Irish The Best Irish Actors of All Time  

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33.2k votes 2.9k voters 50.3k views 48 items

List Rules Male actors from Ireland, dead or alive. Vote based on their entire body of work.

Sure, Colin Farrell is a handsome bad boy, but what about all those other great Irish actors? This list of the best Irish actors of all time reaches back in film history to rank the greatest male actors to have ever hailed from Ireland. Hollywood just wouldn't be the same without Lawrence of Arabia and a whole bunch of James Bond films, and those movies wouldn't be what they were without a few of the top Irish actors ranked here.

Who are the best Irish actors ever? The land of Erin has given the world many good actors, who have played iconic roles, been part of blockbuster and classic films, and represented Ireland on the big screen for decades. Great classic Irish actors like Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris are listed here, along with more modern talents like Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, and Pierce Brosnan. Think of your favorite movie, and there just might be a good Irish actor starring as the leading man.

This list features the top Irish actors of all time including Peter O’Toole,  Liam Neeson, Noel Purcell, Tony Doyle, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Pierce Brosnan, Richard Harris, and Colin Kenny. Don't see your favorite actor from the Eire? 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 Irish actors to have ever graced the screen.
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1
1,102 262
Aidan Turner is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Denise Schult added The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Aidan Turner is an Irish actor. He is best known for his roles as Kíli in the three-part fantasy film The Hobbit and John Mitchell in the supernatural drama series Being Human. Notable ...more

2
733 811
Liam Neeson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins, Schindler's List Liam John Neeson, OBE is an Irish actor. In 1976, he joined the Lyric Players' Theatre in Belfast for two years. He then acted in the Arthurian film, Excalibur. Between 1982 and 1987, Neeson ...more

3
480 772
Richard Harris is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

4
573 870
Pierce Brosnan is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Mars Attacks!, Mrs. Doubtfire, GoldenEye Pierce Brendan Brosnan, is an Irish-American actor, film producer and environmentalist. After leaving comprehensive school at 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration. He then went ...more

5
542 768
Michael Fassbender is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past Michael Fassbender is a German-Irish actor and producer. His first screen role was in the 2000 TV miniseries, Hearts and Bones, followed by the 2001 television miniseries Band of Brothers. He ...more

6
440 739
Peter O'Toole is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Lawrence of Arabia, Ratatouille, Prometheus Peter Seamus O'Toole was a British-Irish stage and film actor. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and began working in the theatre, gaining recognition as a Shakespearean actor at ...more

7
451 658
Daniel Day-Lewis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Irish 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

8
483 796
Colin Farrell is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Minority Report, Daredevil, Horrible Bosses Colin James Farrell is an Irish actor. He first appeared on the BBC's TV drama Ballykissangel in 1998, made his film debut in the Tim Roth-directed drama The War Zone a year later and was ...more

9
485 583
Cillian Murphy is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins Cillian Murphy is an Irish actor of stage and screen. Since making his debut in his home country in the late 1990s, Murphy has also become a presence in British and American cinema—noted by ...more

10
357 729
Sean Bean is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
janolvegg added 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

11
306 706
Kenneth Branagh is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Thor, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Thor: The Dark World Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh is an actor, director, producer and screenwriter from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has directed or starred in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's ...more

12
312 677
Gabriel Byrne is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
The Usual Suspects, Excalibur, Enemy of the State Gabriel James Byrne is an Irish actor, film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator. His acting career began in the Focus Theatre before he joined London's ...more

13
303 606
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Mission: Impossible III, Bend It like Beckham, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Jonathan Rhys Meyers is an Irish actor. He is best known for his roles in the films Velvet Goldmine, Mission Impossible III, Bend It Like Beckham, Match Point and his television roles as Elvis ...more

14
309 616
Brendan Gleeson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Braveheart, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Gangs of New York Brendan Gleeson is an Irish actor. His best-known performances include supporting roles in films such as Braveheart, Gangs of New York, 28 Days Later, Troy, and the Harry Potter films and ...more

15
206 580
Aidan Quinn is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Legends of the Fall, Practical Magic, The Mission Aidan Quinn is an Irish-American actor. He made his film debut in 1984 in Reckless. His films include Desperately Seeking Susan, The Mission, Stakeout, Benny and Joon, Legends of the Fall, ...more

16
265 577
Sam Neill is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Jurassic Park, The Hunt for Red October, Jurassic Park III Nigel John Dermot "Sam" Neill, DCNZM, OBE is a British-born New Zealand actor who first achieved leading roles in films such as Omen III: The Final Conflict and on television in ...more

17
198 553
Michael Gambon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Sir Michael John Gambon CBE is an Irish-born English actor who has worked in theatre, television and film. Gambon has played Philip Marlow in the BBC television serial The Singing Detective, ...more

18
151 550
Ciarán Hinds is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Frozen, There Will Be Blood Ciarán Hinds is a Northern Irish film, television and stage actor. He has built a reputation as a versatile character actor appearing in such high-profile films as Road to Perdition, The ...more

19
207 526
Colm Meaney is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
The Last of the Mohicans, Die Hard 2, Con Air Colm J. Meaney is an Irish actor widely known for playing Miles O'Brien in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He is second only to Michael Dorn in most appearances in ...more

20
210 462
Jamie Dornan is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Lyn May added Marie Antoinette, Fifty Shades of Grey, X Returns James "Jamie" Dornan is a Northern Irish actor, model, and musician. He played Axel von Fersen in Sofia Coppola's film Marie Antoinette, Sheriff Graham Humbert in the ABC series Once

21
198 473
Chris O'Dowd is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Thor: The Dark World, Bridesmaids, The Boat That Rocked Christopher "Chris" O'Dowd is an Irish actor and comedian best known for his role as Roy Trenneman in the Channel 4 comedy The IT Crowd. He has appeared in several films, including ...more

22
140 518
Liam Cunningham is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Clash of the Titans, War Horse, A Little Princess Liam Cunningham is an Irish stage and screen actor. He is best known for his roles in the films A Little Princess, Jude, Dog Soldiers, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Hunger, Centurion, Clash ...more

23
154 482
Stephen Rea is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
V for Vendetta, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, The Crying Game Stephen Rea is an Irish film and stage actor. Rea has appeared in high profile films such as V for Vendetta, Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire and Breakfast on Pluto. Rea was nominated ...more

24
90 18
Saoirse Ronan is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Rhandi Martin added The Grand Budapest Hotel, Atonement, The Lovely Bones Saoirse Úna Ronan is an Irish actress. She came to international prominence in 2007 after co-starring as Briony Tallis in the film Atonement with James McAvoy and Keira Knightley, for ...more

25
175 452
Domhnall Gleeson is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I, True Grit Domhnall Gleeson is an Irish actor, director, and writer. He has acted on both stage and screen, picking up a Tony Award nomination in 2006 for his part in the Broadway production The Lieutenant ...more