THE 100 BEST ACTORS OF THE 21ST CENTURYby laura_papicha | created - 26 Jul 2012 | updated - 26 Jul 2012 | Public
The actors that give me the most emotions, in NO particular order.
1. Ryan Gosling
Actor | Blue Valentine
Canadian actor Ryan Gosling is the first person born in the 1980s to have been nominated for the Best Actor Oscar (for Half Nelson (2006)).
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 ...
Drive The Notebook Blue Valentine Lars and the Real Girl
2. John Goodman
Actor | 10 Cloverfield Lane
John Stephen Goodman is a U.S. film, television, and stage actor. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Virginia Roos (Loosmore), a waitress and saleswoman, and Leslie Francis Goodman, a postal worker who died when John was a small child. He is of English, Welsh, and German ancestry. John is best ...
The Big Lebowski Red State Monsters and Cie Roseanne The Flinstones
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 ...
The Devil Wears Prada Lovely Bones Easy A Julie and Julia
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...
Monsters and Cie Interview The Sopranos Delirious John Rabe
5. Kevin Spacey
Actor | The Usual Suspects
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...
American Beauty Pay it Forward K-Pax The Life of David Gale
Actor | The Postman
Kevin Michael Costner was born on January 18, 1955 in Lynwood, California, the third child of Bill Costner, a ditch digger and ultimately an electric line servicer for Southern California Edison, and Sharon Costner (née Tedrick), a welfare worker. His older brother, Dan, was born in 1950. A middle ...
Dances with Wolves The War Field of Dreams
7. Tom Hanks
Producer | Cast Away
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese, while his father was of mostly English ancestry. Tom grew up in what he has ...
Saving Private Ryan Toy Story Catch me if you Can You've got Mail Apollo 13 Philadelphia A League of their Own
Actor | Pride & Prejudice
David Matthew Macfadyen was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, to Meinir (Owen), a drama teacher and actress, and Martin Macfadyen, an oil executive. He is of Scottish and Welsh descent. Because of his father's career, he spent at least part of his childhood in Indonesia, before finishing his ...
Pride and Prejudice
9. Colin Firth
Actor | A Single Man
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...
Girl with a Pearl Earring Love Actually Pride and Prejudice
10. Brendan Fraser
Actor | The Mummy
Brendan James Fraser was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Canadian parents Carol Mary (Genereux), a sales counselor, and Peter Fraser, a journalist and travel executive. He is of Irish, Scottish, German, Czech, and French-Canadian ancestry. As his parents frequently moved, Brendan can claim ...
The Mummy Bedazzled Scrubs Airheads
11. James Gandolfini
Actor | The Sopranos
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 ...
12. 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 (1989) and Operation Dumbo Drop (1995), you get the impression that something is smoldering inside of him. Liotta maintains a steady stream...
Goodfellas Corrina, Corrina Blow
13. Sean Penn
Actor | Mystic River
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 ...
Mystic River I am Sam Carlito's Way
14. Steve Schirripa
Actor | The Sopranos
Steve Schirripa was born on August 1, 1958 in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York, USA. He is an actor and producer, known for The Sopranos (1999), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and Must Love Dogs (2005). He has been married to Laura Lemos since April 22, 1989. They have one child.
15. 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 (2003), Sideways (2004), and Barney's Version (2010) (for which he won a Golden Globe), and supporting roles in the films Cinderella ...
Sideways American Splendor
16. 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...
Bruce Almighty The Office Get Smart Date Night Little Miss Sunshine Crazy Stupid Love
17. Al Pacino
Actor | Serpico
One of the greatest actors in all of film history, Al Pacino established himself during one of film's greatest decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies.
Alfredo James Pacino was born on April 25, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, to an ...
The Godfather The Godfather II Donnie Brasco
18. Bill Murray
Actor | Lost in Translation
Bill Murray is an American actor, comedian, and writer. The fifth of nine children, he was born William James Murray in Wilmette, Illinois, to Lucille (Collins), a mailroom clerk, and Edward Joseph Murray II, who sold lumber. He is of Irish descent. Among his siblings are actors Brian Doyle-Murray, ...
