actors 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
1,948 260
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

2
2,164 340
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
1,587 345
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
1,085 286
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
1,013 258
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
1,037 266
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
1,031 282
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
1,464 455
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
825 233
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
803 157
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
736 245
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
779 233
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, Collateral, Ray

13
771 268
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
614 187
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

Celebrities Who Were Rich Before They Were Famous

15
712 269
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

16
542 178
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
546 221
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
505 202
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
579 211
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
422 192
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

21
525 272
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Wesley Snipes Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

Actors Who Almost Got the Part in a Marvel Film

22
594 200
Dwayne Johnson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
acc3307 added Dwayne Johnson Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, The Other Guys

23
308 130
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Keith David Platoon, The Thing, Requiem for a Dream

24
504 193
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
526 194
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
429 194
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
356 176
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
465 173
Bernie Mac is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Bernie Mac Transformers, Friday, Ocean's Eleven

The Best African American Actors in Film

29
473 163
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

30
403 172
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
321 190
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

32
449 202
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
331 174
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
316 95
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
286 189
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jeffrey Wright The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Casino Royale, Source Code

The Funniest Black TV Characters of All Time, Ranked

36
281 149
Ossie Davis is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ossie Davis Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Grumpy Old Men

37
265 75
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

38
247 63
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chadwick Boseman 42, The Express, Get on Up

39
267 158
Giancarlo Esposito is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Giancarlo Esposito Do The Right Thing, The Usual Suspects, Last Holiday

40
329 156
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

41
223 124
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Larenz Tate Crash, Ray, Menace II Society

42
247 84
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael B. Jordan That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Thriller Movies

43
235 85
John Amos is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Vamp Doll added John Amos Coming to America, Die Hard 2, The Beastmaster

44
199 114
Isaiah Washington is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Isaiah Washington Out of Sight, Clockers, Dead Presidents

45
233 78
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 45 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

46
289 149
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
213 83
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

48
227 135
Richard Roundtree is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Roundtree Seven, George of the Jungle, Brick

49
244 81
James Avery is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Vamp Doll added James Avery The Blues Brothers, The Prince of Egypt, Fletch

50
338 143
Sammy Davis, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Sammy Davis, Jr. Ocean's Eleven, The Cannonball Run, Tap