THE 50 GREATEST LIVING ACTRESSES

These are all HUGE talents.
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1.
Meryl Streep
Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 19 times, and has won it three times. Meryl was born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a commercial artist, and Harry William Streep...
“ Greatest actress EVER. ” - Tsquared23
 
2.
Glenn Close
Six time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is the daughter of Elizabeth Mary Hester "Bettine" (Moore) and William Taliaferro Close (William Close), a prominent doctor. Both of her parents were from upper-class northeastern families. Glenn...
“ Insanely under rated. She's on par with Ms. Streep. ” - Tsquared23
 
3.
Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to June (Gamble), an Australian teacher and property developer, and Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., an American advertising executive, originally from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was ten years old...
“ Fascinating to watch. ” - Tsquared23
 
4.
Judi Dench
Actress, Skyfall
Judi Dench was born in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre...
“ A little one note, but that note is off the charts. ” - Tsquared23
 
5.
Annette Bening
Annette Bening was born on May 29, 1958 in Topeka, Kansas, the youngest of four children of Shirley (Ashley), a soloist and church singer, and Arnett Grant Bening, an insurance salesman. She has German and English ancestry. Her family moved to California when she was young, and she grew up there. She...
“ Three words... GRIFTERS and AMERICAN BEAUTY. ” - Tsquared23
 
6.
Marion Cotillard
Actress, Inception
Academy Award-winning Actress Marion Cotillard was born on September 30, 1975 in Paris. Cotillard is the daughter of Jean-Claude Cotillard, an actor, playwright and director, and Niseema Theillaud, an actress and drama teacher. Her father's family is Breton and her mother has Kabyle ancestry. Raised in Orléans...
“ LA VIE EN ROSE... one of the greatest performances ever on screen. ” - Tsquared23
 
7.
Kate Winslet
Actress, Titanic
Ask Kate Winslet what she likes about any of her characters, and the word "ballsy" is bound to pop up at least once. The British actress has made a point of eschewing straightforward pretty-girl parts in favor of more devilish damsels; as a result, she's built an eclectic resume that runs the gamut from Shakespearean tragedy to modern-day mysticism and erotica...
“ She does no wrong. ” - Tsquared23
 
8.
Jennifer Saunders
Jennifer Saunders was born July 6th 1958 in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, UK. She attended Central School of Speech and Drama where she met her comedy partner Dawn French. Like many of the early 80s groundbreaking "alternative" comedians she began her career as comedienne/actress/writer with Dawn French at "The Comedy Store" in London...
“ Funniest woman on the planet. And yes, comedy is just as hard as drama. ” - Tsquared23
 
9.
Holly Hunter
Holly Hunter was born in Conyers, Georgia, to Opal Marguerite (Catledge), a homemaker, and Charles Edwin Hunter, a part-time sporting goods company representative and farmer with a 250 acre farm. She is the youngest of seven children. Her parents encouraged her talent at an early age, and her first acting part was as Helen Keller in a fifth-grade play...
“ THE PIANO. RAISING ARIZONA. BROADCAST NEWS. Three unforgettable and amazing performances. ” - Tsquared23
 
10.
Nicole Kidman
Actress, Moulin Rouge!
Elegant blonde Nicole Kidman, known as one of Hollywood's top Australian imports, was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii, while her Australian parents were there on educational visas. Kidman is the daughter of Janelle Ann (Glenny), a nursing instructor, and Antony David Kidman, a biochemist and clinical psychologist...
“ Classy. Stunning. And MOULIN ROUGE! ” - Tsquared23
 
11.
Vanessa Redgrave
On January 30, 1937, renowned theatre actor Michael Redgrave was performing in a production of Hamlet in London. During the curtain call, the show's lead, Laurence Olivier, announced to the audience: "tonight a great actress was born". This was in reference to his co-star's newborn daughter, Vanessa Redgrave...
“ There are no words for how she lights up the screen. ” - Tsquared23
 
12.
Julie Walters
Actress, Brave
For decades, Brit actress and comedienne Julie Walters has served as a sturdy representation of the working class with her passionate, earthy portrayals on England's stage, screen and TV. A bona fide talent, her infectious spirit and self-deprecating sense of humor eventually captured the hearts of international audiences...
“ It's unreal how amazing she is at both comedy and drama. ” - Tsquared23
 
13.
Judy Davis
Actress, Barton Fink
Judy Davis was born April 23, 1955 in Perth, Western Australia. She was educated at Loreto Convent and the Western Institute of Technology, and graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 1977. She came to prominence as Sybylla Melvyn in the film adaptation of Miles Franklin's novel...
“ Nobody does crazy better. Always interesting. ” - Tsquared23
 