Lost in Translation The Royal Tenenbaums Groundhog Day Ghostbusters
19. Dustin Hoffman
Actor | Rain Man
Dustin Lee Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lillian (Gold) and Harry Hoffman, who was a furniture salesman and prop supervisor for Columbia Pictures. He was raised in a Jewish family (from Ukraine, Russia-Poland, and Romania). Hoffman graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955, ...
Kramer VS Kramer Hook Straight Time Wag the Dog Tootsie
20. John Cusack
Actor | Grosse Pointe Blank
John Cusack is, like most of his characters, an unconventional hero. Wary of fame and repelled by formulaic Hollywood fare, he has built a successful career playing underdogs and odd men out--all the while avoiding the media spotlight. John was born in Evanston, Illinois, to an Irish-American ...
Serendipity Say Anything High Fidelity 1408 Anastasia Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Actor | Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. has evolved into one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. With an amazing list of credits to his name, he has managed to stay new and fresh even after over four decades in the business.
Downey was born April 4, 1965 in Manhattan, New York, the son of writer, director and ...
Iron Man Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Zodiac Ally McBeal
22. Christian Bale
Actor | The Dark Knight
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 ...
23. Edward Norton
Actor | American History X
American actor, filmmaker and activist Edward Harrison Norton was born on August 18, 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts, and was raised in Columbia, Maryland.
His mother, Lydia Robinson "Robin" (Rouse), was a foundation executive and teacher of English, and a daughter of famed real estate developer ...
25th Hour Down in the Valley
24. Kate Winslet
Actress | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
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...
Titanic Little Children The Holiday Carnage
25. Jodie Foster
Actress | The Silence of the Lambs
Alicia Christian Foster was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962. She is the daughter of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (Almond) and Lucius Fisher Foster III, an Air Force lieutenant colonel and later real estate broker. Brandy had filed for divorce in 1959 after having three children with Lucius, but ...
Taxi Driver Panic Room Inside Man
26. Toni Collette
Actress | Little Miss Sunshine
Toni Collette is an Academy Award-nominated Australian actress, best known for her roles in The Sixth Sense (1999) and Little Miss Sunshine (2006).
Collette was born Toni Collett (she later added an "e") on November 1, 1972, in Blacktown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. She is the first of three...
Muriel's Wedding Little Miss Sunshine In Her Shoes About a Boy
27. Greg Kinnear
Actor | Little Miss Sunshine
Greg Kinnear was born on June 17, 1963, in Logansport, Indiana, USA to Edward Kinnear, a career diplomat with the US State Department, and Suzanne (Buck) Kinnear, a homemaker. Greg has two brothers--James, vice president-investments at Wachovia Securities in Arizona who was born in 1957, and Steve,...
Little Miss Sunshine The Kennedys
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 ...
Walk The Line Legally Blonde Pleasantville Freeway
29. Michael J. Fox
Actor | Back to the Future
Michael J. Fox was born Michael Andrew Fox on June 9, 1961 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to Phyllis Fox (née Piper), a payroll clerk, and William Fox. His parents moved their ten-year-old son, his three sisters, Kelli Fox, Karen, and Jacki, and his brother, Steven, to Vancouver, British Columbia, ...
Back to the Future Part II Spin City The Hard Way The Frighteners
30. Heath Ledger
Actor | Brokeback Mountain
When hunky, twenty-year-old heart-throb Heath Ledger first came to the attention of the public in 1999, it was all too easy to tag him as a "pretty boy" and an actor of little depth. He spent several years trying desperately to sway this image, but this was a double-edged sword. His work comprised ...
31. Jonah Hill
Actor | 21 Jump Street
Jonah Hill was born and raised in Los Angeles, the son of Sharon Feldstein (nee Chalkin), a fashion designer and costume stylist, and Richard Feldstein, a tour accountant for Guns N' Roses. His siblings are music manager Jordan Feldstein and actress Beanie Feldstein. He graduated from Crossroads ...
Superbad Get Him to the Greek
Actress | Lost in Translation
Scarlett Johansson was born in New York City. Her mother, Melanie Sloan, is from a Jewish family from the Bronx, and her father, Karsten Johansson, is a Danish-born architect, from Copenhagen. She has a sister, Vanessa Johansson, who is also an actress, a brother, Adrian, a twin brother, Hunter ...
