Actors The Greatest Black Actors in Film History  

Ranker Film
Originally by
72.2k votes 7.2k voters 302.5k 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? How about the most famous black actors? 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
2,768 454
Denzel Washington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Antwone Fisher, Book of Eli, American Gangster

2
2,448 346
Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, Million Dollar Baby

3
2,031 434
Samuel L. Jackson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Pulp Fiction, The Avengers, Django Unchained

4
1,361 394
Forest Whitaker is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
The Butler, The Last King of Scotland, The Last Stand

5
1,247 353
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
The Matrix, Man of Steel, Boyz in the Hood

6
1,251 348
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
The Lion King, Return of the Jedi, Field of Dreams

7
1,925 570
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

8
1,233 381
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, Fast Forward

9
1,001 285
Don Cheadle is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Crash, Hotel Rwanda, Iron Man 3

10
1,029 200
Idris Elba is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

11
865 297
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

12
967 286
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Django Unchained, Collateral, Ray

13
971 315
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

14
849 321
Cuba Gooding, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood

15
730 232
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

16
647 218
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

17
604 233
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

18
615 276
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

19
708 262
Terrence Howard is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Iron Man, The Best Man, Hustle and Flow

20
801 259
Dwayne Johnson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
acc3307 added Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, The Other Guys

21
631 312
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

22
500 232
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

23
636 230
Martin Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Do the Right Thing, Bad Boys, Bad Boys II

24
380 166
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Platoon, The Thing, Requiem for a Dream

25
666 227
Ice Cube is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Friday, 21 Jump Street, Boyz n the Hood

26
525 230
Chris Tucker is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
The Fifth Element, Friday, Silver Linings Playbook

27
559 199
Bernie Mac is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Transformers, Friday, Ocean's Eleven

28
418 215
Delroy Lindo is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Gone in 60 Seconds, The Cider House Rules, Romeo Must Die

29
542 240
Chris Rock is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Madagascar

30
402 88
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
42, The Express, Get on Up

31
444 120
Terry Crews is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Training Day, Bridesmaids, The Expendables

32
472 208
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

33
395 112
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

34
540 201
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

35
365 229
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

36
380 207
Blair Underwood is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
The Art of Getting By, Set it Off, Malibu's Most Wanted

37
341 98
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

38
333 222
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Casino Royale, Source Code

39
319 183
Giancarlo Esposito is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Do The Right Thing, The Usual Suspects, Last Holiday

40
355 123
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added The 40-Year-Old Virgin, This Is the End, Scary Movie 3

41
295 107
John Amos is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Vamp Doll added Coming to America, Die Hard 2, The Beastmaster

42
265 152
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Crash, Ray, Menace II Society

43
320 177
Ossie Davis is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Grumpy Old Men

44
244 137
Isaiah Washington is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Out of Sight, Clockers, Dead Presidents

45
283 103
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

46
366 183
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

47
383 190
Tupac Shakur is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Juice, Above the Rim, Poetic Justice

48
303 94
James Avery is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Vamp Doll added The Blues Brothers, The Prince of Egypt, Fletch

49
261 87
Anthony Mackie is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
jess-hart added Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Million Dollar Baby, The Hurt Locker

50
257 155
Richard Roundtree is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Seven, George of the Jungle, Brick