I've tried to compile a list of the best actors, whose acting talent is just fantastic. Everything (or nearly everything) they have acted in has been solid and brilliant. I have also tried to get a wide variety in terms of ages and the time they have spent acting. So there are old ones, new ones and maybe a few I believe are up and coming. Please feel free to suggest any others if I have missed any out.
Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, and a living legend, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. Born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the elder of two children in a middle-class family, Eastwood finished high school at the comparatively late age of 19 and worked odd jobs for several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
Eugene Allen Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Anna Lyda Elizabeth (Gray) and Eugene Ezra Hackman, who operated a newspaper printing press. He is of Pennsylvania Dutch (German), English, and Scottish ancestry, partly by way of Canada, where his mother was born. After several moves...
Christian Charles Philip Bale was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK on January 30, 1974, to English parents Jennifer "Jenny" (James) and David Charles Howard Bale. His mother was a circus performer and his father, who was born in South Africa, was a commercial pilot. The family lived in different countries throughout Bale's childhood...
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro, thought of as one of the greatest actors of all time, was born in Greenwich Village, 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 Irish, German, Dutch, English, and French. He was trained at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the American Workshop...
Edward Harrison Norton was born on August 18, 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts, and was raised in Columbia, Maryland. His mother, Lydia Robinson "Robin" (Rouse), was a foundation executive and teacher of English, and a daughter of famed real estate developer James Rouse, who developed Columbia, MD; she passed away of brain cancer on March 6...
Since his screen debut as a young Amish Farmer in Peter Weir
, Viggo Mortensen
's career has been marked by a steady string of well-rounded performances. Mortensen was born in New York City, to Grace Gamble (Atkinson) and Viggo Peter Mortensen, Sr. His father was Danish, his mother was American...
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 attending St...
Jeffrey Leon Bridges was born on December 4, 1949 in Los Angeles, California, the son of well-known film and TV star Lloyd Bridges
and his long-time wife Dorothy Dean Bridges
(née Simpson). He grew up amid the happening Hollywood scene with big brother Beau Bridges
. Both boys popped up, without billing...
Gary Oldman is a talented British born movie actor who played Sid Vicious in Sid & Nancy, Drexl in True Romance, and George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He starred in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the remake of RoboCop. He is also an English filmmaker, musician and author. Renowned for his "big" acting style...
Kevin Michael Costner was born on January 18, 1955 in Lynwood, California, the third child of Bill Costner
, a ditch digger and ultimately an electric line servicer for Southern California Edison, and Sharon Costner
(née Tedrick), a welfare worker. His older brother, Dan, was born in 1950. A middle brother died at birth in 1953...
One of the greatest actors in all of film history, Al Pacino established himself during one of film's greatest decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies. Pacino was born on April 25, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, to an Italian-American family. His parents...
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier
in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949...
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 second son of actress Eileen Ryan
(née Annucci) and director...
Since the 2000s, DiCaprio has received critical acclaim for his work in a wide range of film genres. His subsequent films include The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), the biographical crime drama Catch Me If You Can (2002) and the epic historical drama Gangs of New York (2002) which also marked his first of many collaborations with director Martin Scorsese...
Laurence Olivier could speak William Shakespeare
's lines as naturally as if he were "actually thinking them", said English playwright Charles Bennett
, who met Olivier in 1927. Laurence Kerr Olivier was born in Dorking, Surrey, England, to Agnes Louise (Crookenden) and Gerard Kerr Olivier, a High Anglican priest. His surname came from a great-great-grandfather who was of French Huguenot origin...
With 12 Academy Award nominations (eight for Best Actor and four for Best Supporting Actor), Nicholson is the most nominated male actor in Academy Awards history. Only Nicholson (1960s-2000s), Michael Caine (1960s-2000s), Paul Newman (1950s-1960s, 1980s-2000s), and Laurence Olivier (1930s-1970s) have been nominated for an acting (lead or supporting) Academy Award in five decades...
Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery Lois (Sutcliffe) and Denis Murray McKellen, a civil engineer. He is of Scottish, Northern Irish, and English descent. During his early childhood, his parents moved with Ian and his sister Jean to the mill town of Wigan...
Veteran actor and director Robert Selden Duvall was born on January 5, 1931, in San Diego, CA, to Mildred Virginia (Hart), an amateur actress, and William Howard Duvall, a career military officer who later became an admiral. Duvall majored in drama at Principia College (Elsah, IL), then served a two-year hitch in the army after graduating in 1953...
Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was perhaps the only actor of his generation to have starred in so many films and cult saga. Although most notable for personifying bloodsucking vampire, Dracula, on screen, he portrayed other varied characters on screen, most of which were villains, whether it be Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film...
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...
Anthony Hopkins was born on December 31, 1937, in Margam, Wales, to Muriel Anne (Yeats) and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker. His parents were both of half Welsh and half English descent. Influenced by Richard Burton
, he decided to study at College of Music and Drama and graduated in 1957. In 1965, he moved to London and joined the National Theatre...
Sir Patrick Stewart was born in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England, to Gladys (Barrowclough), a textile worker and weaver, and Alfred Stewart, who was in the army. He was a member of various local drama groups from about age 12. He left school at age 15 to work as a junior reporter on a local paper; he quit when his editor told him he was spending too much time at the theatre and not enough working...
As enigmatic as he is talented, Kevin Spacey has always kept the details of his private life closely guarded. As he explained in a 1998 interview with the London Evening Standard, "the less you know about me, the easier it is to convince you that I am that character on screen. It allows an audience to come into a movie theatre and believe I am that person"...
Even though he had burned up the London stage for nearly a decade--and appeared in several films--Michael Sheen was not really "discovered" by American audiences until his critically-acclaimed turn as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
in the 1999 Broadway revival of "Amadeus". Sheen was born in Newport, Wales, the only son of Irene (Thomas) and Meyrick Sheen...
Tom Hardy made his debut in Ridley Scott's 2001 war film Black Hawk Down. Hardy's other notable films include the science fiction film Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), the crime film RocknRolla (2008), biographical psychological drama Bronson (2008), science fiction thriller Inception (2010), sports drama Warrior (2011)...
Henry Jaynes Fonda was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, to Elma Herberta (Jaynes) and William Brace Fonda, who worked in advertising and printing. His recent ancestry included Dutch, English, and Scottish. Fonda started his acting debut with the Omaha Community Playhouse, a local amateur theater troupe directed by Dorothy Brando...
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 out of school when he was 15...
Hugh Michael Jackman is an Australian actor, singer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer and producer. Jackman has won international recognition for his roles in major films, notably as superhero, period, and romance characters. He is best known for his long-running role as Wolverine in the X-Men film series...
Bryan Lee Cranston is an American actor, voice actor, writer and director. He is perhaps best-known for his roles as "Walter White" on the AMC drama series, Breaking Bad
, for which he has won four consecutive Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy Awards, and as "Hal", the father on the Fox situation comedy...
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, and forceful will...
Ben Kingsley is an English actor. In a career spanning over 40 years, he has won an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA, two Golden Globes and a Screen Actors Guild Award. He is known for his starring role as Mohandas Gandhi in the 1982 film Gandhi, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. He is also known for his performances in the films Schindler's List (1993)...
Ewan Gordon McGregor was born on March 31, 1971 in Perth, Perthshire, Scotland, to Carol Diane (Lawson) and James Charles McGregor, both teachers. His uncle is actor Denis Lawson
. He was raised in Crieff. At age 16, he left Morrison Academy to join the Perth Repertory Theatre. His parents encouraged him to leave school and pursue his acting goals rather than be unhappy...
Christopher Eccleston trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and first came to public attention as Derek Bentley in Let Him Have It
. However, it was a regular role in the television series Cracker
that made him a recognizable figure in the United Kingdom. He appeared in the low-budget thriller Shallow Grave
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...
Michael Fassbender was born in Heidelberg, Germany, to a German father, Josef, and an Irish mother, Adele (originally from Larne, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland). Michael was raised in the town of Killarney, Co. Kerry, in south-west Ireland, where his family moved to when he was two years old. His parents ran a restaurant (his father is a chef)...
British actor Mark Strong, who played Jim Prideaux in the 2011 remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
, is often cast as cold, calculating villains. But before he became a famous actor, he intended to pursue a career in law. Strong was born Marco Giuseppe Salussolia in London, England, to an Austrian mother and an Italian father...
McAvoy was born on 21 April 1979 in Glasgow, Scotland, to Elizabeth (née Johnstone), a nurse, and James McAvoy senior, a bus driver. He was raised on a housing estate in Drumchapel, Glasgow by his maternal grandparents (James, a butcher, and Mary) after his parents divorced when James was 7. He went to St Thomas Aquinas Secondary in Jordanhill...
