Top 50 Modern Actors

by olavfossum92 | created - 03 Feb 2013 | updated - 25 Jan 2017 | Public

The greatest male actors of the last 50 years

1. Robert De Niro

Actor | Raging Bull

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...

Greatest Performances:

  • Raging Bull
  • The Godfather: Part Two
  • Taxi Driver
  • Goodfellas
  • Once Upon A Time in America
  • The Deer Hunter
  • Cape Fear
  • Heat
  • Casino
  • Silver Linings Playbook

2. Daniel Day-Lewis

Actor | There Will Be Blood

Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Nicholas Blake, Poet Laureate of the U.K., and his second wife, actress Jill Balcon. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema and head of the famous Ealing ...

Greatest Performances:

  • There Will Be Blood
  • Lincoln
  • My Left Foot
  • Gangs of New York
  • A Room with a View
  • In the Name of the Father
  • The Last of the Mohicans

3. Jack Nicholson

Actor | Chinatown

Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, director and screenwriter, 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 nomination in every decade from the 1960s through the...

Greatest Performances:

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • The Shinning
  • Chinatown
  • The Departed
  • As Good As it Gets
  • A Few Good Men

4. Al Pacino

Actor | Serpico

One of the greatest actors in all of film history, Al Pacino established himself during one of cinema's most vibrant 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 Manhattan, New York City, to an ...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Godfather: Part One
  • The Godfather: Part Two
  • Scent of a Women
  • Scarface
  • Serpicio
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • Heat

5. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Forrest Gump
  • Philadelphia
  • Cast Away
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Captain Phillips
  • Big

6. Paul Newman

Actor | The Hustler

Screen legend, superstar, and the man with the most famous blue eyes in movie history, Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio, the second son of Theresa (Fetsko) and Arthur Sigmund Newman. Paul's father was Jewish, the son of emigrants from Poland and Hungary; he owned...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Hustler
  • The Sting
  • Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
  • The Verdict
  • Road to Perdition
  • The Color of Money
  • Nobody´s Fool
  • Rachel, Rachel
  • Cool Hand Luke

7. Dustin Hoffman

Actor | Tootsie

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, ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Rain Man
  • Kramer vs. Kramer
  • The Graduate
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Tootsie


8. 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...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Usual Suspects
  • American Beauty
  • L.A Confidential
  • Se7ven
  • House of Cards

9. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • The French Connection
  • Unforgiven
  • Mississipi Burning
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • The Firm
  • Enemy of the State

10. 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,...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • The Revenant
  • The Departed
  • Django Unchained
  • Blood Diamond
  • The Aviator
  • What´s Eating Gilbert Grape
  • Inception
  • The Basketball Diaries
  • Shutter Island
  • Catch Me if You Can
  • Gangs of New York

11. 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),...

Greatest Performances:

  • Gladiator
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • The Insider
  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • Cinderella Man
  • American Gangster
  • Les Miserables
  • A Good Year
  • 3:10 to Yuma

12. Robert Duvall

Actor | The Apostle

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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Apocalypse Now
  • The Godfather Series
  • Tender Mercies
  • The Great Santini
  • A Civil Action

13. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Training Day
  • Glory
  • Flight
  • American Gangster
  • Malcolm X
  • Fight
  • Man on Fire

14. Michael Caine

Actor | The Dark Knight

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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Cider House Rules
  • Get Carter
  • The Quiet American
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy
  • Hannah and Her Sisters
  • Aishanti
  • The Prestige

15. Morgan Freeman

Actor | Se7en

With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this ever popular American actor has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. Morgan was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Mayme Edna (Revere), a teacher, and Morgan Porterfield Freeman, a barber. The young Freeman...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Invictus
  • Driving Miss Daisy
  • Street Smart

16. Anthony Hopkins

Actor | The Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins was born on December 31, 1937, in Margam, Wales, to Muriel Anne (Yeats) and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker. His parents were both of half Welsh and half English descent. Influenced by Richard Burton, he decided to study at College of Music and Drama and graduated in 1957. In 1965, ...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • Hannibal
  • Nixon
  • Amistad
  • The Remains of the Day
  • The Elephant Man

17. Peter O'Toole

Actor | Lawrence of Arabia

A leading man of prodigious talents, Peter O'Toole was raised in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, the son of Constance Jane Eliot (Ferguson), a Scottish nurse, and Patrick Joseph O'Toole, an Irish metal plater, football player and racecourse bookmaker. Upon leaving school, he decided to become a ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • The Lion in Winter
  • Becket
  • The Ruling Class

18. Joe Pesci

Actor | Goodfellas

Compact Italian-American actor Joe Pesci was born February 9, 1943 in Newark, New Jersey, to Mary (Mesce), a part-time barber, and Angelo Pesci, a bartender and forklift driver. Pesci first broke into entertainment as a child actor, and by the mid-1950s, was starring on the series "Star Time Kids"....

