Great Actors

by helga-meier | created - 21 Nov 2012 | updated - 03 Jan 2014 | Public

1. 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 ...

2. 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 ...

3. Denzel Washington

Actor | Fences

Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is the middle of three children of a beautician mother, Lennis, from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at ...

4. 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 ...

5. Leonardo DiCaprio

Actor | Inception

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 (1985) and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3 (1991), to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s,...

6. Jennifer Connelly

Actress | A Beautiful Mind

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 ...

7. Cillian Murphy

Actor | 28 Days Later...

Striking Irish actor Cillian Murphy was born in Douglas, the oldest child of Brendan Murphy, who works for the Irish Department of Education, and a mother who is a teacher of French. He has three younger siblings. Murphy was educated at Presentation Brothers College, Cork. He went on to study law ...

8. Djimon Hounsou

Actor | Blood Diamond

Djimon Hounsou was born in Cotonou, Benin, West Africa, to Albertine and Pierre Hounsou, a cook. He moved to Lyon, France, when he was 13. Hounsou has graced the catwalks of Paris and London as a popular male model. He has since left his modeling career and has worked on Gladiator (2000) by Ridley ...

9. Russell Crowe

Actor | Les Misérables

Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham),...

10. Michael Cera

Actor | Superbad

Canadian actor Michael Cera was born in Brampton, Ontario, to parents who worked for Xerox. His mother, Linda, who is from Quebec, has English, Irish, Scottish, and Dutch ancestry, and his father, Luigi Cera, is Sicilian. Michael is the middle child between two sisters. He was educated at Conestoga...

11. Ellen Page

Actress | Juno

Ellen Philpotts-Page was born on February 21, 1987, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Martha Philpotts, a teacher, and Dennis Page, a graphic designer. Page wanted to start acting at an early age and attended the Neptune Theater School. She began her career at the age of 10 on the award-winning ...

12. Noah Wyle

Actor | ER

Noah Wyle was born in Hollywood, California, to Marjorie (Speer), an orthopedic head nurse, and Stephen Wyle, an entrepreneur and electrical engineer. He is one of six children. His father's family was Russian Jewish. Noah had early support for his acting ambitions from his stepfather, film ...

13. 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 ...

14. Alison Lohman

Actress | Drag Me to Hell

Alison Lohman was born in Palm Springs, California, to Diane (Dunham), a patisserie owner, and Gary Lohman, an architect. She grew up in a family with no showbiz connections but she always wanted to perform. By age 9, she had landed her first professional, theatrical role playing "Gretyl" in "The ...

15. Timothy Olyphant

Actor | Justified

From Timothy Olyphant's first screen appearances, such as his two-minute bit in The First Wives Club (1996), to "Nicko", whose presence at times dwarfed the island in A Perfect Getaway (2009), he has been a force to be reckoned with.

Born in Hawaii, Timothy David Olyphant was raised in Modesto, ...

16. Alex Pettyfer

Actor | I Am Number Four

Alexander Richard Pettyfer was born in Hertfordshire and raised in Windsor. His mother, Lee (Robinson), is an interior designer. His father, Richard Pettyfer, is a fellow actor. His parents divorced and Alex now has a younger half-brother, James, from his mother's re-marriage to a property ...

17. Amanda Seyfried

Actress | Les Misérables

Amanda Seyfried was born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to Ann (Sander), an occupational therapist, and Jack Seyfried, a pharmacist. She is of German, and some English and Scottish, ancestry. She began modeling when she was eleven, and acted in high school productions as well as taking ...

18. Olivia Wilde

Actress | Tron

Actress and activist Olivia Wilde is a modern day renaissance woman, starring in many of Hollywood's acclaimed productions, while simultaneously giving back to the community.

Wilde was born on March 10, 1984 in New York City. Her parents are Leslie Cockburn (née Leslie Corkill Redlich) and Andrew ...

19. 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 ...

20. Rachel McAdams

Actress | The Notebook

Rachel Anne McAdams was born on November 17, 1978 in London, Ontario, Canada, to Sandra Kay (Gale), a nurse, and Lance Frederick McAdams, a truck driver and furniture mover. She is of English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish descent. Rachel became involved with acting as a teenager and by the age of 13 ...

21. Michelle Monaghan

Actress | Pixels

Michelle Lynn Monaghan was born on March 23, 1976, in Winthrop, Iowa. She is the youngest of three children and the only daughter of Sharon (Hamel), who ran a day care center, and Robert L. Monaghan, a factory worker and farmer. She is of mostly Irish and German descent. After graduating from high ...

22. Rosario Dawson

Actress | Rent

This stunning and resourceful actress has been primarily a film player thus far. Only recently has she been opening herself up more to doing television (the series Gemini Division (2008), which she executive-produced), and animated voice-overs. Dawson's powerhouse talent stands out the most in edgy...

23. Shia LaBeouf

Actor | Transformers

Shia Saide LaBeouf was born in Los Angeles, California, to Shayna (Saide) and Jeffrey Craig LaBeouf, and is an only child. His mother is from an Ashkenazi Jewish family, while his father has Cajun (French) ancestry. His parents are divorced. He started his career by doing stand-up comedy around ...

24. Hayden Christensen

Actor | Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Hayden Christensen was born April 19, 1981 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His parents, Alie and David Christensen, are in the communications business. He is of Danish (father) and Swedish and Italian (mother) descent. Hayden grew up in Markham, Ontario, with siblings Kaylen, Hejsa, and ...

25. 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, ...

26. Natalie Portman

Actress | Black Swan

Natalie Portman is the first person born in the 1980s to have won the Academy Award for Best Actress (for Black Swan (2010)).

Natalie was born Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, Israel. She is the only child of Avner Hershlag, an Israeli-born doctor, and Shelley Stevens, an ...

27. Robin Williams

Actor | Mrs. Doubtfire

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 ...

28. Matt Damon

Actor | Good Will Hunting

Matthew Paige Damon was born on October 8, 1970, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Kent Damon, a stockbroker, realtor and tax preparer, and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood education professor at Lesley University. Matt has an older brother named Kyle who is now a sculptor. His father is of ...

29. Gene Hackman

Actor | The French Connection

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 ...

30. Tom Hardy

Actor | Inception

With his breakthrough performance as Eames in Christopher Nolan's science fiction thriller Inception (2010), English actor Tom Hardy has been brought to the attention of mainstream audiences worldwide. However, the versatile actor has been steadily working on both stage and screen since his ...

31. Abbie Cornish

Actress | Candy

Abbie Cornish grew up on her parents' 170 acre farm in the Hunter Valley town of Lochinvar with her 3 brothers and younger sister. Abbie started modeling at age 13. Her first acting job was at age 15 on the Australian Broadcasting Commission series Children's Hospital (1997) playing a quadriplegic.

32. Marion Cotillard

Actress | La môme

Academy Award-winning actress Marion Cotillard was born on September 30, 1975 in Paris. Cotillard is the daughter of Jean-Claude Cotillard, an actor, playwright and director, and Niseema Theillaud, an actress and drama teacher. Her father's family is Breton.

Raised in Orléans, France, she made her ...

33. James Franco

Actor | 127 Hours

Known for his breakthrough starring role on Freaks and Geeks (1999), James Franco was born in Palo Alto, California on April 19, 1978. His mother is Betsy Franco and his father is Douglas Eugene "Doug" Franco who ran a Silicon Valley business. James's mother, a writer, has occasionally acted.

...

34. Channing Tatum

Actor | 21 Jump Street

Channing Tatum was born in a small town, Cullman, Alabama, 50 miles north of Birmingham. He is the son of Kay (Faust), an airline worker, and Glenn Matthew Tatum, who worked in construction. Growing up, he was full of energy and somewhat troublesome, so his parents decided to enroll him in ...

35. Emily Browning

Actress | A Series of Unfortunate Events

Australian actress Emily Browning was born in 1988 in Melbourne, Australia, to Shelley and Andrew Browning. She has two younger brothers. Her start in acting came after a classmate's father, involved in the acting business, noticed her "acting all ditsy" in a school play. Emily found an agent and ...

36. Aaron Paul

Actor | Breaking Bad

Aaron Paul was born Aaron Paul Sturtevant in Emmett, Idaho, to Darla (Haynes) and Robert Sturtevant, a retired Baptist minister. While growing up, Paul took part in church programs, and performed in plays.

He attended Centennial High School in Boise, Idaho. It was there, in eighth grade, that Aaron ...

37. Camilla Belle

Actress | Practical Magic

Belle was born as Camilla Belle Routh in Los Angeles, California, to Deborah, a fashion designer, and Jack Wesley Routh, who composed country music and owns a construction company. Her mother is Brazilian and her father, who is from Kingman, Kansas, has English, German, and French ancestry. Camilla...