A native of Cat Island, The Bahamas (though born in Miami during a mainland visit by his parents), Poitier grew up in poverty as the son of farmers Evelyn (Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, who also drove a cab. He had little formal education and at the age of 15 was sent to Miami to live with his brother...
Classically-trained actor Pete Postlethwaite was born Peter William Postlethwaite in 1946 and was a distinguished character actor on stage, TV and film. Growing up in Warrington, Lancashire amid middle-class surroundings, he went to college and while completing his studies developed an interest in theatre...
Ralph Fiennes is an English actor. A noted Shakespeare interpreter, he first achieved success onstage at the Royal National Theatre. Fiennes' portrayal of Nazi war criminal Amon Goeth in Schindler's List (1993) earned him nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor...
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy in Andover...
Hugo Wallace Weaving was born on April 4, 1960 in Nigeria, to English parents Anne (Lennard), a tour guide and teacher, and Wallace Weaving, a seismologist. Hugo has an older brother, Simon, and a younger sister, Anna, who both also live and work in Australia. During his early childhood, the Weaving family spent most of their time traveling between Nigeria...
A genuine star of cinema on screen and a fiery hell raiser off screen, Richard St John Harris was born on October 1, 1930 in Limerick, Ireland, to a farming family. He was the son of Mildred Josephine (Harty) and Ivan John Harris, and was an excellent rugby player, with a strong passion for literature...
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...
Sam Rockwell was born on November 5, 1968, in San Mateo, California, the child of two actors, Pete Rockwell
and Penny Hess. The family moved to New York when he was two years old, living first in the Bronx and later in Manhattan. When Sam was five years old, his parents split up, at which point he and his father moved to San Francisco...
James Byron Dean was born February 8, 1931 in Marion, Indiana, to Mildred Marie (Wilson) and Winton A. Dean, a farmer turned dental technician. His mother died when Dean was nine, and he was subsequently raised on a farm by his aunt and uncle in Fairmount, Indiana. After grade school, he moved to New York to pursue his dream of acting...
Alec Guinness was an English actor. After an early career on the stage, he was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including The Ladykillers and Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He is also known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946)...
Robert Downey Jr.
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 filmographer Robert Downey Sr.
and actress Elsie Downey
(née Elsie Ann Ford)...
Bill Murray is an American actor, comedian, and writer. The fifth of nine children, he was born William James Murray in Wilmette, Illinois, to Lucille (Collins), a mailroom clerk, and Edward Joseph Murray II, who sold lumber. He is of Irish descent. Among his siblings are actors Brian Doyle-Murray
, Joel Murray
Mark Ruffalo was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to Marie Rose (Hebert), a stylist and hairdresser, and Frank Lawrence Ruffalo, a construction painter. His father's ancestry is Italian, and his mother is of half French-Canadian and half Italian descent. Mark moved with his family to Virginia Beach, Virginia...
A tall, wavy-haired US actor with a deep, resonant voice, Clancy Brown has proved himself a versatile performer with first-class contributions to theater, feature films, television series and even animation. Clarence J. Brown III was born in 1959 in Urbana, Ohio, to Joyce Helen (Eldridge), a concert pianist...
Sir Michael Gambon was born in Cabra, Dublin, Ireland, to Mary (Hoare), a seamstress, and Edward Gambon, an engineer. After joining the National Theatre, under the Artistic Directorship of Sir Laurence Olivier
, Gambon went on to appear in a number of leading roles in plays written by Alan Ayckbourn
James Maitland Stewart was born on 20 May 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English, descent. Stewart was educated at a local prep school, Mercersburg Academy, where he was a keen athlete (football and track)...
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)...
Ken Watanabe was born on October 21, 1959 in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. In 1978, he moved to Tokyo to pursue his career as an actor. He drew the attention of the critics when Yukio Ninagawa
, a famous Japanese director, chose him for the lead role in one of his plays even though Ken was still an acting student...
Michael Caine is an English actor and author. Renowned for his distinctive working class cockney accent, Caine has appeared in over 115 films and is regarded as a British film icon. He made his breakthrough in the 1960s with starring roles in a number of acclaimed British films, including Zulu (1964)...
Tommy Lee Jones
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 for boys in Dallas...
Edward James Olmos
Edward James Olmos was born in Los Angeles, California, to Eleanor (Huizar) and Pedro Olmos, who was a mail carrier and welder. His family was of Mexican descent. If Olmos had followed the first love of his life, he would have been a professional baseball player. But by age 13, another love entered his life: rock music...
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 (Lowe), from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at Fordham University...
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 old...
