Entertainment The Best English Actors of All Time  

Ranker Film
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74.1k votes 6.5k voters 51.1k 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.
list ordered by
1
1,837 870
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
1,314 623
Colin Firth is listed (or ranked) 2 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
3
1,492 829
Ian McKellen is listed (or ranked) 3 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
4
1,422 828
Gary Oldman is listed (or ranked) 4 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
5
1,252 852
Michael Caine is listed (or ranked) 5 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
6
1,174 929
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
1,177 732
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
1,030 768
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
834 669
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
822 776
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
870 716
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
1,086 849
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
689 694
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
935 810
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
873 644
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
772 574
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
765 592
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
830 645
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
648 612
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
546 458
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
757 555
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
241 59
Anthony Hopkins is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
685 521
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 drama ...more
24
703 564
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
674 520
John Cleese is listed (or ranked) 25 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