Actors The Greatest Black Actors in Film History  

Ranker Film
Originally by
67.4k votes 6.7k voters 271k views 175 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
2,567 423
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
2,271 324
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
1,887 405
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
1,277 352
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
1,193 320
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
1,188 325
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
1,185 350
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
1,788 542
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
944 268
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
955 183
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
821 280
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
905 265
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, Collateral, Ray

13
912 297
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
795 307
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

Celebrities With Heterochromia Iridis

15
685 217
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
609 204
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
595 254
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
571 220
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
669 239
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
729 236
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
474 213
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

Actors Who Almost Got the Part in a Marvel Film

22
594 297
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
592 216
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
352 157
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
623 214
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
492 217
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
394 196
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
527 190
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
508 224
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
519 183
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
447 191
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

32
352 212
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

33
344 76
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chadwick Boseman 42, The Express, Get on Up

34
345 98
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael B. Jordan That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

35
392 114
Terry Crews is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Terry Crews Training Day, Bridesmaids, The Expendables

The Funniest Black TV Characters of All Time, Ranked

36
363 192
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
319 207
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 88
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

39
304 171
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
316 100
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
306 164
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
275 96
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

These Movie Sequels Came Out So Long After The Original That No One Cared Anymore

43
246 140
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
356 169
Tupac Shakur is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Tupac Shakur Juice, Above the Rim, Poetic Justice

45
354 172
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

46
260 93
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

47
223 128
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
282 86
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
249 144
Richard Roundtree is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Roundtree Seven, George of the Jungle, Brick

50
233 79
Anthony Mackie is listed (or ranked) 50 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