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Actors Whose Whole Thing Is Being Your Father

Updated October 8, 2019 2.1k votes 320 voters 9.2k views14 items

List RulesVote up the actors you never want to disappoint and whose approval you desperately need.

Unless you're going for that whole "rebellious teen thing," you never really want to let your dad down. There is a certain ineffable feeling that comes with disappointing your father. They don't even need to let you know that you've disappointed them... because you're disappointed with yourself. 

There are certain actors who just have an innate ability to embody all things dad. Some actors don't have to be playing a dad - or even a father figure - to inhabit that paternal energy; it just seeps out in their performance and has an effect on the audience. We're talking about the guys who could be having a meltdown while playing a four-star general in the middle of a crisis and you just sit there and say, "Hey, I think I'd like to go out in the front yard and throw a baseball with that man. Maybe talk about life? Pick his brain a little bit?"

On this list, we're going to break down some of the best Dudes Who Dad (copyright pending) in Hollywood. Get ready to beg for some life lessons and some hard-earned approval.

  • Photo: The Conners / ABC

    It will come as no great shock that John Goodman is a great father figure, seeing as the man first rose to fame by playing a great sitcom dad on Roseanne. On first thought, Goodman seems like he'd be the fun dad, but his diverse acting range has shown that he can pull off many different hats. (Look no further than The Big Lebowski or 10 Cloverfield Lane to see just how unhinged the man can get.)

    Both overpowering and unpredictable, it's hard to say just what kind of dad he might be, but we know a dad when we see one. When John Goodman speaks, you listen - and you do what he tells you.

  • Photo: Black-ish / ABC

    Talk about a guy with a booming voice that you'd never want to let down. Laurence Fishburne is perhaps most famous for playing the ultimate mentor in The Matrix, but he has used his inherent authoritativeness to great effect in many different roles. The man has brought his innate gravitas to cops, government agents, and adoptive father figures galore.

    On Black-ish, a show he also executive produces, his character simply goes by the name "Pops." And what else would you call him? The way he exudes wisdom and moral certainty, any time he speaks is enough to make us feel like we're learning a deeply important lesson about life.

  • Photo: Reverie / NBC

    Talk about a fatherly voice... 

    Dennis Haysbert has had roles in dozens upon dozens of movies and TV shows in the years since his acting career began in the late 1970s. There are three roles in which his hypnotic timbre and stoic, fatheresque demeanor have been most iconic: as President David Palmer on 24, as Sargeant Major Jonas Blane on The Unit, and as the spokesperson for Allstate Insurance in countless television advertisements. Think about that - the man is so good at talking in a dad-like fashion that he's been selling insurance on a national level for more than 15 years. If not for Haysbert, who would we trust to tell us we're in good hands?

  • Photo: The Sixth Sense / Buena Vista Pictures

    The man most famous for playing action icon John McClane falls most readily into the category of rebel dad. He's the wise-cracker, the street-talker, the ball-buster of the group. This dad is quick-tempered and might say something to hurt your feelings, but he'll always have your back in the end and bail you out of whatever situation you're in.

    That fatherly protective impulse has manifested itself in various forms throughout his career. In Armageddon, he brought out a shotgun just to keep Ben Affleck away from his daughter. In Unbreakable, he was his adoring son's own personal superhero. In The Sixth Sense and Moonrise Kingdom, he was the surrogate father of a lonely kid who desperately needed one. One way or another, you can be sure you'll be in safe hands with Willis's firm and stoic paternal grip.