My top favourite actors over the past 50 years

by wendy_parker | created - 02 Mar 2013 | updated - 03 Mar 2013 | Public

1. Ralph Fiennes

Actor | The Grand Budapest Hotel

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 ...

2. Ben Kingsley

Actor | Gandhi

Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Bhanji on December 31, 1943 in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. His father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was a Kenyan-born medical doctor, of Gujarati Indian descent, and his mother, Anna Lyna Mary (Goodman), was an English actress. Ben began to act in stage plays during ...

3. Ciarán Hinds

Actor | The Woman in Black

Ciaran Hinds was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on February 9, 1953. He was one of five children and the only son. His father was a doctor who hoped to have Ciaran follow in his footsteps, but that was not to be. It was his mother Moya, an amateur actress, who was the real influence behind his ...

4. Gary Oldman

Actor | Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Gary Oldman is a talented English movie star and character actor, renowned for his "big" 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), Drexl in ...

5. Jeroen Krabbé

Actor | The Living Daylights

Jeroen Krabbé was born on December 5, 1944 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands as Jeroen Aart Krabbé. He is an actor and director, known for The Living Daylights (1987), The Fugitive (1993) and Left Luggage (1998). He has been married to Herma van Geemert since 1964. They have three children.

6. Eric Porter

Actor | The Day of the Jackal

A highly respected Shakespearean for five decades until his death of colon cancer in 1995, classical actor Eric Porter's claim to international fame would, ironically, be outside of that realm, with one superb portrayal in one superb miniseries, The Forsyte Saga (1967), in which he won the BAFTA ...

7. Johnny Depp

Actor | Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Johnny Depp is perhaps one of the most versatile actors of his day and age in Hollywood.

He was born John Christopher Depp II in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 9, 1963, to Betty Sue (Wells), who worked as a waitress, and John Christopher Depp, a civil engineer.

Depp was raised in Florida. He dropped ...

8. Helen Mirren

Actress | RED

Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. ...

9. Judi Dench

Actress | Skyfall

Dame Judi Dench was born Judith Olivia Dench in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with the ...

10. Helena Bonham Carter

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 ...

11. Harrison Ford

Actor | Raiders of the Lost Ark

Harrison Ford was born on July 13, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, to Dorothy (Nidelman), a radio actress, and Christopher Ford (born John William Ford), an actor turned advertising executive. His father was of Irish and German ancestry, while his maternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Minsk,...

12. Bill Nighy

Actor | Love Actually

Bill Nighy is an award-winning British character actor. He was born William Francis Nighy on December 12, 1949 in Caterham, Surrey, England, to Catherine Josephine (Whittaker), a psychiatric nurse from Glasgow, and Alfred Martin Nighy, who was English-born and managed a garage in Croydon.

At school,...

13. Jim Broadbent

Actor | Moulin Rouge!

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 ...

14. Timothy Spall

Actor | Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Timothy Leonard Spall was born in Battersea, London, to Sylvia R. (Leonard), a hairdresser, and Joseph L. Spall, a postal worker. He was raised in London. Spall auditioned and earned a spot with the National Youth Theatre and later showed great promise at RADA where he portrayed the title roles in ...

15. Yul Brynner

Actor | The Ten Commandments

Exotic leading man of American films, famed as much for his completely bald head as for his performances, Yul Brynner masked much of his life in mystery and outright lies designed to tease people he considered gullible. It was not until the publication of the books "Yul: The Man Who Would Be King" ...

16. Telly Savalas

Actor | Kojak

Son of Greek immigrants. Soldier during World War II. Studied psychology. Worked as journalist for ABC News. The bald-headed actor played character roles, often as sadistic or psychotic types. He became a TV favorite in the 1970s when his role as Det. Theo Kojak in the TV movie The Marcus-Nelson ...

17. Anton Lesser

Actor | Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

British actor Anton Lesser (b. 1952) has played many of the principal Shakespearian roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company (Associate Artist since 1990), including Petruchio, Romeo and Richard III. He is very active in radio (BBC) and spoken word audio. Over a dozen recordings range from Paradise ...

18. Geoffrey Rush

Actor | Shakespeare in Love

Geoffrey Roy Rush was born on July 6, 1951, in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, to Merle (Bischof), a department store sales assistant, and Roy Baden Rush, an accountant for the Royal Australian Air Force. His mother was of German descent and his father had English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. ...

19. Jeremy Irons

Actor | Dead Ringers

British actor Jeremy Irons was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight, a small island off the south coast of England. He is the son of Barbara Anne Brereton (Sharpe) and Paul Dugan Irons, an accountant. Young Jeremy didn't prove very fond of figures. He visited mainland England only once a year. He wound up ...

20. Meryl Streep

Actress | Out of Africa

Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 21 times, and has won it three times. Meryl was born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a commercial artist, and Harry William ...

21. 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...

22. Paul Bettany

Actor | Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Paul Bettany was born in Harlesden, London, England, into a theatre family. His father, Thane Bettany, died in 2015 but his mother, Anne Kettle, has retired from acting. His maternal grandmother, Olga Gwynne (her maiden and stage name), was a successful actress, while his maternal grandfather, ...

23. Michael Caine

Actor | The Quiet American

Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London, to Ellen Frances Marie (Burchell), a charlady, and Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, a fish-market porter. He left school at age 15 and took a series of working-class jobs before joining the British army and serving in Korea during the Korean ...

24. Alan Bates

Actor | Gosford Park

Alan Bates decided to be an actor at age 11. After grammar school in Derbyshire, he earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Following two years in the Royal Air Force, he joined the new English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre. His West End debut in 1956, at 22...

25. 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 ...

26. Brian Blessed

Actor | Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Boisterous British actor Brian Blessed is known for his hearty, king-sized portrayals on film and television. A giant of a man accompanied by an eloquent wit and booming, operatic voice, Brian was born in 1936 and grew up in the mining village of Goldthorpe in South Yorkshire. His father was a ...

27. Andy Serkis

Actor | War for the Planet of the Apes

Andrew Clement G. Serkis was born April 20, 1964, in Ruislip Manor, West London, England. He has three sisters and a brother. His father, Clement Serkis, an ethnic Armenian whose original family surname was "Serkissian", was a Medical Doctor working abroad, in Iraq; the Serkis family spent a lot of...

28. Christopher Lee

Actor | Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was perhaps the only actor of his generation to have starred in so many films and cult saga. Although most notable for personifying bloodsucking vampire, Dracula, on screen, he portrayed other varied characters on screen, most of which were villains, whether it ...

29. Tommy Lee Jones

Actor | The Fugitive

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 ...

30. 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...