african american The Greatest Black Actors in Film History  

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List Rules Black male actors only. Vote based on their entire body of work in film.

From any era and genre, these are the greatest black actors in film history, ranked by the community to determine who is the best of all time. These black actors are the top in the business, and many are also among the best living actors today. From those who have portrayed classic black characters in film, to award winning actors, only the most deserving actors are on this list.

Who are the greatest black actors in film? From Oscar winners like Denzel Washington, classic African American actors like Sidney Poitier, and newer names such as English actor  Chiwetel Ejiofor, each of the black actors on this list has earned his place with an excellent body of work and memorable performances. Some black comedians and rappers are also on this list, having found success in the world of film as well.
 
The actors that are featured on this list include some of the best actors of all time including, Morgan Freeman, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, Ossie Davis, Forest Whitaker, Danny Glover, and Eddie Murphy. Is the black male actor you think is best not on the list? Add him to make a truly comprehensive list to determine the best black men in film history.

1
+ - 1,219 175
Denzel Washington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Denzel Washington Antwone Fisher, Book of Eli, American Gangster

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2
+ - 1,110 135
Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Morgan Freeman Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, Million Dollar Baby

3
+ - 870 207
Samuel L. Jackson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Samuel L. Jackson Pulp Fiction, The Avengers, Django Unchained

4
+ - 677 154
Forest Whitaker is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Forest Whitaker The Butler, The Last King of Scotland, The Last Stand

5
+ - 615 144
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Laurence Fishburne The Matrix, Man of Steel, Boyz in the Hood

6
+ - 675 165
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
James Earl Jones The Lion King, Return of the Jedi, Field of Dreams

7
+ - 682 155
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Sidney Poitier Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, Fast Forward

8
+ - 538 165
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Danny Glover Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

9
+ - 780 231
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

10
+ - 545 160
Don Cheadle is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Don Cheadle Crash, Hotel Rwanda, Iron Man 3

11
+ - 444 92
Idris Elba is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Idris Elba Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

12
+ - 404 143
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

13
+ - 484 187
Cuba Gooding, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Cuba Gooding, Jr. What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood

14
+ - 502 161
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, Collateral, Ray

15
+ - 480 184
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

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16
+ - 409 127
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

17
+ - 340 125
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

18
+ - 355 137
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ving Rhames Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

19
+ - 374 142
Terrence Howard is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Terrence Howard Iron Man, The Best Man, Hustle and Flow

20
+ - 194 71
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Keith David Platoon, The Thing, Requiem for a Dream

21
+ - 338 169
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Wesley Snipes Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

22
+ - 266 129
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

23
+ - 243 120
Delroy Lindo is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Delroy Lindo Gone in 60 Seconds, The Cider House Rules, Romeo Must Die

24
+ - 321 133
Dwayne Johnson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Dwayne Johnson Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, The Other Guys

25
+ - 235 139
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

26
+ - 302 131
Martin Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Martin Lawrence Do the Right Thing, Bad Boys, Bad Boys II

27
+ - 319 123
Bernie Mac is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Bernie Mac Transformers, Friday, Ocean's Eleven

28
+ - 331 121
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

29
+ - 285 118
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

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+ - 314 148
Ice Cube is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ice Cube Friday, 21 Jump Street, Boyz n the Hood

31
+ - 276 145
Chris Tucker is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chris Tucker The Fifth Element, Friday, Silver Linings Playbook

32
+ - 310 152
Chris Rock is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chris Rock Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Madagascar

33
+ - 220 126
Blair Underwood is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Blair Underwood The Art of Getting By, Set it Off, Malibu's Most Wanted

34
+ - 192 139
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jeffrey Wright The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Casino Royale, Source Code

35
+ - 234 122
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

36
+ - 175 122
Giancarlo Esposito is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Giancarlo Esposito Do The Right Thing, The Usual Suspects, Last Holiday

37
+ - 200 111
Ossie Davis is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ossie Davis Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Grumpy Old Men

38
+ - 124 76
Isaiah Washington is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Isaiah Washington Out of Sight, Clockers, Dead Presidents

39
+ - 157 51
Terry Crews is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Terry Crews Training Day, Bridesmaids, The Expendables

40
+ - 127 83
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Larenz Tate Crash, Ray, Menace II Society

41
+ - 258 112
Sammy Davis, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Sammy Davis, Jr. Ocean's Eleven, The Cannonball Run, Tap

42
+ - 200 121
LL Cool J is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
LL Cool J Any Given Sunday, Deep Blue Sea, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

43
+ - 243 142
Ice-T is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ice-T The Other Guys, New Jack City, Leprechaun In the Hood

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44
+ - 191 110
Paul Winfield is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Paul Winfield The Terminator, Sounder, White Dog

45
+ - 144 46
James Avery is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
James Avery The Blues Brothers, The Prince of Egypt, Fletch

46
+ - 97 73
Michael K. Williams is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael K. Williams The Incredible Hulk, 12 Years a Slave, Gone Baby Gone

47
+ - 137 43
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

48
+ - 137 58
John Amos is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
John Amos Coming to America, Die Hard 2, The Beastmaster

49
+ - 166 104
Richard Roundtree is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Roundtree Seven, George of the Jungle, Brick

50
+ - 196 94
Tyrese Gibson is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Tyrese Gibson Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon