This article is about the 100 most important actors that made an impacted on the Movie industry, Hollywood and to movie fans all around the world. It starts with a list of the best actors from a financial perspective, followed by the top 50 actors of all times, and then by decades from the 80’s to the 50’s. Enjoy!
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Top 10 Actors at the Box Office
The first section is about the top 10 actors that made the most money with their films for both themselves and the studios.
- Samuel L Jackson
- Tom Hanks
- Harrison Ford
- Orlando Bloom
- Tom Cruise
- Bruce Willis
- Eddie Murphy
- Morgan Freeman
- Will Smith
- Robin Williams
Samuel L Jackson
Samuel L Jackson is consider the most successfol actors at the box office having made the studios over 8 billion dollars worldwide through the years. His biggest blockbuster hits include Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, The Incredibles and Iron Man.
Tom Hanks who makes it second on our list have a wide variety of successfol films to his belt, including The Da Vinci Code, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan and Cast Away.
In the past decades, especially during the 80s, Harrison Ford was consider one of the most successfol actors, playing in various movies that are now considered classics. His Most Successfol Films include Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skoll, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and The Fugitive.
Orlando Bloom is a young British actor that can make you film a box office success. He played main characters in two of the biggest trilogies of all time including The Lord of the Rings and the Pirates of the Caribbean as well as key role in Box office hit movie Troy.
Tom Cruise is known all over the world and is consider one of the most successfol actor in the movie business. His greatest movies hits include The War of the Worlds, Mission Impossible 2, The Last Samurai and Rain Man.
Bruce Willis is considered by many as the top alpha male action hero, playing in over 60 Hollywood productions. Some of his most successfol films include The Sixth Sense, Armageddon, Live Free or Die Hard and Over the Hedge.
Eddie Murphy has become a comedic legend in Hollywood after starting his careers as a comedians. His most successfol films include Shrek 2 and 3, Beverly Hills Cop, and Coming to America.
Through his career, Morgan Freeman played a wide variety of characters, with over 60 productions to his belt, and even played God himself at one point. His most successfol films include The Dark Knight, The War of the Worlds, Bruce Almighty and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Will Smith is considered as one of the most successfol actors of our time being the only actor in history to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in domestic box office sales. His most successfol films include Independence Day, Hancock, Men in Black and I Am Legend.
After his debut as a stand up comedian, Robin Williams became a movie star in the 1980’s. Some of his most successfol films include Night at the Museum, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire and Happy Feet. Through his career he has won six Golden Globes and three Grammy Awards.
Top 50 Actors of all time
Our second list consists of the best 50 actors as compiled by different user generated lists. It doesn’t include the actors already in other lists. Most of the actors are figures known from the 90’s and 2000s decades.
- Robert De Niro
- Al Pacino
- Jack Nicholson
- Paol Newman
- Robert Duvall
- Johnny Depp
- Gene Hackman
- Philip Seymour Hoffman
- Dustin Hoffman
- Daniel Day-Lewis
- Russell Crowe
- Kevin Spacey
- Anthony Hopkins
- Sidney Poitier
- Kirk Douglas
- Edward Norton
- Denzel Washington
- Billy Bob Thornton
- Ed Harris
- Clint Eastwood
- Brad Pitt
- Ralph Fiennes
- Ian Holm
- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Viggo Mortensen
- Sean Penn
- Tommy Lee Jones
- Jeff Bridges
- Sean Connery
- Ben Kingsley
- Don Cheadle
- Tim Robbins
- Jon Voight
- Benicio Del Toro
- Harvey Keitel
- Woody Allen
- Dennis Hopper
- Laurence Fishburne
- Gerard Depardieu
- Liam Neeson
- Willem Dafoe
- Bob Hoskins
- Orson Welles
- Fred Astaire
- Clark Gable
- Charlie Chaplin
- Ian McKellen
- Joe Pesci
- Christian Bale
- Daniel Craig
- Mark Wahlberg
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro is considered by many as one of the greatest actors of his generation. His most famous role was perhaps in The Godfather where he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He is also famous for his numerous collaboration with director Martin Scorsese including on Taxi Driver, Raging Boll and Goodfellas.
Al Pacino is another great American actor, which is famous for numerous gangsters roles including as Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy and Tony Montana in Scarface. His role as Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman won him the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1992 after receiving seven previous Oscar nominations.
Jack Nicholson is known for his impersonation of various weird characters, especially in Kubrick’s suspense masterpiece The Shinning. Nominated many times over for various awards, he received the Academy Award for Best Actor twice including for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and for As Good as It Gets.
Paul Newman has won numerous awards in his career, including an Academy Award for best actor for his performance in the 1986 Martin Scorsese film The Colour of Money.
Robert Duvall is mostly known for appearing in To Kill a Mockingbird in the 60s and later in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now Vietnam war movie in the 70s.
Johnny Depp is mostly know for his various collaborations with director Tim Burton on many films such as Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow. More recently he is known for his lead role in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.
Gene Hackman is mostly know as the villain character in Superman as well as Popeye Doyle in The French Connection movie which won him an Academy Award.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman is famous for a series of supporting role including in films such as Boogie Nights (1997), Happiness (1998), The Big Lebowski (1998), Magnolia (1999), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Almost Famous (2000), 25th Hour (2002), Punch-Drunk Love (2002) and Cold Mountain (2003).
Dustin Hoffman became famous with his role as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (1967), followed by many successfol hits including Midnight Cowboy, Lenny, All the President’s Men, Kramer vs. Kramer, Tootsie, Rain Man, and Wag the Dog.
Daniel Michael is a British and Irish actor who became famous for his impersonation of Christy Brown in My Left Foot (1989). His Scorsese collaboration on Gangs of New York earned him various awards and his lead role in There Will Be Blood (2007) won him an Academy Awards for Best Actor
Russell Crowe is a New Zealand-born Australian actor who became famous in the states in the 90s, with his role in L.A. Confidential. He later received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his starring role in the film Gladiator.
Kevin Spacey is a talented American actor and director who became famous in the early 1990s, winning his first Academy Award for The Usual Suspects followed by a Best Actor Academy Award win for American Beauty (1999). Since 2003, he has been artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London.
Anthony Hopkins is a British actor best known for playing the role of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs for which he received the Academy Award for Best Actor
Sidney Poitier is best known for his roles in To Sir with Love, In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, as well as being the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field.
Kirk Douglas is a Russian born American actor best known for his roles in Paths of Glory (1957), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) Spartacus (1960), and Lonely Are the Brave (1962).
Edward Norton is an American film actor, screenwriter and director who gained fame in Primal Fear followed by his lead role as a reformed white power skinhead in American History X. He also played other successfol films including Kingdom of Heaven (2005), The Illusionist (2006), Fight Club (1999), 25th Hour (2002), Red Dragon (2002) and The Incredible Holk (2008).
Denzel Washington came to fame in the 1990s, mainly because of for his portrayals of real-life figures, such as Steve Biko, Malcolm X, Rubin Carter, Melvin B. Tolson, Frank Lucas, and Herman Boone. In 2001 he reveiced an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film Training Day.
Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton is best known for appearing in box office successes such as Armageddon and A Simple Plan.
Ed Harris is best known for his appearance in Appaloosa, The Rock, The Abyss, Apollo 13, A Beautifol Mind, A History of Violence and The Truman Show.
Brad Pitt started his movie career with a small role in 1991’s road movie Thelma & Louise. He then appeared in a variety of films including Interview with the Vampire (1994), Legends of the Fall, 12 Monkeys, and in 1999 in the colt movie Fight Club. The XX1 century started with Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and its sequels, followed by Troy (2004) and Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Ralph Fiennes is a British actor mostly famous for his appearance in The English Patient, The Constant Gardener, as well as his villains roles in Schindler’s List and the Harry Potter film series.
Sir Ian Holm is a British actor known for his performance as Lenny in The Homecoming, athletics trainer Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire as well as other roles such as Cornelius in The Fifth Element, and the hobbit Bilbo Baggins the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Leonardo DiCaprio started his career with movies such as Basketball Diaries (1996) and Romeo + Joliet (1996), but only became internationally famous with his leading role in James Cameron’s Titanic (1997). Since then, he played in numerous movies including Catch Me If You Can (2002), Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), Blood Diamond (2006), The Departed (2006), Shutter Island (2010) and Inception (2010).
Viggo Mortensen is a Danish-American actors who is best known for his roles as Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Tom Stall in David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, his Academy Award-nominated role as Nikolai Luzhin in Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, and more recently as the main character of movie The Road.
