Entertainment
5.5k voters

The Best Irish Actors of All Time

Updated April 30, 2020 43.6k votes 5.5k voters 84.4k 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.
Photo:
...more
  • Aidan Turner1
    1,319
    1,098

    Aidan Turner

    The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

    BirthplaceRepublic of Ireland, Dublin, Clondalkin

    NationalityIreland

    Aidan Turner (born 19 June 1983) is an Irish actor. He played the roles of Kíli in the...  more
  • Daniel Day-Lewis2
    693
    1,076

    Daniel Day-Lewis

    Gangs of New York, The Last of the Mohicans

    BirthplaceGreenwich, London, United Kingdom

    NationalityIreland, United Kingdom

    Sir Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis (born 29 April 1957) is a retired English actor who holds...  more

    More Daniel Day-Lewis 

    13 Daniel Day-Lewis Performances That Prove The Mad Genius Of His Notorious Method#52 of 310 The Coolest Actors Ever

  • Michael Fassbender3
    719
    1,128

    Michael Fassbender

    Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class

    BirthplaceHeidelberg, Germany

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland, Germany

    Michael Fassbender (born 2 April 1977) is an Irish-German actor. His feature film debut was in...  more

    More Michael Fassbender 

    The Best Michael Fassbender Movies#36 of 90 Who Is the Coolest Actor in the World Right Now?

  • Cillian Murphy4
    786
    837

    Cillian Murphy

    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises

    BirthplaceDouglas, County Cork, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

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

    More Cillian Murphy 

    #21 of 51 The Top Casting Choices for the Next James Bond Actor#16 of 25 The 25 Best Comic Book Villain Movie Performances of All Time

  • Colin Farrell5
    648
    1,068

    Colin Farrell

    Minority Report, Daredevil

    BirthplaceCastleknock, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland

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

    More Colin Farrell 

    The Best Colin Farrell Movies#12 of 29 The Most Eligible Bachelors Of 2021

  • Peter O'Toole6
    579
    992

    Peter O'Toole

    Lawrence of Arabia, Ratatouille

    BirthplaceConnemara, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

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

    More Peter O'Toole 

    The Best Peter O'Toole Movies#279 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive

  • Pierce Brosnan7
    717
    1,291

    Pierce Brosnan

    Mars Attacks!, Mrs. Doubtfire

    BirthplaceDrogheda, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland, United States of America

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

    More Pierce Brosnan 

    The Best Pierce Brosnan Movies#142 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

  • Richard Harris8
    659
    1,194

    Richard Harris

    Gladiator, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    BirthplaceLimerick, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland

    Richard St. John Harris (1 October 1930 – 25 October 2002) was an Irish actor and singer. He...  more

    More Richard Harris 

    #503 of 739 The Best Singers of All Time#44 of 238 Which Actor Would You Bring Back for One Final Movie?

  • Bill Murray9
    82
    97

    Bill Murray

    Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day

    BirthplaceWilmette, Illinois, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

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

    More Bill Murray 

    The Best Bill Murray Movies#12 of 233 The Funniest Stand Up Comedians Of All Time

  • Brendan Gleeson10
    452
    761

    Brendan Gleeson

    Braveheart, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    BirthplaceRepublic of Ireland, Dublin

    NationalityIreland

    Brendan Gleeson (born 29 March 1955) is an Irish actor and film director. He is the recipient...  more

    More Brendan Gleeson 

    #346 of 416 Celebrities Whose Deaths Will Be the Biggest Deal#13 of 16 Dumb Comedy Performances That Actually Should Have Won Oscars

  • Ian McKellen11
    112
    60

    Ian McKellen

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

    BirthplaceBurnley, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. His career spans genres...  more

    More Ian McKellen 

    #12 of 258 The Best Marvel Movie Actors Ever#42 of 1,883 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

  • Jonathan Rhys Meyers12
    395
    749

    Jonathan Rhys Meyers

    Mission: Impossible III, Bend It like Beckham

    BirthplaceDrimnagh, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

    Jonathan Rhys Meyers (born Jonathan Michael Francis O'Keeffe; 27 July 1977) is an Irish actor....  more

    More Jonathan Rhys Meyers 

    #2 of 30 Everyone Who Has Played Henry VIII, Ranked#64 of 82 The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won An Emmy (For Acting)

  • Jamie Dornan13
    325
    589

    Jamie Dornan

    Marie Antoinette, Fifty Shades of Grey

    BirthplaceHolywood, Bangor, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    James Dornan (born 1 May 1982) is an actor, model, and musician from Northern Ireland. He...  more

    More Jamie Dornan 

    #22 of 34 Actors Who Actually Look Better With Facial Hair#39 of 44 The Best Actors Who Won Razzies