14.
Maggie Smith
One of the world's most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith in Essex. Her Scottish mother, Margaret (Hutton), worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith, was a teacher at Oxford University. Smith has been married twice: to actor Robert Stephens and to playwright Beverley Cross...
“ The original Dame. ” - Tsquared23
 
15.
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche was born in Paris, France, to Monique Yvette Stalens, a director, teacher, and actress, and Jean-Marie Binoche, a sculptor, director, and actor. Her mother was born in Czestochowa, Poland, of French, Walloon Belgian, and Polish descent, while her father is French. Juliette was only 23 when she first attracted the attention of international film critics with The Unbearable Lightness of Being...
“ Beyond stunning and with acting chops to spare. ” - Tsquared23
 
16.
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey was born Orpah Gail Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, a former maid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner, barber, and city councilman. While Winfrey has been cited as the richest African American of the 20th century, she does not come from a rich, or even middle class, family...
“ Three words... THE COLOR PURPLE. Literally one of the greatest performances put on film. ” - Tsquared23
 
17.
Audrey Tautou
Actress, Amélie
Audrey Justine Tautou was born on August 9, 1976 in Beaumont, France, to Evelyne Marie Laure (Nuret), a teacher, and Bernard Tautou, a dental surgeon. Audrey showed an interest for comedy at an early age and started her acting lessons at 'Cours Florent'. In 1998 she won the best young actress award in the ninth 'Jeune Comedien de Cinema Festival' in Bezier...
“ She made the entire world fall in love with her in just one role. ” - Tsquared23
 
18.
Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore was born Julie Anne Smith in Fort Bragg, North Carolina on December 3, 1960, the daughter of Anne (Love), a social worker, and Peter Moore Smith, a paratrooper, colonel, and later military judge. Her mother moved to the U.S. in 1951, from Greenock, Scotland. Her father, from Burlington, New Jersey, has German, Irish, German-Jewish, and English ancestry...
“ Never don't like her. But all you need to see is the pharmacy scene in MAGNOLIA. ” - Tsquared23
 
19.
Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon was born Susan Abigail Tomalin in New York City, New York, to Lenora Marie (Criscione) and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, a television producer and advertising executive. She is of Italian (mother) and English, Irish, Welsh, and German (father) descent. Soon after the 1968 Democratic convention...
“ She's been around forever and there's a reason for it. Rent LORENZO'S OIL. That's the performance she deserved her Oscar for. ” - Tsquared23
 
20.
Jessica Lange
Actress, Big Fish
Jessica Phyllis Lange was born 1949 in Cloquet, Minnesota, to Dorothy Florence (Sahlman) and Albert John Lange, a traveling salesman and teacher. She is of Finnish (mother) and Dutch and German (father) descent. She obtained a scholarship to study art at the University of Minnesota, but instead went to Paris to study drama...
“ Always loved her and then I saw GREY GARDENS... Unreal. ” - Tsquared23
 
21.
Shirley MacLaine
Actress, The Apartment
Shirley MacLaine was born Shirley MacLean Beaty in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother, Kathlyn Corinne (MacLean), was a drama teacher from Nova Scotia, Canada, and her father, Ira Owens Beaty, a professor of psychology and real estate agent, was from Virginia. Her brother, Warren Beatty, was born on March 30, 1937. Her ancestry includes English and Scottish...
“ One of the last Greats. TERMS OF ENDEARMENT is her crowning glory. ” - Tsquared23
 
22.
Miranda Richardson
Actress, Sleepy Hollow
Miranda Richardson was born in Southport, Lancashire, England on March 3, 1958, to Marian Georgina (Townsend) and William Alan Richardson, a marketing executive. She has one sister, eight years her senior. Her parents and sister are not involved in the performing arts. At an early age she performed in school plays...
“ Cruelly under rated. This amazing actress can go from comedy to drama without breaking a sweat. ” - Tsquared23
 
23.
Helen Mirren
Actress, The Queen
Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. Mirren attended St...
“ Love her. True class. ” - Tsquared23
 
24.
Viola Davis
Actress, The Help
Actress Viola Davis was born on her grandmother's farm, at the then-Singleton Plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina. When she was two months old her family moved to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father, Dan Davis, worked as a horse groomer and trainer. Her mother, Mary Alice (Logan), a maid and factory worker...
“ DOUBT is just the beginning. ” - Tsquared23
 
25.
Frances McDormand
Actress, Fargo
Frances Louise McDormand was born on June 23, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois. She was adopted by Canadian-born parents Noreen Eloise (Nickleson), a nurse from Ontario, and Vernon Weir McDormand, a minister from Nova Scotia, who raised her in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. She earned her B.A. in Theater from Bethany College in 1979 and her MFA from Yale in 1982...
“ Great in FARGO, even better in RAISING ARIZONA. Just plain awesome! ” - Tsquared23
 
26.
Diane Keaton
Diane Keaton was born Diane Hall in Los Angeles, California, to Dorothy Deanne (Keaton), an amateur photographer, and John Newton Ignatius "Jack" Hall, a civil engineer and real estate broker. Her ancestry includes Irish, English, German, and Scottish. Keaton studied Drama at Santa Ana College before dropping out to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York...
“ For the love of God just rent MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY!! ” - Tsquared23
 
27.
Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman was born Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, Israel, to a Jewish family. She is the only child of Avner Hershlag, an Israeli-born doctor, and Shelley Stevens, an American-born artist (from Cincinnati, Ohio), who also acts as Natalie's agent. She left Israel for Washington...
“ BLACK SWAN was amazing, but she was even better in LEON. ” - Tsquared23
 
28.
Jodie Foster
Alicia Christian Foster was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962. She is the daughter of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (Almond) and Lucius Fisher Foster III, an Air Force lieutenant colonel and later real estate broker. Brandy had filed for divorce in 1959 after having three children with Lucius, but the exes had a brief re-encounter in 1962 which resulted in Alicia's birth...
“ If she's in it, I'll see it. Just really like her. ” - Tsquared23
 
29.
Michelle Pfeiffer
Actress, Scarface
Michelle Pfeiffer was born in Santa Ana, California, to Donna Jean (Taverna) and Richard Pfeiffer, a heating and air-conditioning contractor. She has an older brother and two younger sisters - Dedee Pfeiffer and Lori Pfeiffer, who both dabbled in acting and modeling but decided against making it their life's work...
“ Ditto. Not to mention one of the most beautiful women who has EVER lived. ” - Tsquared23
 
30.
Faye Dunaway
Actress, Chinatown
Faye Dunaway was born on a farm in Bascom, Florida in 1941, the daughter of Grace April (Smith), a housewife, and John MacDowell Dunaway, Jr., an army officer. After high school she majored in education at the University of Florida, but switched to theatre arts and transferred to Boston University, earning her degree in 1962...
“ Wish she would have a comeback ala Mickey Rourke. In her day no one could touch her. Except... ” - Tsquared23
 
31.
Jane Fonda
Actress, 9 to 5
Born in New York City to legendary screen star Henry Fonda and New York socialite Frances Seymour Brokaw, Jane Seymour Fonda was destined early to an uncommon and influential life in the limelight. Although she initially showed little inclination to follow her father's trade, she was prompted by...
“ Plus she's funny as hell in 9TO5. ” - Tsquared23
 
32.
Emily Watson
Actress, Corpse Bride
Emily Watson was born and raised in London, the daughter of Katharine (Venables), an English teacher, and Richard Watson, an architect. After a self-described sheltered upbringing, Watson attended university for three years in Bristol, studying English literature. She applied to drama school and was rejected on her first attempt...
“ BREAKING THE WAVES... stunning. ” - Tsquared23
 
33.
Ellen Burstyn
Actress, Interstellar
Ellen Burstyn was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Correine Marie (Hamel) and John Austin Gillooly. She is of mostly Irish, German, and French-Canadian descent. Ellen worked a number of jobs before she became an actress. At 14, she was a short-order cook at a lunch counter. After graduating from Detroit's Cass Technical High School...
“ One word... RESURRECTION. Rent it. ” - Tsquared23
 
34.
Laura Dern
Actress, Jurassic Park
Laura Dern was born on February 10, 1967 in Los Angeles, the daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. Dern was exposed to movie sets and the movie industry from infancy, and obtained several bit parts as a child. Her parents divorced when Dern was two and Dern lost contact with her father for several years as a result...
“ Insanely under rated. This woman is amazing. ” - Tsquared23
 
35.
Toni Collette
Toni Collette is an Academy Award-nominated Australian actress, best known for her roles in The Sixth Sense and Little Miss Sunshine. Collette was born Toni Collett (she later added an "e") on November 1, 1972, in Blacktown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. She is the first of three children of Judith (Cook)...
“ Always interesting. Always brave. ” - Tsquared23
 
36.
Amy Ryan
Amy Ryan was born on May 3, 1969 in Queens, New York City, New York, USA as Amy Beth Dziewiontkowski. She is an actress, known for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Gone Baby Gone and Escape Plan. She has been married to Eric Slovin since August 23, 2011. They have one child.
“ Loved her in GONE BABY GONE. Love her even more in THE OFFICE. ” - Tsquared23
 
37.
Amy Adams
Actress, Man of Steel
Amy Lou Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy, to American parents, Kathryn (Hicken) and Richard Kent Adams, a U.S. serviceman who was stationed at Caserma Ederle in Italy at the time. She was raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Castle Rock, Colorado, and has English, as well as smaller amounts of Danish, Swiss-German, and Norwegian, ancestry...
“ JUNE BUG was a revelation. DROP DEAD GORGEOUS was just as good. ” - Tsquared23
 
