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 71.90, Leslie Nielsen is the most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 70 different languages on wikipedia.
Leslie William Nielsen (11 February 1926 – 28 November 2010) was a Canadian actor and comedian. 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. After high school, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943 and served until the end of World War II. Upon his discharge, Nielsen 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 dramas and 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 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 Canada's Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
With an HPI of 70.99, Donald Sutherland is the 2nd most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.
Donald McNichol Sutherland (born 17 July 1935) is a Canadian actor whose film career spans over eight decades. He has been nominated for nine 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. In 2021, he won the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries for his work in the HBO miniseries The Undoing (2020). 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), The Assignment (1997), Without Limits (1998), Space Cowboys (2000), Big Shot's Funeral (2001), The Italian Job (2003), Cold Mountain (2003), Pride & Prejudice (2005), Aurora Borealis (2006), The Mechanic (2011) and The Hunger Games franchise (2012–2015). He is the father of actors Kiefer Sutherland, Rossif Sutherland, and Angus Sutherland.
With an HPI of 70.14, Jim Carrey is the 3rd most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 105 different languages.
James Eugene Carrey (; born January 17, 1962) is a Canadian-American actor, comedian and artist. Known for his energetic slapstick performances, Carrey first gained recognition in 1990, after landing a role in the American sketch comedy television series In Living Color (1990–1994). He broke out as a star in motion pictures with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask and Dumb and Dumber (all 1994). This was followed up with Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Batman Forever (both 1995) and 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, Horton Hears a Who! (both 2008), and A Christmas Carol (2009). In the 2010s, Carrey appeared in the films Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Kick-Ass 2 (both 2013), Dumb and Dumber To (2014), and portrayed Leap Day William in the sitcom 30 Rock (2012). In 2020, he portrayed Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog and its 2022 sequel and Joe Biden in six episodes of Saturday Night Live in the leadup to the 2020 United States presidential election. 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 the 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 (2018, 2020), for which he was nominated for another Golden Globe. Multiple film critics and media outlets have cited Carrey as one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.In 2006, Carrey received a Grammy award nomination for Best Spoken Word Album for Children. In 2013, Carrey published his first book, a children's story titled How Roland Rolls, which 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 69.74, Christopher Plummer is the 4th most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 94 different languages.
Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer (December 13, 1929 – February 5, 2021) was a Canadian actor. His career spanned seven decades, gaining him recognition for his performances in film, stage, and television. He received multiple accolades, including an Academy Award, two Tony Awards, and two Primetime Emmy Awards, making him the only Canadian recipient of the "Triple Crown of Acting". He also received a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award as well as a nomination for a Grammy Award. He made his Broadway debut in the 1954 play The Starcross Story. He received two Tony Awards, one for Best Actor in a Musical playing Cyrano de Bergerac in Cyrano (1974) and the other for Best Actor in a Play portraying John Barrymore in Barrymore (1997). His other Tony-nominated roles include in J.B. (1959), Othello (1982), No Man's Land (1994), King Lear (2004), and Inherit the Wind (2007). After appearing on stage, he made his film debut in Stage Struck (1958), landed his first starring role that same year in Wind Across the Everglades. His breakthrough role was for his leading role as Captain Georg von Trapp in the musical film The Sound of Music (1965) alongside Julie Andrews. During this time he starred in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Waterloo (1970), and The Man Who Would Be King (1975). He received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Beginners (2011). Other Oscar-nominated roles include in The Last Station (2009) and All the Money in the World (2017). His other notable films include Somewhere in Time (1980), Malcolm X (1992), The Insider (1999), A Beautiful Mind (2001), The New World (2005), Syriana (2005), Inside Man (2006), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), and Knives Out (2019).
With an HPI of 66.94, Michael J. Fox is the 5th most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 80 different languages.
