african american The Greatest Black Actors in Film History  

Ranker Film
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List Rules Black male actors only. Vote based on their entire body of work in film.

From any era and genre, these are the greatest black actors in film history, ranked by the community to determine who is the best of all time. These black actors are the top in the business, and many are also among the best living actors today. From those who have portrayed classic black characters in film, to award winning actors, only the most deserving actors are on this list.

Who are the greatest black actors in film? From Oscar winners like Denzel Washington, classic African American actors like Sidney Poitier, and newer names such as English actor  Chiwetel Ejiofor, each of the black actors on this list has earned his place with an excellent body of work and memorable performances. Some black comedians and rappers are also on this list, having found success in the world of film as well.

The actors that are featured on this list include some of the best actors of all time including, Morgan Freeman, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, Ossie Davis, Forest Whitaker, Danny Glover, and Eddie Murphy. Is the black male actor you think is best not on the list? Add him to make a truly comprehensive list to determine the best black men in film history.
list ordered by

1
1,258 154
Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Morgan Freeman Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, Million Dollar Baby

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2
1,388 209
Denzel Washington is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Denzel Washington Antwone Fisher, Book of Eli, American Gangster

3
992 244
Samuel L. Jackson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Samuel L. Jackson Pulp Fiction, The Avengers, Django Unchained

4
755 185
Forest Whitaker is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Forest Whitaker The Butler, The Last King of Scotland, The Last Stand

5
767 180
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Sidney Poitier Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, Fast Forward

6
697 172
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Laurence Fishburne The Matrix, Man of Steel, Boyz in the Hood

7
751 188
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
James Earl Jones The Lion King, Return of the Jedi, Field of Dreams

8
906 268
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

9
612 180
Don Cheadle is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Don Cheadle Crash, Hotel Rwanda, Iron Man 3

10
582 191
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Danny Glover Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

11
520 108
Idris Elba is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Idris Elba Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

12
564 180
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, Collateral, Ray

13
542 209
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

14
439 165
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

15
527 211
Cuba Gooding, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Cuba Gooding, Jr. What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood

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16
455 145
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

17
391 150
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ving Rhames Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

18
382 142
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

19
422 162
Terrence Howard is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Terrence Howard Iron Man, The Best Man, Hustle and Flow

20
372 192
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Wesley Snipes Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

21
306 144
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

22
219 88
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Keith David Platoon, The Thing, Requiem for a Dream

23
382 147
Dwayne Johnson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
acc3307 added Dwayne Johnson Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, The Other Guys

24
338 153
Martin Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Martin Lawrence Do the Right Thing, Bad Boys, Bad Boys II

25
269 134
Delroy Lindo is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Delroy Lindo Gone in 60 Seconds, The Cider House Rules, Romeo Must Die

26
323 134
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

27
256 153
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

28
356 137
Bernie Mac is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Bernie Mac Transformers, Friday, Ocean's Eleven

29
314 157
Chris Tucker is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chris Tucker The Fifth Element, Friday, Silver Linings Playbook

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30
367 132
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

31
356 160
Ice Cube is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ice Cube Friday, 21 Jump Street, Boyz n the Hood

32
349 165
Chris Rock is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chris Rock Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Madagascar

33
248 135
Blair Underwood is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Blair Underwood The Art of Getting By, Set it Off, Malibu's Most Wanted

34
212 152
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jeffrey Wright The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Casino Royale, Source Code

35
255 131
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

36
155 93
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Larenz Tate Crash, Ray, Menace II Society

37
186 61
Terry Crews is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Terry Crews Training Day, Bridesmaids, The Expendables

38
196 132
Giancarlo Esposito is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Giancarlo Esposito Do The Right Thing, The Usual Suspects, Last Holiday

39
145 85
Isaiah Washington is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Isaiah Washington Out of Sight, Clockers, Dead Presidents

40
220 121
Ossie Davis is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ossie Davis Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Grumpy Old Men

41
172 50
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

42
165 62
John Amos is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Vamp Doll added John Amos Coming to America, Die Hard 2, The Beastmaster

43
226 133
LL Cool J is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
CandaceElaineCoble added LL Cool J Any Given Sunday, Deep Blue Sea, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

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44
273 122
Sammy Davis, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Sammy Davis, Jr. Ocean's Eleven, The Cannonball Run, Tap

45
266 154
Ice-T is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ice-T The Other Guys, New Jack City, Leprechaun In the Hood

46
168 56
James Avery is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Vamp Doll added James Avery The Blues Brothers, The Prince of Egypt, Fletch

47
184 111
Richard Roundtree is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Roundtree Seven, George of the Jungle, Brick

48
111 85
Michael K. Williams is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael K. Williams The Incredible Hulk, 12 Years a Slave, Gone Baby Gone

49
136 62
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

50
204 122
Paul Winfield is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Paul Winfield The Terminator, Sounder, White Dog