A combination of talent, versatility, number of memorable roles, onscreen magnetism, off-screen personality, likability and familiarity.
The first hundred and plus are in order, then it becomes a very loose ranking.
I have a soft spot for character actors. Most of the actors here are from Mexico, the USA, the UK, Ireland, Italy, Japan, France, Canada and Hong Kong. If you see some well known actors missing is because they slipped my mind, I haven't really seen any of their films or TV shows yet or I don't really like them that much. If you see a lack of actors from your non-USA, non-UK countries it's because I haven't made their acquaintance yet, but I promise to do so.
Undoubtedly, Pedro Infante was, and still is, the idol of Mexico. Because of his movies (59 including 55 leading roles and four cameos), records (366 songs recorded between 1943 and 1956) and public appearances in Mexico and Latin America, Infante became a star and the most beloved human being in Mexican history...
Toshiro Mifune achieved more worldwide fame than any other Japanese actor of his century. He was born in Tsingtao, China, to Japanese parents and grew up in Dalian. He did not set foot in Japan until he was 21. His father was an importer and a commercial photographer, and young Toshiro worked in his father's studio for a time after graduating from Dalian Middle School...
Stephen Tyrone Colbert (pronounced "col-BEAR") was born on May 13, 1964 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. He is the son of Lorna Elizabeth (Tuck) and James William Colbert, Jr., a doctor and medical school dean at Yale, Saint Louis University, and MUSC. He is the youngest of eleven children, and is of Irish Catholic background...
The bushy-browed, cigar-smoking wise-cracker with the painted-on moustache and stooped walk was the leader of The Marx Brothers
. With one-liners that were often double entendres, Groucho never cursed in any of his performances and said he never wanted to be known as a dirty comic. With a great love of music and singing (The Marx Brothers
started as a singing group)...
Robert De Niro
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...
Al Pacino received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for Serpico (1973); he was also nominated for The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and ...And Justice for All (1979) and won the award in 1993 for his performance as a blind Lieutenant Colonel in Scent of a Woman (1992). For his performances in The Godfather...
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy in Andover...
Eldred Gregory Peck was born in La Jolla, California, to Bernice Mary (Ayres) and Gregory Pearl Peck, a chemist and druggist in San Diego. He had Irish (from his paternal grandmother), English, and some German, ancestry. His parents divorced when he was five years old. An only child, he was sent to live with his grandmother...
Henry Jaynes Fonda was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, to Elma Herberta (Jaynes) and William Brace Fonda, who worked in advertising and printing. His recent ancestry included Dutch, English, and Scottish. Fonda started his acting debut with the Omaha Community Playhouse, a local amateur theater troupe directed by Dorothy Brando...
Charles Chaplin was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the silent era. Chaplin became a worldwide icon through his screen persona "the Tramp" and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry. His career spanned more than 75 years...
Bryan Lee Cranston is an American actor, voice actor, writer and director. He is perhaps best-known for his roles as "Walter White" on the AMC drama series, Breaking Bad
, for which he has won four consecutive Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy Awards, and as "Hal", the father on the Fox situation comedy...
Day-Lewis is one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation and has earned numerous awards, including three Academy Awards for Best Actor for his performances in My Left Foot (1989), There Will Be Blood (2007) and Lincoln (2012), making him the only male actor in history to have three wins in the lead actor category and one of only three male actors to win three Oscars...
Peter Wilton Cushing was born on May 26, 1913 in Kenley, Surrey, England, to Nellie Maria (King) and George Edward Cushing, a quantity surveyor. He and his older brother David were raised first in Dulwich Village, a south London suburb, and then later back in Surrey. At an early age, Cushing was attracted to acting...
Actor, writer, and gourmet, Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. was born in St Louis, Missouri, to Marguerite Cobb (Wilcox) and Vincent Leonard Price, Sr., president of the National Candy Company. He traveled through Europe, studied at Yale and became an actor. He made his screen debut in 1938, and after many minor roles...
James Gandolfini was born in Westwood, New Jersey, to Santa (Penna), a high school lunchlady, and James Joseph Gandolfini, Sr., a bricklayer and head school janitor. His parents were both of Italian origin. Gandolfini began acting in the New York theater. His Broadway debut was in the 1992 revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Jessica Lange
and Alec Baldwin
Paul Newman won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for his performance in the 1986 film The Color of Money, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy Award, and many honorary awards. Despite being colorblind, he won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing...