Greatest Performances:

  • Goodfellas
  • Casino
  • Raging Bull
  • Home Alone

19. Christoph Waltz

Actor | Django Unchained

Christoph Waltz is an Austrian-German actor. He is known for his works with American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, receiving acclaim for portraying SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds (2009) and bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained (2012). For each performance, he ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Inglorious Bastards
  • Django Unchained

20. Joaquin Phoenix

Actor | Walk the Line

Joaquin Rafael Phoenix was born 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, while his ...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Gladiator
  • Walk The Line
  • The Master
  • Her
  • I´m Still Here

21. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • American Psycho
  • The Fighter
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy
  • The Machinist
  • The Prestige
  • American Hustle

22. Ian McKellen

Actor | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Widely regarded as one of greatest stage and screen actors, both in his native Great Britain and internationally, twice nominated for the Oscar and recipient of every major theatrical award in UK and US, Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery Lois (...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Lord of The Rings Trilogy
  • The Hobbit Trilogy
  • X-Men Series

23. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean Series
  • Finding Neverland
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Blow
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Public Enemies

24. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Fugitive
  • No Country For Old Men
  • In The Valley of Ellah
  • J.F.K

25. Jeff Bridges

Actor | The Big Lebowski

Jeffrey Leon Bridges was born on December 4, 1949 in Los Angeles, California, the son of well-known film and TV star Lloyd Bridges and his long-time wife Dorothy Dean Bridges (née Simpson). He grew up amid the happening Hollywood scene with big brother Beau Bridges. Both boys popped up, without ...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Big Lebowski
  • True Gritt
  • Crazy Heart
  • The Contender
  • Starman
  • Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
  • The Last Picture Show

26. Samuel L. Jackson

Actor | Pulp Fiction

Samuel L. Jackson is an American producer and highly prolific actor, having appeared in over 100 films, including Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Unbreakable (2000), Shaft (2000), Formula 51 (2001), Black Snake Moan (2006), Snakes on a Plane (2006), and the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999-2005), ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Pulp Fiction
  • Django Unchained
  • Star Wars Series
  • Unbreakable
  • Jackie Brown

27. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Schindler´s List
  • The English Patient
  • The Constant Gardner
  • Spider
  • Harry Potter Series
  • Red Dragon

28. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Mystic River
  • Milk
  • I am Sam
  • Sweet and Lowdown
  • Dead Men Walking
  • Charlito´s Way

29. Robert Redford

Actor | All Is Lost

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, Scottish, Cornish, and Irish ancestry. Robert's mother died in 1955,...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Sting
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundace Kid
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Out of Africa
  • Three Days of the Condor

30. Michael Douglas

Actor | Wonder Boys

An actor with over forty years of experience in theatre, film, and television, Michael Douglas branched out into independent feature production in 1975 with the Academy Award-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Since then, as a producer and as an actor-producer, he has shown an uncanny ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Wall Street
  • Basic Instinct
  • Fatal Attraction
  • War of the Roses
  • The Game
  • Wonder Boys

31. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Gandhi
  • Schindler´s List
  • House of Sand and Fog
  • Sexy Beast
  • Bugsy
  • Shutter Island
  • Hugo Cabaret

32. Philip Seymour Hoffman

Actor | The Master

Film and stage actor and theater director Philip Seymour Hoffman was born in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Fairport on July 23, 1967. He was the son of Marilyn (Loucks), a lawyer and judge, and Gordon Stowell Hoffman, a Xerox employee, and was mostly of German, Irish, English and Dutch ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Capote
  • The Master
  • Charlie Wilson´s War
  • Doubt

33. Christopher Walken

Actor | The Deer Hunter

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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Deer Hunter
  • Catch Me if You Can
  • New York
  • James Bond: A View to Kill

34. Clint Eastwood

Actor | Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr., a manufacturing executive for Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and Ruth Wood, a housewife turned IBM operator. He had a comfortable, middle-class upbringing in nearby Piedmont. At school Clint took interest in music...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Dollars Trilogy
  • Dirty Harry Series
  • Unforgiven
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Gran Torino

35. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Dark Knight
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • The Patriot

36. Ed Harris

Actor | The Truman Show

By transforming into his characters and pulling the audience in, Ed Harris has earned a reputation as one of the most talented actors of our time.

Ed Harris was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, to Margaret (Sholl), a travel agent, and Robert Lee Harris, a bookstore worker who also sang professionally. ...

Greatest Performances:

  • The Hours
  • Pollock
  • The Truman Show
  • Apollo 13
  • The Abyss

37. Javier Bardem

Actor | Skyfall

Javier Bardem is the youngest member of a family of actors that has been making films since the early days of Spanish cinema.

He was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, to actress Pilar Bardem (María del Pilar Bardem Muñoz) and businessman José Carlos Encinas Doussinague. His maternal ...

Greatest Performances:

  • No Country For Old Men
  • Skyfall
  • Before Night Falls
  • Biutiful

38. Robert Downey Jr.

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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Sherlock Holmes Series
  • Iron Man/Avengers Series
  • Tropic Thunder
  • Chaplin
  • Zodiak

39. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • American History X
  • Fight Club
  • Primal Fear
  • Red Dragon
  • The Ilusionist

40. 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,...

Greatest Performances:

  • Indiana Jones
  • Star Wars
  • The Fugitive
  • Blade Runner
  • Witness

41. Brad Pitt

Actor | Mr. & Mrs. Smith

An actor and producer known as much for his versatility as he is for his handsome face, Golden Globe-winner Brad Pitt's most widely recognized role may be Tyler Durden in Fight Club (1999). However, his portrayals of Billy Beane in Moneyball (2011), and Rusty Ryan in the remake of Ocean's Eleven (...

Greatest Performances:

  • 12 Monkeys
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Fight Club
  • Moneyball
  • Inglorious Bastards
  • Troy
  • Sev7en
  • Babel

42. 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 (...

Greatest Performances:

  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Mean Street
  • Bugsy

43. Tom Cruise

Actor | Top Gun

In 1976, if you had told fourteen year-old Franciscan seminary student Thomas Cruise Mapother IV that one day in the not too distant future he would be Tom Cruise, one of the top 100 movie stars of all time, he would have probably grinned and told you that his ambition was to join the priesthood. ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Born on the fourth of July
  • Rain Man
  • Jerry Maguire
  • Mission Impossible
  • Top Gun
  • The Firm
  • A Few Good Men

44. George Clooney

Actor | Michael Clayton

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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Michael Clayton
  • Up in the Air
  • The Descendants
  • Syriana
  • Ocean´s Eleven

45. 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...

Greatest Performances:

  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Fargo
  • Ghost World
  • Con Air
  • Boardwalk Empire (TV-series)

46. Willem Dafoe

Actor | Spider-Man

Having made over one hundred films in his legendary career, Willem Dafoe is internationally respected for bringing versatility, boldness, and dare to some of the most iconic films of our time. His artistic curiosity in exploring the human condition leads him to projects all over the world, large ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Paltoon
  • Mississipi Burning
  • Shadow of the Vampire
  • Spider Man
  • The English Patient
  • The Bondock Saints
  • American Psycho

47. 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, Kyle, a sculptor. His father was of English and ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Jason Bourne Series
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Invictus
  • The Departed
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • The Good Shepard
  • True Gritt
  • Saving Private Ryan

48. Mel Gibson

Actor | Braveheart

Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson was born January 3, 1956 in Peekskill, New York, USA, as the sixth of eleven children of Hutton Gibson, a railroad brakeman, and Anne Patricia (Reilly) Gibson (who died in December of 1990). His mother was Irish, from County Longford, while his American-born father is ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Braveheart
  • Mad Max series
  • Lethal Weapon series

49. 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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Leon
  • JFK
  • The Dark Knight
  • Harry Potter
  • Sid and Nancy

50. Nicolas Cage

Actor | Face/Off

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 ...

Greatest Performances:

  • Leaving Las Vegas
  • National Treasure
  • Raising Arizona
  • Adaption
  • The Rock
  • Con Air