the best 60 actors of last 50 years.

View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Anthony Hopkins
Actor, Hannibal
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...
 
2.
Al Pacino
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. Alfredo James Pacino was born on April 25, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, to an Italian-American family...
 
3.
Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, director and screenwriter, is a three-time Academy Award winner and twelve-time nominee. Nicholson is also notable for being one of two actors - the other being Michael Caine - who have received Oscar nomination in every decade from the 1960s through the 1990s...
 
4.
Robert De Niro
Actor, Goodfellas
De Niro's longtime collaboration with Scorsese later earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. He also earned nominations for the psychological thrillers Taxi Driver and Cape Fear, both directed by Scorsese. De Niro received additional Academy Award nominations for Michael Cimino's Vietnam war drama The Deer Hunter...
 
5.
Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington is an American actor and filmmaker. He has received three Golden Globe awards, a Tony Award, and two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for the historical war drama film Glory and Best Actor for his role as a corrupt cop in the crime thriller Training Day. Denzel Hayes Washington...
 
6.
Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson is an American producer and highly prolific actor, having appeared in over 100 films, including Die Hard with a Vengeance, Unbreakable, Shaft, Formula 51, Black Snake Moan, Snakes on a Plane, and the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999-2005), as well as the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
 
7.
Michael Caine
Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London, to Ellen Frances Marie (Burchell), a charlady, and Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, a fish-market porter. He left school at 15 and took a series of working-class jobs before joining the British army and serving in Korea during the Korean War...
 
8.
Liam Neeson
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...
 
9.
Sean Penn
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...
 
10.
Dustin Hoffman
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...
 
11.
Nick Nolte
Nick Nolte was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Helen (King) and Franklin Arthur Nolte, who worked in irrigation pump sales. He has German and British Isles ancestry. Nolte began his career on stage at the Pasadena (California) Playhouse and in regional theatre productions. His breakthrough role was in the TV mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man...
 
12.
Chris Cooper
Christopher Walton Cooper was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to Mary Ann (Walton), a homemaker, and Charles Sherwood Cooper, a cattleman and internist who served as a doctor in the US Air Force. His parents were from Texas, where Cooper was raised. Educated at the University of Missouri school of drama...
 
13.
Kevin Costner
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...
 
14.
Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey Fowler better known by his stage name Kevin Spacey, is an American actor of screen and stage, film director, producer, screenwriter and singer. He began his career as a stage actor during the 1980s before obtaining supporting roles in film and television. He gained critical acclaim in the...
 
15.
Donald Sutherland
The towering presence of Canadian actor Donald Sutherland is often noticed, as are his legendary contributions to cinema. He has appeared in almost 200 different shows and films. He is also the father of renowned actor Kiefer Sutherland, among others. Donald McNichol Sutherland was born in Saint John...
 
16.
Mel Gibson
Actor, Braveheart
Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson was born January 3, 1956 in Peekskill, New York, USA, as the sixth of eleven children of Hutton Gibson, a railroad brakeman, and Anne Patricia (Reilly) Gibson (who died in December of 1990). His mother was Irish, from County Longford, while his American-born father is of mostly Irish descent...
 
17.
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...
 
18.
Don Cheadle
Donald Frank Cheadle was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 29, 1964. His childhood found him moving from city to city with his family: mother Bettye (North), a teacher, father Donald Frank Cheadle, Sr., a clinical psychologist, sister Dawn, and brother Colin. After graduating high school in Denver...
 
19.
Willem Dafoe
Actor, Spider-Man
Willem Dafoe was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, to Muriel Isabel (Sprissler), a nurse, and Dr. William Alfred Dafoe, a surgeon. He is of German, French, English, Irish, and Scottish descent. In 1979, Dafoe was given a small role in Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate from which he was fired. His first feature role came shortly after in Kathryn Bigelow's The Loveless...
 
20.
Edward Norton
Actor, Fight Club
American actor, filmmaker and activist 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...
 
21.
Christian Bale
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...
 
22.
Michael Douglas
Actor, The Game
An actor with over forty years of experience in theatre, film, and television, Michael Douglas branched out into independent feature production in 1975 with the Academy Award-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Since then, as a producer and as an actor-producer, he has shown an uncanny knack for choosing projects that reflect changing trends and public concerns...
 
23.
Christopher Walken
Nervous-looking lead and supporting actor of the American stage and films, with sandy colored hair, pale complexion and a somewhat nervous disposition. He won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Deer Hunter, and has been seen in mostly supporting roles, often portraying psychologically unstable characters...
 
