Entertainment

The All-Time Greatest Action Stars

List Rules
Must be actors known for their work in action films.

Action stars are a special breed. The purely physical component of acting - so perpetually underappreciated - is squarely their domain. They not only put their bodies on the line for the sake of entertainment, but have to express physically what other actors tend to get across in words and dramatic close-ups. All due respect to the invaluable stunt performers and choreographers who make it all look easy, action stars often have to be well-versed in a number of advanced skills, from martial arts to military-grade weaponry to swordfighting. They save the world, avenge the family, and miraculously survive in the face of impossible odds.

And then there’s the Tom Cruise of it all, the kind of action star so dedicated to the craft that he does even the most extreme, dangerous stunts for real.

There are many different types of action stars, from Bruce Willis’s wily everyman to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s over-muscled superman; from Bruce Lee’s gracefully violent martial artist to Keanu Reeves’s American counterpart; from Denzel Washington’s old-school toughness to Liam Neeson’s old-man brutality.

And though the genre has been largely defined by men, let’s not forget the action heroines, as the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Charlize Theron, Linda Hamilton, and Milla Jovovich have made careers of going toe-to-toe with anyone and anything.

Collectively, these action stars have been responsible for some of the greatest action movies of all-time. Vote up the best of the best.

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list ordered by