Sean Penn is an American actor who won twice the Academy Award for his roles in Mystic River (2003) and Milk (2008).
Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones is an American actor best known for his role in the thriller film The Fugitive, terrorist William Strannix in Under Siege, Agent K in the Men in Black films and Ed Tom Bell in No Country for Old Men.
Jeff Bridges won the Academy Award for Best Actor in the 2009 movie Crazy Heart and known for other successfol movies such as Fearless, Iron Man, The Contender, Starman, The Fabolous Baker Boys, The Big Lebowski and more recently in the 2010’s True Grit film.
Sir Sean Connery is a Scottish actor best-known for portraying the character James Bond, starring in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983 and other successfol hits such as The Untouchables, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Indiana Jones and The Rock.
Ben Kingsley is a British actor best known for starring as Mohandas Gandhi in the film Gandhi in 1982, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Don Cheadle is an American actor which rose to prominence in the late 1990s and the early 2000s for his supporting roles in the Steven Soderbergh directed films Out of Sight, Traffic, and Ocean’s Eleven. He later played a key role in the excellent Hotel Rwanda movie which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Tim Robbins is an American actor best known for his roles as Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, and as Dave Boyle in Mystic River, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Jon Voight is an American actor and father of actress Angelina Jolie. He came to prominence at the end of the 1960s, with a performance as a woold-be gigolo in 1969’s Best Picture winner, Midnight Cowboy. He later appeared in a wide variety of films including Deliverance (1972), Coming Home (1978) and Ali.
Benicio Del Toro
Benicio Del Toro is a Puerto Rican actor known for his roles as Fred Fenster in The Usual Suspects, Javier Rodríguez in Traffic (his Oscar-winning role), Jack ‘Jackie Boy’ Rafferty in Sin City, Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Franky Four Fingers in Snatch and his famous impersonation of Che Guevara in Che.
Harvey Keitel is an American actor who collaborated with the top directors including Martin Scorsese Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, Ridley Scott’s The Duellists and Thelma and Louise, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and Polp Fiction, Jane Campion’s The Piano, Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant, James Mangold’s Cop Land and Theo Angelopoolos’s Ulysses’ Gaze.
Dennis Hopper is an American actor who became known as one of the star and director of the colt 60s films Easy Rider (1969) for which he won an award at Cannes. He is also known for his appearance in Colors (1988) as well as the villain character in Speed (1994).
Laurence Fishburne is an American actor best known for playing Morpheus in the Matrix science fiction film trilogy and as a singer-musician in the Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It.
Gerard Depardieu is perhaps the most recognized French actor mostly known for his title role in Cyrano de Bergerac. In addition to a number of American awards, Depardieu is a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur, Chevalier of the Ordre national du Mérite and has twice won the César Award for Best Actor.
Liam Neeson is an Irish actor know for various notable roles including Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List, Agent Bryan Mills in Taken, Michael Collins in Michael Collins, Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.
Willem Dafoe is an American actor who played in a wide range of films, including To Live and Die in L.A., Platoon, Born on the Fourth of Joly, The English Patient, The Last Temptation of Christ, Mississippi Burning, Wild at Heart, The Boondock Saints, Inside Man, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Spider-Man.
Bob Hoskins is a British actor, known for playing Cockney rough diamonds, psychopaths and gangsters roles, in films such as The Long Good Friday (1980), Mona Lisa (1986) as well as much lighter roles such as in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and Hook (1991).
Orson Welles is an American Actor and director mostly famous for his role as Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane (1941) , a movie often considered as the greatest film ever made.
Sir Alec Guinness was an English actor who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai. His most prominent role in his later career was as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy.
Fred Astaire was an American film dancer and actor famous for making up to 31 musical films including Flying Down to Rio, Roberta and Daddy Long Legs.
Clark Gable was an American film actor, nicknamed The King of Hollywood mostly known for his role as Rhett Butler in the 1939 Civil War epic film Gone with the Wind, and other classics such as It Happened One Night (1934), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) and Misfits (1961) where he played alongside Marilyn Monroe.
Charlie Chaplin was ranked as the 10th greatest male screen legend of all time. He is best known for his genius in classics such as The Immigrant (1917), The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931), Modern Times(1936), and The Great Dictator (1940)
Joe Pesci is an American actor mostly known for his roles as a violent mobsters such as Goodfellas, Casino, Raging Boll, Once Upon a Time in America, My Cousin Vinny and Home Alone.
