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 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 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 more than 55 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. 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), 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 (December 13, 1929 – February 5, 2021) was a Canadian actor. His career spanned seven decades, gaining recognition for his performances in film, television, and stage. He 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 Hamlet at Elsinore (1964), Macbeth, King Lear, and Barrymore. Plummer performed in stage productions, including J.B., No Man's Land, and Inherit the Wind. Plummer was born in Toronto, Ontario, and grew up in Senneville, Quebec. 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 and won great acclaim for his performance as Captain Georg von Trapp in the musical film The Sound of Music (1965) alongside Julie Andrews.Plummer played numerous major historical figures, including 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). His film credits also include Malcolm X (1992), A Beautiful Mind (2001), The New World (2005), Inside Man (2006), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), Knives Out (2019), and The Last Full Measure (2019). Plummer received various awards 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 have received 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 (a distinction he held until being supplanted by 83-year-old Anthony Hopkins in 2021), 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, writer, and producer. Known for his energetic slapstick performances, Carrey first gained recognition in 1990, after landing a recurring role in the American sketch comedy television series In Living Color (1990–1994). He broke out as 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 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 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, for which he was nominated for another Golden Globe. 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. Beginning his career in the 1970s, he first rose to prominence for portraying Alex P. Keaton on the NBC sitcom Family Ties (1982–1989). Fox achieved further recognition as protagonist Marty McFly in the Back to the Future film trilogy (1985–1990). The trilogy's critical and commercial success led to Fox headlining several films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including The Secret of My Success (1987), Casualties of War (1989), and The Frighteners (1996). He returned to television on the ABC sitcom Spin City, where he portrayed the lead role of Mike Flaherty from 1996 to 2000. In 1998, Fox publicly disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease seven years earlier. Fox subsequently became an advocate for finding a cure and founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000 to help fund research. Although the disease's worsening symptoms forced Fox to have a less active career, 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 also worked in voice-over, voicing the title character in the Stuart Little films (1999–2005) and the lead of 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 from acting in 2020 due to his declining health.During his career, 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 work advocating a cure for Parkinson's disease, he received an honorary doctorate in 2010 from the Karolinska Institute.
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 musician. In his seven decades of acting, he is best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek franchise. Shatner began his screen acting career in Canadian films and television productions. He appeared as Captain 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. Shatner has written a series of books chronicling his experiences playing Captain Kirk, being a part of Star Trek, and life after Star Trek. He has co-written several novels set in the Star Trek universe and a series of science fiction novels called TekWar that were adapted for television. Outside of Star Trek, 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 appeared in two episodes of the television detective series Columbo almost two decades apart. After his final appearance as Kirk in Star Trek Generations (1994), Shatner continued his acting career. 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, one on each series. 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. He appeared in seasons 4 and 5 of the NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun as the alien "Big Giant Head" to which the main characters reported. Aside from acting, Shatner has had a music career consisting of eight albums, which began with the release of his debut album The Transformed Man (1968). Shatner typically speaks lyrics in an interpretive reading style. His cover songs usually involve Shatner doing dramatic readings of the lyrics, most famously in his covers of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "Mr. Tambourine Man". In 1978, Shatner hosted the 5th Saturn Awards where he performed Elton John's "Rocket Man", which became widely parodied. In 2011, Shatner released his third and most successful album Seeking Major Tom, which features covers of songs such as "Learning to Fly", "Space Oddity" and "Bohemian Rhapsody". In 2021, Shatner flew to space aboard a Blue Origin sub-orbital capsule. At age 90 he became the oldest person to fly to space and one of the first 600 to do so. Minutes after the flight Shatner articulated experiencing the overview effect.
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 Marie 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. By the late 1920s Pickford's career went into decline.
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, television personality, and author. She is 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 came to public 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 after appearing as Lisa on ABC comedy series Home Improvement, appearing for its first two seasons. The following year, she received international recognition for her starring role as C. J. Parker on the action-drama series Baywatch, further cementing her status as a sex symbol. From 1998 to 2002, Anderson played the role of Vallery Irons on the action-comedy series V.I.P. Anderson has appeared in various films, including Raw Justice (1994), Barb Wire (1996), Superhero Movie (2008), and Blonde and Blonder (2008). In 2006, she was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame and starred as Skyler Dayton in the Fox sitcom Stacked. She has also appeared on reality television shows, such as Dancing with the Stars (2010–2012), VIP Brother (2012), Dancing on Ice (2013), and Danse avec les stars (2018). Anderson is a prominent activist for the animal rights movement and has endorsed PETA activities. She has also released three autobiographical books and three 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, comedian, producer, musician and writer who was an original member of the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" on Saturday Night Live (1975–1979). He performed with his friend John Belushi in a musical sketch on SNL, the Blues Brothers, which they turned into an actual performing band and then featured in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. He conceived of the premise for, and starred as Dr. Raymond Stantz 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 as Boolie Werthan in the 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy. He starred as Reverend Mike Weber 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.
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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.