The 142 Most Talented Character Actors in Hollywoodby tbell1826 | created - 03 Aug 2011 | updated - 28 Aug 2011 | Public
1. 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 ...
4. Ernie Hudson
Actor | Grace and Frankie
As a child growing up in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Ernie Hudson wrote short stories, poems and songs, always thinking that his words might one day come to life on stage. After a short stint in the Marine Corps, he moved to Detroit where he became the resident playwright at Concept East, the oldest ...
Actor | O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Michael Badalucco, a Brooklyn native, got his start in the entertainment industry at a very young age, going to work with his father Giuseppe, a Sicilian-born immigrant, who worked as a carpenter on movie sets. In 1963, during the filming of Fail Safe starring Henry Fonda, a photo of a young boy ...
Actor | Back to the Future Part III
Tom Wilson is a creative artist whose professional career has explored almost every imaginable artistic discipline, blending them into a unique and very individual declaration of a life in the arts. A man of fervent but private faith his whole life, the last few years have been interesting, with ...
7. Viola Davis
Actress | Fences
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), ...
8. Clancy Brown
Actor | The Shawshank Redemption
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...
Actor | Mississippi Burning
Character actor Stephen Tobolowsky was born on May 30, 1951 in Dallas, Texas. Over the past three decades, Tobolowsky has racked up a lengthy list of roles in movies and television across many different genres.
While Tobolowsky initially attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas with ...
10. Mare Winningham
Actress | Philomena
Mary 'Mare' Megan Winningham is an actress and songwriter who has appeared in nearly 100 TV shows and feature films. She began her career in 1976 as a singer, and starred in numerous and diverse film roles before hitting it big as one of the original Brat Pack in Joel Schumacher's St. Elmo's Fire (...
11. Donal Logue
Actor | Blade
Donal Logue's versatility and talent makes him one of the most well respected and beloved actors today. Born in Ottawa, Canada, Logue moved all over the United States, from the Boston area as an infant to various towns on the Mexican border. He returned to Boston to attend Harvard University, where...
12. Keith David
Actor | The Princess and the Frog
Keith David was born Keith David Williams in New York City's Harlem district, and was raised in East Elmhurst, in the Queens section of the city. He is the son of Dolores (Dickenson), a New York Telephone manager, and Lester Williams, a payroll operations director. As a child, he realized he wanted...
13. Kurtwood Smith
Actor | RoboCop
Kurtwood Smith was born on July 3, 1943 in New Lisbon, Wisconsin, USA as Kurtwood Larson Smith. He is an actor, known for RoboCop (1987), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) and That '70s Show (1998). He has been married to Joan Pirkle since November 5, 1988. He was previously married to ...
15. Tess Harper
Actress | No Country for Old Men
Tess Harper attended Southwest Missouri State University, now known as Missouri State University, in Springfield, MO. During the late 1960s, she did "street" acting in the theme parks, Dogpatch, USA, in Jasper, AR, and Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. She was discovered while doing theater work ...
16. Kurt Fuller
Actor | Midnight in Paris
Kurt Fuller is best known for his work in the films Wayne's World (1992) with Mike Myers, Anger Management (2003), with Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler, and most recently as part of the all star cast of Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (2011).
Kurt was born in San Francisco and raised in the ...
17. Stephen Root
Actor | Office Space
One of the most prolific character actors working today, Stephen Root has worked alongside many of the biggest names in Hollywood. Born in Sarasota, Root majored in acting and broadcasting at the University of Florida and remains a die-hard Gator fan. After three years of touring the U.S. and ...
Actress | Alien
Born in Bristol, England, Veronica is the older sister of the popular child actress Angela Cartwright. In her early career, Veronica was cast in a number of popular movies such as The Children's Hour (1961), Spencer's Mountain (1963) and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963). As such, she was cast as...
19. Glynn Turman
Actor | Super 8
New York City-born African-American actor Glynn Turman enjoyed his first real taste of acting success at the age of 13 originating the role of Travis Younger on Broadway in Lorraine Hansberry's landmark play "A Raisin in the Sun" in 1959 opposite Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil and Diana ...
20. Kevin Corrigan
Actor | The Get Down
A native of the Bronx, New York, Kevin Corrigan has been acting and writing since the age of 15. He made his film debut in Lost Angels (1989) and around that time, when he was just 17, his original play "The Boiler Room" was produced by the Young Playwrights Festival of New York. He has gone on to ...
