Entertainment

The Best English Actors of All Time  

Ranker Film
Originally by
76.4k votes 6.7k voters 54.7k views 106 items

List Rules Male actors from England, dead or alive. Vote based on their entire body of work.

Some of the best actors of all time hail from England, and whether you love these English men for their acting talents or just their accents, there's no denying that many of these English actors are among some of the best actors in film history. Whether living or dead, these men made England a top source for acting talent in Hollywood and will go down in history as the best.

Who are the all-time top English actors in film history? Some of these actors from England became famous for roles as Americans, as Jedi (hi, Alec Guinness!), as detectives, and any number of other memorable characters. There's just something about these English gentlemen that movie audiences love, and their fantastic acting abilities have made many of them award winners as well.

This list features the greatest English actors of all time including Charlie Chaplin, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Cary Grant, David Niven, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Ewan McGregor. Don't see your favorite actor from England? Add him below so other film fans can vote. Then, be sure to vote and rerank the list according to who you think are the best English actors to have ever graced the screen.
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26
John Cleese is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
John Marwood Cleese is an English actor, comedian, writer and film producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report. In the ...more
27
Peter Sellers is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, The Pink Panther, Being There
Peter Sellers, CBE was a British film actor, comedian and singer. He performed in the BBC Radio comedy series The Goon Show, featured on a number of hit comic songs and became known to a ...more
28
Eddie Redmayne is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
vida-so added Les Misérables, The Good Shepherd, My Week with Marilyn
Edward John David "Eddie" Redmayne is an English actor, singer and model. He started his professional career as an actor in both theatre and television roles in the early 2000s and ...more
29
Bill Nighy is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Shaun of the Dead, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Hot Fuzz
William Francis "Bill" Nighy is an English actor. He worked in theatre and television before his first cinema role in 1981, and made his name in television with The Men's Room in 1991, ...more
30
Tom Hardy is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Black Hawk Down
Edward Thomas Hardy, CBE (born 15 September 1977) is an English actor, producer, and former model. Hardy made his film debut in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down (2001), and has since had notable ...more
31
Michael Fassbender is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
vida-so added Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past
Michael Fassbender is a German-Irish actor and producer. His first screen role was in the 2000 TV miniseries, Hearts and Bones, followed by the 2001 television miniseries Band of Brothers. He ...more
32
Peter O'Toole is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
SandyQ8 added Lawrence of Arabia, Ratatouille, Prometheus
Peter Seamus O'Toole was a British-Irish stage and film actor. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and began working in the theatre, gaining recognition as a Shakespearean actor at ...more
33
Idris Elba is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus
Idrissa Akuna "Idris" Elba is a British actor, producer, singer, rapper, and DJ. Elba is best known for his portrayal of Russell "Stringer" Bell in the HBO series The Wire, ...more
34
David Niven is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
The Pink Panther, Mutiny on the Bounty, Murder by Death
James David Graham Niven was an English actor and novelist who was popular in Europe and in the United States. He may be best known for his roles as Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days ...more
35
Kenneth Branagh is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
SandyQ8 added Thor, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Thor: The Dark World
Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh is an actor, director, producer and screenwriter from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has directed or starred in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's ...more
36
Tim Curry is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Tom Islava added The Little Mermaid, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Timothy James "Tim" Curry is an English actor, singer, and composer, known for his work in a diverse range of theatre, film, and television productions, often portraying villainous ...more
37
Daniel Craig is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Casino Royale, Skyfall, Road to Perdition
Daniel Wroughton Craig is an English actor. Cast as the fictional British secret agent James Bond 007 in October 2005, his first film in the role, Casino Royale, was released in theatres ...more
38
Simon Pegg is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Star Trek, Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek Into Darkness
Simon John Pegg is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and film producer. Pegg is best known for having co-written and starred in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy of films, Hot Fuzz, ...more
39
Jude Law is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Hugo, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Grand Budapest Hotel
David Jude Heyworth Law, known professionally as Jude Law, is an English actor, film producer and director. He began acting with the National Youth Music Theatre in 1987, and had his first ...more
40
Richard Burton is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
The Longest Day, Cleopatra, Where Eagles Dare
Richard Burton, CBE (10 November 1925 – 5 August 1984) was a Welsh actor. He was nominated seven times for an Academy Award, six of which were for Best Actor in a Leading Role (without ever ...more
41
Richard Attenborough is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
DennisScottMoore added Jurassic Park, The Great Escape, The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Richard Samuel Attenborough, Baron Attenborough, CBE was an English actor, film director, film producer, entrepreneur and politician. He was the President of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art ...more
42
Rowan Atkinson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
The Lion King, Love Actually, Rat Race
Rowan Sebastian Atkinson, CBE is an English actor, comedian, and screenwriter best known for his work on the sitcoms Mr. Bean and Blackadder. Atkinson first came to prominence in the sketch ...more
43
David Thewlis is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
SandyQ8 added The Big Lebowski, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
David Thewlis is an English actor of stage and screen. His most commercially successful role to date has been that of Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter film series. Other notable performances ...more
44
Hugh Dancy is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Alex Donoso added Black Hawk Down, Ella Enchanted, King Arthur
Hugh Michael Horace Dancy is an English actor and model. He is best known for his roles as Will Graham in the television series Hannibal and as Prince Charmont in Ella Enchanted. In 2006, he was ...more
45
Peter Cushing is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
SeanDorman added Star Wars, Lolita, Dracula
Peter Wilton Cushing, OBE was an English actor and a BAFTA TV Award Best Actor winner in 1956. He is mainly known for his many appearances in Hammer Films, in which he played the sinister ...more
46
Stephen Fry is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
SandyQ8 added Alice in Wonderland, V for Vendetta, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Stephen John Fry is an English comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist. After a troubled childhood and adolescence, during which he was expelled from two schools and spent three months ...more
47
Andy Serkis is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Tom Islava added The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Andrew Clement "Andy" Serkis is an English film actor, director and author. He is known for his performance capture roles comprising motion capture acting, animation and voice work for ...more
48
Jim Broadbent is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Gangs of New York, Brazil, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Jim Broadbent is an actor.
49
Derek Jacobi is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
SeanDorman added Gladiator, The King's Speech, The Secret of NIMH
Sir Derek George Jacobi CBE is an English actor and stage director. A "forceful, commanding stage presence", Jacobi has enjoyed a highly successful stage career, appearing in such ...more
50
Peter Ustinov is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Spartacus, Robin Hood, Logan's Run
Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov, CBE was an English actor, writer and dramatist. He was also renowned as a filmmaker, theatre and opera director, stage designer, author, screenwriter, comedian, ...more