The 40 funniest actors and actresses

by katie-rowland | last updated - 04 Mar 2012 | Public

In vague order

1. Jason Segel

Actor | Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Multi-talented Jason Jordan Segel was born in Los Angeles, California, where he was raised by his parents, Jillian (Jordan), a homemaker, and Alvin Segel, a lawyer. His mother is of English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry, and his father is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. He was educated at St. ...

2. Tina Fey

Writer | 30 Rock

Elizabeth Stamatina Fey was born in 1970 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia, to Xenobia "Jeanne" (Xenakes), a brokerage employee, and Donald Henry Fey, who wrote grant proposals for universities. Her mother is Greek, born in Piraeus, while her father had German, Northern Irish,...

3. Steve Carell

Actor | The Office

Steve Carell, one of America's most versatile comics, was born Steven John Carell on August 16, 1962, in Concord, Massachusetts. He is the son of Harriet Theresa (Koch), a psychiatric nurse, and Edwin A. Carell, an electrical engineer. His mother was of Polish descent and his father, of Italian and...

4. Kristen Wiig

Actress | Bridesmaids

Kristen Carroll Wiig was born on August 22, 1973 in Canandaigua, New York, to Laurie J. (Johnston), an artist, and Jon J. Wiig, a lake marina manager. She is of Norwegian (from her paternal grandfather), Irish, English, and Scottish descent. The family moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, before ...

5. Jason Bateman

Actor | Arrested Development

Jason Bateman is an American film and television actor best known for his role as Michael Bluth on the television sitcom Arrested Development (2003), as well as his role on Valerie (1986).

He was born in Rye, New York, USA. His father, Kent Bateman, from a Utah-based family, is a film and television...

6. Courteney Cox

Actress | Friends

Courteney Cox was born on June 15th, 1964 in Birmingham, Alabama, into an affluent Southern family. She is the daughter of Courteney (Bass) and Richard Lewis Cox (1930-2001), a businessman. She was the baby of the family with two older sisters (Virginia and Dottie) and an older brother, Richard, Jr...

7. Jim Carrey

Actor | Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Jim Carrey, Canadian-born and a U.S. citizen since 2004, is an actor and producer famous for his rubbery body movements and flexible facial expressions. The two-time Golden Globe-winner rose to fame as a cast member of the Fox sketch comedy In Living Color (1990) but leading roles in Ace Ventura: ...

8. Kristen Bell

Actress | Frozen

Kristen Anne Bell (born 1980) is an American actress and singer. She was born and raised in Huntington Woods, Michigan, and is the daughter of Lorelei (Frygier), a nurse, and Tom Bell, a television news director. Her ancestry is Polish (mother) and German, English, Irish, and Scottish (father). ...

9. Eddie Murphy

Actor | The Nutty Professor

Edward Regan Murphy was born April 3, 1961 in Brooklyn, New York, to Lillian (Laney), a telephone operator, and Charles Edward Murphy, a transit police officer who was also an amateur comedian and actor. After his father died, his mother married Vernon Lynch, a foreman at a Breyer's Ice Cream plant...

10. Melissa McCarthy

Actress | The Heat

Melissa McCarthy was born in Plainfield, Illinois, to Sandra and Michael McCarthy, a farmer. McCarthy began her performing career as a stand-up comedian in New York where she appeared at the famous clubs, Stand Up New York and The Improv. She worked on her acting skills at The Actors Studio and ...

11. Rob Schneider

Actor | The Hot Chick

Robert Michael "Rob" Schneider (born October 31, 1963) is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, and director. A stand-up comic and veteran of the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live (1975), Schneider has gone on to a successful career in feature films, including starring roles in the ...

12. Jennifer Aniston

Actress | Friends

Jennifer Aniston was born in Sherman Oaks, California, to actors John Aniston and Nancy Dow. Her father is Greek, and her mother was of English, Irish, Scottish, and Italian descent. Jennifer spent a year of her childhood living in Greece with her family. Her family then relocated to New York City ...

13. Paul Rudd

Actor | Ant-Man

Paul Stephen Rudd was born in Passaic, New Jersey. His parents, Michael and Gloria, both from Jewish families, were born in the U.K. He has one sister, who is three years younger than he is. Paul traveled with his family during his early years, because of his father's airline job at TWA. His family...

