Entertainment

The Best Irish Actors of All Time  

Ranker Film
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41.8k votes 5.1k voters 73k 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.
list ordered by
1
Richard Harris is listed (or ranked) 1 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 (1 October 1930 – 25 October 2002) was an Irish actor and singer. He appeared on stage and in many films, appearing as Frank Machin in This Sporting Life, for which he ...more

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#13 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #102 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History #579 of 1,066 The Best Singers of All Time

2
Aidan Turner is listed (or ranked) 2 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 (born 19 June 1983) is an Irish actor. He played the roles of Kíli in the three-part fantasy film The Hobbit and Ross Poldark in the 2015–2019 BBC adaptation of The Poldark ...more

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#2 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #812 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History #16 of 39 The Top Casting Choices for the Next James Bond Actor

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 (born 7 June 1952) is an actor from Northern Ireland. He has been nominated for a number of awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a ...more

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4
Michael Fassbender is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past
Michael Fassbender (born 2 April 1977) is an Irish-German actor. His feature film debut was in the fantasy war epic 300 (2007) as a Spartan warrior; his earlier roles included various stage ...more

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#263 of 276 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #4 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Todayfeaturing The Best Michael Fassbender Movies

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 (; born 16 May 1953) is an Irish–American actor, film producer, activist, architect and environmentalist. Born in Ireland, Brosnan became a naturalised American citizen. ...more

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#8 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #227 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film Historyfeaturing The Best Pierce Brosnan Movies

6
Daniel Day-Lewis is listed (or ranked) 6 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 (born 29 April 1957) is a retired English actor who holds both British and Irish citizenship. He has been hailed by many as one of the greatest and most widely ...more

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7
Colin Farrell is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Minority Report, Daredevil, Horrible Bosses
Colin Farrell (; born 31 May 1976) is an Irish actor. Farrell appeared in the BBC drama Ballykissangel in 1998, made his film debut in the Tim Roth-directed drama The War Zone in 1999, and was ...more

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8
Peter O'Toole is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Lawrence of Arabia, Ratatouille, Prometheus
Peter Seamus O'Toole (; 2 August 1932 – 14 December 2013) was a British stage and film actor of Irish descent. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and began working in the theatre, ...more

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#19 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History #260 of 337 The Coolest Actors Everfeaturing The Best Peter O'Toole Movies

9
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 (; born 25 May 1976) is an Irish actor. He began his career performing as a rock musician. After turning down a record deal, he began his acting career in theatre, and in short ...more

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#3 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #192 of 282 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today #260 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History

10
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 Bean (born 17 April 1959), credited professionally as Sean Bean (), is an English actor. After graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Bean made his professional debut in a ...more

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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 (born 10 December 1960) is a Northern Irish actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. Branagh trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and in 2015 ...more

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#9 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #114 of 282 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today #223 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History

12
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 (born 12 May 1950) is an Irish actor, film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator. His acting career began in the Focus Theatre before he ...more

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#12 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #243 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History #579 of 2,003 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

13
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 (born Jonathan Michael Francis O'Keeffe; 27 July 1977) is an Irish actor. He is known for his roles in the films Velvet Goldmine (1998), Bend It Like Beckham (2002), Match ...more

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#10 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #169 of 282 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today #481 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History

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 (born 29 March 1955) is an Irish actor and film director. He is the recipient of three IFTA Awards, two BIFA Awards, and an Emmy Award and has been nominated twice for a BAFTA ...more

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#7 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #186 of 282 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today #337 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History

15
Sam Neill is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Jurassic Park, The Hunt for Red October, Jurassic Park III
Nigel John Dermot Neill (born 14 September 1947), known professionally as Sam Neill, is a New Zealand actor, writer, producer, director, and vineyard owner. Born in Omagh, Northern Ireland, he ...more

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#11 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #263 of 337 The Coolest Actors Everfeaturing Sam Neill Can’t Stop Talking About His Adorable Farm Animals

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 (born March 8, 1959) is an Irish-American actor, who made his film debut in Reckless (1984). He has starred in over 80 feature films, including Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), The ...more

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#21 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #400 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History #16 of 22 Famous Parents of Special Needs Children

17
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 (born 19 October 1940) is an Irish-born British character actor and private pilot who has worked in theatre, television, and film. He is also known as The Great Gambon as ...more

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#14 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #370 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History #206 of 337 The Coolest Actors Ever

18
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 (; born 9 February 1953) is an Irish actor. A versatile character actor, he has featured in films such as Road to Perdition, Munich, There Will Be Blood, Harry Potter and the ...more

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#17 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #667 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History #36 of 52 The Best Game of Thrones Actors

19
Jamie Dornan is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Lyn May added Marie Antoinette, Fifty Shades of Grey, X Returns
James Dornan (born 1 May 1982) is an actor, model, and musician from Northern Ireland. He played Sheriff Graham Humbert in the ABC series Once Upon a Time (2011–2013), and serial killer Paul ...more

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20
Colm Meaney is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
The Last of the Mohicans, Die Hard 2, Con Air
Colm J. Meaney (; Irish: Colm Ó Maonaigh; born 30 May 1953) is an Irish actor known for playing Miles O'Brien in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ...more

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21
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 O'Dowd (born 9 October 1979) is an Irish actor and comedian, best known for his television roles such as Miles Daly in the Epix comedy series Get Shorty and Roy Trenneman in the ...more

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22
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 (born 2 June 1961) is an Irish stage and screen actor. He is known for playing Davos Seaworth in the HBO epic-fantasy series Game of Thrones.Cunningham has been nominated for the ...more

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23
Domhnall Gleeson is listed (or ranked) 23 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 (Irish: [ˈd̪ˠoːnˠəl̪ˠ]; born 12 May 1983) is an Irish actor, voice actor, and writer. He is the son of actor Brendan Gleeson, alongside whom he has appeared in a number of films ...more

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24
Stephen Rea is listed (or ranked) 24 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 ( ray; born 31 October 1946) is an Irish film and stage actor. Rea has appeared in films such as V for Vendetta, Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire and Breakfast on Pluto. ...more

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#29 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today #472 of 1,151 The Best Actors in Film History #11 of 12 The Best Living Irish Actors

25
Bill Murray is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack
William James Murray (born September 21, 1950) is an American actor, voice actor, comedian, filmmaker, and writer. He first rose to fame on Saturday Night Live, a series of performances that ...more

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