Actors The Greatest Black Actors in Film History  

Ranker Film
Originally by
70.2k votes 6.9k voters 287.3k views 181 items

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.

1
2,681 440
Denzel Washington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Denzel Washington Antwone Fisher, Book of Eli, American Gangster

2
2,368 336
Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Morgan Freeman Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, Million Dollar Baby

3
1,962 424
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
1,322 370
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
1,227 338
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Laurence Fishburne The Matrix, Man of Steel, Boyz in the Hood

6
1,228 339
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
James Earl Jones The Lion King, Return of the Jedi, Field of Dreams

7
1,213 370
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
1,866 556
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
981 277
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
999 190
Idris Elba is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Idris Elba Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

11
843 290
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Danny Glover Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

12
943 276
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, Collateral, Ray

13
947 309
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
826 317
Cuba Gooding, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Cuba Gooding, Jr. What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood

15
712 225
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

16
629 210
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

17
611 264
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

18
590 228
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ving Rhames Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

19
688 255
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
772 252
Dwayne Johnson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
acc3307 added Dwayne Johnson Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, The Other Guys

21
493 223
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

22
613 307
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Wesley Snipes Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

23
615 225
Martin Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Martin Lawrence Do the Right Thing, Bad Boys, Bad Boys II

24
370 161
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Keith David Platoon, The Thing, Requiem for a Dream

25
647 222
Ice Cube is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ice Cube Friday, 21 Jump Street, Boyz n the Hood

26
513 223
Chris Tucker is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chris Tucker The Fifth Element, Friday, Silver Linings Playbook

27
409 206
Delroy Lindo is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Delroy Lindo Gone in 60 Seconds, The Cider House Rules, Romeo Must Die

28
543 196
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
527 235
Chris Rock is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chris Rock Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Madagascar

30
462 199
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

31
383 83
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chadwick Boseman 42, The Express, Get on Up

32
531 193
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

33
378 105
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael B. Jordan That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

34
423 119
Terry Crews is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Terry Crews Training Day, Bridesmaids, The Expendables

35
359 223
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

36
372 201
Blair Underwood is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Blair Underwood The Art of Getting By, Set it Off, Malibu's Most Wanted

37
328 218
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jeffrey Wright The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Casino Royale, Source Code

38
314 177
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
329 96
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

40
340 116
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Kevin Hart The 40-Year-Old Virgin, This Is the End, Scary Movie 3

41
316 172
Ossie Davis is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ossie Davis Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Grumpy Old Men

42
288 104
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
258 147
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Larenz Tate Crash, Ray, Menace II Society

44
361 179
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

45
273 99
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

46
373 184
Tupac Shakur is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Tupac Shakur Juice, Above the Rim, Poetic Justice

47
232 136
Isaiah Washington is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Isaiah Washington Out of Sight, Clockers, Dead Presidents

48
293 93
James Avery is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Vamp Doll added James Avery The Blues Brothers, The Prince of Egypt, Fletch

49
252 84
Anthony Mackie is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
jess-hart added Anthony Mackie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Million Dollar Baby, The Hurt Locker

50
256 150
Richard Roundtree is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Roundtree Seven, George of the Jungle, Brick