24.
Tom Hanks
Hanks climbed back to the top again with his portrayal of a washed-up baseball legend turned manager in A League of Their Own. Hanks has stated that his acting in earlier roles was not great, but that he subsequently improved. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Hanks noted his "modern era of movie making ...
 
25.
Clive Owen
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, conflicting soul but forceful will...
 
26.
Gene Hackman
Actor, Unforgiven
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...
 
27.
Richard Gere
Humanitarian and actor Richard Gere was born on August 31, 1949, in Philadelphia, the second of five children of Doris Ann (Tiffany), a homemaker, and Homer George Gere, an insurance salesman, both Mayflower descendants. Richard started early as a musician, playing a number of instruments in high school and writing music for high school productions...
 
28.
Ed Harris
By transforming into his characters and pulling the audience in, Ed Harris has earned the reputation as one of the most talented actors of our time. Ed Harris was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, to Margaret (Sholl), a travel agent, and Robert Lee Harris, a bookstore worker who also sang professionally...
 
29.
Russell Crowe
Actor, Gladiator
Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham), English...
 
30.
Clint Eastwood
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 stayed in high school until the comparatively late age of nineteen and worked menial jobs over a period of several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
 
31.
Michael Keaton
Quirky, inventive and handsome American actor Michael Keaton first achieved major fame with his door-busting performance as fast-talking ideas man Bill Blazejowski, alongside a nerdish morgue attendant (Henry Winkler), in Night Shift. He played further comedic roles in Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously...
 
32.
Gary Oldman
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...
 
33.
Ethan Hawke
Actor, Gattaca
Ethan Green Hawke was born on November 6, 1970 in Austin, Texas, to Leslie Carole (Green), a charity worker, and James Steven Hawke, an insurance actuary. His parents were students at the University of Texas at the time but divorced when Ethan was 5 years old. His mother raised him alone for the next five years...
 
34.
Jeremy Irons
Elegant and handsome British actor Jeremy Irons was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight, a small island just off the south coast of England. He is the son of Barbara Anne Brereton (Sharpe) and Paul Dugan Irons, an accountant. Young Jeremy didn't prove very fond of figures. A typical islander, he used to go to mainland England only once a year...
 
35.
Robert Redford
Actor, The Sting
Charles Robert Redford, Jr. was born on August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, California, to Martha (Hart), from Texas, and Charles Robert Redford, an accountant for Standard Oil, who was originally from Connecticut. He is of English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. Robert's mother died in 1955, the year after he graduated from high school...
 
36.
Robert Duvall
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...
 
37.
Ralph Fiennes
Actor Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born on December 22, 1962 in Suffolk, England, to Jennifer Anne Mary Alleyne (Lash), a novelist, and Mark Fiennes, a photographer. He is the eldest of six children. Four of his siblings are also in the arts: Martha Fiennes, a director; Magnus Fiennes...
 
38.
Harvey Keitel
Came to prominence in the early films of Martin Scorsese after working in theatre for around a decade, particularly Mean Streets and Taxi Driver. Faded into anonymity in the 1980s even though he turned in some impressive performances in films by some of America's leading directors. He reemergered into star status with his role as Mr...
 
39.
Morgan Freeman
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...
 
40.
Johnny Depp
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...
 
41.
Ben Kingsley
Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Bhanji on December 31, 1943 in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. His father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was a Kenyan-born medical doctor, of Gujarati Indian descent, and his mother, Anna Lyna Mary (Goodman), was an English actress. Ben began to act in stage plays during the 1960s...
 
42.
Joaquin Phoenix
Actor, Gladiator
Joaquin Phoenix is an American actor, producer, music video director, musician and activist. He started his career by appearing in episodes of television shows with his brother River Phoenix and sister Summer Phoenix. His first major film release was in the comedy-drama film Parenthood (1989). During his period as a child actor he was credited as Leaf Phoenix...
 
43.
Daniel Day-Lewis
Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (A.K.A. Nicholas Blake) (Poet Laureate of England) and his second wife, Jill Balcon. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema and head of the famous Ealing Studios...
 
44.
Tom Wilkinson
Popular British character actor Tom Wilkinson was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, and comes from a long line of urban farmers. He is the son of Marjorie (Percival) and Thomas Wilkinson. Economic hardships forced his family to move to Canada for a few years when Wilkinson was a child; after he had returned to England...
 
45.
John Malkovich
John Gavin Malkovich was born in Christopher, Illinois, to Joe Anne (Choisser), who owned a local newspaper, and Daniel Leon Malkovich, a state conservation director. His paternal grandparents were Croatian. In 1976, Malkovich joined Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, newly founded by his friend Gary Sinise...
 
46.
Jeff Bridges
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...
 
47.
Christopher Plummer
Actor, Up
Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer was born in Toronto, Ontario. He is the only child of Isabella Mary (Abbott), a secretary to the Dean of Sciences at McGill University, and John Orme Plummer, who sold securities and stocks. He is a great-grandson of John Abbott, who was Canada's third Prime Minister (from 1891 to 1892)...
 
48.
Kirk Douglas
Actor, Spartacus
Kirk Douglas is an American actor, producer, director, and author. After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he had his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s and 1960s...
 
49.
Sam Neill
Sam Neill was born in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, to army parents, an English-born mother, Priscilla Beatrice (Ingham), and a New Zealand-born father, Dermot Neill. His family moved to the South Island of New Zealand in 1954. He went to boarding schools and then attended the universities at Canterbury and Victoria...
 
50.
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)...
 
51.
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)...
 
53.
Forest Whitaker
Actor, Arrival
Forest Steven Whitaker has packaged a king-size talent into his hulking 6' 2", 220 lb. frame. He won an Academy Award for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland, and has also won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. He is the fourth African-American male to win an Academy Award for Best Actor...
 
54.
Marlon Brando
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...
 
55.
Michael Fassbender
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)...
 
56.
Kevin Bacon
Actor, Apollo 13
Kevin Norwood Bacon was born on July 8, 1958 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Ruth Hilda (Holmes), an elementary school teacher, and Edmund Norwood Bacon, a prominent architect who was on the cover of Time Magazine in November 1964. Kevin's early training as an actor came from The Manning Street. His debut as the strict Chip Diller in Animal House almost seems like an inside joke...
 
57.
Max von Sydow
Max von Sydow was born Carl Adolf von Sydow on April 10, 1929 in Lund, Skåne, Sweden, to a middle-class family. He is the son of Baroness Maria Margareta (Rappe), a teacher, and Carl Wilhelm von Sydow, an ethnologist and folklore professor. His surname traces back to his father's partial German ancestry...
 
58.
Robin Williams
Robin McLaurin Williams was born on Saturday, July 21st, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator, Anselm J. McLaurin. His mother, Laurie McLaurin (née Janin), was a former model from Mississippi, and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a Ford Motor Company executive from Indiana...
 
59.
Ray Liotta
Actor, Goodfellas
Intense is the word for Ray Liotta. He specializes in psychopathic characters who hide behind a cultivated charm. Even in his nice guy roles in Field of Dreams and Operation Dumbo Drop, you get the impression that something is smoldering inside of him. Liotta maintains a steady stream of work, completing multiple projects per year...
 
60.
Ryan Gosling
Actor, Drive
Canadian actor Ryan Gosling was nominated for Best Actor Oscar (for Half Nelson). He was born Ryan Thomas Gosling on November 12, 1980, in London, Ontario, Canada. He is the son of Donna (Wilson), a secretary, and Thomas Ray Gosling, a traveling salesman. Ryan was the second of their two children...
 
61.
Bruno Ganz
Actor, Downfall
Bruno Ganz debuted at the theatre in 1961 and gained there a good reputation as a solid, young actor. In 1970 he founded with Peter Stein the theatre company "Schaubuehne" of Berlin. His debut at the movies was early and unsuccessful during the decade of 1960. His talent as a reflexive actor with tendencies towards introspection was widely known after Summer Guests.
 
62.
Geoffrey Rush
Geoffrey Roy Rush was born on July 6, 1951, in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, to Merle (Bischof), a department store sales assistant, and Roy Baden Rush, an accountant for the Royal Australian Air Force. His mother was of German descent and his father had English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. He was raised in Brisbane, Queensland, after his parents split up...
 
63.
Matt Dillon
Matt Dillon's successful film career has spanned over three decades and has showcased his wide range of dramatic and comedic talents. Dillon displayed his versatility with an arresting performance co-starring as a racist cop in the critically acclaimed Paul Haggis film Crash. This role earned him nominations for an Academy award...
 
64.
William Hurt
William McChord Hurt was born in Washington, D.C., to Claire Isabel (McGill) and Alfred McChord Hurt, who worked at the State Department. He was trained at Tufts University and The Juilliard School and has been nominated for four Academy Awards, including the most recent nomination for his supporting role in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence...