The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Canadian Actors of all time. This list of famous Canadian Actors is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Canadian Actors.
With an HPI of 78.95, Leslie Nielsen is the most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 69 different languages on wikipedia.
Leslie William Nielsen (11 February 1926 – 28 November 2010) was a Canadian actor, comedian and producer. With a career spanning 60 years, he appeared in more than 100 films and 150 television programs, portraying more than 220 characters.Nielsen was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and later worked as a disc jockey before receiving a scholarship to study theatre at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He made his acting debut in 1950, appearing in 46 live television programs a year. Nielsen made his film debut in 1956, with supporting roles in several drama, Western, and romance films produced between the 1950s and the 1970s. Although his notable performances in the films Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure gave him standing as a serious actor, Nielsen later gained enduring recognition for his deadpan comedy roles during the 1980s, after being cast against type for the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker comedy film Airplane!. In his comedy roles, Nielsen specialized in portraying characters oblivious to and complicit in their absurd surroundings. Nielsen's performance in Airplane! marked his turning point, which made him "the Olivier of spoofs" according to film critic Roger Ebert, and leading to further success in the genre with The Naked Gun film series, based on the earlier short-lived television series Police Squad!, in which Nielsen also starred. Nielsen received a variety of awards and was inducted into the Canada's Walk of Fame and Hollywood Walk of Fame.
With an HPI of 78.63, Donald Sutherland is the 2nd most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 78 different languages.
Donald McNichol Sutherland (born 17 July 1935) is a Canadian actor whose film career spans 56 years. He has been nominated for eight Golden Globe Awards, winning two for his performances in the television films Citizen X (1995) and Path to War (2002); the former also earned him a Primetime Emmy Award. An inductee of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canadian Walk of Fame, he also received a Canadian Academy Award for the drama film Threshold (1981). Multiple film critics and media outlets have cited him as one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination. In 2017, he received an Academy Honorary Award for his contributions to cinema.Sutherland rose to fame after starring in films including The Dirty Dozen (1967), M*A*S*H (1970), Kelly's Heroes (1970), Klute (1971), Don't Look Now (1973), Fellini's Casanova (1976), 1900 (1976), The Eagle Has Landed (1976), Animal House (1978), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Ordinary People (1980), and Eye of the Needle (1981). He later went on to star in many other films where he appeared either in leading or supporting roles such as A Dry White Season (1989), JFK (1991), Outbreak (1995), A Time to Kill (1996), Without Limits (1998), Big Shot's Funeral (2001), The Italian Job (2003), Cold Mountain (2003), Pride & Prejudice (2005), Aurora Borealis (2006) and The Hunger Games franchise (2012–2015). He is the father of actors Kiefer Sutherland, Rossif Sutherland and Angus Sutherland.
With an HPI of 76.88, Christopher Plummer is the 3rd most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 87 different languages.
Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer (born December 13, 1929) is a Canadian actor whose career has spanned seven decades. He is known for his performances in film, television and theater. Plummer made his Broadway debut in 1954, and continued to act in leading roles on stage playing Cyrano de Bergerac in Cyrano (1974), Iago in Othello, as well as playing the titular roles in Macbeth, King Lear, and Barrymore. Plummer is also known for his stage performances in J.B., No Man's Land, and Inherit the Wind. Plummer was born in Toronto and grew up in Senneville, Quebec. He made his film debut in Sidney Lumet's Stage Struck (1958), and won great acclaim with audiences for his performance as Captain Georg von Trapp in the musical film The Sound of Music (1965) alongside Julie Andrews. Since then Plummer has portrayed numerous major historical figures, including Roman emperor Commodus in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington in Waterloo (1970), Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Mike Wallace in The Insider (1999), Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station (2009), Kaiser Wilhelm II in The Exception (2016), and J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World (2017). Plummer has also appeared in such films as Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992), Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind (2001), Terrence Malick's The New World (2005), David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), Mike Mills' Beginners (2011), and Rian Johnson's Knives Out (2019). Plummer has received various accolades for his work, including an Academy Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a British Academy Film Award; he is one of the few performers to receive the Triple Crown of Acting, and the only Canadian. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor at the age of 82 for Beginners (2010), becoming the oldest person to win an acting award, and he received a nomination at the age of 88 for All the Money in the World, making him the oldest person to be nominated in an acting category.
With an HPI of 76.53, Jim Carrey is the 4th most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 104 different languages.
James Eugene Carrey (born January 17, 1962) is a Canadian-American actor, comedian and writer. Known for his energetic slapstick performances, Carrey first gained recognition in 1990, after landing a regular role in the American sketch comedy television series In Living Color. His first leading roles in motion pictures came with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), The Mask (1994), Dumb and Dumber (1994), and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995), as well portraying the Riddler in Batman Forever (1995), and the lead role in Liar Liar (1997). In the 2000s, he gained further notice for his portrayal of the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas and for the comedy Me, Myself & Irene (both in 2000), as well as Bruce Almighty (2003), Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), Fun with Dick and Jane (2005), Yes Man (2008), Horton Hears a Who! (2008), and A Christmas Carol (2009). In the 2010s, Carrey starred in Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013), Kick-Ass 2 (2013), and reprised his role as Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber To (2014). He portrayed Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020). Although largely typecast as a comedic actor, Carrey has had success in dramatic roles. His first dramatic success was for starring in the Emmy-nominated made-for-television film Doing Time on Maple Drive (1992). Carrey gained attention for his leading roles in The Truman Show (1998) and Man on the Moon (1999), earning Golden Globe Awards for each film. He later starred in the psychological science fiction romantic drama film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), this performance is repeatedly lauded as one of the most important and seminal in Carrey's career and for which he was nominated for both the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and another Golden Globe Award. He was also praised for his dramatic role of Jeff Piccirillo in the Showtime tragicomedy series Kidding. The Guardian named him one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.In 2013, Carrey published his first book, a children's story, entitled How Roland Rolls; the book was awarded a 2013 Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award. In 2020, Carrey published his first novel, Memoirs and Misinformation, which he co-authored with Dana Vachon.
With an HPI of 75.28, Michael J. Fox is the 5th most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 81 different languages.
Michael Andrew Fox (born June 9, 1961), known professionally as Michael J. Fox, is a Canadian-American retired actor, author, film producer and activist with a film and television career spanning from the 1970s to 2020. He starred in the Back to the Future trilogy in which he portrayed Marty McFly. On television, he played Alex P. Keaton on the NBC sitcom Family Ties (1982–1989) and Mike Flaherty on the ABC sitcom Spin City (1996–2000). He has won five Primetime Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, a Grammy Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991 at age 29, and disclosed his condition to the public in 1998. He semi-retired from acting in 2000 as the symptoms of the disease worsened. He has since become an advocate for research toward finding a cure, and founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Sweden's Karolinska Institute gave him an honorary doctorate on March 5, 2010 for his work advocating a cure for Parkinson's disease. Since 1999, Fox has mainly worked as a voice-over actor in films such as Stuart Little and Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire. On the CBS television show The Good Wife, he earned Emmy nominations for three consecutive years for his recurring role as crafty attorney Louis Canning. He has also taken recurring guest roles and cameo appearances in Boston Legal, Scrubs, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Rescue Me, and Designated Survivor. He has written four books. Fox was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2010 and was also inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2000. In 2020, he retired from acting due to his declining health.
With an HPI of 73.28, William Shatner is the 6th most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 67 different languages.
William Shatner (born March 22, 1931) is a Canadian actor, author, producer, director, screenwriter, and singer. In his seven decades of acting, Shatner became a cultural icon for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek franchise. He has written a series of books chronicling his experiences playing Captain Kirk, being a part of Star Trek, and life after Star Trek. Shatner has also co-written several novels set in the Star Trek universe, and a series of science fiction novels called TekWar, that were adapted for television. Shatner also played the eponymous veteran police sergeant in T. J. Hooker (1982–1986) and hosted the reality-based television series Rescue 911 (1989–1996), which won a People's Choice Award for Favorite New TV Dramatic Series. Shatner also featured in two episodes of the television detective series Columbo almost two decades apart. He also appeared in seasons 4 and 5 of the NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun as the "Big Giant Head" that the alien characters reported to. From 2004 until 2008, he starred as attorney Denny Crane both in the final season of the legal drama The Practice and in its spinoff series Boston Legal, a role that earned him two Emmy Awards. He appeared in both seasons of the comical NBC real-life travelogue with other male companions "of a certain age" in Better Late Than Never, from 2016 to 2018. Shatner has also pursued a career in music and spoken-word recordings since the late 1960s, having released eight albums.
With an HPI of 71.00, Mary Pickford is the 7th most famous Canadian Actor. Her biography has been translated into 79 different languages.
Gladys Louise Smith (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979), known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-American film actress and producer with a career that spanned five decades. A pioneer in the American film industry, she co-founded Pickford–Fairbanks Studios and United Artists, and was one of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.Cited as "America's Sweetheart" during the silent film era, and the "girl with the curls", she was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood and a significant figure in the development of film acting. She was one of the earliest stars to be billed under her own name, and was one of the most popular actresses of the 1910s and 1920s, earning the nickname "Queen of the Movies". She is credited with having defined the ingénue type in cinema.She was awarded the second Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound film role in Coquette (1929), and she also received an Academy Honorary Award in 1976 in consideration of her contributions to American cinema. The American Film Institute ranked her as 24th in its 1999 list of greatest female stars of classic Hollywood Cinema.
