Favorite Actors and Acresses

by Hairy_Lime | created - 12 Jun 2011 | updated - 21 Oct 2011 | Public

Not in any real order, except as the occur to me, though those nearest the top are generally my favorites.

I also cite my favorite performance and movie for each.

1. James Stewart

Actor | Anatomy of a Murder

James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English, descent. Stewart was educated at a local prep school, Mercersburg Academy, where he ...

I will say that James Stewart is my all time favorite actor, though. Light comedy, westerns, drama....

Favorite Movie: Vertigo Favorite performance: The Philadelphia Story

2. Cary Grant

Actor | Charade

Once told by an interviewer, "Everybody would like to be Cary Grant", Grant is said to have replied, "So would I."

Cary Grant was born Archibald Alexander Leach on January 18, 1904 in Horfield, Bristol, England, to Elsie Maria (Kingdon) and Elias James Leach, who worked in a factory. His early years...

No one was more adept at screwball romantic comedy than Grant. And, like Stewart, he was a brilliant Hitchcockian everyman.

Favorite Movie: Notorious Favorite Performance: Bringing Up Baby

3. Katharine Hepburn

Actress | The Lion in Winter

Born May 12, 1907 in Hartford, Connecticut, she was the daughter of a doctor and a suffragette, both of whom always encouraged her to speak her mind, develop it fully, and exercise her body to its full potential. An athletic tomboy as a child, she was also very close to her brother, Tom, and was ...

Uh... Is it any wonder I really love The Philadelphia Story? Poor Ruth Hussey.

Favorite Movie:The Philadelphia Story Favorite Performance: The Lion in Winter

4. Humphrey Bogart

Actor | Casablanca

Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy ...

Embodies a world-weary failed romantic hipness that is timeless.

Favorite Movie: Casablanca Favorite Performance: The Maltese Falcon

5. Ingrid Bergman

Actress | Notorious

Ingrid Bergman was one of the greatest actresses from Hollywood's lamented Golden Era. Her natural and unpretentious beauty and her immense acting talent made her one of the most celebrated figures in the history of American cinema. Bergman is also one of the most Oscar-awarded actresses, tied with ...

I don't care how many layers of gauze they put over the camera lens to film her. Bergman in Casablanca is the most beautiful woman ever on screen.

Favorite Movie: Casablanca Favorite Performance: Notorious

6. William Holden

Actor | Stalag 17

William Holden was born William Franklin Beedle, Jr. in O'Fallon, Illinois, to Mary Blanche (Ball), a schoolteacher, and William Franklin Beedle, Sr., an industrial chemist. He came from a wealthy family (the Beedles) that moved to Pasadena, California, when he was three. In 1937, while studying ...

A rough and tumble, slightly sarcastic, manliness in his best roles. They'll love him in Pomona.

Favorite Movie: Sunset Blvd. Favorite Performance: Network

7. Joseph Cotten

Actor | The Third Man

Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Jr. was born in Petersburg, Virginia, into a well-to-do Southern family. He was the eldest of three sons born to Sally Whitworth (Willson) and Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Sr., an assistant postmaster.

Jo (as he was known) and his brothers Whit and Sam spent their summers at their...

When I visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I made damn sure to find his star. There were entire years when I felt like Holly Martins at the end of The Third Man.

Favorite Movie: The Third Man Favorite Performance: The Third Man

8. Orson Welles

Actor | Citizen Kane

His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was six) he traveled the world with his father. He was orphaned at 15 after his father's death and became the ward of Dr. ...

Long before he was an obese wine salesman and Johnny Carson guest, back when he was trying to make money to fund his genius directing efforts, he was a great actor. And even later - the greatest Falstaff imaginable.

Favorite Film: The Third Man Favorite Performance: Chimes at Midnight

9. Jack Lemmon

Actor | The Apartment

Jack Lemmon was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Mildred Lankford Noel and John Uhler Lemmon, Jr., the president of a doughnut company. His ancestry included Irish (from his paternal grandmother) and English. Jack attended Ward Elementary near his Newton, MA home. At age 9 he was sent to Rivers ...

Some actor/director combinations always worked for me: Hitch and Stewart, Hitch and Grant, Huston and Bogie, Ford and Wayne. Wilder and Lemmon.

Favorite Movie: Some Like it Hot Favorite Performance: The Apartment

10. Robert De Niro

Actor | Raging Bull

One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943 in Manhattan, New York City, to artists Virginia (Admiral) and Robert De Niro Sr. His paternal grandfather was of Italian descent, and his other ancestry is English, Dutch, German, French and Irish. He was trained at...

