actors The Greatest Black Actors in Film History  

Ranker Film
Originally by
61.9k votes 5.9k voters 235.8k views 174 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.
list ordered by

1
2,062 284
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
2,296 369
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
1,692 369
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
1,146 307
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
1,067 282
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
1,090 301
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
1,091 286
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
1,568 487
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
857 245
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
848 168
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
763 255
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
820 244
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, Collateral, Ray

13
814 279
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
639 197
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

List of Black Movies, Ranked Best to Worst

15
737 282
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
565 186
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
563 230
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
611 221
Terrence Howard is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Terrence Howard Iron Man, The Best Man, Hustle and Flow

19
524 211
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ving Rhames Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

20
444 197
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

21
642 213
Dwayne Johnson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
acc3307 added Dwayne Johnson Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, The Other Guys

African American Heroes Who Replaced White Ones

22
550 280
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
535 199
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
327 138
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
555 203
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
449 203
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
370 182
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
485 179
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 Actors in Film History

29
421 178
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

30
488 171
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
334 195
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
471 211
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
344 180
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
343 102
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
303 197
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

16 Movie "In Jokes" You Probably Didn't Notice

36
277 70
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chadwick Boseman 42, The Express, Get on Up

37
278 89
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael B. Jordan That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

38
283 162
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
282 79
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
289 155
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
340 161
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

42
232 131
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Larenz Tate Crash, Ray, Menace II Society

The Most Intense Method Actor Performances in Movie History

43
250 89
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
260 84
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 44 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

45
209 119
Isaiah Washington is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Isaiah Washington Out of Sight, Clockers, Dead Presidents

46
312 152
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
233 85
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
239 138
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
256 84
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
349 148
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