22. Martha Plimpton
Actress | The Goonies
She has show biz in her blood. Martha Plimpton was born November 16, 1970, in New York City to two actors: Keith Carradine and Shelley Plimpton. Martha began her career at age 8, when her mom had a friend of hers, composer Elizabeth Swados, enroll her in an actors' workshop. At age 10, she got a ...
23. Bobby Cannavale
Actor | The Station Agent
In both career and in real life, Bobby Cannavale tends to choose the unconventional way of doing things. In the beginning, his decisions may have cost the dark, swarthily good-looking actor some acting roles and/or good-paying money but, in the end, his strong work ethic and sense of self, despite ...
24. 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...
25. Daniel Roebuck
Actor | The Fugitive
Having made his feature film debut starring in the teen comedy Cavegirl Daniel Roebuck quickly realized that there was only one direction to travel in his career. Up!
Soon after Cavegirl, Roebuck established himself as one of the industry's youngest character actors with his haunting portrayal as the...
26. Danny Trejo
Actor | Machete
Danny Trejo was born Dan Trejo in Echo Park, Los Angeles, to Alice (Rivera) and Dan Trejo, a construction worker. A child drug addict and criminal, Trejo was in and out of jail for 11 years. While serving time in San Quentin, he won the lightweight and welterweight boxing titles. Imprisoned for ...
27. Richard Riehle
Actor | The Man from Earth
Richard Riehle was born in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, to Mary Margaret (Walsh), a nurse, and Herbert John Riehle, an assistant postmaster. He is of German and Irish descent. Richard attended the University of Notre Dame, where he became heavily involved with the University Theatre. Appearing in ...
28. Stanley Tucci
Actor | Big Night
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 ...
29. Loretta Devine
Actress | Crash
Loretta Devine was born August 21, 1949 in Houston, Texas, to Eunice O'Neal (née Toliver), a beautician, and James Devine, who worked as a laborer. Loretta grew up in the Acres Home area of Houston and later enrolled at the University of Houston, where she earned a a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and ...
30. Frances Conroy
Actress | Six Feet Under
Veteran stage actress Frances Conroy was introduced and encouraged by her parents to explore the elements of theater. Born in 1953 in Monroe, Georgia, she attended high school in Long Island and experienced classes at the Neighborhood Playhouse as a teenager. The pale, blue-eyed redhead also ...
31. Frances Fisher
Actress | Titanic
Frances Fisher began by apprenticing at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. She spent 14 years based in New York City, playing leads in over 30 productions of plays by such noted writers as John Arden, Noël Coward, Emily Mann, Joe Orton, Sam Shepard, William Shakespeare, Jean Claude Van ...
Actress | The Green Mile
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 ...
34. Joe Morton
Actor | Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Joe Morton was born on October 18, 1947 in New York, New York, USA. He is a television, film, and theater actor, best known for The Brother from Another Planet (1984), Terminator 2 (1991), Eureka (2006), and Scandal (2012). He also writes and directs, and is a singer/songwriter.
36. Garret Dillahunt
Actor | 12 Years a Slave
Garret grew up in the state of Washington and attended the University of Washington where he studied journalism. He received his MFA from New York University's Graduate Acting Program. He appeared on and off Broadway and in theaters around the country before he began pursuing film and television ...
39. Bill Smitrovich
Actor | The November Man
Connecticut-born actor Bill Smitrovich (on May 16, 1947) started his acting career rather late. A Masters degree holder from Smith College and a former acting teacher at the University of Massachusetts, the hefty actor earned his big break in an understudy role in the world premiere of Arthur Miller...
40. Alan Dale
Actor | Star Trek: Nemesis
Alan Dale was born on May 6, 1947 in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand. He is best known for his eight year role as Jim Robinson in the long running Australian soap opera Neighbours (1985), played Caleb in the hit Fox series The O.C. (2003), featured on Lost (2004) and has a long list of recurring...
Actress | The Others
Fionnula Flanagan was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. From an early age she grew up speaking both English and Irish on a daily basis. Her parents weren't native Irish speakers but wanted Fionnula and her four siblings to learn the language. Her mother used to say, "A nation without a language ...