Oh look! He's listed someone who is still alive! Add Scorsese and DeNiro to the above list.

Favorite Movie: Raging Bull Favorite Performance: Raging Bull

11. Kate Winslet

Actress | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Ask Kate Winslet what she likes about any of her characters, and the word "ballsy" is bound to pop up at least once. The British actress has made a point of eschewing straightforward pretty-girl parts in favor of more devilish damsels; as a result, she's built an eclectic resume that runs the gamut...

Of all the current actresses or actors (based on current work), my favorite. Fond of taking risks in the roles she takes and the acting choices she makes. Also fond of taking off her clothes, but that's a mere lagniappe.

Favorite Movie: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Favorite Performance: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

12. Emma Thompson

Actress | Sense and Sensibility

Emma Thompson was born on April 15, 1959 in Paddington, London, into a family of actors - father Eric Thompson and mother Phyllida Law, who has co-starred with Thompson in several films. Her sister, Sophie Thompson, is an actor as well. Her father was English-born and her mother is Scottish-born. ...

Gorgeous, sunny beauty who radiates intelligence and warmth. I think she'd be a great person to just sit and talk to.

Favorite Movie: Henry V Favorite Performance: Much Ado About Nothing

13. Meryl Streep

Actress | The Devil Wears Prada

Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 21 times, and has won it three times. Meryl was born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a commercial artist, and Harry William ...

I'm sure she's been bad in a movie, but I cannot recall when. Even crap like Falling in Love was not her fault.

Favorite Movie: Adaptation Favorite Performance: Sophie's Choice

14. Morgan Freeman

Actor | Se7en

With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this ever popular American actor has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. Morgan was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Mayme Edna (Revere), a teacher, and Morgan Porterfield Freeman, a barber. The young Freeman...

Actually, Freeman has been in many of my least-liked well-liked films: Se7en, Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, all of which I at best dislike. But even in films I don't like, he's always the bright spot.

Favorite Film: Unforgiven Favorite Performance: Glory

15. Peter O'Toole

Actor | Lawrence of Arabia

A leading man of prodigious talents, Peter O'Toole was raised in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, the son of Constance Jane Eliot (Ferguson), a Scottish nurse, and Patrick Joseph O'Toole, an Irish metal plater, football player and racecourse bookmaker. Upon leaving school, he decided to become a ...

No one, but no one, goes over the top with the skill and panache of Peter O'Toole. Witness, for instance, either of his performances as Henry II. The man knows how to chew scenery. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Favorite Movie: Lawrence of Arabia Favorite Performance: My Favorite Year

16. Paul Giamatti

Actor | Sideways

Paul Giamatti is an American actor who has worked steadily and prominently for over twenty years, and is best known for leading roles in the films American Splendor (2003), Sideways (2004), and Barney's Version (2010) (for which he won a Golden Globe), and supporting roles in the films Cinderella ...

Yeah, I'm always kind of fond of everyman character actors who stumble into leading man status, and still retain what made them great character actors.

Favorite Movie: Sideways Favorite Performance: American Splendor

17. Bette Davis

Actress | All About Eve

Ruth Elizabeth Davis was born April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts, to Ruth Augusta (Favor) and Harlow Morrell Davis, a patent attorney. Her parents divorced when she was 10. She and her sister were raised by their mother. Her early interest was dance. To Bette, dancers led a glamorous life, but...

Back to dead people! Like Hepburn, absolutely iconic despite, er... unconventional looks.

Favorite Movie: All About Eve Favorite Performance: All About Eve

18. Denzel Washington

Actor | Fences

Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is the middle of three children of a beautician mother, Lennis, from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at ...

He can be a little too unselective in his roles, but he brings great intensity to his best roles.

Favorite Film: Glory Favorite Performance: Philadelphia

19. Harry Dean Stanton

Actor | Alien

Stanton was born in West Irvine, Kentucky, to Ersel (Moberly), a cook, and Sheridan Harry Stanton, a barber and tobacco farmer. Lived in Lexington, Kentucky and graduated from Lafayette Senior High School with the class of 1944. Drafted into the Navy, he served as a cook in the U.S. Navy during ...

He's like cheese: put enough of it on cardboard or broccoli and I'll eat it up.

Favorite Movie: Paris, Texas Favorite Performance: Repo Man

20. Audrey Hepburn

Actress | Breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn was born as Audrey Kathleen Ruston on May 4, 1929 in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. Her mother, Baroness Ella Van Heemstra, was of a Dutch descent, and her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, of English and Austrian ancestry.