  • Aidan Gillen14
    47
    48

    Aidan Gillen

    The Dark Knight Rises, Shanghai Knights

    BirthplaceRepublic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland

    Aidan Gillen (; born Aidan Murphy; 24 April 1968) is an Irish actor. He is known for his...  more

    More Aidan Gillen 

    #68 of 87 Celebrities Who Should Be A-Listers#5 of 7 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Actors Vs. The Real People They Play

  • Gabriel Byrne15
    392
    837

    Gabriel Byrne

    The Usual Suspects, Excalibur

    BirthplaceWalkinstown, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland

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

    More Gabriel Byrne 

    #12 of 48 The Best Irish Actors Working Today#122 of 242 Actors You Would Watch Read the Phone Book

  • Domhnall Gleeson16
    271
    506

    Domhnall Gleeson

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I

    BirthplaceDublin, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

    Domhnall Gleeson (Irish: [ˈd̪ˠoːnˠəl̪ˠ]; born 12 May 1983) is an Irish actor, voice actor, and...  more

    More Domhnall Gleeson 

    #29 of 40 Which Young Actor Is The Next Tom Hanks?#2 of 27 27 Current Stars Who Have Famous Parents

  • Kenneth Branagh17
    387
    874

    Kenneth Branagh

    Thor, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    BirthplaceBelfast, United Kingdom

    NationalityNorthern Ireland, United Kingdom

    Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh (born 10 December 1960) is a Northern Irish actor, director,...  more

    More Kenneth Branagh 

    #222 of 1,017 The Best Actors in Film History#74 of 302 The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting)

  • Liam Neeson18
    944
    2,250

    Liam Neeson

    The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

    BirthplaceBallymena, United Kingdom

    NationalityNorthern Ireland, United States of America, United Kingdom

    Liam John Neeson (born 7 June 1952) is an actor from Northern Ireland. He has been nominated...  more

    More Liam Neeson 

    The Very Best Liam Neeson Movies#14 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World

  • Sam Neill19
    318
    708

    Sam Neill

    Jurassic Park, The Hunt for Red October

    BirthplaceIreland, Europe, Eurasia, Ulster, County Tyrone

    NationalityNew Zealand

    Nigel John Dermot Neill (born 14 September 1947), known professionally as Sam Neill, is a...  more

    More Sam Neill 

    Sam Neill Can’t Stop Talking About His Adorable Farm Animals#42 of 75 The Greatest Guest Appearances in The Simpsons History

  • Chris O'Dowd20
    253
    551

    Chris O'Dowd

    Thor: The Dark World, Bridesmaids

    BirthplaceBoyle, County Roscommon, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland

    Christopher O'Dowd (born 9 October 1979) is an Irish actor and comedian, best known for his...  more

    More Chris O'Dowd 

    #97 of 173 The Funniest British and Irish Comedians of all Time#17 of 71 The Best Actors On The New Twilight Zone

  • Sean Bean21
    427
    972

    Sean Bean

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

    BirthplaceEngland

    NationalityUnited Kingdom, England

    Shaun Mark Bean (born 17 April 1959), credited professionally as Sean Bean (), is an English...  more

    More Sean Bean 

    #17 of 75 Famous Actors Who Were Almost James Bond#15 of 71 The Best Living English Actors

  • Colm Meaney22
    262
    589

    Colm Meaney

    The Last of the Mohicans, Die Hard 2

    BirthplaceDublin, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

    Colm J. Meaney (; Irish: Colm Ó Maonaigh; born 30 May 1953) is an Irish actor known for...  more
  • Aidan Quinn23
    276
    690

    Aidan Quinn

    Legends of the Fall, Practical Magic

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America, Ireland

    Aidan Quinn (born March 8, 1959) is an Irish-American actor, who made his film debut in...  more

    More Aidan Quinn 

    #37 of 46 The Best Actors Who Played Presidents On Film#8 of 20 20 Celebrity Anti-Vaxxers

  • Michael Gambon24
    241
    658

    Michael Gambon

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

    BirthplaceCabra, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

    Sir Michael John Gambon (born 19 October 1940) is an Irish-born British character actor and...  more

    More Michael Gambon 

    #166 of 309 Famous People Most Likely to Live to 100#93 of 260 The Greatest Male Celebrity Role Models

  • Stephen Rea25
    195
    532

    Stephen Rea

    V for Vendetta, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

    BirthplaceBelfast, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

    Stephen Rea ( ray; born 31 October 1946) is an Irish film and stage actor. Rea has appeared in...  more

    More Stephen Rea 

    #13 of 13 The Best Living Irish Actors#22 of 153 Celebrities Born On Halloween