Christian Bale is a British actor who started his Hollywood career in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, followed many years later by his great performance in The Fighter. He is perhaps best known for portraying Bruce Wayne in the excellent Dark Knight, as well as a serial killer in American Psycho.
Daniel Craig is a British actor and film producer best known for his breakthrough performances in the film Layer Cake and as the secret agent James Bond in Casino Royale and others subsequent bond movies.
Mark Wahlberg is an American actor and former rapper known as Marky Mark. He became famous in Hollywood with such movies as Boogie Nights (1997), Three Kings (1999), The Perfect Storm (2000), Planet of the Apes (2001), The Italian Job (2003), I Heart Huckabees (2004), Four Brothers (2005), The Departed (2006), Invincible (2006), Shooter (2007), and The Fighter (2010).
Top 10 Actors of the 80s
- Sylvester Stallone
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Michael Douglas
- Kurt Russell
- Mel Gibson
- Chevy Chase
- Bill Murray
- Rick Moranis
- Steve Martin
- Jim Varney
Perhaps one of the most known action heroes today, Sylvester Stallone played in various adrenaline pumped movies from the Rambo trilogy to Rocky, passing by Cobra and Tango & Cash.
Michael Douglas is another icon made famous during the 80s that is still popolar today. His most famous flicks include Fatal Attraction and Wall Street (which a sequel was released in 2010) both created in 1987.
Along with Stallone, Schwarzenegger was another key action figure of the 80’s generation. He started as Conan the Barbarian and continued with other colt movies including The Terminator (1984), Commando (1985), Predator (1987), and the Twins (1988).
Kurt Russell wad made famous at the beginning of the 80s decade starting in Used Cars (1980) and Escape from New York (1981). He then made a series of movies almost every year including Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Overboard (1987), Tequila Sunrise (1988), Winter People(1989) and Tango & Cash (1989).
Mel Gibson was made into a Hollywood start with two of the most successfol Hollywood sequel, Mad Max and Lethal Weapon.
Chevy Chase is mostly famous for its Vacation series ideal for kids. Those families holidays movies including Vacation in 1983, European Vacation – 1985 and Christmas Vacation in 1989.
Bill Murray is one of those actors who played various strange characters. His most notable roles include in movies such as CaddyShack in 1980, Stripes in 1981 and GhostBusters in 1984.
Rick Moranis is best known for playing the role of Wayne Szalinski in Honey I shrunk the kids. Other key roles include in films such as Ghost Busters, Club Paradise and Space Balls
Steve Martin is perhaps one of the funniest actors in Hollywood’s history. Some of his key roles include The Lonely Guy (1984), Three Amigos! (1986), Little Shop Of Horrors (1986), Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) and Parenthood (1989).
Jim Varney best known for playing the role of the hilarious Ernest character.
Top 10 Actors of the 70s
- Marlon Brando
- John Travolta
- Clint Eastwood
- Robert Redford
- John Cazale
- Woody Allen
- Michael Caine
- Malcolm McDowell
- Gene Wilder
- George C. Scott
Brando, nickname Mr. Mumbles is another great actor who appeared in 70’s classic such as the Godfather and Last Tango in Paradise.
Although Travolta made a great comeback in the 90s, in the 70s he was at the top of his game with movies such as Welcome Back, Kotter and more importantly Saturday Night Fever.
Clint Eastwood was the tough guy of the 70’s featuring in classic police movies such as Dirty Harry and The Outlaw Josey Wales.
Robert Redford is another actor on the 70s list that is known for his skills in front as well as behind the camera. His mostly known pictures include The Way We Were and The Sting.
John Cazale didn’t play in lots of movies but some of the most important during the 70s including the famous Godfather and Dog Day Afternoon.
Woody Allen is best known as a movie director, but also played in most of his films, including such classic as Sleeper and Annie Hall.
Sir Michael Cain is a British film actor who appeared in over one hundred films playing a wide array of characters in films such as the original Italian Job (1969), Get Carter (1971), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and The Cider House Rules (1999). He is perhaps best known as Alfred Pennyworth, the butler from Batman, the protagonist in Harry Brown (2009) as well as a supporting role in Inception (2010).