After her parents' divorce, ...

Audrey Hepburn's neck is possibly the single most perfect body part in screen history.

Favorite Movie: The Children's Hour Favorite Performance: Love in the Afternoon

21. Frances McDormand

Actress | Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Frances Louise McDormand was born on June 23, 1957 in Gibson City, Illinois. She was adopted by Canadian-born parents, Noreen Eloise (Nickleson), a nurse from Ontario, and The Rev. Vernon Weir McDormand, a Disciples of Christ minister from Nova Scotia, who raised her in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. ...

Granted, she had to sleep with the director to get her best roles.... She's always great in anyone's movies. And yes, I do actually slightly prefer Abbie to Marge, as much as I love Marge.

Favorite Movie: Fargo Favorite Performance: Blood Simple

22. Helena Bonham Carter

Actress | Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Helena Bonham Carter is an actress of great versatility, one of the UK's finest and most successful.

Bonham Carter was born May 26, 1966 in Golders Green, London, England, the youngest of three children of Elena (née Propper de Callejón), a psychotherapist, and Raymond Bonham Carter, a merchant ...

Loved her since Lady Jane.

Favorite Movie: A Room With a View Favorite Performance: Howards End

23. Ralph Fiennes

Actor | The Grand Budapest Hotel

Actor Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born on December 22, 1962 in Suffolk, England, to Jennifer Anne Mary Alleyne (Lash), a novelist, and Mark Fiennes, a photographer. He is the eldest of six children. Four of his siblings are also in the arts: Martha Fiennes, a director; Magnus ...

I'm lukewarm to him as a romantic lead, but nobody does gleeful evil like Fiennes. No one. He makes the list for the "inanimate object" line reading in In Bruges alone.

Favorite Movie: Schindler's List Favorite Performance: In Bruges

24. Alec Guinness

Actor | Star Wars

Alec Guinness was an English actor. He is known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946), Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), Prince Faisal in Lawrence...

Favorite Movie: Bridge on the River Kwai Favorite Performance(s): Kind Hearts and Coronets

25. Joe Pesci

Actor | Goodfellas

Compact Italian-American actor Joe Pesci was born February 9, 1943 in Newark, New Jersey, to Mary (Mesce), a part-time barber, and Angelo Pesci, a bartender and forklift driver. Pesci first broke into entertainment as a child actor, and by the mid-1950s, was starring on the series "Star Time Kids"....

Favorite Movie: Raging Bull Favorite Performance: Goodfellas

26. Jack Nicholson

Actor | Chinatown

Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, director and screenwriter, is a three-time Academy Award winner and twelve-time nominee. Nicholson is also notable for being one of two actors - the other being Michael Caine - who have received Oscar nomination in every decade from the 1960s through the...

Oh, why not. Even if I do not like him as much as most, he's still been pretty great.

Favorite Movie: Chinatown Favorite Performance: The Last Detail

27. John Wayne

Actor | True Grit

John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Iowa, to Mary Alberta (Brown) and Clyde Leonard Morrison, a pharmacist. He was of English, Ulster-Scots, and Irish ancestry.

Clyde developed a lung condition that required him to move his family from Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California, ...

Oh what the Hell. Even if I only like him in John Ford movies.

Favorite Movie: The Searchers Favorite Performance: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

28. Alida Valli

Actress | The Third Man

Enigmatic, dark-haired foreign import Alida Valli was dubbed "The Next Garbo" but didn't live up to postwar expectations despite her cool, patrician beauty, remote allure and significant talent. Born in Pola, Italy (now Croatia), on May 3, 1921, the daughter of a Tridentine journalist and professor...

Favorite Movie: The Third Man Favorite Performance: The Third Man

29. Giulietta Masina

Actress | Le notti di Cabiria

Born in San Giorgio di Piano, Giulietta Masina spent part of her teenage years living with a widowed aunt in Rome, where she cultivated a passion for the theater and studied for a degree in Philosophy. She began her career on the radio with the program "Terzoglio" (1942), about the adventures of ...

Favorite Movie: La Strada Favorite Performance: Nights of Cabiria

30. Helen Mirren

Actress | RED

Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. ...

60? I'd tap that.

Favorite Movie: Gosford Park Favorite Performance: The Queen

31. Daniel Olbrychski

Actor | Salt

Daniel Olbrychski was born on February 27, 1945 in Lowicz, Lódzkie, Poland as Daniel Marcel Olbrychski. He is an actor and assistant director, known for Salt (2010), The Deluge (1974) and The Promised Land (1975). He has been married to Krystyna Demska since October 23, 2003. He was previously ...

