My 40 Favorite Actors & Actresses

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1.
Charles Chaplin
Writer, Modern Times
Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp; the man with the toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk...
 
2.
Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. She was a blue-blood and a cosmopolitan from birth. Her mother, Ella van Heemstra, was a Dutch baroness; Audrey's father, Joseph Victor Anthony Hepburn-Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, of English and Austrian descent, and worked in business...
 
3.
Sidney Poitier
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...
 
4.
Tatsuya Nakadai
Actor, Ran
Japanese leading man, an important star and one of the handful of Japanese actors well known outside Japan. Nakadai was a tall handsome clerk in a Tokyo shop when director Masaki Kobayashi encountered him and cast him in The Thick-Walled Room. Nakadai was subsequently cast in the lead role in Kobayashi's monumental...
 
5.
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...
 
6.
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...
 
7.
Robert De Niro
Actor, Goodfellas
One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943 in 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 English, Dutch, German, French and Irish. He was trained at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the American Workshop...
 
8.
Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr., a manufacturing executive for Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and Ruth Wood, a housewife turned IBM operator. He had a comfortable, middle-class upbringing in nearby Piedmont. At school Clint took interest in music and mechanics...
 
9.
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...
 
10.
Daniel Day-Lewis
Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (aka 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...
 
11.
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...
 
12.
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...
 
13.
Paul Giamatti
Actor, Sideways
Paul Giamatti is an American actor who has worked steadily and prominently for over twenty years, and is best known for leading roles in the films American Splendor, Sideways, and Barney's Version (for which he won a Golden Globe), and supporting roles in the films Cinderella Man, The Illusionist, and San Andreas...
 
14.
Javier Bardem
Javier Bardem is the youngest member of a family of actors that has been making films since the early days of Spanish cinema. He was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, to actress Pilar Bardem (María del Pilar Bardem Muñoz) and businessman José Carlos Encinas Doussinague. His maternal grandparents were actors Rafael Bardem and Matilde Muñoz Sampedro...
 
15.
Gael García Bernal
Gael García Bernal was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, to Patricia Bernal, an actress and model, and José Ángel García, an actor and director. His stepfather is cinematographer Sergio Yazbek. García Bernal began his acting career as a child, working with his parents in a variety of plays. When he was fourteen...
 
16.
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...
 
17.
Min-sik Choi
Actor, Oldeuboi
Choi Min-shik first made a name for himself in theater before breaking into the film world with a role in Park Chong-won's acclaimed film 'Our Twisted Hero' (1992). In the mid-nineties he continued to act in theater productions as well as in several TV dramas, including Moon Over Seoul with Han Seok-gyu...
 
18.
Sam Rockwell
Actor, Moon
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...
 
19.
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...
 
20.
Penélope Cruz
Known outside her native country as the "Spanish enchantress", Penélope Cruz Sánchez was born in Madrid to Eduardo Cruz, a retailer, and Encarna Sánchez, a hairdresser. As a toddler, she was already a compulsive performer, re-enacting TV commercials for her family's amusement, but she decided to focus her energies on dance...
 
21.
Bruce Willis
Actor and musician Bruce Willis is well known for playing wisecracking or hard-edged characters, often in spectacular action films. Collectively, he has appeared in films that have grossed in excess of $2.5 billion USD, placing him in the top ten stars in terms of box office receipts. Walter Bruce Willis was born on March 19...
 
22.
Byung-hun Lee
Byung-hun Lee was born in 1970 in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up in a wealthy family, thanks to his father, who was a successful businessman. He never dreamed of pursuing acting until a friend of his mother's suggested it. He auditioned for the KBS television network in 1991 and was accepted. His first project was a short lived TV series called "Asphalt My Hometown"...
 
23.
Ewan McGregor
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...
 
24.
Benicio Del Toro
Actor, Snatch
Benicio Del Toro emerged in the mid-1990s as one of the most watchable and charismatic character actors to come along in years. A favorite of film buffs, Del Toro gained mainstream public attention as the conflicted but basically honest Mexican policeman in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic. Benicio was born on February 19...
 
25.
Ryan Gosling
Actor, La La Land
Canadian actor Ryan Gosling is the first person born in the 1980s to have been nominated for the 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...
 
26.
Mark Strong
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...
 
27.
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung
Actor, Ying xiong
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...
 
28.
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...
 
29.
James McAvoy
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...
 
30.
Jennifer Connelly
Jennifer Connelly was born in the Catskill Mountains, New York, to Ilene (Schuman), a dealer of antiques, and Gerard Connelly, a clothing manufacturer. Her father had Irish and Norwegian ancestry, and her mother was from a Jewish immigrant family. Jennifer grew up in Brooklyn Heights, just across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan...
 
31.
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...
 
32.
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 Manhattan to study acting with John Strasberg...
 
33.
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...
 
34.
Tilda Swinton
The iconoclastic gifts of the visually striking and fiercely talented actress Tilda Swinton have been appreciated by a more international audience of late. She was born Katherine Mathilda Swinton on November 5, 1960, in London, England. Her mother, Judith Balfour, Lady Swinton (née Killen), was Australian...
 
36.
Michelle Williams
A small-town girl born and raised in rural Kalispell, Montana, Michelle Ingrid Williams is the daughter of Carla Ingrid (Swenson), a homemaker, and Larry Richard Williams, a commodity trader and author. Her ancestry is Norwegian, as well as German, British Isles, and other Scandinavian. She was first known as bad girl Jen Lindley in the television series Dawson's Creek...
 
37.
Ziyi Zhang
Ziyi Zhang is a Chinese actress and model. She is best known for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Rush Hour 2 (2001), Hero (2002), House of Flying Daggers (2004), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005). She made her feature film debut in The Road Home (1999). For her work in Memoirs of a Geisha she was nominated for an Golden Globe for Best Actress.
 
38.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Actor, Inception
Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt was born February 17, 1981 in Los Angeles, California, to Jane Gordon and Dennis Levitt. Joseph was raised in a Jewish family with his late older brother, Dan Gordon-Levitt, who passed away in October 2010. His parents worked for the Pacifica Radio station KPFK-FM and his maternal grandfather...
 
39.
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...
 
40.
Tim Roth
Often mistaken for an American because of his skill at imitating accents, actor Tim Roth was born Timothy Simon Roth on May 14, 1961 in Lambeth, London, England. His mother, Ann, was a teacher and landscape painter. His father, Ernie, was a journalist who had changed the family name from "Smith" to "Roth"; Ernie was born in Brooklyn, New York, to an immigrant family of Irish ancestry...