Entertainment

The Best Irish Actors of All Time  

Ranker Film
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40.2k votes 4.8k voters 62.9k views 76 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.
list ordered by
1
Tom Hanks is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Toy Story
Thomas Jeffrey "Tom" Hanks is an American film actor, director, voice-over artist, writer and film producer. Hanks worked in television and family-friendly comedies before achieving ...more
2
Richard Harris is listed (or ranked) 2 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
3
Liam Neeson is listed (or ranked) 3 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
4
Aidan Turner is listed (or ranked) 4 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
5
Pierce Brosnan is listed (or ranked) 5 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
6
Michael Fassbender is listed (or ranked) 6 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
7
Peter O'Toole is listed (or ranked) 7 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
8
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
Daniel Day-Lewis is listed (or ranked) 9 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
10
Cillian Murphy is listed (or ranked) 10 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
11
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
Sean Bean is listed (or ranked) 12 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
13
Gabriel Byrne is listed (or ranked) 13 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
14
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
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is listed (or ranked) 15 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
16
Aidan Quinn is listed (or ranked) 16 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
17
Sam Neill is listed (or ranked) 17 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
18
Michael Gambon is listed (or ranked) 18 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
19
Saoirse Ronan is listed (or ranked) 19 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
20
Ciarán Hinds is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
Colm Meaney is listed (or ranked) 21 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
22
Jamie Dornan is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
Chris O'Dowd is listed (or ranked) 23 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
24
Liam Cunningham is listed (or ranked) 24 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
25
Stephen Rea is listed (or ranked) 25 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