42. Raymond J. Barry
Actor | Just Married
Raymond J. Barry was born in New York, and attended Brown University, where he was a star athlete in football, basketball, and track. While there, he earned his degree in Philosophy and as a senior, was cast in the stage production of "Picnic," where he played a football player. He then entered the...
43. Gary Basaraba
Actor | Suburbicon
Gary Basaraba left the Yale School of Drama and began his career working for many of the most highly acclaimed directors of our times. His career has spanned all genres of film and television from cutting edge art film such as "The Last Temptation of Christ" to beloved classics such as "Fried Green...
44. Allison Janney
Actress | The Help
Allison Janney is an award-winning actress who has earned a solid reputation in stage productions and in many supporting roles on screen, and who more recently has become prominent by portraying one of the major characters in the popular TV series The West Wing (1999).
Entertainment Weekly magazine ...
45. Jim Beaver
Actor | Deadwood
Jim Beaver is an American character actor, best known for his leading roles on the TV series Deadwood (2004) and Supernatural (2005). Born in Laramie, Wyoming a minister's son, he was raised in and around Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Following high school and a year of college, he joined the ...
Actor | Star Trek
An acting chameleon who can easily lose himself in the life of his film and television characters, Clifton Collins Jr. is a native Angeleno who grew up destined to become a part of the Latino entertainment industry. His great-grandparents on his mother's side were a Mexican trumpet player and ...
49. Gary Cole
Gary Cole was born on September 20, 1956 in Park Ridge, Illinois, USA as Gary Michael Cole. He is known for his work on Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), One Hour Photo (2002) and Office Space (1999). He has been married to Teddi Siddall since March 8, 1992. They have one child.
Actor | Blade Runner
Prolific and versatile character actor William Sanderson was born on January 10, 1944, in Memphis, Tennessee. His mother was an elementary school teacher and his father was a landscape designer. William served two years in the US Army. Following his military service he attended Southern Methodist ...
51. Peter Dinklage
Actor | Game of Thrones
Peter Dinklage is an American actor. Since his breakout role in The Station Agent (2003), he has appeared in numerous films and theatre plays. Since 2011, Dinklage has portrayed Tyrion Lannister in the HBO series Game of Thrones. For this he won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama ...
Actress | 24
Mary Lynn Rajskub is an American actress, comedienne and singer who is best known as a co-star of Kiefer Sutherland on the popular television series 24 (2001).
She was born on June 22, 1971, in Detroit, Michigan, into a family of Irish, Czech, and Polish ancestry. She was brought up in Trenton, ...
53. Terry Kinney
Actor | Good Behavior
Terry Kinney, the stage, film and television actor, was born on January 29, 1954 in Lincoln, Illinois and attended Illinois State University. While at university, his friend, the aspiring actor Jeff Perry, took Kinney to Chicago to see a production of "Grease" in which his best friend, Gary Sinise,...
Actor | Powder
Sean Patrick Flanery was born in Lake Charles, La. and raised in a small town outside of Houston, Texas. While attending the University of St. Thomas in Houston, he saw a beautiful girl leaving a building on campus every Monday and decided to drop an English class and sign up for "whatever the hell...
Actor | Legends of Tomorrow
Johnathon Schaech was born on September 10, 1969 in Edgewood, Maryland, USA. He is an actor and writer, known for Legends of Tomorrow (2016), Ray Donovan (2013) and Prom Night (2008). He has been married to Julie Solomon since July 24, 2013. They have one child. He was previously married to Jana ...
57. John Amos
Actor | Coming to America
A native of New Jersey and son of a mechanic, African-American John Amos has relied on his imposing build, eruptive nature and strong, forceful looks to obtain acting jobs, and a serious desire for better roles to earn a satisfying place in the annals of film and TV. He has found it a constant ...
59. Muse Watson
Rugged character actor Muse Watson is an established stage actor and veteran screen performer with a host of widely varying characters to his name, ranging from the hook-wielding killer in "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997), to the gentle, cat-loving con in the Fox television suspense drama "...
60. JoBeth Williams
Actress | Poltergeist
The product of a musical family, Margaret JoBeth Williams was born in Houston, Texas, to Frances Faye (Adams), a dietitian, and Fredric Roger Williams, a wire/cable company manager and opera singer. Her father encouraged her early interest in theater during high school. She made her professional ...