Michael Andrew Fox (born June 9, 1961), known professionally as Michael J. Fox, is a Canadian-American retired actor. Beginning his career in the 1970s, he rose to prominence portraying Alex P. Keaton on the NBC sitcom Family Ties (1982–1989). Fox is famous for his role as protagonist Marty McFly in the Back to the Future film trilogy (1985–1990), a critical and commercial success. He went on to headline several films throughout the 1980s and 90s, including Teen Wolf (1985), The Secret of My Success (1987), Casualties of War (1989), Doc Hollywood (1991), and The Frighteners (1996). Fox returned to television on the ABC sitcom Spin City in the lead role of Mike Flaherty from 1996 to 2000. In 1998, Fox disclosed his 1991 diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. He subsequently became an advocate for finding a cure and founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000 to help fund research. Worsening symptoms forced Fox to reduce his activities and led to his return to television in Spin City when he was still a major movie star. He continued to make guest appearances on television, including recurring roles on the FX comedy-drama Rescue Me (2009) and the CBS legal drama The Good Wife (2010–2016) that garnered him critical acclaim. He voiced the lead roles in the Stuart Little films (1999–2005) and the animated film Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001). His final major role was on the NBC sitcom The Michael J. Fox Show (2013–2014). Fox retired in 2020 due to his declining health.Fox won five Primetime Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award. He was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2010, along with being inducted to Canada's Walk of Fame in 2000 and the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002. For his advocacy of a cure for Parkinson's disease, he received an honorary doctorate in 2010 from the Karolinska Institute and an honorary Oscar in 2022.
With an HPI of 66.13, William Shatner is the 6th most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 69 different languages.
William Shatner (born March 22, 1931) is a Canadian actor. In a career spanning seven decades, he is best known for his portrayal of James T. Kirk in the Star Trek franchise, from his 1966 debut as the captain of the starship Enterprise in the second pilot of the first Star Trek television series to his final appearance as Captain Kirk in the seventh Star Trek feature film, Star Trek Generations (1994). Shatner began his screen acting career in Canadian films and television productions before moving into guest-starring roles in various US television shows. He appeared as James Kirk in all the episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series, 21 of the 22 episodes of Star Trek: The Animated Series, and the first seven Star Trek movies. He has written a series of books chronicling his experiences before, during and after his time in a Starfleet uniform. He has also co-written several novels set in the Star Trek universe and a series of science fiction novels, the TekWar sequence, that were adapted for television. Outside Star Trek, Shatner 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. His appearances as a guest star in two episodes of the television detective series Columbo, almost two decades apart, were among his many such contributions to television shows from the 1970s to the 2010s. Shatner's television career after his last appearance as Captain Kirk has embraced comedy, drama and reality shows. In seasons 4 and 5 of the NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun, he played the alien "Big Giant Head" to which the main characters reported. From 2004 until 2008, he starred as attorney Denny Crane in the final season of the legal show The Practice and in its spinoff Boston Legal, a role that earned him two Emmy Awards, one for his contribution to each series. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, he starred in both seasons of NBC's Better Late Than Never, a comical travel series in which a band of elderly celebrities toured east Asia and Europe.Aside from acting, Shatner has had a career as a recording artist, beginning in 1968 with his album The Transformed Man. His cover versions of songs are dramatic recitations of their lyrics rather than musical performances: the most notable are his versions of the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man", and Elton John's "Rocket Man". His most successful album was his third, Seeking Major Tom (2011), which includes covers of Pink Floyd's "Learning to Fly", David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".In 2021, Shatner flew into space aboard a Blue Origin sub-orbital capsule. At age 90, he became the oldest person to fly in space and one of the first 600 to do so. Minutes after the flight, he described experiencing the overview effect.
With an HPI of 64.98, Dan Aykroyd is the 7th most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.
Daniel Edward Aykroyd ( AK-royd; born July 1, 1952) is a Canadian actor, comedian, writer, producer, and musician. Aykroyd was a writer and an original member of the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" cast on the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live from its inception in 1975 until his departure in 1979. During his tenure on SNL, he appeared in a recurring series of sketches, particularly featuring the Coneheads and the Blues Brothers. For his work on the show, he received five Primetime Emmy Award nominations winning for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series in 1977. After his departure, he has since returned in guest roles. Aykroyd gained prominence for writing, and starring as Dr. Raymond "Ray" Stantz in Ghostbusters (1984), and Ghostbusters II (1989) and has reprised his role in various projects within the Ghostbusters franchise. He also is known for his comedic roles in Trading Places (1983), Spies Like Us (1985), Dragnet (1987), Coneheads (1993), The Great Outdoors (1988), The Blues Brothers (1980), and its 1998 sequel. In 1990, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Boolie Werthan in Driving Miss Daisy (1989). Other dramatic roles include in My Girl (1991), Chaplin, and Sneakers (both 1992). Aykroyd has done supporting roles in Tommy Boy (1995), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), 50 First Dates (2004), The Campaign (2012), and Behind the Candelabra (2013). He starred as Reverend Mike Weber in his own sitcom, Soul Man (1997–1998). He has since appeared on various television shows including It's Garry Shandling's Show (1990), Home Improvement (1997), Family Guy (2009), The Simpsons (2021) and The Conners (2019). Aykroyd is also a businessman, having co-founded the House of Blues chain of music venues and the Crystal Head Vodka brand.
With an HPI of 61.77, Mary Pickford is the 8th most famous Canadian Actor. Her biography has been translated into 82 different languages.
Gladys Marie Smith (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979), known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-American stage and screen actress and producer with a career that spanned five decades. A pioneer in the US 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. Pickford is considered to be one of the most recognisable women in history.Cited as "America's Sweetheart" during the silent film era, she is named on the list of the AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars as the 24th top female stars from the Classical Hollywood Cinema era and the "girl with the curls",Pickford 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). By the late 1920s Pickford's career went into decline. She received an Academy Honorary Award in 1976 in consideration of her contributions to American cinema.
With an HPI of 61.51, Lois Maxwell is the 9th most famous Canadian Actor. Her biography has been translated into 31 different languages.
Lois Ruth Maxwell (born Lois Ruth Hooker; 14 February 1927 – 29 September 2007) was a Canadian actress who portrayed Miss Moneypenny in 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 adaptation 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 61.48, Ryan Reynolds is the 10th most famous Canadian Actor. His biography has been translated into 73 different languages.
Ryan Rodney Reynolds (born October 23, 1976) is a Canadian and American actor. He began his career starring in the Canadian teen soap opera Hillside (1991–1993), and had minor roles before landing the lead role on the sitcom Two Guys and a Girl between 1998 and 2001. Reynolds then starred in a range of films, including comedies such as National Lampoon's Van Wilder (2002), Waiting... (2005), and The Proposal (2009). He also performed in dramatic roles in Buried (2010), Woman in Gold (2015), and Life (2017), starred in action films such as Blade: Trinity (2004), Green Lantern (2011), 6 Underground (2019), and Free Guy (2021), and provided voice acting in the animated features The Croods film series (2013–2020), Turbo (2013), and Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019). Reynolds's biggest commercial success came with the 20th Century Fox X-Men films Deadpool (2016) and Deadpool 2 (2018), in which he played the title character. The former set numerous records at the time of its release for an R-rated comedy and his performance earned him nominations at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards and the Golden Globe Awards. Reynolds was named People's Sexiest Man Alive in 2010 and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017. As a businessman, he holds an ownership stake in Mint Mobile and is a co-owner of Welsh football club Wrexham A.F.C.; the latter was documented in the TV series Welcome to Wrexham.
Pantheon has 442 people classified as actors born between 1859 and 2006. Of these 442, 372 (84.16%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living actors include Donald Sutherland, Jim Carrey, and Michael J. Fox. The most famous deceased actors include Leslie Nielsen, Christopher Plummer, and Mary Pickford. As of April 2022, 62 new actors have been added to Pantheon including Joanna Shimkus, Katherine DeMille, and Mort Sahl.
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Which Actors were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Actors since 1700.