This transatlantic talent was born John Vincent Hurt on January 22, 1940 in Shirebrook, a coal mining village near the busy market town of Chesterfield, in Derbyshire, England. He is the son of Phyllis (Massey), an engineer and one-time actress, and Arnould Herbert Hurt, an Anglican clergyman and mathematician...
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, and went to Santa Monica City College...
Bill Nighy is an award-winning British character actor. He was born 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, he gained 'O'-levels in English Language and English Literature and enjoyed reading...
Benjamin Edward Meara Stiller was born on November 30, 1965, in New York City, New York, to legendary comedians Jerry Stiller
and Anne Meara
. His father is of Austrian Jewish and Polish Jewish descent, and his mother was of Irish ancestry (she converted to Judaism). It's not surprising that...
Born in West Covina, California, but raised in New York City, Tim Robbins is the son of former The Highwaymen
singer Gil Robbins
and actress Mary Robbins
(née Bledsoe). Robbins studied drama at UCLA, where he graduated with honors in 1981. That same year, he formed the Actors' Gang theater group...
Thomas William Hiddleston was born in Westminster, London, to English-born Diana Patricia (Servaes) and Scottish-born James Norman Hiddleston. His mother is a former stage manager, and his father, a scientist, was the managing director of a pharmaceutical company. He started off at the preparatory school...
An only child, Idris Elba was born and raised in Hackney, London, England. His father, Winston, is from Sierra Leone and worked at a Ford motor factory. His mother, Eve, is from Ghana and had a clerical duty. Idris attended school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting. He gained a place in the National Youth Music Theatre - thanks to a £1,500 Prince's Trust grant...
Chris Hemsworth was born in Melbourne, Australia, to Leonie (van Os), a teacher of English, and Craig Hemsworth, a social-services counselor. His brothers are actors Liam Hemsworth
and Luke Hemsworth
. He is of Dutch (from his immigrant maternal grandfather), Irish, English, Scottish, and German ancestry. His uncle, by marriage, was Rod Ansell, the bushman who inspired the film Crocodile Dundee
Dominic Edward Cooper was born and raised in Greenwich, London, England. His mother, Julie (Heron), is a nursery school teacher and a keen theater-goer. His father, Brian Cooper, is an auctioneer. They divorced when Dominic was age 5. His maternal great-grandfather was film enthusiast E.T. Heron, who published The Kinematograph Weekly...
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His father had English, and some German, ancestry, while his mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese. Tom grew up in what he has called a "fractured" family...
Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award winner Woody Harrelson was born on July 23, 1961 in Midland, Texas, to Diane Lou (Oswald) and Charles Harrelson
. He grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, and, after receiving degrees in theater arts and English from Hanover College, had a brief stint in New York theater. He was soon cast as Woody on TV series Cheers
Christopher Robert Evans began his acting career in typical fashion: performing in school productions and community theater. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Lisa (Capuano), who worked at the Concord Youth Theater, and G. Robert Evans III, a dentist. His uncle is congressman Mike Capuano
Tony Chiu Wai Leung
Tony Leung Chiu Wai was born in Hong Kong on 27 June 1962. He and his younger sister were raised by their mother after his father left them. In 1982, after passing the training courses of TVB, Tony became a TV actor and became famous for his comedy style in such TV shows as Lu ding ji
or Jue dai shuang jiao
Known for his breakthrough starring role on Freaks and Geeks
, James Franco was born in Palo Alto, California on April 19, 1978. His mother, Betsy Franco
, is Jewish, and his father, Douglas Eugene "Doug" Franco, was of Portuguese and Swedish descent, and ran a Silicon Valley business. James's mother, a writer, has occasionally acted...
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...
Adrien Nicholas Brody was born in Woodhaven, Queens, New York, the only child of retired history professor Elliot Brody and Hungarian-born photographer Sylvia Plachy
. He accompanied his mother on assignments for the Village Voice, and credits her with making him feel comfortable in front of the camera...
Willard Carroll "Will" Smith, Jr. (born September 25, 1968) is an American actor, comedian, producer, rapper, and songwriter. He has enjoyed success in television, film, and music. In April 2007, Newsweek called him "the most powerful actor in Hollywood". Smith has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and has won four Grammy Awards...
Paddy (Patrick) Considine was born on September 5, 1974 in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire in the U.K. As a teenager, Considine studied a drama course at Burton College where he met with now friend and director Shane Meadows
, who cast Considine in his first role in a feature film as the disturbed character Morell in A Room for Romeo Brass