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The Best English Actors of All Time

Updated January 20, 2020 70.3k votes 7.6k voters 64.2k 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 Rickman1
    1,814
    1,041

    Alan Rickman

    Die Hard, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    BirthplaceHammersmith, London, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom,England

    Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (21 February 1946 – 14 January 2016) was an English actor and...  more

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  • Colin Firth2
    1,913
    632

    Colin Firth

    The English Patient, The King's Speech

    BirthplaceGrayshott, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom, England

    Colin Andrew Firth (born 10 September 1960) is an English actor who has received an Academy...  more

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  • Peter O'Toole3
    336
    146

    Peter O'Toole

    Lawrence of Arabia, Ratatouille

    BirthplaceConnemara, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

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

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  • Gary Oldman4
    1,360
    829

    Gary Oldman

    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises

    BirthplaceEurasia, New Cross, London, England, United Kingdom

    NationalityEngland

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

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  • Anthony Hopkins5
    469
    99

    Anthony Hopkins

    The Silence of the Lambs, Thor

    BirthplaceMargam, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited States of America, United Kingdom

    Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins (born 31 December 1937) is a Welsh actor, director, and producer....  more

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  • Ian McKellen6
    1,421
    905

    Ian McKellen

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

    BirthplaceBurnley, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. His career spans genres...  more

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  • Eddie Redmayne7
    468
    248

    Eddie Redmayne

    Les Misérables, The Good Shepherd

    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

    NationalityEngland

    Edward John David Redmayne (; born 6 January 1982) is an English actor and model. Redmayne...  more

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  • Sean Connery8
    236
    81

    Sean Connery

    Goldfinger, The Untouchables

    BirthplaceFountainbridge, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

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

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  • Michael Caine9
    1,147
    837

    Michael Caine

    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises

    BirthplaceRotherhithe, England, London

    NationalityEngland

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

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  • Patrick Stewart10
    1,051
    736

    Patrick Stewart

    X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand

    BirthplaceMirfield, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom, England

    Sir Patrick Stewart (born 13 July 1940) is an English actor whose work has included roles on...  more

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  • Tom Hardy11
    644
    361

    Tom Hardy

    The Dark Knight Rises, Inception

    BirthplaceHammersmith, London, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    Edward Thomas Hardy (born 15 September 1977) is an English actor and producer. After studying...  more

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  • Ewan McGregor12
    680
    404

    Ewan McGregor

    Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

    BirthplacePerth, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    Ewan Gordon McGregor (born 31 March 1971) is a Scottish actor, singer, and director known...  more

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  • Rowan Atkinson13
    507
    328

    Rowan Atkinson

    The Lion King, Love Actually

    BirthplaceConsett, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom, England

    Rowan Sebastian Atkinson (born January 6, 1955), CBE is an English actor, comedian, and...  more

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  • Benedict Cumberbatch14
    1,129
    799

    Benedict Cumberbatch

    Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

    BirthplaceHammersmith, London, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom,England

    Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch (born 19 July 1976) is an English actor who has...  more

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  • Tom Hiddleston15
    766
    522

    Tom Hiddleston

    The Avengers, Thor

    BirthplaceWestminster, London, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

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

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  • Kenneth Branagh16
    289
    144

    Kenneth Branagh

    Thor, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    BirthplaceBelfast, United Kingdom

    NationalityNorthern Ireland, United Kingdom

    Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh (born 10 December 1960) is a Northern Irish actor, director,...  more

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  • Charlie Chaplin17
    742
    539

    Charlie Chaplin

    City Lights, The Gold Rush

    BirthplaceWalworth, United Kingdom

    NationalityEngland

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

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  • Michael Fassbender18
    426
    270

    Michael Fassbender

    Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class

    BirthplaceHeidelberg, Germany

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland, Germany

    Michael Fassbender (born 2 April 1977) is an Irish-German actor. His feature film debut was in...  more

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  • Idris Elba19
    535
    346

    Idris Elba

    Thor, Thor: The Dark World

    BirthplaceLondon Borough of Hackney, London, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

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

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  • John Hurt20
    831
    602

    John Hurt

    Alien, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    BirthplaceChesterfield, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom, England

    Sir John Vincent Hurt (22 January 1940 – 25 January 2017) was an English actor whose career...  more

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  • Tim Curry21
    350
    228

    Tim Curry

    The Little Mermaid, The Rocky Horror Picture Show

    BirthplaceGrappenhall, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    Timothy James Curry (born 19 April 1946) is an English actor, voice artist, comedian and...  more

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  • Richard Harris22
    571
    427

    Richard Harris

    Gladiator, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    BirthplaceLimerick, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland

    Richard St. John Harris (1 October 1930 – 25 October 2002) was an Irish actor and singer. He...  more

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  • Bill Nighy23
    558
    385

    Bill Nighy

    Shaun of the Dead, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

    BirthplaceEngland, Caterham

    NationalityUnited Kingdom, England

    William Francis "Bill" Nighy is an English actor. He worked in theatre and television before...  more

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  • Martin Freeman24
    682
    493

    Martin Freeman

    Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz

    BirthplaceAldershot, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    Martin John Christopher Freeman (born 8 September 1971) is an English actor and comedian,...  more

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  • Christopher Lee25
    939
    735

    Christopher Lee

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

    BirthplaceBelgravia, London, United Kingdom

    NationalityEngland

    Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee (27 May 1922 – 7 June 2015) was an English actor, singer...  more

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