Tough Guys

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Joe Pesci
Actor, Goodfellas
Joe Pesci is an Italian-American actor, known for playing tough, volatile characters, in a variety of genres. He is best known for his roles in Martin Scorsese films Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), and Casino (1995). Pesci has starred in a number of other high-profile films, including Easy Money (1983)...
Charles Bronson
The archetypal screen tough guy with weatherbeaten features--one film critic described his rugged looks as "a Clark Gable who had been left out in the sun too long"--Charles Bronson was born Charles Buchinsky, one of 15 children of struggling parents in Pennsylvania. His mother, Mary (Valinsky)...
Michael Madsen
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, Kill Bill: Vol. 2 Sin City, Hell Ride, Die Another Day, Donnie Brasco, Species, The Getaway, Thelma & Louise...
Robert De Niro
Actor, Goodfellas
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...
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...
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...
Jean Reno
Jean Reno was born Juan Moreno y Herrera-Jiménez in Casablanca, Morocco, to Spanish parents (from Andalucía) who moved to North Africa to seek work. His father was a linotypist. Reno settled in France at 17. He began studying drama and has credits in French television and theater as well as films. His first two marriages both ended in divorce...
Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee remains the greatest icon of martial arts cinema and a key figure of modern popular media. Had it not been for Bruce Lee and his movies in the early 1970s, it's arguable whether or not the martial arts film genre would have ever penetrated and influenced mainstream North American and European cinema and audiences the way it has over the past four decades...
Jet Li
Actor, Ying xiong
Jet Li born Li Lian Jie in Beijing, China. He started training at the Beijing wushu academy (wushu is China's national sport, largely a performance version of various martial art styles) at age eight. He won five gold medals in the Chinese championships, his first when he was only 11. In his teens, he was already a national coach...
Lee Marvin
Actor, M Squad
Prematurely white-haired character star who began as a supporting player of generally vicious demeanor, then metamorphosed into a star of both action and drama projects, Lee Marvin was born in New York City to Lamont Waltman Marvin, an advertising executive, and his wife Courtenay Washington Davidge...
Danny Dyer
Actor, EastEnders
Danny Dyer was born in Canning Town, east London, UK on 24th July 1977. Danny was spotted at his local Sunday School, by an agent who auditioned him for the part of Martin Fletcher in the Granada Television series Prime Suspect 3. At the age of 14 he was given the part and found himself working alongside Helen Mirren...
Peter Weller
Actor, RoboCop
Peter Frederick Weller was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, to Dorothy Jean (Davidson) and Frederick Bradford Weller, a federal judge and career helicopter pilot for the United States Army. He traveled extensively as his father literally flew around the world. Before he was out of his teens, he had attended high schools in Heidelberg...
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...
Chris Penn
Christopher Shannon Penn was born on October 10, 1965 in Los Angeles, California, the third son of actress Eileen Ryan (née Annucci) and director, actor, and writer Leo Penn. His siblings are musician Michael Penn and actor Sean Penn. His father was from a Lithuanian Jewish/Russian Jewish family, and his mother is of half Italian and half Irish descent...
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...
Lawrence Tierney
Legendary Hollywood "tough guy", on screen and off. Remembered as the title character in Dillinger and as the consummately brutal lover of Claire Trevor in Born to Kill. Notorious also for his frequent, well-publicized past involvements in public altercations - like barroom brawls - and other real-life manifestations of rowdiness...
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 armed robbery and drug offenses...
Alec Baldwin
Raven-haired, suavely handsome and prolific actor Alec Baldwin was born on April 3, 1958 in Massapequa, New York, and is the oldest, and easily the best-known, of the four Baldwin brothers in the acting business (the others are Stephen Baldwin, William Baldwin and Daniel Baldwin). Baldwin is the son of Carol Newcomb (Martineau) and Alexander Rae Baldwin...
50 Cent
Actor, Spy
Born in the South Jamaica section of Queens, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson has lived in New York City all his life. He was raised by his grandparents after his father ran out and his mother was shot when he was only eight. Growing up, the Queens rapper originally wanted to be a heavyweight boxer, but eventually fell back on rapping...
Chazz Palminteri
Bronx-born and raised Chazz Palminteri was a natural choice to continue the Italianate torch in film. In the tradition set forth in the 1970s by such icons as director Martin Scorsese and actors Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, John Cazale and Joe Pesci, Palminteri has brought grit, muscle and an evocative realism to the sidewalks of his New York neighborhood...
Bashar Rahal
Actor, Survivor
Bashar Mounzer Rahal is the second child to a Bulgarian mother Mariana Rahal - an interior designer and Lebanese father Mounzer Rahal - an OB/GYN. The family moved back to Bulgaria when Bashar was only 6 years old. He first started acting in TV sketches when he was 12. At the age of 14 he became a member of a professional theater group...
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...
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...
Quentin Tarantino
Writer, Pulp Fiction
Quentin Jerome Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. His father, Tony Tarantino, is an Italian-American actor and musician from New York, and his mother, Connie (McHugh), is a nurse from Tennessee. Quentin moved with his mother to Torrance, California, when he was four years old. In January of 1992...
Bolo Yeung
Bolo Yeung was born in China. He began his martial arts training at the age of 10. Growing up he took an interest in bodybuilding. Later he became know as Chinese Hercules after becoming Mr. Hong Kong bodybuilding champion. He held the title for ten years. Because of his impressively muscular physique he was chosen for several bad guy movie roles...