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The Best English Actors of All Time

Updated January 20, 2020 69.1k votes 7.6k voters 65.1k views113 items

List RulesMale 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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    Alan Rickman

    Die Hard, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (21 February 1946 – 14 January 2016) was an English actor and...  more

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  • 2
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    Colin Firth

    The English Patient, The King's Speech
    Colin Andrew Firth (born 10 September 1960) is an English actor who has received an Academy...  more

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  • 3
    1,344
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    Gary Oldman

    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises
    Gary Leonard Oldman (born 21 March 1958) is an English actor and filmmaker who has performed...  more

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    336
    156

    Peter O'Toole

    Lawrence of Arabia, Ratatouille
    Peter Seamus O'Toole (; 2 August 1932 – 14 December 2013) was a British stage and film actor...  more

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  • 5
    1,396
    885

    Ian McKellen

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. His career spans genres...  more

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    472
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    Anthony Hopkins

    The Silence of the Lambs, Thor
    Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins (born 31 December 1937) is a Welsh actor, director, and producer....  more

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    242
    84

    Sean Connery

    Goldfinger, The Untouchables
    Sir Thomas Sean Connery (25 August 1930 – 31 October 2020) was a retired Scottish actor and...  more

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    460
    251

    Eddie Redmayne

    Les Misérables, The Good Shepherd
    Edward John David Redmayne (; born 6 January 1982) is an English actor and model. Redmayne...  more

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  • 9
    1,138
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    Michael Caine

    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises
    Sir Michael Caine (born 14 March 1933) is an English actor, producer and author. He has...  more

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  • 10
    1,033
    717

    Patrick Stewart

    X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand
    Sir Patrick Stewart (born 13 July 1940) is an English actor whose work has included roles on...  more

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    637
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    Tom Hardy

    The Dark Knight Rises, Inception
    Edward Thomas Hardy (born 15 September 1977) is an English actor and producer. After studying...  more

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  • 12
    679
    401

    Ewan McGregor

    Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
    Ewan Gordon McGregor (born 31 March 1971) is a Scottish actor, singer, and director known...  more

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  • 13
    763
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    Tom Hiddleston

    The Avengers, Thor
    Thomas William Hiddleston (born 9 February 1981) is an English actor, film producer, and...  more

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  • 14
    1,108
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    Benedict Cumberbatch

    Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
    Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch (born 19 July 1976) is an English actor who has...  more

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  • 15
    729
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    Charlie Chaplin

    City Lights, The Gold Rush
    Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor,...  more

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  • 16
    506
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    Rowan Atkinson

    The Lion King, Love Actually
    Rowan Sebastian Atkinson (born January 6, 1955), CBE is an English actor, comedian, and...  more

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  • 17
    284
    147

    Kenneth Branagh

    Thor, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
    Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh (born 10 December 1960) is a Northern Irish actor, director,...  more

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  • 18
    535
    344

    Idris Elba

    Thor, Thor: The Dark World
    Idrissa Akuna Elba (; born 6 September 1972) is an English actor, writer, producer, musician,...  more

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    817
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    John Hurt

    Alien, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
    Sir John Vincent Hurt (22 January 1940 – 25 January 2017) was an English actor whose career...  more

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  • 20
    418
    270

    Michael Fassbender

    Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class
    Michael Fassbender (born 2 April 1977) is an Irish-German actor. His feature film debut was in...  more

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    673
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    Martin Freeman

    Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz
    Martin John Christopher Freeman (born 8 September 1971) is an English actor and comedian,...  more

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  • 22
    922
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    Christopher Lee

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee (27 May 1922 – 7 June 2015) was an English actor, singer...  more

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    258
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    Andy Serkis

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    Andrew Clement Serkis (born 20 April 1964) is an English actor and film director. He is best...  more

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  • 24
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    Bill Nighy

    Shaun of the Dead, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
    William Francis "Bill" Nighy is an English actor. He worked in theatre and television before...  more

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  • 25
    559
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    Richard Harris

    Gladiator, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
    Richard St. John Harris (1 October 1930 – 25 October 2002) was an Irish actor and singer. He...  more

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