VOTE The Best English Actors of All Time  

Ranker Film
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64.7k votes 5.7k voters 46.6k views 101 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.
list ordered by

1
1,691 618
Alan Rickman is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Die Hard, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman is an English actor. Rickman is a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in both modern and classical theatre productions. His breakout performance was as the ...more

2
1,365 576
Ian McKellen is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, X-Men Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He is the recipient of six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BIF Award, two Saturn ...more

3
1,319 566
Gary Oldman is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins Gary Leonard Oldman is an English actor, filmmaker, and musician. Oldman rose to prominence in the United Kingdom with his portrayals of Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy and Joe Orton in Prick Up ...more

4
1,159 608
Michael Caine is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins Sir Michael Caine, CBE, is an English actor and author. Renowned for his distinctive Cockney accent, Caine has appeared in over 115 films and is one of the UK's most recognisable actors. He made ...more

5
1,098 683
Daniel Day-Lewis is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Gangs of New York, The Last of the Mohicans, There Will Be Blood Sir Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is an English actor. He holds both British and Irish citizenship. Born and raised in London, he excelled on stage at the National Youth Theatre, before being ...more

6
1,095 514
Patrick Stewart is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men 2 Sir Patrick Stewart OBE is an English film, television, and stage actor, who has had a distinguished career on stage and screen. He is most widely known for his roles as Captain Jean-Luc Picard ...more

7
960 561
Christopher Lee is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
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 Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, CBE, CStJ, is an English actor, singer and author. Lee initially portrayed villains and became best known for his role as Count Dracula in a string of ...more

8
757 568
Alec Guinness is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi Sir Alec Guinness, CH CBE was an English actor. After an early career on the stage he was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including The Ladykillers and Kind Hearts and Coronets in ...more

9
811 513
Ralph Fiennes is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Schindler's List, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, is an English actor. A noted Shakespeare interpreter, he first achieved success onstage at the Royal National Theatre. Fiennes' portrayal of Nazi Amon ...more

10
869 568
Colin Firth is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
The English Patient, The King's Speech, Shakespeare in Love Colin Andrew Firth, CBE is an English film, television, and theatre actor. His films have grossed more than $3 billion from 42 releases worldwide. He has received an Academy Award, a Golden ...more

11
725 519
Jeremy Irons is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
The Lion King, Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Time Machine Jeremy John Irons is an English actor. After receiving classical training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Irons began his acting career on stage in 1969, and has since appeared in many ...more

12
817 475
John Hurt is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Alien, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Sir John Vincent Hurt, CBE is an English actor. Hurt has had a career spanning six decades and initially came to prominence for his supporting role as Richard Rich in the film A Man for All ...more

13
638 548
Laurence Olivier is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Spartacus, Clash of the Titans, Rebecca Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor who, along with his contemporaries Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, dominated the British stage of the mid-20th century. He also ...more

14
973 657
Benedict Cumberbatch is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, 12 Years a Slave Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch is an English actor and film producer who has performed in film, television, theatre and radio. The son of actors Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, he ...more

15
717 455
Hugh Laurie is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
101 Dalmatians, Monsters vs. Aliens, Sense and Sensibility James Hugh Calum Laurie, OBE, known professionally as Hugh Laurie, is an English actor, writer, director, musician and comedian. He first became known as one-half of the Fry and Laurie double ...more

16
854 647
Christian Bale is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins Christian Charles Philip Bale is an English actor. He has starred in both blockbuster films and smaller projects from independent producers and art houses. Bale first caught the public eye at ...more

17
715 457
Charlie Chaplin is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
City Lights, The Gold Rush, Modern Times Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor and filmmaker who rose to fame in the silent film era. Chaplin became a worldwide icon through his screen persona ...more

18
781 521
Ben Kingsley is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Schindler's List, Iron Man 3, Shutter Island Sir Ben Kingsley is an English actor. In a career spanning over 40 years, he has won an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA, two Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards. He is known for his starring role ...more

19
505 364
Richard Harris is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
JackEck added Gladiator, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Richard St John Harris was an Irish actor, singer, theatrical producer, film director and writer. He appeared on stage and in many films, appearing as Frank Machin in This Sporting Life, and ...more

20
604 515
Cary Grant is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
North by Northwest, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday Cary Grant was an English stage and Hollywood film actor who became an American citizen in 1942. Known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor and "dashing good looks", Grant ...more

21
681 451
Tom Hiddleston is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
The Avengers, Thor, Thor: The Dark World Thomas William "Tom" Hiddleston is an English actor. He is known for playing the character of Loki in the Marvel Studios films Thor, The Avengers, and Thor: The Dark World. He has also ...more

22
636 432
John Cleese is listed (or ranked) 22 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

23
618 422
Martin Freeman is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Love Actually Martin John Christopher Freeman is an English actor, best known for portraying Tim Canterbury in the UK version of the sitcom mockumentary The Office, Dr. John Watson in the British crime drama ...more

24
654 483
Sean Bean is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
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 Shaun Mark "Sean" Bean is an English actor. Bean first found success for his portrayal of Richard Sharpe in the ITV series Sharpe. He has since garnered further recognition for his ...more

25
493 480
Peter Sellers is listed (or ranked) 25 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

26
566 364
Bill Nighy is listed (or ranked) 26 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

27
361 206
Michael Fassbender is listed (or ranked) 27 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

28
342 150
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
648 407
Ewan McGregor is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Trainspotting Ewan Gordon McGregor, OBE is a Scottish actor who has had success in mainstream, indie, and art house films. His first professional role was in 1993, when he won a leading role in the Channel 4 ...more

30
140 21
Anthony Hopkins is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
Ildikó Hirschleger added The Silence of the Lambs, Thor, Thor: The Dark World Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins, CBE is a Welsh actor of film, stage, and television, and a composer and painter. After graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in 1957, he ...more

31
280 129
Tim Curry is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
519 325
Idris Elba is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
565 349
Tom Hardy is listed (or ranked) 33 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

34
168 78
Geoffrey Rush is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
SandyQ8 added Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Geoffrey Roy Rush AC is an Australian actor and film producer. He is the youngest of the few people who have won the "Triple Crown of Acting": an Academy Award, a Tony Award and an ...more

35
180 77
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
393 428
David Niven is listed (or ranked) 36 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

37
518 383
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
175 75
Peter O'Toole is listed (or ranked) 38 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

39
412 381
Simon Pegg is listed (or ranked) 39 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

40
334 166
David Tennant is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best English Actors of All Time
SamSmiley added Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, How to Train Your Dragon, Fright Night David Tennant is a Scottish actor known for his roles as the Tenth Doctor in the British television series Doctor Who, Alec Hardy in Broadchurch, Giacomo Casanova in the TV serial Casanova and ...more

41
307 297
Richard Burton is listed (or ranked) 41 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

42
503 437
Jude Law is listed (or ranked) 42 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

43
417 303
Hugh Dancy is listed (or ranked) 43 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

44
247 170
Richard Attenborough is listed (or ranked) 44 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

45
152 73
Stephen Fry is listed (or ranked) 45 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

46
249 240
Peter Cushing is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
185 58
David Thewlis is listed (or ranked) 47 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

48
460 384
Rowan Atkinson is listed (or ranked) 48 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

49
173 91
Andy Serkis is listed (or ranked) 49 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

50
161 204
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