Best Actors You've Never Heard Of

I admire versatility. Acting is about being able to create new people with every role; not just saying different lines with different costumes. This list compiles the best character actors who are so good at portraying a wide variety of characters on screen (or in some cases, have given great performances but went unrecognized).
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Jason Isaacs
Jason Isaacs was born in Liverpool, the third of four children of Sheila (née Nathan) and Eric Isaacs. His parents were both from Jewish families (from Eastern Europe). He studied law at Bristol University and graduated in 1985 with a degree in law but decided to study acting. While at Bristol University...
Li Gong
Actress, 2046
Born in Shenyang, grew up in Jinan, the daughter of an economics professor. Loved music from childhood, and dreamed of a singing career. After failing to gain entrance to China's top music school in 1985, applied for and was admitted to the Central Drama Academy in Beijing, from which she graduated in 1989...
Polly Walker
Actress, John Carter
Polly Alexandra Walker was born on May 19, 1966 in Warrington, Cheshire, England. She graduated from Ballet Rambert School in Twickenham, began her career as a dancer, but an injury at age 18 forced her to change direction. She started at London's Drama Centre to the Royal Shakespeare Company, where she portrayed small parts before graduating to small roles on television...
Michael Angarano
Angarano was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Doreen and Michael P. Angarano. He is of Italian descent. His family owns and operates three successful dance studios; two in New York (Brooklyn and Staten Island) and one in California (Los Angeles) called Reflections in Dance. His mother is the owner and director of all three...
Ben Foster
Ben Foster was born October 29, 1980 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Gillian Kirwan and Steven Foster, restaurant owners. His younger brother is actor Jon Foster. His paternal grandparents were from Russian Jewish families that immigrated to Massachusetts (his grandfather became a prominent judge in Boston), while his mother's family is from Maryland...
Sophie Marceau
Actress, Braveheart
Sophie Marceau was born Sophie Danièle Sylvie Maupu in Paris, France, to Simone (Morisset), a shop assistant, and Benoît Maupu, a truck driver. She grew up far from the studio spotlights. When she was 14 she was living in the Paris suburb of Gentilly with her father. She learned from friends that director Claude Pinoteau was looking for new faces for a movie about teenagers called The Party...
Diane Venora
Actress, Heat
Diane Venora was born Diana Venora in East Hartford Connecticut. She left Hartford for a full scholarship in the Drama Division of The Juilliard School. After graduating from Juilliard, she performed extensively on the stage and developed a reputation as a talented stage actress, particularly in Shakespearian plays...
Matthew Goode
Matthew William Goode (born 3 April 1978) is an English actor. His films include Chasing Liberty (2004), Match Point (2005), Imagine Me and You (2006), Brideshead Revisited (2008), Watchmen (2009), A Single Man (2009), Leap Year (2010), Stoker (2013) and The Imitation Game (2014). Goode also starred...
Sean Bean
Sean Bean's 20 year career spans theater, radio, television and movies. Bean was born in Handsworth, Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, to Rita (Tuckwood) and Brian Bean. He worked for his father's welding firm before he decided to become an actor. He attended RADA in London and appeared in a number of West End stage productions including RSC's "Fair Maid of the West" (Spencer)...
Temuera Morrison
Morrison was born in the town of Rotorua, in the North Island of New Zealand, the son of Hana (née Stafford) and Laurie Morrison, a musician. He is of Maori, Scottish, and Irish descent. His sister was performer Taini Morrison and his uncle was musician Sir Howard Morrison. His secondary education took place at Wesley College...
Rena Owen
Rena is an international award-winning actor and is one of only 6 actors in the world to have worked with both George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg during her illustrious career that spans 3 decades. One of 9 children, she was born and bred in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand to a Maori/Welsh Father and a European Mother...
Peter Dinklage
Peter Hayden Dinklage was born in Morristown, New Jersey, to Diane (Hayden), an elementary school teacher, and John Carl Dinklage, an insurance salesman. He is of German, Irish, and English descent. In 1991, he received a degree in drama from Bennington College and began his career. He continues to work in the theatre with roles in "The Killing Act", "Imperfect Love", and "Richard III"...
Jonathan Tucker
Jonathan is a film and television actor born in Boston, Massachusetts, May 31, 1982. While still in third grade, he was a part of a ballet production of "The Nutcracker." After High School he earned admittance to Columbia University in New York City, but instead elected to pursue his acting career. His first credited appearances were in The Night Before Christmas (original title "Botte di Natale" and a.k.a...
Robert Carlyle
Robert Carlyle was born in Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland, to Elizabeth, a bus company employee, and Joseph Carlyle, a painter and decorator. He was raised by his father after his mother left him when he was four. At the age of 21, after reading Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," he enrolled in acting classes at the Glasgow Arts Centre...
Jason Marsden
With a career spanning more than 25 years, Jason Marsden has been affectionately referred to as that guy from that show. The seasoned actor has worked in film and television with the best and the brightest, including Ridley Scott (White Squall), Robert Downey Jr. (Ally McBeal), James Woods (Shark)...
Mariska Hargitay
Mariska (Ma-rish-ka) Magdolna Hargitay was born on January 23, 1964, in Santa Monica, California. Her parents are Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield. She is the youngest of their three children. In June 1967, Mariska and her brothers Zoltan and Mickey Jr. were in the back seat of a car when it was involved in the fatal accident which killed her mother...
Alice Eve
Alice Sophia Eve was born in London, England. Her father is Trevor Eve and her mother is Sharon Maughan, both fellow actors. She is the eldest of three children. Eve has English, Irish and Welsh ancestry. Her family moved to Los Angeles, California when she was young as her father tried to crack the American market. However, they returned to the United Kingdom when she was age 13...
Lois Smith
Actress, Twister