Cantinflas was a prolific and productive Mexican comedian/producer/writer/singer. He was married to Valentina Ivanova from 1936 until her death. He appeared in more than 55 films, including (as Passepartoute) Around the World in Eighty Days
Renowned for portraying his witty, stereotypical norteño character named "Piporro" in the Pedro Infante film Little Love of My Life
, Eulalio González quickly became one of the box-office stars of the 1960s and the best norteño comedian ever. Born and raised in northern Mexico, González was the son of customs agent Pablo González Barrera and Elvira Ramírez...
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 T. (Koch), a psychiatric nurse, and Edwin A. Carell, an electrical engineer. His mother is of Polish descent and his father is of Italian and German ancestry (Steve's grandfather had changed the surname from "Caroselli" to "Carrell")...
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...
John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Iowa, to Mary Alberta (Brown) and Clyde Leonard Morrison, a pharmacist. He was of English, Ulster-Scots, and Irish ancestry. Clyde developed a lung condition that required him to move his family from Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California, where they tried ranching in the Mojave Desert...
Colin Andrew Firth was born into an academic family in Grayshott, Hampshire, England. His mother, Shirley Jean (Rolles), was a comparative religion lecturer at the Open University, and his father, David Norman Lewis Firth, lectured on history at Winchester University College (formerly King Alfred's College) in Winchester...
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...
Blessed with a piercing, blue-eyed glint, brawny looks, cocky "tough guy" stance and effortless charisma, TV's Christopher Meloni has grabbed audiences' attention, male and female alike, finding breakthrough small screen stardom playing both sides of the law. Audiences first were taken in by his sexually...
With the big, poofy, curly red hair, a top hat, and a horn, the lovable mute was the favorite of the Marx Brothers. Though chasing woman was a favorite routine of his in the movies, Harpo was a devoted father and husband. He adopted the mute routine in vaudeville and carried it over to the films. Harpo...
One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time (eclipsed, perhaps, only by "King" Clark Gable
and arguably by Gary Cooper
or Spencer Tracy
), and the cinema's quintessential "tough guy", James Cagney was also an accomplished--if rather stiff--hoofer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City...
Bob Hoskins was born on October 26, 1942, in Bury St. Edmund's, Suffolk, where his mother was living after being evacuated as a result of the heavy bombings. He is the son of Elsie Lillian (Hopkins), a nursery school teacher and cook, and Robert William Hoskins, Sr., who drove a lorry and worked as a bookkeeper...
One of Hollywood's finest character / "Method" actors, Eli Wallach was in demand for over 60 years (first film/TV role was 1949) on stage and screen, and has worked alongside the world's biggest stars, including Clark Gable
, Clint Eastwood
, Steve McQueen
, Marilyn Monroe
, Yul Brynner
, Peter O'Toole
, and Al Pacino
, to name but a few...
Gian Maria Volontè
Born in Milan in 1933, he studies in Rome at the "National Dramatic Arts Academy" were reaches the degree in 1957. He starts working in teather and television, where he is soon noticed as one of the most promising actors of his generation. After a few short appearance in movies, he reaches notoriety with the character of Ramón Rojo in Sergio Leone
's A Fistful of Dollars
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...
Kevin Kline was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Margaret and Robert Joseph Kline, who owned several stores. His father was of German Jewish descent and his mother was of Irish ancestry. After attending Indiana University in Bloomington, Kline studied at the Juilliard School in New York. In 1972, Kline joined the Acting Company in New York which was run by John Houseman
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
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...
Raul Julia was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Olga Arcelay, a mezzo-soprano singer, and Raúl Juliá, an electrical engineer. He graduated from Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola High School in San Juan. Here he studied the rigorous classical curriculum of the Jesuits and was always active in student dramatics...
Robert Archibald Shaw was born on August 9, 1927 in Westhoughton, Lancashire, England, the eldest son of Doreen Nora (Avery), a nurse, and Thomas Archibald Shaw, a doctor. His paternal grandfather was Scottish, from Argyll. Shaw's mother, who was born in Piggs Peak, Swaziland, met his father while she was a nurse at a hospital in Truro...
Ryan Thomas Gosling was born 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. His ancestry is French-Canadian, as well as English, Scottish, and German. The Gosling family moved to Cornwall...