Ubiquitous if you watch Polish movies. I wonder if Poles ever play "Six Degrees of Daniel Olbrychski", or if they just consider it too damned easy.

Favorite Movie: Dekalog Favorite Performance: Potop

32. Leonardo DiCaprio

Actor | Inception

Few actors in the world have had a career quite as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio's. DiCaprio has gone from relatively humble beginnings, as a supporting cast member of the sitcom Growing Pains (1985) and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3 (1991), to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s,...

Yeah, I know. Pretty boy. But every so often he flashes enough to make me realize why I thought he was such a good actor before he became famous.

Favorite Movie: Gangs of New York Favorite Performance: What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

33. Buster Keaton

Actor | The General

Joseph Frank Keaton was born on October 4, 1895 in Piqua, Kansas, to Joe Keaton and Myra Keaton. Joe and Myra were Vaudevillian comedians with a popular, ever-changing variety act, giving Keaton an eclectic and interesting upbringing. In the earliest days on stage, they traveled with a medicine ...

Favorite Movie: The General Favorite Performance: The General

34. Groucho Marx

Actor | A Night at the Opera

The bushy-browed, cigar-smoking wise-cracker with the painted-on moustache and stooped walk was the leader of The Marx Brothers. With one-liners that were often double entendres, Groucho never cursed in any of his performances and said he never wanted to be known as a dirty comic. With a great love...

All right, not really "actor".

Favorite Movie: Duck Soup Favorite Performance: Horse Feathers

35. Kirk Douglas

Actor | Spartacus

Cleft-chinned, steely-eyed and virile star of international cinema who rose from being "the ragman's son" (the name of his best-selling 1988 autobiography) to become a bona fide superstar, Kirk Douglas, also known as Issur Danielovitch Demsky, was born on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York. ...

Favorite Movie: Ace in the Hole Favorite Performance: Spartacus

36. Burt Lancaster

Actor | From Here to Eternity

Burt Lancaster, one of five children, was born in Manhattan, to Elizabeth (Roberts) and James Henry Lancaster, a postal worker. All of his grandparents were immigrants from Northern Ireland. He was a tough street kid who took an early interest in gymnastics. He joined the circus as an acrobat and ...

Favorite Movie: Local Hero Favorite Performance: The Leopard

37. Jack Hawkins

Actor | Lawrence of Arabia

In Britain, special Christmas plays called pantomimes are produced for children. Jack Hawkins made his London theatrical debut at age 12, playing the elf king in "Where The Rainbow Ends". At 17, he got the lead role of St. George in the same play. At 18, he made his debut on Broadway in "Journey's ...

Favorite Movie: Lawrence of Arabia Favorite Performance: Bridge on the River Kwai

38. Steve Buscemi

Actor | Fargo

Steve Buscemi was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Dorothy (Wilson), a restaurant hostess, and John Buscemi, a sanitation worker. He is of Italian (father) and English, Dutch, and Irish (mother) descent. He became interested in acting during his last year of high school. After graduating, he moved to...

Favorite Movie: Fargo Favorite Performance: Fargo

39. Julie Christie

Actress | Doctor Zhivago

Julie Christie, the British movie legend whom Al Pacino called "the most poetic of all actresses," was born in Chabua, Assam, India, on April 14, 1940, the daughter of Rosemary (Ramsden), a painter, and Francis St. John "Frank" Christie, a tea planter. The young Christie grew up on her father's ...

She can't even comb her hair!

Favorite Movie: Technically, Nashville, but I'll go with McCabe and Mrs. Miller Favorite Performance: Away From Her

40. Kenneth Branagh

Actor | Henry V

Kenneth Charles Branagh was born on December 10, 1960, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to parents William Branagh, a plumber and carpenter, and Frances (Harper), both born in 1930. He has two siblings, William Branagh, Jr. (born 1955) and Joyce Branagh (born 1970). When he was nine, his family ...

Well, it's probably the Shakespearean in me. As a note: I've always loved Beatrice and Benedick.

Favorite Movie: Henry V Favorite Performance: Much Ado About Nothing

41. Tom Wilkinson

Actor | Michael Clayton

Popular British character actor Tom Wilkinson was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, and comes from a long line of urban farmers. He is the son of Marjorie (Percival) and Thomas Wilkinson. Economic hardships forced his family to move to Canada for a few years when Wilkinson was a child; after ...

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