Lost In Translation Girl with a Pear Earring Match Point
33. Giovanni Ribisi
Antonino Giovanni Ribisi is an American actor who was born in Los Angeles, California. His parents both have careers in the entertainment industry. His mother, Gay Ribisi (née Landrum), is a talent manager for actors and writers, and his father, Albert Anthony Ribisi, is a musician. He has a twin ...
Friends Saving Private Ryan
34. Nicolas Cage
Actor | Leaving Las Vegas
Nicolas Cage was born Nicolas Kim Coppola in Long Beach, California, the son of comparative literature professor August Coppola (whose brother is director Francis Ford Coppola) and dancer/choreographer Joy Vogelsang. He is of Italian (father) and Polish, German, and English (mother) descent. Cage ...
Face/Off The Weather Man Family Man Saylor & Lula
35. Meg Ryan
Actress | When Harry Met Sally...
Blond-haired, blue-eyed with an effervescent personality, Meg Ryan was born Margaret Mary Emily Hyra in Fairfield, Connecticut, to Susan (Duggan), an English teacher and one-time actress, and Harry Hyra, a math teacher. She is of Ruthenian, Polish, Irish, and German ancestry ("Hyra" is a Ruthenian ...
When Harry Met Sally You've Got Mail Addicted to Love Anastasia
36. Steve Martin
Writer | Roxanne
Steve Martin was born on August 14, 1945 in Waco, Texas, USA as Stephen Glenn Martin to Mary Lee (née Stewart; 1913-2002) and Glenn Vernon Martin (1914-1997), a real estate salesman and aspiring actor. He was raised in Inglewood and Garden Grove in California. In 1960, he got a job at the Magic ...
Father of the Bride Planes, Trains & Automobiles
37. Bob Hoskins
Actor | The Long Good Friday
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...
Who Framed Roger Rabbit Mermaids Hook Paris je t'aime
38. Bill Paxton
Actor | Aliens
Bill Paxton was born on May 17, 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas. He was the son of Mary Lou (Gray) and John Lane Paxton, a businessman and actor (as John Paxton). Bill moved to Los Angeles, California at age eighteen, where he found work in the film industry as a set dresser for Roger Corman's New World ...
Apollo 13 Twister
39. Isla Fisher
Actress | Wedding Crashers
Isla Lang Fisher was born on February 3, 1976 in Muscat, Oman, to Scottish parents Elspeth Reid and Brian Fisher, who worked as a banker for the U.N. She spent her early childhood in Scotland before moving to Australia with her family in the early 1980s. From a young age, Isla showed an interest in...
Wedding Crashers Confessions of a Shopaholic
40. Melissa Leo
Actress | The Fighter
Melissa Leo was born on September 14, 1960 in New York City, New York, USA as Melissa Chessington Leo. She is an actress and producer, known for The Fighter (2010), 21 Grams (2003) and Oblivion (2013).
The Fighter Red State
41. Joan Cusack
Actress | Grosse Pointe Blank
Actress Joan Cusack was born in New York City, New York, and is the daughter of Nancy (née Carolan) and Dick Cusack. Her father was an advertising executive, writer and actor, and her mother was a math teacher. Her siblings - Susie Cusack, John Cusack, Ann Cusack and Bill Cusack also act. Her ...
Shameless War, Inc Toy Story II High Fidelity
Actress | Fargo
Frances Louise McDormand was born on June 23, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois. She was adopted by Canadian-born parents, Noreen Eloise (Nickleson), a nurse from Ontario, and The Rev. Vernon Weir McDormand, a Disciples of Christ minister from Nova Scotia, who raised her in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. She ...
Almost Famous Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Friends With Money
43. Amy Adams
Actress | Arrival
Amy Lou Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy, to American parents, Kathryn (Hicken) and Richard Kent Adams, a U.S. serviceman who was stationed at Caserma Ederle in Italy at the time. She was raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Castle Rock, Colorado, and has English, as well as ...
Enchanted The Fighter Catch Me If You Can Junebug
44. Jennifer Garner
Actress | Alias
Jennifer Garner, who catapulted into stardom with her lead role on the television series Alias (2001), has come a long way from her birthplace of Houston, Texas. Raised in Charleston, West Virginia by her mother, Patricia Ann (née English), a retired teacher of English, and her father, William John...
Juno The Invention of Lying 13 Going On 30 Serena
45. 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...