Charles Dance is an English actor, screenwriter, and film director. Dance typically plays assertive bureaucrats or villains. Some of his most high-profile roles are Tywin Lannister in HBO's Game of Thrones, Guy Perron in The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Sardo Numspa in The Golden Child (1986), Dr. Jonathan Clemens in Alien 3 (1992)...
Anthony Quinn was born Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn on April 21, 1915, in Chihuahua, Mexico, to Manuela (Oaxaca) and Francisco Quinn, who became an assistant cameraman at a Los Angeles (CA) film studio. His paternal grandfather was Irish, and the rest of his family was Mexican. After starting life in extremely modest circumstances in Mexico...
Born to George & Frances Simonson Walter, and named Sterling Relyea Walter. Father died in 1925. Adopted by stepfather 'James Hayden' renamed Sterling Walter Hayden. Grew up in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and Maine. Though very poor, attended prep school at Wassookeag School in Dexter...
Lanky, charismatic and versatile actor with an amazing grin that put everyone at ease, James Coburn studied acting at UCLA, and then moved to New York to study under noted acting coach Stella Adler
. After being noticed in several stage productions, Coburn appeared in a handful of minor westerns before being cast as the knife-throwing...
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...
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...
Ricardo Darín was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 16, 1957. He works since he was a little boy, and has obtained with the years a remarkable evolution from soap opera gallant and tv comedies to an excellent leading figure of the most importants Argentinian movies. At the age of 10 he made his debut in a play along with his parents...
Born in Villanueva, Zacatecas, to Jesús Aguilar y Aguilar and Ángela Márquez Barraza Valle, Antonio Aguilar is one of the most iconic actor-singers of Mexican cinema. He began his singing career in the 1940's and then debuted in national Mexican cinema in 1952, during its Golden era. Later in his acting career...
Born in Mexican revolution times, Pedro Armendáriz was the first child of Mexican Pedro Armendáriz García-Conde and American Adele Hastings. He was raised in Churubusco, then a suburb of Mexico City, before the family traveled to Laredo, Texas. They lived there until 1921, the year Armendáriz' parents died...
Powerful and highly respected American actor Jason Nelson Robards, Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Hope Maxine (Glanville) and stage and film star Jason Robards Sr.
He had Swedish, English, Welsh, German, and Irish ancestry. Robards was raised mostly in Los Angeles. A star athlete at Hollywood High School...
Balding, quietly-spoken, of slight build and possessed of piercing blue eyes -- often peering out from behind round, steel-rimmed glasses -- Donald Pleasence had the necessary physical attributes which make a great screen villain. In the course of his lengthy career, he relished playing the obsessed...
Antonio Banderas, one of Spain's most famous faces, was a soccer player until breaking his foot at the age of fourteen; he is now an international film star known for playing Zorro in the eponymous film series. He was born José Antonio Domínguez Banderas on August 10, 1960, in Málaga, Andalusia, Spain...
One of England's most versatile character actors, Jim Broadbent was born on May 24, 1949, in Lincolnshire, the youngest son of furniture maker Roy Laverick Broadbent and sculptress Doreen "Dee" (Findlay) Broadbent. Jim attended a Quaker boarding school in Reading before successfully applying for a place at an art school...
Once told by an interviewer, "Everybody would like to be Cary Grant", Grant is said to have replied, "So would I." Cary Grant was born Archibald Alexander Leach in Horfield, Bristol, England, to Elsie Maria (Kingdon) and Elias James Leach, who worked in a factory. His early years in Bristol would have been an ordinary lower-middle-class childhood...
Michael Caine is an English actor and author. Renowned for his distinctive working class cockney accent, Caine has appeared in over 115 films and is regarded as a British film icon. He made his breakthrough in the 1960s with starring roles in a number of acclaimed British films, including Zulu (1964)...
Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Jr. was born in Petersburg, Virginia, into a well-to-do Southern family. He was the eldest of three sons born to Sally Whitworth (Willson) and Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Sr., an assistant postmaster. Jo (as he was known) and his brothers Whit and Sam spent their summers at their aunt and uncle's home at Virginia Beach...
Few actors in the world have had a career quite as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio's. DiCaprio has gone from relatively humble beginnings, as a supporting cast member of the sitcom Growing Pains
and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3
, to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s, as the hunky lead actor in movies such as Romeo + Juliet
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...
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...
