“ Actor who in a 30+ year career has starred in a variety of lead and supporting roles, including "Southern Comfort", "Frailty" and "Sin City". ” - aladdinsane85
 
29.
Brian Dennehy
Imposing, barrel-chested and now silver-haired Brian Dennehy is a prolific US actor, well respected on both screen and stage for the best part of 25 years. He was born in July 1938 in Bridgeport, CT, and attended Columbia University in New York City on a football scholarship. He majored in history, before moving on to Yale to study dramatic arts...
 
30.
John Saxon
John Saxon has appeared in nearly 200 roles in the movies and on television in a more-than half-century-long career that has stretched over seven decades since he made his big screen debut in 1954 in uncredited small roles in It Should Happen to You and George Cukor's A Star Is Born. Born Carmine Orrico on August 5...
 
31.
Hal Holbrook
Hal Holbrook is an Emmy- and Tony-Award winning actor who is one of the great craftsman of stage and screen. He is best known for his performance as Mark Twain, for which he won a Tony and the first of his ten Emmy Award nominations. Aside from the stage, Holbrook made his reputation primarily on television...
“ This man has been in many classic films over the past fifty years, including: "All the Presidents Men" (1976), "The Star Chamber" (1983), "Midway" (1983) and 1973's "Magnum Force". ” - aladdinsane85
 
32.
Scott Glenn
Scott Glenn was born January 26, 1941, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth and Theodore Glenn, a salesman. As he grew up in Appalachia, his health was poor; he was bedridden for a year and doctors predicted he would limp for the rest of his life. During long periods of illness, Glenn was reading a lot and "dreaming of becoming Lord Byron"...
 
33.
Edmund Gwenn
There are very few character actors from the 1930s, '40s or '50s who rose to the rank of stardom. Only a rare man or woman reached the level of renown and admiration, and had enough audience appeal, to be the first name in a cast's billing, a name that got marquee posting. Charles Coburn comes to mind, but there aren't many others. However, one who made it was Edmund Gwenn...
“ From bearded ol' Saint Nick to an expert on giant ants to helping bury a body, Gwenn garnered the supporting actor Oscar in 1947. ” - aladdinsane85
 
34.
Bill Paxton
Actor, Titanic
Bill Paxton was born on May 17, 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas. He was the son of Mary Lou (Gray) and John Lane Paxton, a businessman and actor (as John Paxton). Bill moved to Los Angeles, California at age eighteen, where he found work in the film industry as a set dresser for Roger Corman's New World Pictures...
“ Another great leading and supporting player who has starred in such films as "Aliens", "Twister" and "Apollo 13". ” - aladdinsane85
 
35.
Stanley Tucci
Actor Stanley Tucci was born on November 11, 1960, in Peekskill, New York. He is the son of Joan (Tropiano), a writer, and Stanley Tucci, an art teacher. His family is Italian-American, with origins in Calabria. Tucci took an interest in acting while in high school, and went on to attend the State University of New York's Conservatory of Theater Arts in Purchase...
 
36.
Gary Sinise
Actor, CSI: NY
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. He was something of a rebel, playing in bands but paying little attention to school...
 
37.
Carl Weathers
Actor, Predator
Carl Weathers was born on January 14, 1948, in New Orleans, Louisiana. A famous and successful football star at San Diego State, he played with the Oakland Raiders and retired from the sport in 1974, in order to give full attention to his goal: to be a real actor. Weathers first played small parts in two blaxploitation flicks...
“ Two words: Apollo Creed! I also enjoyed his performance in the underrated film "Death Hunt", opposite Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin and the great Ed Lauter. ” - aladdinsane85
 
38.
“ Great in his role on Law and Order, and has had a stellar film career as well, including such films as "The Killing Fields" and "Rancho Deluxe." ” - aladdinsane85
 
39.
Robert Loggia
Actor, Scarface
Born and raised in New York City, Robert Loggia studied journalism at the University of Missouri before moving back to New York to pursue acting. He trained at the Actors Studio while doing stage work. From the late 1950s he was a familiar face on TV, usually as authoritative figures. Loggia also found work in movies such as The Greatest Story Ever Told...
 
40.
Ron Perlman
Actor, Hellboy
Ron Perlman is a classically-trained actor who has appeared in countless stage plays, feature films and television productions. Ronald N. Perlman was born April 13, 1950 in Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York. His mother, Dorothy (Rosen), is retired from the City Clerk's Office. His father, Bertram "Bert" Perlman...
 
41.
Stephen Lang
Actor, Avatar
A stage actor of great recognition, Stephen Lang has shaped a formidable career on and off the various stages of the United States and abroad. Though he is arguably most well-known for his acclaimed performance in James Cameron's Avatar, Lang began his career in theater. Broadway roles include his Tony-nominated performance as Lou in "The Speed of Darkness"...
 
42.
Paul Sorvino
Actor, Goodfellas
Tall, dark and imposing American actor Paul Sorvino has made a solid career of portraying authority figures. He was born in Brooklyn, New York City. His mother, Angela (Renzi), was a piano teacher, of Italian descent. His father, Ford Sorvino, was an Italian immigrant who worked in a robe factory as a foreman...
“ Heavyset actor who lent his talents to such films as GoodFellas ( as "Paulie"), That Championship Season, and as Det. Phil Carretta on "Law and Order", opposite Jerry Orbach. ” - aladdinsane85
 
43.
Lance Henriksen
An intense, versatile actor as adept at playing clean-cut FBI agents as he is psychotic motorcycle-gang leaders, who can go from portraying soulless, murderous vampires to burned-out, world-weary homicide detectives, Lance Henriksen has starred in a variety of films that have allowed him to stretch his talents just about as far as an actor could possibly hope...
 
44.
Bruce Dern
Actor, Nebraska
Two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern's tremendous career is made up of playing both modern day heroes and legendary villains. Through decades of lauded performances, Dern has acquired the reputation of being one of the most talented and prolific actors of his generation. Dern has several high profile independent film projects completed...
“ Support actor who has often been typecast as lecherous criminal or a psychotic. He has broken this trend on a few occasions, such as the films "Silent Running", "The Laughing Policeman" and "Smile". ” - aladdinsane85
 
45.
Edward Asner
Actor, Up
Ed Asner is a television legend, the winner of seven acting Emmy Awards (which puts him tied with Mary Tyler Moore, both of whom rank second to their "Mary Tyler Moore Show" co-star, Cloris Leachman who has nine). In all, he has been nominated 20 times for an Emmy Award, with 17 nods for a Primetime Emmy and three for a Daytime award...
 
46.
Ving Rhames
Strikingly featured and muscular American actor Ving Rames was born Irving Rameses Rhames in Harlem, New York, to Reather, a homemaker, and Ernest Rhames, an auto mechanic. A good student, Ving entered the New York High School of Performing Arts, where he discovered his love of acting. He studied at the Juilliard School of Drama...
 
47.
Dennis Farina
Actor, Snatch
Dennis Farina was one of Hollywood's busiest actors and a familiar face to moviegoers and television viewers alike. Recently, he appeared in the feature films, "The Grand," a comedy about a Vegas poker tournament with Woody Harrelson, Cheryl Hines and Ray Romano; "Bottle Shock," also starring Alan Rickman...
 
48.
Joe Mantegna
Joe Mantegna is an American actor who has made over 200 film and TV appearances. He is also a producer, writer, and director, and is probably best known for his role as Joey Zasa in the Francis Ford Coppola epic The Godfather: Part III, in which he stars alongside Al Pacino and Andy Garcia. Joseph Anthony Mantegna...
“ Godfather III and Thinner (1996) are both saved by Mantegna's performances. ” - aladdinsane85
 
49.
Armand Assante
Actor, Gotti
Armand Assante is a coarsely handsome American actor who has successfully portrayed a wide range of intriguing characters from numerous ethnic backgrounds, both on screen and in the theater. Armand Anthony Assante, Jr. was born on October 4, 1949 in New York City, to Katherine (Healey), a music teacher and poet...
“ Another actor with a variety of lead and supporting roles to his credit, I first saw Assante in the sadly underrated film "Paradise Alley", and he has appeared in a wide variety of films since, including "Striptease" and "Judge Dredd." ” - aladdinsane85
 
50.
Zero Mostel
Zero Mostel was born Samuel Joel Mostel on February 28, 1915 in Brooklyn, New York, one of eight children of an Orthodox Jewish family. Raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the young Zero, known as Sammy, developed his talent for painting and drawing at art classes provided by the Educational Alliance...