Arrested Development Juno
46. Anna Kendrick
Actress | Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick was born in Portland, Maine, to Janice (Cooke), an accountant, and William Kendrick, a teacher. She has an older brother, Michael Cooke Kendrick, who has also acted. She is of English, Irish, and Scottish descent.
For her role as "Dinah" in "High Society" on Broadway, Anna Kendrick was...
Up In The Air Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
47. Lorraine Bracco
Actress | Goodfellas
Lorraine was voted the "ugliest girl in the 6th grade" at her Long Island grade school. She moved to France in 1974 where she became a fashion superstar for Jean-Paul Gaultier. Her sister is Elizabeth Bracco. Has two daughters, Stella Keitel by ex-boyfriend Harvey Keitel and Margaux Guerard by ...
Goodfellas The Sopranos
Actress | Les Misérables
Helena Bonham Carter is an actress of great versatility, one of the UK's finest and most successful.
Bonham Carter was born May 26, 1966 in Golders Green, London, England, the youngest of three children of Elena (née Propper de Callejón), a psychotherapist, and Raymond Bonham Carter, a merchant ...
Fight Club Planet of the Apes A Room with a View Sweeney Todd
49. James McAvoy
Actor | Atonement
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 ...
X-Men First Class The Conspirator Becoming Jane Atonement
50. George Clooney
Actor | Up in the Air
George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, to Nina Bruce (née Warren), a former beauty pageant queen, and Nick Clooney, a former anchorman and television host (who was also the brother of singer Rosemary Clooney). He has Irish, English, and German ancestry. Clooney ...
Ocean's Eleven The Descendants Up In The Air
51. Mark Ruffalo
Actor | The Avengers
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, ...
Zodiac The Avengers In the Cut
52. Vincent Gallo
Actor | Buffalo '66
Vincent Gallo. American-born, Buffalo, New York, 1961. Left home, moved to New York City in 1978, and began playing in the experimental musical group, Gray, with artist Jean Michel Basquiat. After leaving Gray, he formed the band, Bohack, and recorded the highly regarded avant-garde industrial ...
53. Maya Rudolph
Actress | Bridesmaids
Maya Rudolph was born in Gainesville, Florida, on July 27th, 1972, to Dick Rudolph, a music producer, and soul singer Minnie Riperton. Her mother was African-American and her father is Ashkenazi Jewish (from a family from Lithuania, Russia, Germany, and Hungary). In 1973, Maya, her parents, and her...
Bridesmaids Away We Go
54. 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 ...
Juno The Help Away We Go
55. 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 ...
56. Mark Wahlberg
Producer | The Fighter
American actor Mark Wahlberg is one of a handful of respected entertainers who successfully made the transition from teen pop idol to acclaimed actor. A Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee for The Departed (2006) who went on to receive positive critical reviews for his performance in The Fighter (...
Lovely Bones The Departed
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 ...
Vicky Cristina Barcelona Whatever Works
58. Emily Mortimer
Actress | Lars and the Real Girl
English actress Emily Kathleen Anne Mortimer was born in Hammersmith, London, England, to writer and barrister Sir John Mortimer and his second wife, Penelope (née Gollop). She was educated at St Paul's Girls' School in West London, and it was whilst there she began acting. Mortimer moved on from ...
Match Point Lars and the Real Girl City Island
59. James Spader
Actor | The Blacklist
James Todd Spader was born on February 7, 1960 in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of teachers Jean (Fraser) and Stoddard Greenwood "Todd" Spader. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover with director Peter Sellars; he dropped out in eleventh grade. He bused tables, shoveled manure, and taught yoga ...
60. Robert De Niro
Actor | Cape Fear
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...
Awakenings Casino Midnight Run Raging Bull
61. Ed Helms
Actor | The Hangover
Actor | The Sopranos
Imperioli was born James Michael Imperioli in Mt. Vernon, New York on March 26, 1966. His film work began in the late 1980s. An early part that brought him recognition was in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas (1990), as Spider, a local kid who works for the gangsters and has a run-in with a psychopathic ...
63. Richard Dreyfuss
Actor | The Goodbye Girl
Richard Dreyfuss is an American leading man, who has played his fair share of irritating pests and brash, ambitious hustlers.
He was born Richard Stephen Dreyfus in Brooklyn, New York, to Geraldine (Robbins), an activist, and Norman Dreyfus, a restaurateur and attorney. His paternal grandparents ...
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