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The Best Irish Actors of All Time

Updated April 30, 2020 40.8k votes 5.6k voters 86.7k views48 items

List RulesMale 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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    Aidan Turner

    The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
    Aidan Turner (born 19 June 1983) is an Irish actor. He played the roles of Kíli in the...  more
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    Daniel Day-Lewis

    Gangs of New York, The Last of the Mohicans
    Sir Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis (born 29 April 1957) is a retired English actor who holds...  more

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    Michael Fassbender

    Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class
    Michael Fassbender (born 2 April 1977) is an Irish-German actor. His feature film debut was in...  more

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    777
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    Cillian Murphy

    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises
    Cillian Murphy (; born 25 May 1976) is an Irish actor. He began his career performing as a...  more

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    Colin Farrell

    Minority Report, Daredevil
    Colin Farrell (born 31 May 1976) is an Irish actor. Farrell appeared in the BBC drama...  more

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    568
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    Peter O'Toole

    Lawrence of Arabia, Ratatouille
    Peter Seamus O'Toole (; 2 August 1932 – 14 December 2013) was a British stage and film actor...  more

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    645
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    Richard Harris

    Gladiator, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
    Richard St. John Harris (1 October 1930 – 25 October 2002) was an Irish actor and singer. He...  more

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    694
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    Pierce Brosnan

    Mars Attacks!, Mrs. Doubtfire
    Pierce Brendan Brosnan (; born 16 May 1953) is an Irish–American actor, film producer,...  more

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    Bill Murray

    Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day
    William James Murray (born September 21, 1950) is an American actor, voice actor, comedian,...  more

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    Ian McKellen

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. His career spans genres...  more

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    439
    698

    Brendan Gleeson

    Braveheart, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    Brendan Gleeson (born 29 March 1955) is an Irish actor and film director. He is the recipient...  more

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    380
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    Jonathan Rhys Meyers

    Mission: Impossible III, Bend It like Beckham
    Jonathan Rhys Meyers (born Jonathan Michael Francis O'Keeffe; 27 July 1977) is an Irish actor....  more

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    Gabriel Byrne

    The Usual Suspects, Excalibur
    Gabriel James Byrne (born 12 May 1950) is an Irish actor, film director, film producer,...  more

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    Aidan Gillen

    The Dark Knight Rises, Shanghai Knights
    Aidan Gillen (; born Aidan Murphy; 24 April 1968) is an Irish actor. He is known for his...  more

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    Kenneth Branagh

    Thor, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
    Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh (born 10 December 1960) is a Northern Irish actor, director,...  more

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    Jamie Dornan

    Marie Antoinette, Fifty Shades of Grey
    James Dornan (born 1 May 1982) is an actor, model, and musician from Northern Ireland. He...  more

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    Domhnall Gleeson

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I
    Domhnall Gleeson (Irish: [ˈd̪ˠoːnˠəl̪ˠ]; born 12 May 1983) is an Irish actor, voice actor, and...  more

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    Liam Neeson

    The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins
    Liam John Neeson (born 7 June 1952) is an actor from Northern Ireland. He has been nominated...  more

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    412
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    Sean Bean

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    Shaun Mark Bean (born 17 April 1959), credited professionally as Sean Bean (), is an English...  more

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    Sam Neill

    Jurassic Park, The Hunt for Red October
    Nigel John Dermot Neill (born 14 September 1947), known professionally as Sam Neill, is a...  more

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    Chris O'Dowd

    Thor: The Dark World, Bridesmaids
    Christopher O'Dowd (born 9 October 1979) is an Irish actor and comedian, best known for his...  more

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    #97 of 173 The Funniest British and Irish Comedians of all Time#56 of 71 The Best Living English Actors

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    257
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    Colm Meaney

    The Last of the Mohicans, Die Hard 2
    Colm J. Meaney (; Irish: Colm Ó Maonaigh; born 30 May 1953) is an Irish actor known for...  more

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    Aidan Quinn

    Legends of the Fall, Practical Magic
    Aidan Quinn (born March 8, 1959) is an Irish-American actor, who made his film debut in...  more

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    Michael Gambon

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
    Sir Michael John Gambon (born 19 October 1940) is an Irish-born British character actor and...  more

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    Ciarán Hinds

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Frozen
    Ciarán Hinds (; born 9 February 1953) is an Irish actor. A versatile character actor, he has...  more

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    #29 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today#35 of 51 The Best Game of Thrones Actors