61. Michael Madsen
Actor | The Hateful Eight
Michael Madsen's long career spans 25 years and more than 170 films in which he has played memorable characters in myriad box office hits, including: Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) Sin City (2005), Hell Ride (2008), Die Another Day (2002), Donnie Brasco (1997), Species (1995), ...
62. Margo Martindale
Actress | August: Osage County
Margo Martindale was born July 18, 1951 in Jacksonville, Texas, to Margaret (Pruitt) and William Everett Martindale, a lumber company owner and dog handler. She is the youngest of three children, and the only daughter. Margo attended Lon Marris College, and later transferred to University of ...
63. Betty Buckley
Actress | Split
Betty Buckley, who has been called "The Voice of Broadway," is one of theater's most respected and legendary leading ladies. She is an actress/singer whose career spans theater, film, television and concert halls around the world. She is a 2012 Theatre Hall of Fame inductee and the 2017 recipient ...
64. Kirk Acevedo
Actor | Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Born and raised in the Bronx, and spent most of his formative years hanging out in New York City, Kirk Acevedo, who is of Puerto Rican descent, received his BFA from SUNY Purchase and founded a theater company called The Rorschach Group. After guest-starring on several television shows like New ...
66. Celia Weston
Actress | Knight and Day
Direct from Spartanburg, South Carolina, this tall, blonde actress may not exude shimmering star potential, but she certainly has earned the respect of stage and film audiences alike for her many touching portrayals of matter-of-fact, down-to-earth Southern folk. For someone who first attracted ...
68. Virginia Madsen
Actress | Sideways
One of the hottest stars of the mid-1980s, Virginia Madsen has since played a variety of roles that have cemented her reputation as a fantastic actress who can adapt to any part.
Virginia was born in Chicago, Illinois, and belongs to an acting family -- with her brother, Michael Madsen, also an ...
69. Timothy Olyphant
Actor | Justified
From Timothy Olyphant's first screen appearances, such as his two-minute bit in The First Wives Club (1996), to "Nicko", whose presence at times dwarfed the island in A Perfect Getaway (2009), he has been a force to be reckoned with.
Born in Hawaii, Timothy David Olyphant was raised in Modesto, ...
70. Annie Corley
Actress | Law Abiding Citizen
Annie Corley graduated from McCutcheon High School in Lafayette, Indiana and later enrolled at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Since 1990, Annie has appeared in several films, her most notable role to date is Meryl Streep's on-screen daughter in The Bridges of Madison County (1995). She ...
71. Keith Szarabajka
Actor | Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Keith Szarabajka was born on December 2, 1952 in Oak Park, Illinois, USA. He is an actor and writer, known for Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), The Dark Knight (2008) and Argo (2012). He was previously married to Jennifer Jay Stewart.
72. Dianne Wiest
Actress | Hannah and Her Sisters
One of three children (she has two brothers, Greg and Don), Dianne Wiest was born in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Her mother, Anne Stewart (Keddie), was a nurse from Auchtermuchty, Scotland, and her father, Bernard John Wiest, was a college dean and social worker who was born in Pennsylvania, of ...
73. Ron Perlman
Actor | Hand of God
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, ...
74. Tom Virtue
Actor | Even Stevens
Tom Virtue was born on November 19, 1957 in Sherman, Texas, USA as Thomas Edwin Virtue Jr. He is an actor and editor, known for Even Stevens (2000), Iron Man Three (2013) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011). He has been married to Alima Khaiser since 1999. They have four children.
75. Dean Winters
Actor | John Wick
Dean Winters is known for his role as Ryan O'Reily on HBO's award-winning series Oz (1997) and as Tina Fey's character's "Beeper King" boyfriend on the Emmy-winning comedy, 30 Rock (2006). His noteworthy comedic performance was recently included in Entertainment Weekly's "Must List" as well as ...
77. Jason Beghe
Actor | The Next Three Days
Jason Beghe was born on March 12, 1960 in New York City, New York, USA as Jason Deneen Beghe. He is an actor and producer, known for The Next Three Days (2010), Thelma & Louise (1991) and G.I. Jane (1997). He has been married to Angie Janu since 2000. They have two children.