14. Kate Hudson

Actress | Almost Famous

Almost everyone who has spent time with Kate Hudson -including directors, family members, co-stars and interviewers - is quick to comment on her ability to light up a room. Through some combination of a winning smile, solid work ethic, and good old-fashioned talent, the young actress has gone from ...

15. Terry Crews

Actor | Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Terry Crews was born in Flint, Michigan, to Patricia and Terry Crews, Sr. He earned an Art Excellence Scholarship to attend Western Michigan University and also earned a full-ride athletic scholarship to play football. Crews was an All-Conference defensive end, and was a major contributor on the ...

16. Emma Stone

Actress | La La Land

Emily Jean "Emma" Stone was born in Scottsdale, Arizona, to Krista (Yeager), a homemaker, and Jeffrey Charles Stone, a contracting company founder and CEO. She is of Swedish (from her paternal grandfather), English, German, Scottish, and Irish descent. Stone began acting as a child as a member of ...

17. Adam Sandler

Actor | The Waterboy

Adam Richard Sandler was born September 9, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York, to Judith (Levine), a teacher at a nursery school, and Stanley Alan Sandler, an electrical engineer. He is of Russian Jewish descent. At 17, he took his first step towards becoming a stand-up comedian when he spontaneously took ...

18. Mila Kunis

Actress | Black Swan

Mila Kunis was born Milena Markovna Kunis to a Jewish family in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, USSR (now independent Ukraine). Her mother, Elvira, is a physics teacher, her father, Mark Kunis, is a mechanical engineer, and she has an older brother named Michael. Her family moved to Los Angeles, California, ...

19. Jason Sudeikis

Actor | Colossal

Daniel Jason Sudeikis was born on September 18, 1975 in Fairfax, Virginia, and as a child, moved with his family to Overland Park, Kansas. His mother, Kathryn (née Wendt), was formerly a travel agent at Brennco/President of the American Society of Travel Agents and his father, Daniel Joseph ...

20. Cameron Diaz

Actress | There's Something About Mary

A tall, strikingly attractive blue-eyed natural blonde, Cameron Diaz was born in 1972 in San Diego, the daughter of a Cuban-American father and an Anglo-German mother. Self described as "adventurous, independent and a tough kid," Cameron left home at 16 and for the next 5 years lived in such varied...

21. Ben Stiller

Producer | Zoolander

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 Ben has ...

22. Christina Applegate

Actress | The Sweetest Thing

Christina Applegate was born in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, to record producer/executive Robert William Applegate and singer-actress Nancy Priddy. Her parents split-up shortly after her birth. She has two half-siblings from her father's re-marriage - Alisa (b. 10 October 1977) & Kyle (b. 15...

23. Simon Pegg

Actor | Shaun of the Dead

English actor, writer and comedian Simon Pegg was born Simon John Beckingham in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, to Gillian Rosemary (Smith), a civil servant, and John Henry Beckingham, a jazz musician. His parents divorced when Pegg was seven. He later took his stepfather's surname, "Pegg". He was ...

24. Katherine Heigl

Actress | One for the Money

Katherine Marie Heigl was born on November 24, 1978 in Washington, D.C., to Nancy Heigl (née Engelhardt), a personnel manager, and Paul Heigl, an accountant and executive. Her father is of German/Swiss-German and Irish descent, and her mother is of German ancestry. A short time after her birth, the...

25. Ryan Reynolds

Actor | Deadpool

Ryan Rodney Reynolds was born on October 23, 1976 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the youngest of four children. His father, James Chester Reynolds, was a food wholesaler, and his mother, Tammy, worked as a retail-store saleswoman. Between 1991-93, Ryan appeared in Fifteen (1990), a ...

26. Drew Barrymore

Producer | Never Been Kissed

Since melting audiences' hearts - at the age of six - in Steven Spielberg's beloved sci-fi blockbuster, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Drew Barrymore has emerged as one of the most endearing and talented actresses of her generation.

Drew Blyth Barrymore was born in Culver City, California, to ...

27. Will Ferrell

Actor | Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

John William Ferrell was born in Irvine, California, to Betty Kay (Overman), a teacher, and Roy Lee Ferrell, Jr., a musician. His parents were originally from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.

