301 voters

Famous Actors Who Played Famous Kings, Ranked By Regality

September 3, 2020 2.5k votes 301 voters 4.6k views28 items

List RulesVote up the actors who really nail their performance as historical kings.

At least as far back as Shakespeare, kings have made for meaty dramatic roles, and actors have lined up to play them. We've gathered some of the most memorable screen kings from almost 90 years of movies and television. Emperors and pharaohs are also eligible, but we draw the line at dictators (hence, no Julius Caesar). Napoleon, who crowned himself, is a bit of an edge case, but in light of the surfeit of other performances we've left him off too. Mythological or legendary kings don't qualify, so no King Arthur either.

Read on, and vote up your favorite actors who have played kings!

  • 1956 was a banner year for Yul Brynner, who starred as two kings in two different films: as King Mongkut of Siam in The King And I, and as Pharaoh Ramesses II in Cecil B. De Mille's Old Testament epic The Ten Commandments. Brynner received little critical or awards attention for his performance as Ramesses, but he really wore that headdress.

    • Age: Dec. at 65 (1920-1985)
    • Birthplace: Vladivostok, Russia
  • What with all the machismo, gory combat, and rippling abs, it's easy to forget that Gerard Butler's Leonidas is a king. A member of the Agiad dynasty, Leonidas was one of two kings who traditionally co-ruled Sparta in Classical times. Gerard Butler was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Actor.

    • Age: 51
    • Birthplace: Paisley, United Kingdom
  • Colin Firth received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as King George VI, who must unexpectedly take the throne of England on the eve of WWII while battling a speech impediment.

    • Age: 61
    • Birthplace: Grayshott, United Kingdom
  • Patrick McGoohan chews a nice chunk of furniture in Mel Gibson's Braveheart as Edward I, the ruthless king opposed to the heroic Scot William Wallace. Whether callously sending troops to their doom or hurling his son's lover out a window, Edward is one bad dude.

    • Age: Dec. at 80 (1928-2009)
    • Birthplace: Astoria, New York City, New York, United States of America