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The Best Irish Actors of All Time

Updated April 30, 2020 43.3k votes 5.4k voters 81.2k 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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  • 1
    Aidan Turner is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    1,292
    1,080

    Aidan Turner

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

    BirthplaceClondalkin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

    Aidan Turner (born 19 June 1983) is an Irish actor. He played the roles of Kíli in the... more on Wikipedia

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  • 2
    Michael Fassbender is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    726
    1,097

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 3
    Daniel Day-Lewis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    689
    1,052

    Daniel Day-Lewis

    Gangs of New York, The Last of the Mohicans

    BirthplaceGreenwich, London, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom, Ireland

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

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  • 4
    Cillian Murphy is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    784
    817

    Cillian Murphy

    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises

    BirthplaceDouglas, County Cork, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland

    Cillian Murphy (; born 25 May 1976) is an Irish actor. He began his career performing as a... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    Colin Farrell is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    661
    1,045

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 6
    Peter O'Toole is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    586
    977

    Peter O'Toole

    Lawrence of Arabia, Ratatouille

    BirthplaceConnemara, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland, England

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

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  • 7
    Richard Harris is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    664
    1,180

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 8
    Bill Murray is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    69
    62

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 9
    Ian McKellen is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    86
    33

    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

    NationalityEngland

    Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. His career spans genres... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Pierce Brosnan is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    723
    1,292

    Pierce Brosnan

    Mars Attacks!, Mrs. Doubtfire

    BirthplaceDrogheda, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland, United States of America, United Kingdom

    Pierce Brendan Brosnan (; born 16 May 1953) is an Irish–American actor, film producer,... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Brendan Gleeson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    439
    753

    Brendan Gleeson

    Braveheart, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    BirthplaceDublin, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland

    Brendan Gleeson (born 29 March 1955) is an Irish actor and film director. He is the recipient... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Jonathan Rhys Meyers is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    403
    745

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Jamie Dornan is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    330
    575

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 14
    Gabriel Byrne is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    389
    833

    Gabriel Byrne

    The Usual Suspects, Excalibur

    BirthplaceWalkinstown, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

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

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  • 15
    Aidan Gillen is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    40
    28

    Aidan Gillen

    The Dark Knight Rises, Shanghai Knights

    BirthplaceRepublic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

    Aidan Gillen (; born Aidan Murphy; 24 April 1968) is an Irish actor. He is known for his... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Kenneth Branagh is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    393
    873

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 17
    Sam Neill is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    324
    702

    Sam Neill

    Jurassic Park, The Hunt for Red October

    BirthplaceOmagh, United Kingdom

    NationalityNorthern Ireland, United Kingdom, New Zealand

    Nigel John Dermot Neill (born 14 September 1947), known professionally as Sam Neill, is a... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Domhnall Gleeson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    263
    497

    Domhnall Gleeson

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

    BirthplaceRepublic of Ireland, Dublin

    NationalityIreland

    Domhnall Gleeson (Irish: [ˈd̪ˠoːnˠəl̪ˠ]; born 12 May 1983) is an Irish actor, voice actor, and... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Liam Neeson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    963
    2,254

    Liam Neeson

    The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

    BirthplaceBallymena, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom

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

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  • 20
    Chris O'Dowd is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    261
    544

    Chris O'Dowd

    Thor: The Dark World, Bridesmaids

    BirthplaceBoyle, County Roscommon, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

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

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  • 21
    Sean Bean is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    437
    971

    Sean Bean

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

    BirthplaceHandsworth, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited Kingdom, England

    Shaun Mark Bean (born 17 April 1959), credited professionally as Sean Bean (), is an English... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    Colm Meaney is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    265
    588

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    Aidan Quinn is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    281
    689

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 24
    Michael Gambon is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    250
    660

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Stephen Rea is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
    199
    530

    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 on Wikipedia

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