The Most Famous

ACTORS from United Kingdom

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This page contains a list of the greatest Actors. The pantheon dataset contains 9,996 Actors, 1,134 of which were born in United Kingdom. This makes United Kingdom the birth place of the 2nd most number of Actors.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Actors of all time. This list of famous 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 Actors.

Photo of Charlie Chaplin

1. Charlie Chaplin (1889 - 1977)

With an HPI of 86.83, Charlie Chaplin is the most famous Actor.  His biography has been translated into 187 different languages on wikipedia.

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film. He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona, the Tramp, and is considered one of the film industry's most important figures. His career spanned more than 75 years, from childhood in the Victorian era until a year before his death in 1977, and encompassed both adulation and controversy. Chaplin's childhood in London was one of poverty and hardship. His father was absent and his mother struggled financially - he was sent to a workhouse twice before age nine. When he was 14, his mother was committed to a mental asylum. Chaplin began performing at an early age, touring music halls and later working as a stage actor and comedian. At 19, he was signed to the Fred Karno company, which took him to the United States. He was scouted for the film industry and began appearing in 1914 for Keystone Studios. He soon developed the Tramp persona and attracted a large fan base. He directed his own films and continued to hone his craft as he moved to the Essanay, Mutual, and First National corporations. By 1918, he was one of the world's best-known figures. In 1919, Chaplin co-founded distribution company United Artists, which gave him complete control over his films. His first feature-length film was The Kid (1921), followed by A Woman of Paris (1923), The Gold Rush (1925), and The Circus (1928). He initially refused to move to sound films in the 1930s, instead producing City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936) without dialogue. His first sound film was The Great Dictator (1940), which satirised Adolf Hitler. The 1940s were marked with controversy for Chaplin, and his popularity declined rapidly. He was accused of communist sympathies, and some members of the press and public were scandalized by his involvement in a paternity suit and marriages to much younger women. An FBI investigation was opened, and Chaplin was forced to leave the U.S. and settle in Switzerland. He abandoned the Tramp in his later films, which include Monsieur Verdoux (1947), Limelight (1952), A King in New York (1957), and A Countess from Hong Kong (1967). Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his films. He was a perfectionist, and his financial independence enabled him to spend years on the development and production of a picture. His films are characterised by slapstick combined with pathos, typified in the Tramp's struggles against adversity. Many contain social and political themes, as well as autobiographical elements. He received an Honorary Academy Award for "the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century" in 1972, as part of a renewed appreciation for his work. He continues to be held in high regard, with The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator often ranked on lists of the greatest films.

Photo of Anthony Hopkins

2. Anthony Hopkins (1937 - )

With an HPI of 80.04, Anthony Hopkins is the 2nd most famous Actor.  His biography has been translated into 94 different languages.

Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins (born 31 December 1937) is a Welsh actor, director, and producer. One of Britain's most recognisable and prolific actors, he is known for his performances on the screen and stage. Hopkins has received many accolades throughout his career, including two Academy Awards, three British Academy Film Awards, a British Academy Television Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards and a Laurence Olivier Award. He has also received an honorary Golden Globe Award and the BAFTA Fellowship for lifetime achievement from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. In 1993, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts, and in 2003, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his achievements in the motion picture industry. After graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in 1957, Hopkins trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He was then spotted by Laurence Olivier who invited him to join the Royal National Theatre in 1965. Productions at the National included King Lear (his favourite Shakespeare play), Coriolanus, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. In 1985, he received great acclaim and a Laurence Olivier Award for his performance in the David Hare play Pravda. His last stage play was a West End production of M. Butterfly in 1989. In 1968, Hopkins achieved recognition in film, playing Richard the Lionheart in The Lion in Winter. In the mid-1970s, he started a collaboration with Richard Attenborough who called him "the greatest actor of his generation". Hopkins starred in Attenborough's A Bridge Too Far (1977), David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980), and Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs (1991), in which he portrayed Hannibal Lecter, a role which earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. He reprised the role in Hannibal (2001) and the prequel Red Dragon (2002). Other notable films include The Bounty (1984), 84 Charing Cross Road (1987), Howards End (1992), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Shadowlands (1993), Legends of the Fall (1994), Meet Joe Black (1998), The Mask of Zorro (1998), and the Thor franchise (2011–2017), set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He received four more Academy Award nominations for James Ivory's The Remains of the Day (1993), Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995), Steven Spielberg's Amistad (1997) and Fernando Meirelles' The Two Popes (2019), before winning a fourth BAFTA Award and a second Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of an elderly man diagnosed with dementia in The Father (2020), becoming the oldest Best Actor Oscar winner to date.Since making his television debut with the BBC in 1967, Hopkins has continued to appear on television. In 1973, he received a British Academy Television Award for Best Actor for his performance in War and Peace. He received two Primetime Emmy Awards for portraying Richard Hauptmann in The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (1976) and Adolf Hitler in The Bunker (1981). In 2015, he starred in the BBC film The Dresser, and in 2018, he starred in King Lear, earning a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. In 2016 and 2018, he starred in the HBO television series Westworld, for which he received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

