VOTE The Best English Actors of All Time  

Ranker Film
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70.2k votes 6k voters 48.3k views 110 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
1,753 763
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
1,427 723
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
1,374 716
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
1,205 750
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
1,088 589
Colin Firth is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
1,139 830
Daniel Day-Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
1,142 654
Patrick Stewart is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
998 697
Christopher Lee is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
813 594
Jeremy Irons is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
789 708
Alec Guinness is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
839 653
Ralph Fiennes is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
1,024 785
Benedict Cumberbatch is listed (or ranked) 12 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

13
663 644
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
899 751
Christian Bale is listed (or ranked) 14 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

15
848 599
John Hurt is listed (or ranked) 15 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

16
746 529
Charlie Chaplin is listed (or ranked) 16 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

17
744 551
Hugh Laurie is listed (or ranked) 17 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

18
812 608
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
628 582
Cary Grant is listed (or ranked) 19 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

20
526 431
Richard Harris is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
710 526
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
649 495
Martin Freeman is listed (or ranked) 22 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 drama ...more

23
659 505
John Cleese is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
674 546
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
708 427
Ewan McGregor is listed (or ranked) 25 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