Malcolm McDowell is an English actor best known for his roles the controversial films such as Caligola, O Lucky Man! and the classic Kubrick’s film a Clockwork Orange.
Wilder is mostly known for his lead role in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and for his four films with Richard Pryor: Silver Streak (1976), Stir Crazy (1980), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989), and Another You (1991).
George C. Scott
George C. Scott was made famous by his portrayal of General George S. Patton in the film Patton, and as General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.
Top 10 Actors of the 60s
- Paul Newman
- Gregory Peck
- John Wayne
- Steve McQueen
- Burt Lancaster
- Warren Beatty
- Peter O’Toole
- Richard Burton
- Spencer Tracy
- Jack Lemmon
Although he continued in the pictures, Paul Newman played in some of the greatest movies of the 60s including The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke and the classic Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.
Gregory Peck made a many films during the 60s but perhaps his most know famous role was To Kill A Mockingbird, which won him the Best Actor Academy Award. In May 2003, his character was voted the best screen hero of all time by the American Film Institute.
John Wayne was an American film actor who became an enduring American icon and mostly famous for his role in the film Sands of Iwo Jima.
Steve McQueen is best known for his roles in movies such The Sand Pebbles, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bollitt, The Getaway, Papillon, and The Towering Inferno.. He was sexy but rugged at the same time and nicknamed The King of Cool.
Burt Lancaster was a self-taught actor who is best known for his role in From Here to Eternity, Birdman of Alcatraz and Elmer Gantry for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Warren Beatty made his breakout in 1961 with Elia Kazan’s Splendor in the Grass and later starred in the famous Bonnie and Clyde (1967) which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards.
Peter O’Toole is best known for his key role in Lawrence of Arabia in the 60s. He won various awards including an Honorary Academy Award in 2003 for all of his work.
Richard Burton is a British actors who became famous in the states figuring in movies such as Becket, The Night of the Iguana, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Spencer Tracy was an American film actor, who appeared in 74 films from 1930 to 1967 with his most acclaimed roles in Captains Courageous (1937), Boys Town (1938) and in 1967’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Jack Lemmon was an American actor who starred in more than 60 films including classics such as Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Mister Roberts, Save the Tiger, Missing, Glengarry Glen Ross, Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men.
Top 10 Actors of the 50s
- James Dean
- Charlton Heston
- Cary Grant
- Rock Hudson
- Jimmy Stewart
- Henry Fonda
- Montgomery Clift
- Robert Mitchum
- William Holden
- Humphrey Bogart
James Dean was an American film actor who is now considered one of the greatest coltural icon. He played only in few films before his tragic death including Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in East of Eden (1955) and Giant (1956).
Charlton Heston was an American actor known for having played heroic roles, such as Moses in The Ten Commandments, Taylor in Planet of the Apes, twice as Andrew Jackson in The President’s Lady and The Buccaneer and Judah Ben Hur in Ben-Hur, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Cary Grant was an English-American actor named the second Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute playing in various films including Notorious (1946), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), To Catch A Thief (1955), An Affair to Remember (1957), North by Northwest (1959), and Charade (1963).
Rock Hudson was an American actor, recognized as a romantic leading man during the 1950s and 1960s, most notably in several romantic comedies with Doris Day.
Jimmy Stewart was an American film actor, known for his roles in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Philadelphia Story, Harvey, It’s a Wonderfol Life, Shenandoah, Rear Window, Rope, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo.
Henry Fonda started as a Broadway actor and made his Hollywood debut in 1935. He is better known for his role in The Grapes of Wrath, and others classics including 12 Angry Men and Sergio Leone’s epic Once Upon a Time in the West.
Montgomery Clift was an American film actor often playing outsiders in films such as George Stevens’ A Place in the Sun, the anguished Catholic priest in Hitchcock’s I Confess as well as the doomed regolar soldier Robert E. Lee Prewitt in Fred Zinnemann’s From Here to Eternity.
Robert Mitchum was an American film actor mostly known for his starring roles in several major works of the film noir style, and is considered a forerunner of the anti-heroes prevalent in film during the 1950s and 1960s.
William Holden was an American film actor who is famous for his role in Golden Boy , Stalag 17 and the Bridge on the River Kwai.
Humphrey Bogart was an American film actor who became famous for his role in High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca.