The 30 Best Actors In History

Published on 12/10/2019
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There are some actors in Hollywood that can’t help but leave an impression on everyone’s hearts. The actors are effortlessly amazing at what they do, and the actors that can be placed in any type of role and perfect it instantly. These are those actors.

Robin Williams

There will never be anyone who can replace Robin Williams, that’s for sure. Robin Williams got his start in Hollywood by performing stand-up comedy shows, but eventually got into on-screen acting and performing. One of his most famous movies was Good Will Hunting, for which he won an Academy Award for.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Javier Bardem

Javier Bardem somehow has this incredible ability to take on the persona perfectly of any character he is cast to play. It’s no wonder he decided to become an actor because he is an incredible one! One of his movies No Country for Old Men brought his career to the highest point it’s ever been at, especially because he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Javier Bardem

Javier Bardem

Christian Bale

Christian Bale is almost like a chameleon when it comes to his acting abilities; whether he needs to play the role of a hero or a sociopathic person, he nails it on the head. He also went the extra mile to lost over 60 pounds for a role once just so he would physically meet what the directors had in mind for the character.

Christian Bale

Christian Bale

Tom Hanks

Everyone loves Tom Hanks. He is the exact kind of people person that personifies Hollywood and brings a bit of reality to it. Hanks has dabbled in everything, from comedy to drama, to animated movies. He’s one of Hollywood’s favorite stars; fans just love any movie that he’s in, just because he’s in it.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks

Sean Penn

Ever since his first performance as Jeff Spicoli in the classic film Fast Times at Ridgemont High Sean Penn has been a beloved actor. In about 35 years of his career, he’s been in more than 50 films, not counting those in which he was the director. He won an Academy Award in 2003 and again in 2008 for his roles in Mystic River and Milk, respectively.

Sean Penn

Sean Penn

Philip Seymour Hoffman

There was not a single person who wasn’t saddened by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, and it is something that many people are still feeling today. Even if you don’t consider him to be one of your favorite actors, it’s highly likely that he had a role in one of your favorite movies. His career began with Scent of a Woman in 1992 and skyrocketed from there. He once won an Oscar for best actor, which was nothing short of well-deserved.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington’s career is definitely something for an outsider to be envious of. Even though he has years of acting experience, there is still something to be said for the fact that he can so gracefully bounce from one genre of movie to another. Whether it’s action, drama or passion, he knows how to adapt to his roles every time. He has two Oscars under his belt and is well on his way to getting the title for one of America’s most successful actors.

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington

Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman is known for being a generous actor- one who will willingly take the back seat to allow an underdog to try out a more superior role. He will take the reigns when needed, but he’s not one to brag about it. He recently won his first Oscar for his role in Darkest Hour. He achieved his ultimate stardom level when he got cast to play Sirius Black in the Harry Potter movies and Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight trilogy.

Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman

Robert De Niro

Nearly any new actor who is trying to make a name for themselves will tell you that Robert De Niro is one of their biggest role models. He is such a big inspiration in Hollywood, in fact, that he was partially responsible for creating something called the “undying method acting trend.” Even 40 years into his career, he shows no signs of giving up anytime soon.

Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro

Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire is a man of every talent you could possibly think of. He’s an actor a singer, a musician, a dancer… he really did it all throughout the duration of his 35-year career. He performed in 31 musicals and many will say that he changed the way dance is looked at today.

Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire

Spencer Tracy

Many critics call Spencer Tracy one of the greatest Hollywood stars in history. Spencer’s career lasted for four decades and he accomplished just about everything anyone could. He received nine Academy Award nominations, after all, and he won two Oscars! He was one of the best actors of his time, no doubt.

Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy

Morgan Freeman

Everyone knows Morgan Freeman, and everyone loves Morgan Freeman. In his 81 years of life, he accomplished everything; he has even managed to nail the role of God. How many people can say that? He’s been nominated for five Academy Awards and won in 2004 for his supporting actor role in Million Dollar Baby. He’s been in Hollywood for 50 years and is still going strong.

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman

Robert Duvall

Robert Duvall was named America’s greatest actor by the New York Times in 1981, so you know he’s got some serious talent. His career took off in 1962 when he played the role of Boo Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird, and since then he’s been all over Hollywood. He’s one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood, and he’s known for being able to transform himself perfectly for any role he takes on.

Robert Duvall

Robert Duvall

Clark Gable

During his prime in Hollywood, Clark Gable was nicknamed “The King of Hollywood”, and he loved it. He had a very masculine, very forceful personality; unfortunately, this took away the opportunity for him to play soft and loving characters, but that didn’t stop him from winning an Oscar and having a very successful career.

Clark Gable

Clark Gable

James Dean

Though he only had three main roles in films before his death, he will forever have a spot in Hollywood history. He received two Oscar nominations and was known all around the world for his charming good looks and raw emotions on the screen. Even decades after his death, he still continues to show up here and there in pop culture, as his name in a song or his style in a movie.

James Dean

James Dean

Richard Burton

For getting seven Oscar nominations and two marriages to Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton lived a pretty great life! He had tough-guy looks and a personality that could intrigue anyone, which is probably how he was able to play the roles of intellectual men so frequently. He had some roles in the London Theatre, Broadway, and Hollywood, but all of his roles were incredible.

Richard Burton

Richard Burton

Orson Welles

Orson Wells was one of the biggest stars in the not only film but radio and theater as well. He produced some films that are, still to this day, considered some of the best of all time. It was not rare for his work to be on “Best of All Time” lists, and his hard work certainly did not go unrecognized.

Orson Welles

Orson Welles

Al Pacino

Al Pacino is what many people call a “Triple Crown of Acting” performer. This means that he is so talented that he won an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony. There’s no doubt that Al Pacino is one of the greatest actors of all time, and his 1970s work proves that to be true. Al Pacino does what he wants, and everyone is okay with it because, well, he’s Al Pacino.

Al Pacino

Al Pacino

Cary Grant

British-born Cary Grant has starred in every type of film you can think of, ranging all the way from romantic comedies to thrillers. He is known to have performed perfectly in both comedic and dramatic roles, as he could easily mold himself to where he needs to be. In 1970, he won an Honorary Oscar, which was presented to him by Frank Sinatra.

Cary Grant

Cary Grant

Dustin Hoffman

In his 50 years of being in front of the camera, Dustin Hoffman has been in some films that will go down prominently in American history. Many people say that Dustin Hoffman is one of the most important and influential actors of his time, and it’s pretty understandable why.

Dustin Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier was the first African American to win an Oscar, which alone is one of the most remarkable achievements one can claim. He stood his ground and always refused to accept any role that played an African American in a stereotypical way, which earned the respect of all of his fans for the fact that he wouldn’t do something like this just for a paycheck.

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

Gregory Peck

Gregory Peck is one of the most well-respected and most-celebrated actors, both on and off the screen. He has starred in many classic movies that people still love today, like To Kill a Mockingbird, which was definitely his most monumental role. He was nominated for five Best Actor Academy Awards, which is something to brag about!

Gregory Peck

Gregory Peck

Anthony Hopkins

Over the last 50 years, Anthony Hopkins has held more than 130 different roles in his career, but he is far from done yet. Anthony Hopkins is the kind of actor that has so much experience- and successful experience, at that- that he can pretty much be in any film that he wants to be in. He’s tried nearly every genre of acting, and he’s great at all of it.

Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins

Jimmy Stewart

Jimmy Stewart first started out with his career on Broadway and had his first film role in 1936 when he was in the movie Murder Man. He soon moved into very dark roles and westerns. He played every type of person and took on every type of role throughout his 5-decade long career. He won an Academy Award in 1940 for his work in The Philadelphia Story.

Jimmy Stewart

Jimmy Stewart

Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson is one of the few actors in Hollywood who can successfully, over and over again, play the roles of crazy villains. His incredible acting has won him 12 Academy Award nominations, which is a record for being a male actor! He’s won three Oscars as well. Over the past 50 years, everyone has learned to love Jack Nicholson.

Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson

Lawrence Oliver

It wasn’t long into his career that Lawrence Oliver earned the title of the best English-speaking actor of the 20th century. In 1944, he accepted a role in Shakespeare’s Henry V, which ended up winning him an Academy Award for his amazing skill and hard work on this project. He starred in three more Shakespeare-inspired movies and directed two of the three. He won an Oscar for Best Picture and Actor for his work in Hamlet.

Lawrence Oliver

Lawrence Oliver

Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis may be a man who holds three Oscars to his name, but that hasn’t stopped him from threatening to quit his acting job multiple times throughout the years. He’s unlike no one else in his field, and he will go down in history for his work. He’s been in Hollywood for five decades and continues to give the world amazing pieces.

Daniel Day Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando has done so much in the world of Hollywood films, that it’s hard to put our finger on the one best thing that he accomplished in his career. His career really started to take off rapidly after his role in the 1951 film Streetcar Named Desire, and he just got more popular since then. Throughout his successful career, he won two Oscar awards for various work.

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando

Humphrey Bogart

There’s a reason that the American Film Institute named Humphrey Bogart the greatest male star in the history of American cinema in 1999. In thirty years Humphrey Bogart played key roles in 75 big-name films, including Casablanca. He will forever be seen as a big-screen icon.

Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey Bogart

Katharine Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn officially left her studies at university in order to pursue her acting career during the year 1928. Throughout her career, she went back and forth between being very heavily involved in Hollywood and backing down here and there, but ultimately, her role in The Lion in Winter left an imprint on everybody’s heart.

Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn

Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman is a name that is still beloved in Hollywood to this day. She was a Swedish actress who made a name for herself in many television shows, movies and plays throughout her successful career. She won multiple awards, including three Academy Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, four Golden Globe Awards, and a BAFTA Award. She’s best remembered for her work in Notorious.

Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep is most known, and most beloved, for her work in the movie The Devil Wears Prada. She is frequently called “the best actress of her generation” and is famously known for all of the different accents she can use. She has been nominated for 21 Academy Awards, which is a record, and she has won three. In addition, she has received 32 Golden Globe nominations, more than any other person in history, and she has won eight.

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep

Bette Davis

The All About Eve actress was born in 1908 and as a child, she always dreamt of being a dancer. She saw dancers as people who lived lavish lifestyles. Her career spanned over an entire 60 years, which is part of what makes her one of the best actresses in Hollywood history.

Bette Davis

Bette Davis

Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh completed her education in drama school before going on to start her career off by appearing in multiple small roles. Leigh was a British stage and film actress who won two Academy Awards for Best Actress for her roles in Gone with the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire. She also won a Tony Award for her work in the Broadway musical version of Tovarich.

Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly was an American film actress born to wealthy parents in 1929, and she later went on to become Princess of Monaco by marrying Prince Rainier III in April 1956. Before she became a princess, however, she starred in many big Hollywood films during the 1950s. She is most famously known for her role in Rear Window.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, born in May of 1929 in Brussels, is most famous for her work in the film Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Audrey Hepburn was ranked by the American Film Institute as the third-greatest female screen legend in Golden Age Hollywood. Not only that but she was also inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor was a British-American actress, businesswoman, and activist. She began her childhood acting career in the 1940s and continued her success in becoming one of the most loved stars of Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. Her career only grew in the 1960s, and her fame stuck with her for the rest of her life. The American Film Institute named her the seventh-greatest female screen legend in 1999.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren was born in 1934. She is an Italian film actress and singer and is one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Loren was pushed to enroll in acting lessons after entering a beauty pageant, and she began her film career in 1950 when she was just 16 years old. She first appeared in several minor roles, but then her five-film contract with Paramount in 1956 boosted her career and made her an international name.

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is well-known by nearly everyone, and she is most famous for playing the role of comedic “blonde bombshells”. She became one of the most beloved female symbols of the 1950s and 1960s and was one of the faces of the time’s changing attitudes toward women and sexuality. Though her high-status acting career only lasted for 10 years, her films grossed $200 million, which is about the equivalent of $2 billion in 2018. Even nearly half a century later, she is still seen as a pop-culture icon.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo is a Swedish actress who was born in Stockholm in 1905. The peak of her acting career was in the 1920s and 30s, and in 1999 she was ranked fifth on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest female stars of classic Hollywood cinema. She was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Actress and she received the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress twice. If that wasn’t enough, she was also once named the most beautiful woman who ever lived by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford, a Canadian-born American film actress, and producer, had a career that lasted for 50 years. She was one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. At the peak of her career, Pickford was commonly known as “America’s Sweetheart” and the “girl with the curls.” She was, without a doubt, one of the most popular actresses of the 1910s and 1920s, which helped earn her the nickname “Queen of the Movies.”

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford

Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth was an American actress and dancer who rose to fame in the 1940s and became one of the top stars of the time, appearing in 61 films in her 37-year career. She claimed the name “The Love Goddess” because she was seen as being a glamorous screen icon in the 1940s. She was one of the top pin-up girls during the time of World War II. Hayworth is most famously known for her work in Gilda, which was her first dramatic role. Fred Astaire once called her his favorite dance partner. She is listed as one of the top 25 female motion picture stars of all time in the American Film Institute.

Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth

Olivia de Havilland

Olivia de Havilland’s career spanned all the way from 1935 to 1988. She starred in 49 feature films, was considered to be one of the leading actors of her time, and is one of the last surviving movie stars of the Golden Age of Classical Hollywood. She was nominated five times and won two Academy Awards, amongst Golden Globe awards and many other honors.

Olivia De Havilland

Olivia De Havilland

Shirley MacLaine

MacLaine is an American film, television, and theater actress, singer, dancer, activist, and author. She has won an Oscar and received the Kennedy Center Honors for her lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts in 2013. She is famously known for her New Age beliefs, and she has written a series of works that describe these beliefs, discuss her world travels, and touch on her Hollywood career. She has won five Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy, amongst other honors and nominations.

Shirley Maclaine

Shirley Maclaine

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda is still extremely active in Hollywood, with her show Grace and Frankie winning the hearts of everyone who watches it. Not only is she a beloved actress, but she is also a political activist and she used to be a fashion model. She has won countless awards, including two Academy Awards, two BAFTA Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, the AFI Life Achievement Award, and the Honorary Golden Lion. It’s safe to say that Jane Fonda isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall was a loved American actress who was best known for her voice and sultry. She was recognized as the 20th-greatest female star of classic Hollywood cinema by the American Film Institute, and she received an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2009. Bacall began her career as a model before making her film debut in 1944.

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall

Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews is one of the best actresses of all time, and her awards further prove that. She has been nominated for three Academy Awards and won one, 14 Golden Globe awards and won six, five Grammy Awards and won three, nine Emmy Awards and won three, and many other recognitions. She is most known for her work in The Sound of Music, but she can be recognized in many films throughout her career.

Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews

Sally Field

Sally Field is an American actress and director who is best known for her role in Forrest Gump. She has won many awards throughout her career, including two Academy Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and she has been nominated for a Tony Award and two BAFTA Awards. She is recognized as one of the best actresses of her time.

Sally Field

Sally Field

Judy Garland

Even those who don’t think they know Judy Garland, know Judy Garland. She played Dorothy in Wizard of Oz and only went up from there. Her career spanned over the course of 45 years, and she not only took on acting roles, but she was also a singer!

Judy Garland

Judy Garland

Paul Newman

Paul Newman was cast in over 65 movies during his 50-year career. Everyone loved him; his charming looks and mesmerizing blue eyes made fans fawn over him throughout his whole career. His first Academy Award nomination came in 1968, but his first oscar was won thanks to his performance in The Color of Money.

Paul Newman

Paul Newman

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