38.
“ Rounding out my Amy's... This woman is out of control talented. ” - Tsquared23
 
39.
Michelle Monaghan
Actress, Source Code
Michelle Lynn Monaghan was born on March 23, 1976, in Winthrop, Iowa. She is the youngest of three children and the only daughter of Sharon (Hamel), who ran a day care center, and Robert L. Monaghan, a factory worker and farmer. She is of mostly Irish and German descent. After graduating from high school in Iowa...
“ One of my new favorites. Love watching her. ” - Tsquared23
 
40.
Alfre Woodard
Actress, Primal Fear
Alfre Woodard was born on November 8, 1952 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the youngest of three children of Constance, a homemaker, and Marion H. Woodard, an interior designer. She was named by her godmother, who claimed she saw a vision of Alfre's name written out in gold letters. A former high school cheerleader and track star...
“ Two words.... POPEYE JACKSON. ” - Tsquared23
 
41.
Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, a city in the greater Johannesburg-area, in South Africa, the only child of Gerda Theron (née Gerda Jacoba Aletta Maritz) and Charles Jacobus Theron. She was raised on a farm outside the city. Theron is of Afrikaner (Dutch, with some French Huguenot and German) descent, and Afrikaner military figure Danie Theron was her great-great-uncle...
“ MONSTER. ” - Tsquared23
 
42.
Joan Allen
Actress, Face/Off
Joan Allen was born on August 20, 1956 in Rochelle, Illinois, the youngest of four children. She is the daughter of homemaker Dorothea Marie (Wirth) and gas station owner James Jefferson Allen. Her mother's family was German, and her father had English, Scots-Irish, and German ancestry. She attended Rochelle Township High School where she was voted most likely to succeed...
“ Solid. Give this woman an Oscar. ” - Tsquared23
 
43.
Patricia Clarkson
This remarkable, one-of-a-kind actress has, since the early 1990s, intrigued film and TV audiences with her glowing, yet careworn eccentricity and old world-styled glamour. Very much in demand these days as a character player, Patricia Clarkson nevertheless continues to avoid the temptation of money-making mainstream filming while reaping kudos and acting awards in out-of-the-way projects...
“ Love her in everything. Even the bad movies. She's just amazing to watch. ” - Tsquared23
 
44.
Kristin Scott Thomas
Kristin Scott Thomas was born in Redruth, Cornwall, England, to Deborah (Hurlbatt) and Lieutenant Commander Simon Scott Thomas. Her ancestry includes Welsh, English, and Dutch. Her father was a pilot for the British Royal Navy and died in a flying accident in 1964. Her stepfather was also a pilot and died six years later under similar circumstances...
“ Continues to do top notch work. One classy lady. ” - Tsquared23
 
45.
Gwyneth Paltrow
Actress, Se7en
A tall, wafer thin, delicate beauty, Gwyneth Kate Paltrow was born in Los Angeles, the daughter of noted producer and director Bruce Paltrow and Tony award-winning actress Blythe Danner. Her father was from a Jewish family, while her mother has German, and some English and Irish, ancestry. When Gwyneth was eleven...
“ This chick is awesome. Gorgeous. Funny. Sings. And is always a great actress. ” - Tsquared23
 
46.
Anjelica Huston
Anjelica Huston was born on July 8, 1951 in Santa Monica, California, to prima ballerina Enrica "Ricki" (Soma) and director and actor John Huston. Her mother, who was from New York, was of Italian descent, and her father had English, Scottish, and Scots-Irish ancestry. Huston spent most of her childhood overseas...
“ THE GRIFTERS. ROYAL TENENBAUMS. That's enough. ” - Tsquared23
 
47.
Julia Roberts
Actress, Notting Hill
Julia Fiona Roberts never dreamed she would become the most popular actress in America. She was born in Smyrna, Georgia, to Betty Lou (Bredemus) and Walter Grady Roberts, one-time actors and playwrights, and is of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, and Swedish descent. As a child, due to her love of animals...
“ How can you not love her?! Always fun. ” - Tsquared23
 
48.
“ BABEL. She deserved the Oscar. Hands down. ” - Tsquared23
 
49.
“ Fearless. And way intense. ” - Tsquared23
 
50.
Laura Linney
Laura Leggett Linney was born in New York City on February 5, 1964, into a theatre family. Her father was prominent playwright Romulus Linney, whose own great-grandfather was a congressman from North Carolina. Her mother, Miriam Anderson (Leggett), is a nurse. Although she did not live in her father's house (her parents having divorced when she was an infant)...
“ Can't wait to see what else she's gonna do. ” - Tsquared23