Photo of Sean Connery

3. Sean Connery (1930 - 2020)

With an HPI of 79.73, Sean Connery is the 3rd most famous Actor.  His biography has been translated into 123 different languages.

Sir Sean Connery (born Thomas Connery; 25 August 1930 – 31 October 2020) was a Scottish actor. He was the first actor to portray fictional British secret agent James Bond on film, starring in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983. Originating the role in Dr. No, Connery played Bond in six of Eon Productions' entries and made his final appearance in Never Say Never Again. Connery began acting in smaller theatre and television productions until his breakout role as Bond. Although he did not enjoy the off-screen attention the role gave him, the success of the Bond films brought Connery offers from notable directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Lumet and John Huston. Their films in which Connery appeared included Marnie (1964), The Hill (1965), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), and The Man Who Would Be King (1975). He also appeared in A Bridge Too Far (1977), Highlander (1986), The Name of the Rose (1986), The Untouchables (1987), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Dragonheart (1996), The Rock (1996), and Finding Forrester (2000). Connery officially retired from acting in 2006, although he briefly returned for voice-over roles in 2012. His achievements in film were recognised with an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards (including the BAFTA Fellowship), and three Golden Globes, including the Cecil B. DeMille Award and a Henrietta Award. In 1987, he was made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, and he received the US Kennedy Center Honors lifetime achievement award in 1999. Connery was knighted in the 2000 New Year Honours for services to film drama.

Photo of Richard Burton

4. Richard Burton (1925 - 1984)

With an HPI of 78.57, Richard Burton is the 4th most famous Actor.  His biography has been translated into 71 different languages.

Richard Burton (; born Richard Walter Jenkins Jr.; 10 November 1925 – 5 August 1984) was a Welsh actor. Noted for his mellifluous baritone voice, Burton established himself as a formidable Shakespearean actor in the 1950s, and he gave a memorable performance of Hamlet in 1964. He was called "the natural successor to Olivier" by critic Kenneth Tynan. A heavy drinker, Burton's perceived failure to live up to those expectations disappointed some critics and colleagues and added to his image as a great performer who had wasted his talent. Nevertheless, he is widely regarded as one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation.Burton was nominated for an Academy Award seven times, but never won an Oscar. He was a recipient of BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and Tony Awards for Best Actor. In the mid-1960s, Burton ascended into the ranks of the top box office stars. By the late 1960s, Burton was one of the highest-paid actors in the world, receiving fees of $1 million or more plus a share of the gross receipts. Burton remained closely associated in the public consciousness with his second wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor. The couple's turbulent relationship was rarely out of the news.

Photo of Roger Moore

5. Roger Moore (1927 - 2017)

With an HPI of 75.87, Roger Moore is the 5th most famous Actor.  His biography has been translated into 84 different languages.

Sir Roger George Moore (14 October 1927 – 23 May 2017) was an English actor. He was the third actor to portray fictional British secret agent James Bond in the Eon Productions film series, playing the character in seven feature films between 1973 and 1985. Moore's seven appearances as Bond, from Live and Let Die to A View to a Kill, are the most of any actor in the Eon-produced entries.On television, Moore played the lead role of Simon Templar, the title character in the British mystery thriller series The Saint (1962–1969). He also had roles in American series, including Beau Maverick on the Western Maverick (1960–1961), in which he replaced James Garner as the lead, and a co-lead, with Tony Curtis, in the action-comedy The Persuaders! (1971–1972). Continuing to act on screen in the decades after his retirement from the Bond franchise, Moore's final appearance was in a pilot for a new Saint series that became a 2017 television film. Moore was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991 and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 for services to charity. In 2007, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the film industry. He was made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2008.

Photo of Maggie Smith

6. Maggie Smith (1934 - )

With an HPI of 75.86, Maggie Smith is the 6th most famous Actor.  Her biography has been translated into 80 different languages.

Dame Margaret Natalie Smith (born 28 December 1934) is an English actress. With an extensive career on screen and stage beginning in the mid-1950s, Smith has appeared in more than 60 films and 70 plays. She is one of the few artists to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting, having received highest achievement for film, television and theatre, winning two Academy Awards, a Tony Award and four Primetime Emmy Awards. She is also a recipient of various accolades including five BAFTA Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and five Screen Actors Guild Awards. In 1996 she was honored with the BAFTA Fellowship. Hailed as one of Britain's most recognisable and prolific actresses, she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990 for contributions to the Arts, and a Companion of Honour in 2014 for services to Drama.Smith began her career on stage as a student, performing at the Oxford Playhouse in 1952, and made her professional debut on Broadway in New Faces of '56. For her work on the London stage, she has won a record six Best Actress Evening Standard Awards for The Private Ear and The Public Eye (both 1962), Hedda Gabler (1970), Virginia (1981), The Way of the World (1984), Three Tall Women (1994), and A German Life (2019). She received Tony Award nominations for Private Lives (1975) and Night and Day (1979), before winning the 1990 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for Lettice and Lovage. She appeared in Stratford Shakespeare Festival productions of Antony and Cleopatra (1976) and Macbeth (1978), and West End productions of A Delicate Balance (1997) and The Breath of Life (2002). She received the Society of London Theatre Special Award in 2010. On screen, Smith first drew praise for the crime film Nowhere to Go (1958), for which she received her first nomination for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award. She received her first Academy Award nomination for her role in Laurence Olivier's Othello (1965) before winning for Best Actress for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969). She was nominated again for Travels with My Aunt (1972) before winning her second Academy Award this time for Best Supporting Actress for California Suite (1978). She is one of only seven actresses to have won in both categories. She has received two other nominations for James Ivory's A Room with a View (1985), and Robert Altman's Gosford Park (2001). Smith gained international acclaim for her role as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film series (2001–2011). Her other notable film roles include Murder by Death (1976), Death on the Nile (1978), Clash of the Titans (1981), Hook (1991), Sister Act (1992), The Secret Garden (1993), The First Wives Club (1996), Tea with Mussolini (1999), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012), Quartet (2012) and The Lady in the Van (2015). Smith is also known for her extensive work in television. During the late 1950s through the 1990s, Smith has performed in various filmed stage productions on Sunday Night Theatre, Armchair Theatre, Talking Heads, Screen Two and Playhouse. She received Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Suddenly, Last Summer (1993), David Copperfield (1999), and Capturing Mary (2006), winning for My House in Umbria (2003). She gained newfound fame as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, on Julian Fellowes's period series Downton Abbey (2010–2015), for which she won three Primetime Emmy Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Golden Globe. She reprised the role in the films Downton Abbey (2019), and Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022).

Photo of Alan Rickman

7. Alan Rickman (1946 - 2016)

With an HPI of 75.48, Alan Rickman is the 7th most famous Actor.  His biography has been translated into 80 different languages.

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (21 February 1946 – 14 January 2016) was an English actor and director. Known for his deep, languid voice, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), performing in modern and classical theatre productions. He played the Vicomte de Valmont in the RSC stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, and after the production transferred to the West End in 1986 and Broadway in 1987, he was nominated for a Tony Award. Rickman's first cinema role came when he was cast as the German terrorist leader Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988). He appeared as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), for which he received the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He earned critical attention for his leading roles in Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991) and An Awfully Big Adventure (1995) before gaining acclaim for his supporting roles as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (1995), and Éamon de Valera in Michael Collins (1996). He is also known for his comedic roles in Dogma (1999), Galaxy Quest (1999), and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005). He played Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series (2001–2011). During this time he also appeared in Love Actually (2003), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), and Alice in Wonderland (2010). His final film roles were Eye in the Sky (2015), and Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016). Rickman made his television acting debut playing Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (1978) as part of the BBC's Shakespeare series. His breakthrough role was Obadiah Slope in the BBC television adaptation of The Barchester Chronicles (1982). He later starred in television films, playing the title character in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny (1996), which won him a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and Alfred Blalock in Something the Lord Made (2004). In 2009, The Guardian named him one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination. Rickman died of pancreatic cancer on 14 January 2016 at age 69.

Photo of Ian McKellen

8. Ian McKellen (1939 - )

With an HPI of 74.80, Ian McKellen is the 8th most famous Actor.  His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.

Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. His career spans seven decades, having performed in genres ranging from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction. Regarded as a British cultural icon, he has received various accolades, including seven Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, and a Golden Globe Award. The BBC states that his "performances have guaranteed him a place in the canon of English stage and film actors".McKellen began his professional career in 1961 at the Belgrade Theatre as a member of their highly regarded repertory company. In 1965, McKellen made his first West End appearance. In 1969, he was invited to join the Prospect Theatre Company to play the lead parts in Shakespeare's Richard II and Marlowe's Edward II, and he firmly established himself as one of the country's foremost classical actors. In the 1970s, McKellen became a stalwart of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Great Britain. In 1981 he received his first Tony Award nomination and win for Best Actor in a Play for his role as Antonio Salieri in Amadeus. He achieved worldwide fame for his film roles, including the titular King in Richard III (1995), James Whale in Gods and Monsters (1998), Magneto in the X-Men films, and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. McKellen was knighted in the 1980 New Year Honours for services to the performing arts, and made a Companion of Honour for services to drama and to equality in the 2008 New Year Honours. He came out as gay in 1988, and has since championed LGBT social movements worldwide. He was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in October 2014.

Photo of Liam Neeson

9. Liam Neeson (1952 - )

With an HPI of 74.79, Liam Neeson is the 9th most famous Actor.  His biography has been translated into 83 different languages.

William John Neeson (born 7 June 1952) is an actor from Northern Ireland. He has received several accolades, including nominations for an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, and two Tony Awards. In 2020, he was placed 7th on The Irish Times list of Ireland's 50 Greatest Film Actors. Neeson was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2000.In 1976, Neeson joined the Lyric Players' Theatre in Belfast for two years. He then acted in the Arthurian film Excalibur (1981). He appeared in supporting roles in The Bounty (1984), The Mission (1986), and Husbands and Wives (1992). He rose to prominence after his leading performance as Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg's holocaust drama Schindler's List (1993). He continued to star in dramas such as Nell (1994), Rob Roy (1995), Michael Collins (1996), and Les Misérables (1998). In 1999 he took the role of Qui-Gon Jinn in George Lucas' space opera Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). He then started to balance his work between critically acclaimed dramas and blockbuster work in franchises. He portrayed Ra's al Ghul in Batman Begins (2005) and Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia trilogy (2005–2010). During this time he also appeared in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York (2002), the romantic comedy Love Actually (2003), and the biographical drama Kinsey (2004). Since 2009, Neeson cemented himself as an action star with the action thriller series Taken (2008–2014), The A-Team (2010), Unknown (2011), The Grey (2011), Wrath of the Titans (2012), Non-Stop (2013), A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014), and The Commuter (2018). He has also starred in Martin Scorsese's religious epic Silence (2016), the fantasy drama A Monster Calls (2016), Steve McQueen's heist drama Widows (2018), the Coen brothers' western The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), and the romantic drama Ordinary Love (2019). Neeson is also known for his work on stage. He made his Broadway debut in 1993 with his performance in Matt Burke in the revival of Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie earning a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play nomination. He then starred as Oscar Wilde in David Hare's The Judas Kiss in 1998. He received his second Tony Award nomination for his performance in the 2002 Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

