actors 17 Actors Who Have Played Richard III  

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A number of highly recognizable actors have risen to the challenge of portraying the title character in William Shakespeare’s Richard III. As this list of actors who played Richard III proves, there's nothing like a difficult character to inspire a great performance.

By many historical accounts, King Richard III was a malicious tyrant. Whatever he was really like, he's certainly a villain in Shakespeare’s play. He’s a tyrant capable of ferocious evil, one who uses Machiavellian power to assume the throne. Most of the stars who played Richard III in film and on stage relied heavily on his evil nature in their portrayals. And why not? Shakespeare’s Richard III was a true villain.

Sir Laurence Olivier dug into the egotistical side of the King in 1955’s Richard III. Olivier also directed and produced the film, in which he delivers his monologues straight to the camera. Benedict Cumberbatch holds the honor of being the only direct descendant of Richard III to portray him. He's Richard's third cousin, 16 times removed, and he played the King in The Hollow Crown in May 2016.

Which of these famous actors who have played Richard III did it best? Take a look at this list, and share your thoughts in the comment section.


Al Pacino is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 17 Actors Who Have Played Richard III
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Al Pacino portrayed Richard III in a documentary he directed, Looking for Richard, in 1996.

Age: 76

Birthplace: East Harlem, New York City, New York, United States of America

Also Ranked

#12 on The Best Actors Working Today

#9 on The Best American Actors Working Today

#13 on The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

#8 on The Best Living American Actors

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Denzel Washington is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 17 Actors Who Have Played Richard III
Photo: @TheaterHistory/via Twitter

Denzel Washington took on the role of Richard III on Broadway in 1990.

Age: 62

Birthplace: Mount Vernon, New York, United States of America

Also Ranked

#9 on The Best Actors Working Today

#6 on The Best American Actors Working Today

#28 on The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

#11 on The Best Living American Actors

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Kevin Spacey is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 17 Actors Who Have Played Richard III
Photo: Millmaine Entertainment Marketing/via YouTube

Kevin Spacey played Richard III in a Sam Mendes-directed stage version of Shakespeare's play in 2011.

Age: 57

Birthplace: South Orange, New Jersey, United States of America

Also Ranked

#2 on The Best Actors Working Today

#2 on The Best American Actors Working Today

#30 on The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

#5 on The Best Living American Actors

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Benedict Cumberbatch is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 17 Actors Who Have Played Richard III
Photo: BBC2

Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed Richard III in The Hollow Crown in May 2016.

Age: 40

Birthplace: Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom

Also Ranked

#50 on The Best Actors Working Today

#23 on The Best English Actors of All Time

#4 on The Best Living English Actors

#35 on The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting)

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