The Best Character Actors of all time.

by jacobyjhn-18-315763 | created - 30 Apr 2011 | updated - 18 Mar 2017 | Public

This is a list of the all time greatest character actors in film from the dawn of talking pictures through the present. It is somewhat a subjective exercise in defining exclusively, "character actor", as opposed to leading actor, therefore, what might appear as glaring omissions, e.g., Michael Caine, Anthony Quinn, Walter Huston, P.S. Hoffman, Robert Duvall, Kevin Kline, James Mason, Edward Norton, Kevin Bacon, and many others known for outstanding supporting roles, may be categorized as predominantly lead actors and therefore missing from the list. But it's just for fun anyway. (I've included a memorable role or two for each). Expanded to 240 great actors as of 2016. Enjoy!

1. Karl Malden

Actor | On the Waterfront

Born to a Czech mother and a Serbian father in Chicago as Mladen Sekulovich, on March 22, 1912, Karl Malden did not speak English until he was in kindergarten. After graduating from high school in the nearby steel town of Gary, Indiana, Malden worked in the industry for three years until 1934, when...

Memorable role: (of so very many): Gen. Omar Bradley in Patton (1970).

2. Jason Robards

Actor | All the President's Men

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 ...

Memorable role: As Ben Bradlee in, All the President's Men (1976)

3. Jack Warden

Actor | 12 Angry Men

Jack Warden was born John Warden Lebzelter, Jr. on September 18, 1920 in Newark, New Jersey, to Laura M. (Costello) and John Warden Lebzelter. His father was of German and Irish descent, and his mother was of Irish ancestry. Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, at the age of seventeen, young Jack ...

Memorable role (of many): As Mickey Morrisey in The Verdict (1982)

4. Martin Balsam

Actor | All the President's Men

Martin Henry Balsam was born on November 4, 1919 in the Bronx, New York City, to Lillian (Weinstein) and Albert Balsam, a manufacturer of women's sportswear. He was the first-born child. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant, and his mother was born in New York, to Russian Jewish parents. ...

Memorable film: (of many): A Thousand Clowns (1965).

5. Charles Bickford

Actor | The Song of Bernadette

American character actor of gruff voice and appearance who was a fixture in Hollywood pictures from the earliest days of the talkies. The fifth of seven children, he was born in the first minute of 1891. He was a boisterous child, and at nine was tried and acquitted for attempted murder in the ...

Memorable role (of many): As Major Henry Terrill, in The Big Country (1958).

6. 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 ...

Memorable role: Miles, (albeit the lead role in this movie), the modern classic, Sideways (2004).

7. Lionel Barrymore

Actor | It's a Wonderful Life

Famed actor, composer, artist, author and director. His talents extended to the authoring of the novel "Mr. Cartonwine: A Moral Tale" as well as his autobiography. In 1944, he joined ASCAP, and composed "Russian Dances", "Partita", "Ballet Viennois", "The Woodman and the Elves", "Behind the Horizon...

Memorable role: The cantankerous and mean spirited villain, Potter, in the immortal, It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

8. Thomas Mitchell

Actor | Stagecoach

Thomas Mitchell was one of the great American character actors, whose credits read like a list of the greatest films of the 20th century: Lost Horizon (1937); Stagecoach (1939); The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939); Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939); Gone with the Wind (1939); It's a Wonderful Life...

Memorable role: The drunken Doctor in Stagecoach (1939).

9. Van Heflin

Actor | Shane

Craggy-faced, dependable star character actor Van Heflin never quite made the Hollywood "A" list, but made up for what he lacked in appearance with hard work, charisma and solid acting performances. He was born Emmett Evan Heflin in Oklahoma in December 1908, the son of Fanny Bleecker (Shippey) and...

Memorable role: D.O. Guerrero in Airport (1970).

10. Ralph Richardson

Actor | Doctor Zhivago

Sir Ralph Richardson was one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century English-language theater, ascending to the height of his profession in the mid-1930s when he became a star in London's West End. He became the first actor of his generation to be knighted. He became Sir Ralph in 1947, and was ...

Memorable role: Dr. Austin Sloper in the classic, The Heiress (1949). Richardson was astonishing in this movie and should have won the Oscar for Best supporting actor for 1949.

11. John Gielgud

Actor | Arthur

Born in London, England, John Gielgud trained at Lady Benson's Acting School and RADA, London. Best known for his Shakespearean roles in the theater, he first played Hamlet at the age of 26. He worked under the tutelage of Lilian Bayliss with friend and fellow performer Laurence Olivier and other ...

Memorable role (of many): Beddoes, in Murder on the Orient Express. (1974).

12. George Sanders

Actor | All About Eve

George Sanders was born of English parents in St. Petersburg, Russia. He worked in a Birmingham textile mill, in the tobacco business and as a writer in advertising. He entered show business in London as a chorus boy, going from there to cabaret, radio and theatrical understudy. His film debut, in ...

Memorable role: Addison DeWitt in the classic, All About Eve (1950). It does not get much better than this performance.

13. John C. Reilly

Actor | Chicago

Character actor, dramatic leading man, or hilarious comic foil? With an astonishing range of roles already under his belt, John C. Reilly has played an eclectic host of rich characters to great effect over the years, from seedy ne'er-do-wells, to lovable, good-natured schlepps.

The fifth of six ...

Memorable role: The Hours (2002)

14. Arthur Kennedy

Actor | Lawrence of Arabia

Arthur Kennedy, one of the premier character actors in American film from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, achieved fame in the role of Biff in Elia Kazan's historic production of Arthur Miller's Pultizer-Prize winning play "Death of a Salesman." Although he was not selected to recreate the ...

Memorable film: Some Came Running (1958).

15. Edmund Gwenn

Actor | Miracle on 34th Street

There are very few character actors from the 1930s, '40s or '50s who rose to the rank of stardom. Only a rare man or woman reached the level of renown and admiration, and had enough audience appeal, to be the first name in a cast's billing, a name that got marquee posting. Charles Coburn comes to ...

Memorable role: Santa Claus, of course, in Miracle on 34th Street. (1947)

16. Charles Coburn

Actor | The More the Merrier

A cigar-smoking, monocled, swag-bellied character actor known for his Old South manners and charm. In 1918 he and his first wife formed the Coburn Players and appeared on Broadway in many plays. With her death in 1937, he accepted a Hollywood contract and began making films at the age of sixty.

Memorable film: The More the Merrier (1943)

17. Arthur O'Connell

Actor | Anatomy of a Murder

Though veteran character actor Arthur O'Connell was born in New York City in 1908, he looked as countrified as apple pie, looking ever more comfy in overalls than he ever did in a suit. He made his stage debut in the mid 1930s and came into contact with Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. As a result, ...

Memorable films: dead heat: Picnic (1955) and Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

18. Benicio Del Toro

Actor | Sicario

Benicio Del Toro emerged in the mid-1990s as one of the most watchable and charismatic character actors to come along in years. A favorite of film buffs, Del Toro gained mainstream public attention as the conflicted but basically honest Mexican policeman in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic (2000).

...

Memorable role: Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez, Traffic (2000).

19. Ed Begley

Actor | 12 Angry Men

Charismatic character star Edward James Begley was born in Hartford, Connecticut of Irish parents and educated at St.Patrick's school. His interest in acting first surfaced at the age of nine, when he performed amateur theatricals at the Hartford Globe Theatre. Determined to make his own way, he ...

Memorable role: Juror #10 in, 12 Angry Men (1957)

20. Walter Brennan

Actor | To Have and Have Not

In many ways the most successful and familiar character actor of American sound films and the only actor to date to win three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Walter Brennan attended college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studying engineering. While in school he became interested in acting and ...

Memorable film: Even though Walter won Oscars in 3 other films, my favorite screen appearance was Sergeant York (1941)

21. Trevor Howard

Actor | The Third Man

The son of an insurance underwriter, who represented Lloyd's of London in Ceylon, Trevor Wallace Howard-Smith was born in Margate, Kent. He spent his early childhood globetrotting with his mother, frequently left in the care of strangers. After attending private school, he subsequently trained at ...

Memorable role: A formidable Captain Bligh in, Mutiny on the Bounty (1962).

22. Barry Fitzgerald

Actor | The Quiet Man

One of Hollywood's finest character actors and most accomplished scene stealers, Barry Fitzgerald was born William Joseph Shields in 1888 in Dublin, Ireland. Educated to enter the banking business, the diminutive Irishman with the irresistible brogue was bitten by the acting bug in the 1920s and ...

Memorable film: Going My Way (1944)

23. James Whitmore

Actor | The Shawshank Redemption

Born on October 1, 1921, in White Plains, New York, gruff veteran character actor James Whitmore earned early and widespread respect with his award-winning dramatic capabilities on Broadway and in films. He would later conquer TV with the same trophy-winning results.

The son of James Allen Whitmore ...

Memorable role: As, Harry Truman, in Give Em Hell Harry (1975)

24. Anthony Quayle

Actor | Lawrence of Arabia

Anthony Quayle was born in Ainsdale in September 1913, the son of a Lancashire lawyer. He completed his education at Rugby School and had a brief spell at RADA, before treading the boards for the first time as the straight man in a music hall comedy act in 1931. Tall, burly, round-faced and ...

Memorable role: As Cardinal Wolsey, in Anne of the 1000 Days (1969)

25. George Kennedy

Actor | Cool Hand Luke

George Harris Kennedy, Jr. was born on February 18, 1925 in New York City, to Helen A. (Kieselbach), a ballet dancer, and George Harris Kennedy, an orchestra leader and musician. Following high school graduation, Kennedy enlisted in the United States Army in 1943 with the hope to become a fighter ...

Memorable role: Dead heat; Dragline in Cool Hand Luke (1967) and Joe Patroni in Airport (1970)

26. Dean Jagger

Actor | White Christmas

Dean Jagger was born in Lima, Ohio, on November 7, 1903. He dropped out of high school twice before finally graduating from Wabash College. Working first as a school teacher, he soon became interested in acting and enrolled at Chicago's "Lyceum Art Conservatory". Mr. Jagger made his first movie and...

Memorable film: 12 O'Clock High (1949)

27. Jack Palance

Actor | City Slickers

Jack Palance exemplified evil incarnate on film -- portraying some of the most intensely despised villains witnessed in 50s westerns and melodrama. He received two Best Supporting Actor nominations early in his career, but it would take a grizzled, eccentric comic performance 40 years later for him...

Memorable film: City Slickers (1991)

28. Peter Ustinov

Actor | Spartacus

Peter Ustinov was a two-time Academy Award-winning film actor, a director, writer, journalist and raconteur. He wrote and directed many acclaimed stage plays and led numerous international theatrical productions.

He was born Peter Alexander Freiherr von Ustinov on April 16, 1921, in Swiss Cottage, ...

Memorable film: Spartacus (1960)

29. Victor McLaglen

Actor | The Quiet Man

Rambunctious British leading man (contrary to popular belief, he was of Scottish ancestry, not Irish) and later character actor primarily in American films, Victor McLaglen was a vital presence in a number of great motion pictures, especially those of director John Ford. McLaglen (pronounced ...

Memorable role: Gypo Nolan in the classic, The Informer (1935)

30. Ralph Bellamy

Actor | Trading Places

Ralph Bellamy was a veteran actor who was so well-liked and respected by his peers that he was the recipient of an honorary Oscar in 1987 for his contributions to the acting profession.

Ralph Rexford Bellamy was born June 17, 1904 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Lilla Louise (Smith), originally ...

Memorable role: As Franklin D. Roosevelt, in Sunrise at Campobello (1960).

31. Robert Morley

Actor | Marie Antoinette

English character actor Robert Morley was educated in England, Germany, France and Italy. His family planned for him to go into the diplomatic service but he liked the idea of acting more. After studying at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London he appeared on the London stage in 1929 ...

Memorable film: Beat the Devil (1953).

32. Basil Rathbone

Actor | The Adventures of Robin Hood

Basil Rathbone was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1892, but three years later his family was forced to flee the country because his father was accused by the Boers of being a British spy at a time when Dutch-British conflicts were leading to the Boer War. The Rathbones escaped to England, ...

Memorable role: The consumate Sherlock Holmes in (several), but The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1938), the best of the lot.

33. Claude Rains

Actor | Casablanca

William Claude Rains, born in the Clapham area of London, was the son of the British stage actor Frederick Rains. The younger Rains followed, making his stage debut at the age of eleven in "Nell of Old Drury." Growing up in the world of theater, he saw not only acting up close but the down-to-earth...

Memorable film: Dead heat: Casablanca (1943); Notorious (1946).

34. Paul Henreid

Actor | Casablanca

Paul Henreid was born Paul Georg Julius Freiherr von Hernreid Ritter von Wasel-Waldingau in Trieste, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was the son of Marie Luise Heilig (Lendecke) and Baron Karl Alphons Hernreid. His father was an aristocratic banker, who was born to a Jewish family whose surname ...

Memorable role: Hands down, the anti Nazi hero Victor Laszlo, in Casablanca (1943).

35. Brian Dennehy

Actor | First Blood

Imposing, barrel-chested and now silver-haired Brian Dennehy is a prolific US actor, well respected on both screen and stage for the best part of 25 years. He was born in July 1938 in Bridgeport, CT, and attended Columbia University in New York City on a football scholarship. He majored in history,...

Memorable role: Raymond Horgan, in Presumed Innocent (1991).

36. Brian Donlevy

Actor | Beau Geste

It seems that Brian Donlevy started out life as colorfully as any character he ever played on the stage or screen. He lied about his age (he was actually 14) in 1916 so he could join the army. When Gen. John J. Pershing sent American troops to invade Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa--Mexican ...

Memorable film: Beau Geste (1939).

37. Sydney Greenstreet

Actor | The Maltese Falcon

Sydney Greenstreet's father was a leather merchant with eight children. Sydney left home at age 18 to make his fortune as a Ceylon tea planter, but drought forced him out of business and back to England. He managed a brewery and, to escape boredom, took acting lessons. His stage debut was as a ...

Memorable role: Caspar Guttman in Maltese Falcon (1941).

38. Peter Lorre

Actor | Casablanca

Peter Lorre was born Laszlo Lowenstein on Roszahegy, Hungary. He was educated in elementary and secondary schools in Vienna, Austria. As a youth, he ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk and, after stage training in Vienna, made his acting debut in Zurich. He remained unknown, traveling for ...

Memorable role: dead heat: Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), and Joel Cairo in Maltese Falcon (1941).

39. Henry Travers

Actor | It's a Wonderful Life

British-born Henry Travers was a veteran of the English stage before emigrating to the U.S. in 1917. He gained more stage experience there on Broadway working with the Theatre Guild, and began his long film career with Reunion in Vienna (1933). Travers' kindly, grandfatherly demeanor became ...

Memorable role: Clarence (the angel) in the immortal classic, It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

40. Frank Morgan

Actor | The Wizard of Oz

Jovial, somewhat flamboyant Frank Morgan (born Francis Wuppermann) will forever be remembered as the title character in The Wizard of Oz (1939), but he was a veteran and respected actor long before he played that part, and turned in outstanding performances both before and after that film. One of ...

Memorable role: We're off to see again and again, the wonderful Wizard of Oz in: The Wizard of Oz (1939).

41. Akim Tamiroff

Actor | Touch of Evil

Though born in Russia and having a Russian-sounding name, Akim Tamiroff is actually of Armenian descent. At 19 he decided to pursue acting as a career and was chosen from among 500 applicants to the Moscow Art Theater School. There he studied under the great Konstantin Stanislavski, and launched a ...

Memorable film: For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943).

42. Clifton Webb

Actor | Laura

Already trained in dance and theater, he quit school at age 13 to study music and painting. By 19 he was a professional ballroom dancer in New York, and by his mid-twenties he was performing in musicals, dramas on Broadway and in London, and in silent movies. His first real success in film came in ...

Memorable role: Waldo Lydecker in Laura (1944).

43. William Demarest

Actor | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, William Demarest was a prolific actor in movies and TV, making more than 140 films. Demarest started his acting career in vaudeville and made his way to Broadway. His most famous role was in My Three Sons (1960), replacing a very sick William Frawley. Demarest was ...

Memorable film: The Jolson Story (1946).

44. Cecil Kellaway

Actor | Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Though a native of South Africa, Cecil Kellaway spent many years as an actor, author and director in the Australian film industry until he tried his luck in Hollywood in the 1930s. Finding he could get only gangster bit parts, he got discouraged and returned to Australia. Then William Wyler called ...

Memorable film: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).

45. Harry Morgan

Actor | M*A*S*H

Harry Morgan was a prolific character actor who starred in over 100 films and was a stage performer. Known to a younger generation of fans as "Col. Sherman T. Potter" on M*A*S*H (1972). Also known for his commanding personality throughout his career, he tackled movies and television in a way no ...

Memorable role: The Judge in the immortal classic, Inherit the Wind. (1960).

46. Eddie Albert

Actor | Roman Holiday

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Eddie Albert was a circus trapeze flier before becoming a stage and radio actor. He made his film debut in 1938 and has worked steadily since, often cast as the friendly, good-natured buddy of the hero but occasionally being cast as a villain; one of his ...

Memorable film: Roman Holiday (1953).

47. Lee J. Cobb

Actor | 12 Angry Men

Lee J. Cobb, one of the premier character actors in American film for three decades in the post-World War II period, was born Leo Jacoby in New York City's Lower East Side on December 8, 1911. The son of a Jewish newspaper editor, young Leo was a child prodigy in music, mastering the violin and the...

Memorable role: Juror #3, in 12 Angry Men (1957).

48. Edmond O'Brien

Actor | The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Oscar-winner Edmond O'Brien was one of the most-respected character actors in American cinema, from his heyday of the mid-1940s through the late 1960s. Born on September 10, 1915, in the New York City borough of The Bronx, O'Brien learned the craft of performance as a magician, reportedly tutored ...

Although Eddie O'Brien won the Oscar for Barefoot Contessa, I liked best (of his many great roles), Mr. Dutton Peabody in the John Ford classic, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."

49. E.G. Marshall

Actor | 12 Angry Men

With over 150 Film and TV appearances to his credit, E.G. Marshall was arguably most well known as the imperturbable Juror No. 4 in the Sidney Lumet mystery 12 Angry Men (1957).

Some of his stand-out performances are in Creepshow (1982), National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989), and Nixon (1995).

...

Memorable role: Juror #4 in 12 Angry Men (1957).

50. Gig Young

Actor | They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Gig Young was born Byron Barr to parents John and Emma Barr in Minnesota, and raised in Washington, DC, where he developed a passion for theatre while appearing in high school plays. After gaining some amateur experience, he applied for and received a scholarship to the acclaimed Southern ...

Memorable film: They Shoot Horses, Don't They (1969).

51. Hugh Griffith

Actor | Ben-Hur

Enjoyably larger-than-life character actor Hugh Emrys Griffith was born in Marianglas, Anglesey, North Wales, to Mary (Williams) and William Griffith. Griffith left the world of banking (having been employed as a teller) after winning a scholarship to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic ...

Memorable film: Ben-Hur (1959).

52. Hal Holbrook

Actor | Into the Wild

Hal Holbrook is an Emmy- and Tony-Award winning actor who is one of the great craftsman of stage and screen. He is best known for his performance as Mark Twain, for which he won a Tony and the first of his ten Emmy Award nominations. Aside from the stage, Holbrook made his reputation primarily on ...

Memorable role: "Deep Throat" in the classic, All the President's Men (1976).

53. Wilford Brimley

Actor | Cocoon

Wilford Brimley was born on September 27, 1934 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA as Anthony Wilford Brimley. He is known for his work on Cocoon (1985), The Thing (1982) and Hard Target (1993). He has been married to Beverly Berry since October 31, 2007. He was previously married to Lynne Brimley.

Memorable film: The Natural (1984).

54. Richard Farnsworth

Actor | The Straight Story

An American stuntman who, after more than 30 years in the business, moved into acting and became an acclaimed and respected character actor, Richard Farnsworth was a native of Los Angeles. He grew up around horses and as a teenager was offered an opportunity to ride in films. He appeared in ...

Memorable film: The Straight Story (1999).

55. David Strathairn

Actor | Good Night, and Good Luck.

David Russell Strathairn was born on January 26, 1949 in San Francisco, California. He is the son of Mary Frances (Frazier), a nurse, and Thomas Scott Strathairn, Jr., a physician. He has two siblings, Tom and Anne. His ancestry includes English, Scottish, Irish, Portuguese, Native Hawaiian, and ...

Memorable film: Good Night and Good Luck (2003).

56. Michael Madsen

Actor | The Hateful Eight

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 (2003), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) Sin City (2005), Hell Ride (2008), Die Another Day (2002), Donnie Brasco (1997), Species (1995), ...

Memorable role: dead heat: Thelma and Louise (1991) and Donnie Brasco (1997).

57. Danny DeVito

Actor | Matilda

Danny DeVito has amassed a formidable and versatile body of work as an actor, producer and director that spans the stage, television and film.

Daniel Michael DeVito Jr. was born on November 17, 1944, in Neptune, New Jersey, to Italian-American parents. His mother, Julia (Moccello), was a homemaker. ...

Memorable film: tie: L.A. Confidential (1997) and The Rainmaker (1997).

58. Gary Oldman

Actor | Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Gary Oldman is a talented English movie star and character actor, renowned for his expressive acting style. One of the most celebrated thespians of his generation, with a diverse career encompassing theatre, film and television, he is known for his roles as Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy (1986), ...

Memorable role: As Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK (1991).

59. Joaquin Phoenix

Actor | Walk the Line

Joaquin Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Arlyn (Dunetz) and John Bottom, and is the middle child in a brood of five. His parents, from the continental United States, were then serving as Children of God missionaries. His mother is from a Jewish family in New York,...

Memorable role: As Johnny Cash in Walk the Line (2006).

60. William H. Macy

Actor | Fargo

William H. Macy was born on March 13, 1950 in Miami, Florida, USA as William Hall Macy Jr. He is an actor and writer, known for Fargo (1996), Shameless (2011) and Magnolia (1999). He has been married to Felicity Huffman since September 6, 1997. They have two children.

Memorable role: Jerry Lundergaard in "Fargo" (1996). Astonishingly memorable performance.

61. Christopher Walken

Actor | Hairspray

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 (1978), and has been seen in mostly character roles, often ...

Memorable role: As Nicky in "The Deer Hunter" (1978). One of the most provocative performances of all time.

62. Ian Holm

Actor | The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Sir Ian Holm is one of the world's greatest actors, a Laurence Olivier Award-winning, Tony Award-winning, BAFTA-winning and Academy Award-nominated British star of films and the stage. He was a member of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company and has played more than 100 roles in films and on ...

Memorable film: Chariots of Fire. (1981).

63. Yaphet Kotto

Actor | Alien

Yaphet Kotto was born on November 15, 1939 in New York City, New York, USA as Yaphet Frederick Kotto. He is an actor and writer, known for Alien (1979), Live and Let Die (1973) and Midnight Run (1988). He has been married to Tessie Sinahon since July 12, 1998. He was previously married to ...

Memorable film: Alien (1979).

64. Brian Cox

Actor | X2

Brian Cox is an Emmy Award-winning Scottish actor. He was born on June 1, 1946 in Dundee, Scotland, to Mary Ann Guillerline Cox, maiden surname McCann, a spinner, and Charles McArdle Campbell Cox, a shopkeeper and butcher. His father was of Irish ancestry and his mother was of Irish and Scottish ...

Memorable role: As Melvin Belli in "Zodiac" (2007).

65. Harry Dean Stanton

Actor | Alien

Prolific character actor Harry Dean Stanton's drooping, weather-beaten appearance and superb acting talent have been his ticket to appearing in over 100 films, and 50 TV episodes.

Stanton was born in West Irvine, Kentucky, to Ersel (Moberly), a cook, and Sheridan Harry Stanton, a barber and tobacco ...

Memorable film: Paris, Texas (1984).

66. William Fichtner

Actor | Crash

A small-town guy with a big heart, William Fichtner has been captivating the hearts of Western New Yorkers for decades. Bill was born in 1956 on Long Island, New York, to Patricia A. (Steitz) and William E. Fichtner. He is of German, Irish, and English descent.

Fichtner was raised in Cheektowaga, ...

Memorable film: The Perfect Storm (2000).

67. 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 ...

Memorable film: Amistad (1997).

68. 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...

Memorable role: Carl Showalter in "Fargo" (1996).

69. Sam Rockwell

Actor | Moon

Sam Rockwell was born on November 5, 1968, in San Mateo, California, the only child of two actors, Pete Rockwell and Penny Hess. The family moved to New York when he was two years old, living first in the Bronx and later in Manhattan. When Sam was five years old, his parents separated, at which ...

Memorable role: As Wild Bill in "The Green Mile" (1999).

70. Terence Stamp

Actor | The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Terence Henry Stamp was born and lived in Canal Road, Bow, until German bombers forced his family to move to Plaistow. An icon of the 1960s, he dated the likes of Julie Christie, Brigitte Bardot and Jean Shrimpton. After an extremely successful early career, starring in Modesty Blaise (1966), Poor ...

Memorable role: As Billy Budd in "Billy Budd" (1962).

71. Harvey Keitel

Actor | Reservoir Dogs

American actor and producer Harvey Keitel was born on May 13, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York City, to Miriam (Klein) and Harry Keitel. An Oscar and Golden Globe Award nominee, he has appeared in films such as Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976), Ridley Scott's The Duellists (...

Memorable film: Pulp Fiction (1994).

72. Will Patton

Actor | Armageddon

Will Patton was born in Charleston, South Carolina. His father, Bill Patton, is a playwright, acting/directing instructor, and Lutheran minister. Patton attended the North Carolina School of the Arts. He has won two OBIE awards for best actor for the off-Broadway plays, Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love...

Memorable film: No Way Out (1987).

73. James Cromwell

Actor | The Green Mile

Born in Los Angeles but raised in Manhattan and educated at Middlebury College and Carnegie-Mellon University, James Cromwell is the son of film director John Cromwell and actress Kay Johnson. He studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon, and went into the theatre (like his parents) doing everything from ...

Memorable film: Babe (1995).

74. Alan Rickman

Actor | Die Hard

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 ...

Memorable film: Die Hard (1989).

75. Dennis Hopper

Actor | Easy Rider

With an amazing cinematic career of more than five decades, Dennis Hopper was a multi-talented and unconventional actor/director, regarded by many as one of the true "enfants terribles" of Hollywood. Hopper was born on May 17, 1936 in Dodge City, Kansas, to Marjorie Mae (Davis) and James Millard ...

Memorable film: Easy Rider (1969).

76. Melvyn Douglas

Actor | Being There

Two-time Oscar-winner Melvyn Douglas was one of America's finest actors. In addition to his two Oscars, he also won a Tony Award and an Emmy. Douglas would enjoy cinema immortality if for no other reason than his being the man who made Greta Garbo laugh in Ernst Lubitsch's classic comedy Ninotchka ...

Memorable film: Being There (1979).

77. Tom Sizemore

Actor | Saving Private Ryan

Tom Sizemore rose in prominence throughout the 1990s, establishing himself as a memorable tough-guy actor, sought by the most respected directors in the business.

Thomas Edward Sizemore, Jr. was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Judith (Schannault), an ombudsman staff member, and Thomas Edward Sizemore, ...

Memorable role: Sergeant Mike Horvath in "Saving Private Ryan" (1998).

78. John Carradine

Actor | Stagecoach

John Carradine, the son of a reporter/artist and a surgeon, grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York. He attended Christ Church School and Graphic Art School, studying sculpture, and afterward roamed the South selling sketches. He made his acting debut in "Camille" in a New Orleans theatre in 1925. ...

Memorable film: The Grapes of Wrath (1940).

79. Charles S. Dutton

Actor | Alien³

Charles S. Dutton was born on January 30, 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA as Charles Stanley Dutton. He is an actor and producer, known for Alien³ (1992), Gothika (2003) and A Time to Kill (1996). He was previously married to Debbi Morgan.

Memorable film: Rudy (1993).

80. Robert Prosky

Actor | Mrs. Doubtfire

Member of Washington D.C.'s Arena Stage repertory company in 60's and 70s, where he worked with Jane Alexander James Earl Jones Robert Foxworth and others.

Memorable film: Dead Man Walking (1995).

81. Charles Durning

Actor | Dog Day Afternoon

WWII veteran, dance instructor and diversely talented stage & screen actor were all inclusions on the resume of this perpetually busy US actor who didn't get in front of the cameras until around the time of his fortieth birthday. The stockily built Charles Durning was one of Hollywood's most ...

Memorable film: Dog Day Afternoon (1975).

82. Vincent Gardenia

Actor | Moonstruck

He was honored twice off-Broadway with Distinguished Performance OBIE Award, first in 1960 for "Machinal" and again in 1969 for "Passing Through From Exotic Places." In 1972 he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a play for "Prisoner on 2nd Avenue." In 1979 he was nominated for Best Actor ...

Memorable film: Moonstruck (1987).

83. Giovanni Ribisi

Actor | Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

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 ...

Memorable film: Saving Private Ryan (1998).

84. Oliver Platt

Actor | 2012

Oliver Platt was born in Windsor, Ontario, to American parents, Sheila Maynard, a social worker, and Nicholas Platt, a career diplomat. His parents were both from upper-class families, and his maternal great-grandmother, Cynthia Roche, was the sister of Princess Diana's maternal grandfather, ...

Memorable film: A Time to Kill (1996).

85. Barry Pepper

Actor | Saving Private Ryan

Barry Robert Pepper was born on April 4, 1970, in Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada, as the youngest of three sons. He has two older brothers named Alex and Doug Pepper. The Peppers didn't stick around Campbell River for too long. They had been building a ship in their backyard for years. ...

Memorable film: Saving Private Ryan (1998).

86. Joe Pantoliano

Actor | Memento

With more than 100 film, television and stage credits to his name, Joseph Peter Pantoliano is a prolific American character actor who has played many diverse and memorable roles, from Guido in Risky Business (1983) to Eddie Moscone in Midnight Run (1988), Cosmo Renfro in The Fugitive (1993), Cypher...

Memorable film: Midnight Run (1988).

87. Kenneth McMillan

Actor | Dune

Character actor Kenneth McMillan was born on July 2, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York. Prior to becoming an actor, McMillan was a manager at Gimbels Department Store. At age 30, McMillan decided to pursue an acting career. He attended the LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts and took acting lessons ...

Memorable film: The Pope of Greenwich Village. (1984).

88. John Randolph

Actor | You've Got Mail

Veteran performer John Randolph was a Tony Award-winning character actor whose union and social activism in the '40s and '50s caused him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era. The balding performer may not have been a household name, but he was a regular face in movies and TV for over four ...

Memorable role: As Arthur Hamilton in "Seconds" (1966).

89. Lee Richardson

Actor | Network

Born in Chicago in 1926, Richardson trained for the stage at the Goodman Theatre there. After serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he moved to New York and worked in off-Broadway productions. In the 1950s, he worked on television drama programs. In the 1960s, he moved to Minneapolis ...

Memorable role: As Dominic Prizzi in "Prizzi's Honor".

90. Kevin Pollak

Actor | The Usual Suspects

Kevin Pollak was born in San Francisco in 1957, to Elaine (Klein) and Robert Pollak. A stand-up comedy performer at age 10, he turned professional comedian a decade later and was puttering around from city to city when film roles beckoned. Pollak refocused thereafter on acting in what would be a ...

Memorable film: The Usual Suspects (1995).

91. Robert Loggia

Actor | Big

Born and raised in New York City, Robert Loggia studied journalism at the University of Missouri before moving back to New York to pursue acting. He trained at the Actors Studio while doing stage work. From the late 1950s he was a familiar face on TV, usually as authoritative figures. Loggia also ...

Memorable film: An Officer and a Gentleman (1982).

92. F. Murray Abraham

Actor | The Grand Budapest Hotel

Academy Award-winning actor F. Murray Abraham was born on October 24, 1939 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in El Paso, Texas. His father, Frederick Abraham, was from an Assyrian Christian (Antiochian) family, from Syria. His mother, Josephine (Stello) Abraham, was the daughter of Italian ...

Memorable role: As Salieri in "Amadeus" (1984).

93. Clifton Collins Jr.

Actor | Star Trek

An acting chameleon who can easily lose himself in the life of his film and television characters, Clifton Collins Jr. is a native Angeleno who grew up destined to become a part of the Latino entertainment industry. His great-grandparents on his mother's side were a Mexican trumpet player and ...

Memorable role: dead heat; as Frankie Flowers in "Traffic" (2000), and as Perry Smith in "Capote" (2005).

94. Tom Wilkinson

Actor | Michael Clayton

Popular British character actor Tom Wilkinson was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, and comes from a long line of urban farmers. He is the son of Marjorie (Percival) and Thomas Wilkinson. Economic hardships forced his family to move to Canada for a few years when Wilkinson was a child; after ...

Memorable role: Dr. Matt Fowler in "In the Bedroom" (2001).

95. 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 ...

Memorable film: Whiplash (2014).

96. Jay O. Sanders

Actor | The Day After Tomorrow

Jay O. Sanders was born on April 16, 1953 in Austin, Texas, USA as Jay Olcutt Sanders. He is known for his work on The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Kiss the Girls (1997) and Revolutionary Road (2008). He has been married to Maryann Plunkett since October 1, 1991. They have one child.

Memorable film: JFK (1991).

97. Bruno Kirby

Actor | When Harry Met Sally...

Native New Yorker and Italianate Bruno Kirby tended towards assertive, pushy, streetwise characters and was armed with a highly distinctive scratchy tenor voice that complemented his slim eyes and droopy puss and accentuated his deadpan comedic instincts on film and TV. The well-regarded character ...

Memorable role: As young Peter Clemenza in, "The Godfather, Part II" (1974).

98. Jason Miller

Actor | The Exorcist

Character actor and playwright Jason Miller had a variety of jobs before he started a writing career and wrote his own play, "That Championship Season", for which he received the Pulitzer Prize Award. Miller gave up his professional writing career in the early seventies to start acting. In 1973, he...

Memorable role: Indelible characterization as Father Damien Karras in "The Excorcist" (1973).

99. Christopher Lloyd

Actor | Back to the Future

Christopher Lloyd was born on October 22, 1938 in Stamford, Connecticut, USA as Christopher Allen Lloyd. He is an actor, known for Back to the Future (1985), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and Addams Family Values (1993). He has been married to Lisa Loiacono since November 23, 2016. He was ...

Memorable role: Doc Brown, in Back to the Future (1985).

100. Martin Sheen

Actor | The Departed

Multiple Emmy- and Golden Globe-winner Martin Sheen is one of America's most celebrated, colorful, and accomplished actors. Moving flawlessly between artistic mediums, Sheen's acting range is striking.

Sheen was born Ramón Antonio Gerard Estevez in Dayton, Ohio, to Mary-Ann (Phelan), an Irish ...

Apocalypse Now (1979)



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