A graduate of the University of Southern California, Ferrell became interested in performing while a student ...

28. Sandra Bullock

Producer | Miss Congeniality

Sandra Annette Bullock was born in Arlington, a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Her mother, Helga Bullock (née Helga Mathilde Meyer), was a German opera singer. Her father, John W. Bullock, was an American voice teacher, who was born in Alabama, of Irish, English, French, and German descent. ...

29. Vince Vaughn

Producer | The Break-Up

Vincent Anthony Vaughn was born on March 28, 1970, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, and was raised in Lake Forest, Illinois. His parents are Vernon Vaughn, a salesman and character actor, and Sharon Vaughn (née Sharon Eileen DePalmo), a real-estate agent and stockbroker. They divorced in 1991. He ...

30. Christa Miller

Actress | Scrubs

Christa Miller was introduced to the entertainment world at a very young age. As a toddler, she was photographed by the acclaimed Francesco Scavullo for an Ivory Snow ad with her mother, and, at the age of three, appeared on the cover of "Redbook". Miller was bitten by the acting bug as a child, ...

31. Chris Rock

Actor | Top Five

Christopher Julius Rock was born in Andrews, South Carolina and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York. He is the son of Rosalie (Tingman), a teacher and social worker for the mentally handicapped, and Julius Rock, a truck driver and newspaper deliveryman, whose own father was a preacher.

...

32. Heather Graham

Actress | Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Heather Joan Graham was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Joan (Bransfield), a schoolteacher and children's book author, and James Graham, an FBI agent. She and her sister, actress Aimee Graham, were raised by their strictly Catholic parents. They relocated often, as a result of their father's ...

33. Russell Brand

Actor | Arthur

Russell Brand was born on June 4, 1975, in Grays, Essex, England, the son of Barbara Elizabeth (Nichols) and Ronald Henry Brand, a photographer. An only child, his parents divorced when he was only six months old, and he was subsequently raised by his mother. Enduring a difficult childhood that saw...

34. Anne Hathaway

Actress | Les Misérables

Anne Jacqueline Hathaway was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Kate McCauley Hathaway, an actress, and Gerald T. Hathaway, a lawyer, both originally from Philadelphia. She is of mostly Irish descent, along with English, German, and French. Her first major role came in the short-lived television series ...

35. David Spade

Actor | Joe Dirt

Comic brat extraordinaire David Spade was born on July 22, 1964, in Birmingham, Michigan, the youngest of three brothers. He is the son of Judith J. (Meek), a writer and editor, and Wayne M. Spade, a sales rep, and is of German, English, Irish, and Scottish descent. Raised in both Scottsdale (from ...

36. Malin Akerman

Actress | Watchmen

Malin was born in Stockholm, Sweden and raised in Toronto, Canada. Her mother, Pia (Sundström), is a model and aerobics instructor, and her father, Magnus Åkerman, is an insurance broker. They moved to Toronto when she was age 2. At age 5, she began appearing in TV commercials. Her parents divorced...

37. Justin Long

Actor | Live Free or Die Hard

A likable, boyish-looking actor with thick eyebrows and a friendly smile, Justin Long is a native of Connecticut.

He was born and raised in Fairfield, the second of three sons. His father, R. James Long, is a Professor of Philosophy at Fairfield University, and his mother, Wendy Lesniak, is a former...

38. Lisa Kudrow

Actress | Friends

Hardly the dumb blonde of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997), Lisa was born in Encino, California on July 30, 1963. Her mother, Nedra S. (Stern), worked as a travel agent, and her father, Lee N. Kudrow, is a physician. Her parents are both from Jewish families (from Belarus, Russia, and ...

39. Nick Frost

Actor | Paul

Nick Frost is an English actor, screenwriter and comedian. He is known for his work in the series of British comedic genre films The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World's End (2013). He also co-starred in Paul (2011), with frequent collaborator ...

40. Reese Witherspoon

Actress | Wild

Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon was born on March 22, 1976 at Southern Baptist Hospital (now Memorial Medical Center) in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the second child of Mary Elizabeth "Betty" (Reese) and Dr. John Draper Witherspoon, Sr. Her father was a military surgeon specializing in ear, nose ...