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
1,580 237
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

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2
1,403 179
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
1,114 267
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
807 211
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
764 193
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
825 199
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
808 202
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
1,034 313
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
656 192
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
619 202
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Danny Glover Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

11
573 124
Idris Elba is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Idris Elba Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

12
602 196
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, Collateral, Ray

13
585 226
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
463 178
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

15
561 224
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

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16
483 157
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

17
412 149
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

18
410 164
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
454 175
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
404 210
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Wesley Snipes Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

21
330 156
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

22
241 97
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Keith David Platoon, The Thing, Requiem for a Dream

23
423 157
Dwayne Johnson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
acc3307 added Dwayne Johnson Fast & Furious 6, Fast Five, The Other Guys

24
375 163
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
292 143
Delroy Lindo is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Delroy Lindo Gone in 60 Seconds, The Cider House Rules, Romeo Must Die

26
344 142
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

27
337 166
Chris Tucker is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chris Tucker The Fifth Element, Friday, Silver Linings Playbook

28
390 168
Ice Cube is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ice Cube Friday, 21 Jump Street, Boyz n the Hood

29
379 146
Bernie Mac is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Bernie Mac Transformers, Friday, Ocean's Eleven

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30
269 162
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

31
390 141
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

32
370 173
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
263 147
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
230 164
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jeffrey Wright The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Casino Royale, Source Code

35
274 137
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

36
171 98
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Larenz Tate Crash, Ray, Menace II Society

37
208 68
Terry Crews is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Terry Crews Training Day, Bridesmaids, The Expendables

38
213 139
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
235 126
Ossie Davis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ossie Davis Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Grumpy Old Men

40
156 92
Isaiah Washington is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Isaiah Washington Out of Sight, Clockers, Dead Presidents

41
187 54
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

42
179 65
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
244 140
LL Cool J is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
CandaceElaineCoble added LL Cool J Any Given Sunday, Deep Blue Sea, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

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44
289 127
Sammy Davis, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Sammy Davis, Jr. Ocean's Eleven, The Cannonball Run, Tap

45
189 61
James Avery is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Vamp Doll added James Avery The Blues Brothers, The Prince of Egypt, Fletch

46
279 163
Ice-T is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Ice-T The Other Guys, New Jack City, Leprechaun In the Hood

47
152 67
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
190 118
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
161 63
Taye Diggs is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Taye Diggs Chicago, Equilibrium, Go

50
213 127
Paul Winfield is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Paul Winfield The Terminator, Sounder, White Dog