With features chiseled in stone, and renowned for playing a long list of historical figures, particularly in Biblical epics, the tall, well built and ruggedly handsome Charlton Heston was one of Hollywood's greatest leading men and remained active in front of movie cameras for over sixty years. As a Hollywood star...
Burl Ives was one of six children born to a Scottish-Irish farming family. He first sang in public for a soldiers' reunion when he was age 4. In high school, he learned the banjo and played fullback, intending to become a football coach when he enrolled at Eastern Illinois State Teacher's College in 1927. He dropped out in 1930 and wandered, hitching rides, doing odd jobs, street singing...
Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones was born in San Saba, Texas, the son of Lucille Marie (Scott), a police officer and beauty shop owner, and Clyde C. Jones, who worked on oil fields. Tommy himself worked in underwater construction and on an oil rig. He attended St. Mark's School of Texas, a prestigious prep school for boys in Dallas...
Born in Bellaire, Ohio, in May, 1957, he was among the last graduating class of the Windsor Mountain School in Lennox, Massachusetts. Attended Marlboro College in Vermont. Performed in summer stock and regional theatres in Vermont, Michigan and West Virginia before settling in Chicago and joining The Remains ensemble...
Mark Ruffalo was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to Marie Rose (Hebert), a stylist and hairdresser, and Frank Lawrence Ruffalo, a construction painter. His father's ancestry is Italian, and his mother is of half French-Canadian and half Italian descent. Mark moved with his family to Virginia Beach, Virginia...
Michael Corbett Shannon was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Geraldine Hine, a lawyer, and Donald Sutherlin Shannon, an accounting professor at DePaul University. His grandfather was entomologist Raymond Corbett Shannon. Shannon began his professional stage career in Chicago. His first acting role was in "Winterset" at the Illinois Theatre Center...
Multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Martin Sheen is one of America's most celebrated, colorful, and accomplished actors. Moving flawlessly between artistic mediums, Sheen's acting range is breathtaking. Martin Sheen was born Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estevez in Dayton, Ohio, to Mary-Ann (Phelan)...
Japanese character actor Takashi Shimura was one of the finest film actors of the 20th century and a leading member of the "stock company" of master director Akira Kurosawa
. A native of southern Japan, Shimura was a descendant of the samurai warrior class. Following university training, he founded a theatre company...
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...
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His father had English, and some German, ancestry, while his mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese. Tom grew up in what he has called a "fractured" family...
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)...
Alan Rickman was born on a council estate in Acton, West London, to Margaret Doreen Rose (Bartlett) and Bernard Rickman, who worked at a factory. He had English, Irish, and Welsh ancestry. Alan had an older brother David, a younger brother Michael and a younger sister Sheila. When Alan was 8 years old...
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...
One of Hollywood's most talented and versatile performers and the recipient of a truckload of NAACP Image awards, Laurence John Fishburne III was born in Augusta, Georgia on July 30, 1961, to Hattie Bell (Crawford), a teacher, and Laurence John Fishburne, Jr., a juvenile corrections officer. His mother transplanted her family to Brooklyn after his parents divorced...
Arturo de Córdova
Entering the Mexican film industry in the 1930s, it didn't take Arturo de Córdova long to become a major star, specializing in action and adventure films. At the height of his popularity he was beckoned to Hollywood in an attempt to make him a "Latin lover" type in the mold of Ricardo Montalban
, Fernando Lamas
and Gilbert Roland
Lee Van Cleef
One of the great movie villains, Clarence Leroy Van Cleef, Jr. was born in Somerville, New Jersey, to Marion Lavinia (Van Fleet) and Clarence LeRoy Van Cleef, Sr. His parents were both of Dutch ancestry. Van Cleef started out as an accountant. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard minesweepers and subchasers during World War II...
James Stewart was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition for The Philadelphia Story (1940) and receiving an Academy Lifetime Achievement award. Stewart was named the third greatest male screen legend of the Golden Age Hollywood by the American Film Institute. He was a major Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract star...
Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, screen-writer and director, 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 nods in every decade from sixties through the naughts...
“ "Tin-Tan" ” - Jriff87
“ "Clavillazo" ” - Jriff87
Amiable and handsome James Garner had obtained success in both films and television, often playing variations of the charming anti-hero/con-man persona he first developed in Maverick, the offbeat western TV series that shot him to stardom in the late 1950s. James Garner was born James Scott Bumgarner in Norman...
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