Actors The Greatest Black Actors in Film History  

Ranker Film
Originally by
70.7k votes 7k voters 289.3k 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.

1
2,703 441
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
2,386 337
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
1,978 427
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
1,330 375
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
1,229 342
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
1,230 342
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
1,880 557
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

8
1,214 374
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
983 280
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
1,006 192
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
848 292
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
950 277
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, Collateral, Ray

13
951 310
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
830 317
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

15
716 227
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
632 213
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
611 268
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
594 229
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
693 256
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
779 253
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
496 224
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

22
616 307
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
619 226
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
372 162
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
650 224
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
516 224
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
547 196
Bernie Mac is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Bernie Mac Transformers, Friday, Ocean's Eleven

28
410 209
Delroy Lindo is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Delroy Lindo Gone in 60 Seconds, The Cider House Rules, Romeo Must Die

29
532 235
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
464 202
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
386 85
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Chadwick Boseman 42, The Express, Get on Up

32
533 194
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

33
381 106
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Michael B. Jordan That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

34
426 119
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
359 224
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

36
372 202
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
329 219
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
316 178
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
330 97
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
343 118
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
317 173
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
259 147
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Larenz Tate Crash, Ray, Menace II Society

43
289 105
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
276 99
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

45
375 184
Tupac Shakur is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Tupac Shakur Juice, Above the Rim, Poetic Justice

46
362 180
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

47
235 136
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
295 93
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
253 84
Anthony Mackie is listed (or ranked) 49 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

50
256 151
Richard Roundtree is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Black Actors in Film History
Richard Roundtree Seven, George of the Jungle, Brick