Photo of Elizabeth Taylor

10. Elizabeth Taylor (1932 - 2011)

With an HPI of 74.78, Elizabeth Taylor is the 10th most famous Actor.  Her biography has been translated into 109 different languages.

Dame Elizabeth Rosemond "Liz" Taylor (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) was a British and American actress. She began her career as a child actress in the early 1940s and was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. She then became the world’s highest paid movie star in the 1960s, remaining a well-known public figure for the rest of her life. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her the seventh-greatest female screen legend of Classic Hollywood cinema. Born in London to socially prominent American parents, Taylor moved with her family to Los Angeles in 1939. She made her acting debut with a minor role in the Universal Pictures film There's One Born Every Minute (1942), but the studio ended her contract after a year. She was then signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and became a popular teen star after appearing in National Velvet (1944). She transitioned to mature roles in the 1950s, when she starred in the comedy Father of the Bride (1950) and received critical acclaim for her performance in the drama A Place in the Sun (1951). Despite being one of MGM's most bankable stars, Taylor wished to end her career in the early 1950s. She resented the studio's control and disliked many of the films to which she was assigned. She began receiving more enjoyable roles in the mid-1950s, beginning with the epic drama Giant (1956), and starred in several critically and commercially successful films in the following years. These included two film adaptations of plays by Tennessee Williams: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959); Taylor won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for the latter. Although she disliked her role as a call girl in BUtterfield 8 (1960), her last film for MGM, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. During the production of the film Cleopatra in 1961, Taylor and co-star Richard Burton began an extramarital affair, which caused a scandal. Despite public disapproval, they continued their relationship and were married in 1964. Dubbed "Liz and Dick" by the media, they starred in 11 films together, including The V.I.P.s (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), The Taming of the Shrew (1967), and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Taylor received the best reviews of her career for Woolf, winning her second Academy Award and several other awards for her performance. She and Burton divorced in 1974 but reconciled soon after, remarrying in 1975. The second marriage ended in divorce in 1976. Taylor's acting career began to decline in the late 1960s, although she continued starring in films until the mid-1970s, after which she focused on supporting the career of her sixth husband, United States Senator John Warner (R-Virginia). In the 1980s, she acted in her first substantial stage roles and in several television films and series. She became the second celebrity to launch a perfume brand, after Sophia Loren. Taylor was one of the first celebrities to take part in HIV/AIDS activism. She co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1985 and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991. From the early 1990s until her death, she dedicated her time to philanthropy, for which she received several accolades, including the Presidential Citizens Medal. Throughout her career, Taylor's personal life was the subject of constant media attention. She was married eight times to seven men, converted to Judaism, endured several serious illnesses, and led a jet set lifestyle, including assembling one of the most expensive private collections of jewelry in the world. After many years of ill health, Taylor died from congestive heart failure in 2011, at the age of 79.

Pantheon has 1,309 people classified as actors born between 1566 and 2007. Of these 1,309, 949 (72.50%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living actors include Anthony Hopkins, Maggie Smith, and Ian McKellen. The most famous deceased actors include Charlie Chaplin, Sean Connery, and Richard Burton. As of April 2022, 175 new actors have been added to Pantheon including Philip Stone, Jeremy Bulloch, and John Shrapnel.

Living Actors

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Deceased Actors

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Newly Added Actors (2022)

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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.