78. Miguel Ferrer
Actor | Traffic
Miguel Ferrer was born on February 7, 1955 in Santa Monica, California, USA as Miguel José Ferrer. He was an actor, known for Traffic (2000), Crossing Jordan (2001) and RoboCop (1987). He was married to Lori Weintraub and Leilani Sarelle. He died on January 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
79. Shawn Hatosy
Actor | Animal Kingdom
Shawn Hatosy was born on December 29, 1975 in Frederick, Maryland, USA as Shawn Wayne Hatosy. He is an actor and writer, known for Animal Kingdom (2016), Southland (2009) and Alpha Dog (2006). He has been married to Kelly Albanese since 2010. They have two children.
81. W. Earl Brown
Actor | Deadwood
As a rule, W. Earl Brown does not usually speak of himself in the third-person. However, the Internet Movie Database will not accept biographical information written in the first person, therefore:
W Earl Brown was born and raised in western Kentucky. Realizing early in life that he had aversion to ...
Actress | The Abyss
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was born in Lombard, Illinois, to Mary D. (Pagone) and Frank A. Mastrantonio, who ran a bronze foundry. Her parents were of Italian descent. She was raised in Oak Park, IL, and began her career in school plays as a teenager. Mary attended the University of Illinois and ...
83. Melanie Lynskey
Actress | Togetherness
At 16 years of age, Melanie Lynskey captivated audiences with her astonishing debut in Peter Jackson's Academy Award-nominated Heavenly Creatures (1994). Her portrayal of an outcast teen whose relationship with her best friend (Kate Winslet) spirals dangerously out of control was described as "...
87. Jimmi Simpson
Actor | Westworld
Jimmi Simpson is an American actor. He was born in Hackettstown, New Jersey, the youngest of three brothers. After graduating from Bloomsburg University with a Bachelor of Arts in theater, he acted for four seasons at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.
Simpson made his film debut in...
88. Idris Elba
Actor | Beasts of No Nation
An only child, Idrissa Akuna Elba was born and raised in London, England. His father, Winston, is from Sierra Leone and worked at Ford Dagenham; his mother, Eve, is from Ghana and had a clerical duty. Idris attended school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting, before he dropped...
90. Denis O'Hare
Actor | Dallas Buyers Club
Denis O'Hare was born on January 17, 1962 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA as Denis Patrick Seamus O'Hare. He is an actor, known for Dallas Buyers Club (2013), Milk (2008) and Garden State (2004). He has been married to Hugo Redwood since July 28, 2011. They have one child.
Actor | Breaking Bad
Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, to an Italian carpenter/stagehand father from Naples and an opera-singing African-American mother from Alabama. His parents, working in Europe at the time of his birth, settled in Manhattan by the time he was six, and that's ...
92. Roxanne Hart
Actress | Highlander
Roxanne Hart was born July 27, 1952 in Trenton, New Jersey, to Joan Irene (McKee) and Edward J. Hart, Jr. Her father was a teacher who later became the school principal at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York. Roxanne graduated from Greeley in 1969. She appeared in several Broadway ...
93. Bruce Campbell
Actor | Army of Darkness
In 1979 with his Detroit friends, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell raised $350,000 for a low-budget film, The Evil Dead (1981), in which he starred and co-executive produced. Completed piecemeal over four years, the film first gained notoriety in England where it became the best-selling ...
95. Ronny Cox
Actor | Total Recall
Ronny Cox is a superbly talented actor, singer-songwriter and musician who has been consistently active in Hollywood for over 40 years portraying a diverse range of characters. Born in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, Cox received positive reviews in his first film role for his portrayal of ill-fated ...
96. Stephen Fry
Actor | Gosford Park
Writer, actor, comedian, doer of good works, excellent good friend to the famous and not, Fry lives in his London SW1 flat and his Norfolk house when not traveling. Famous for his public declaration of celibacy in the "Tatler" back in the 1980s, Emma Thompson has characterised her friend as "90 ...
98. Rainn Wilson
Actor | The Office
Rainn Wilson lives in Los Angeles with his wife, fiction writer Holiday Reinhorn (Big Cats), and his son, Walter McKenzie Wilson who was born in 2004. He grew up in Seattle, Washington but graduated from New Trier H.S. in Winnetka, Illinois. After attending both Tufts University and the University ...
100. Gregory Itzin
Actor | 24
Gregory Itzin was born on April 20, 1948 in Washington, District of Columbia, USA. He is an actor, known for 24 (2001), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and Law Abiding Citizen (2009). He has been married to Judith L. Goldman since September 29, 1979. They have two children.