With an HPI of 70.85, Pamela Anderson is the 8th most famous Canadian Actor. Her biography has been translated into 86 different languages.
Pamela Denise Anderson (born July 1, 1967) is a Canadian-American actress, model, and television personality. She is best known for her numerous appearances in Playboy magazine and for her work on the television series Home Improvement (1991–1993, 1997), Baywatch (1992–1997), and V.I.P. (1998–2002). Anderson rose to prominence after being selected as the February 1990 Playmate of the Month for Playboy magazine. She went on to frequent appearances on the magazine's cover, holding the record of the most Playboy covers by any person. Anderson became known to a wider audience in 1991, appearing as Lisa on the award-winning ABC comedy series Home Improvement for its first two seasons. The following year, she received international recognition for her starring role as C. J. Parker in the action-drama series Baywatch, further cementing her status as a sex symbol. From 1998 to 2002, Anderson played the role of Vallery Irons in the action-comedy series V.I.P. Anderson has appeared in films, including Raw Justice (1994), Barb Wire (1996), Scary Movie 3 (2003), Borat (2006), and Blonde and Blonder (2008). In 2006, she was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame and played the role of Skyler Dayton in the Fox sitcom Stacked. Anderson has also appeared on television shows, such as Dancing with the Stars (2010–2012), VIP Brother (2012), Dancing on Ice (2013), and Danse avec les stars (2018). Anderson has also endorsed PETA activities and released four autobiography books and two novels.
With an HPI of 70.49, Lois Maxwell is the 9th most famous Canadian Actor. Her biography has been translated into 30 different languages.
Lois Ruth Maxwell (born Lois Ruth Hooker; 14 February 1927 – 29 September 2007) was a Canadian actress, best known for her portrayal of Miss Moneypenny in all the first fourteen Eon-produced James Bond films (1962–1985). She was the first actress to play the part. The films in which she played Miss Moneypenny were Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), and A View to a Kill (1985). She did not appear in the 1967 adaptations of Casino Royale, nor in the 1983 remake of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again, as the production was not Eon's, though she did, as a similar character, in the spoof O.K. Connery. She began her film career in the late 1940s, and won the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer for her performance in That Hagen Girl (1947). Following a number of small film roles, she became dissatisfied and travelled to Italy, where she worked in film from 1951 to 1955. After her marriage, she moved to the United Kingdom, where she appeared in several television productions. As Maxwell's career declined, she lived in Canada, Switzerland, and the UK. In 2001, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer and moved to Western Australia, where she lived with her son until her death, aged 80, in 2007.
With an HPI of 70.41, Dan Aykroyd is the 10th most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.
Daniel Edward Aykroyd, ( AK-royd; born July 1, 1952) is a Canadian actor, producer, comedian, musician, and filmmaker who was an original member of the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" on Saturday Night Live (1975–1979). A musical sketch he performed with John Belushi on SNL, the Blues Brothers, turned into an actual performing band and then the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. He conceived and starred in Ghostbusters (1984), which spawned a sequel and eventually an entire media franchise. In 1990, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy. He starred in his own sitcom, Soul Man (1997–1998). Aykroyd is also a businessman, having co-founded the House of Blues chain of music venues and the Crystal Head Vodka brand.
Pantheon has 379 people classified as actors born between 1868 and 2006. Of these 379, 317 (83.64%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living actors include Donald Sutherland, Christopher Plummer, and Jim Carrey. The most famous deceased actors include Leslie Nielsen, Mary Pickford, and Lois Maxwell. As of October 2020, 44 new actors have been added to Pantheon including Shirley Douglas, Gordon Thomson, and Frances Bay.
1935 - Present
1929 - Present
1962 - Present
1961 - Present
1931 - Present
1967 - Present
1952 - Present
1976 - Present
1980 - Present
1963 - Present
1967 - Present
1942 - Present
1926 - 2010
1892 - 1979
1927 - 2007
1916 - 2006
1923 - 2013
1880 - 1960
1922 - 2007
1950 - 1994
1902 - 1983
1920 - 2005
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1918 - 2009
1934 - 2020
1945 - Present
1919 - 2011
1956 - Present
1871 - 1940
1969 - Present
1930 - 2010
1951 - Present
1899 - 1987
1941 - 2011
1970 - Present
1955 - Present
Which Actors were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Actors since 1700.