25 great character actors.

by seanhayes1 | created - 26 Aug 2014 | updated - 10 Jan 2019 | Public

25 great character actors & their movies. (not necessarily in any order)

1. 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 ...

Kelly's Heroes, Alien

2. Bruce Dern

Actor | Nebraska

Two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern's tremendous career is made up of playing both modern day heroes and legendary villains. Through decades of lauded performances, Dern has acquired the reputation of being one of the most talented and prolific actors of his generation. Dern has several high profile ...

Silent Running, Hang 'Em High

3. Brion James

Actor | Blade Runner

Brion James was born February 20, 1945, in Redlands, California, to Ida Mae (Buckelew) and Jimmy James. The family soon moved to Beaumont, California (between Los Angeles and Palm Springs), where his parents built and operated a movie theater, where stars such as Gene Autry would occasionally stop ...

Southern Comfort, Blade Runner

4. Andrew Robinson

Actor | Hellraiser

Andrew Jordt Robinson was born in New York City and attended the University of New Hampshire, later receiving his B.A. in English from the New School for Social Research in NYC. After graduation, he spent a year in England at the London Academy for Music and Dramatic Arts on a Fulbright Scholarship...

Charley Varrick, Dirty Harry

5. Vincent Schiavelli

Actor | Tomorrow Never Dies

Vincent Schiavelli, selected in 1997 by Vanity Fair as one of the best character actors in America, had made over 120 film and television appearances. He studied acting at NYU's Theatre Program. Aside from his acting career, Vincent was the author of three cookbooks, and has written numerous ...

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus

6. M. Emmet Walsh

Actor | Blood Simple

Wonderfully talented, heavyset character actor (from New York, but regularly playing Southerners) M. Emmet Walsh has made a solid career of playing corrupt cops, deadly crooks, and zany comedic roles since the early 1970s.

Michael Emmet Walsh was born in Ogdensburg, to Agnes Katharine (Sullivan) and...

Tales From The Crypt, Blade Runner

7. R. Lee Ermey

Actor | Full Metal Jacket

A talented character actor known for his military roles, Ronald Lee Ermey was in the United States Marine Corps for 11 years. He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant, and later was bestowed the honorary rank of Gunnery Sergeant by the Marine Corps, after he served 14 months in Vietnam and later did ...

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Full Metal Jacket

8. Geoffrey Lewis

Actor | The Way of the Gun

Talented and highly capable character actor Geoffrey Lewis, with rustic (sometimes sour-faced) looks, grew up in Rhode Island but was moved out to California at the age of ten. Lewis was very keen on the dramatic arts at high school, but often preferred to put on his own one-man shows rather than ...

Salem's Lot, High Plains Drifter

9. F. Murray Abraham

Actor | The Grand Budapest Hotel

Academy Award-winning actor F. Murray Abraham was born on October 24, 1939 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in El Paso, Texas. His father, Frederick Abraham, was from an Assyrian Christian (Antiochian) family, from Syria. His mother, Josephine (Stello) Abraham, was the daughter of Italian ...

Scarface, Amadeus

10. Klaus Kinski

Actor | Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht

Klaus Kinski was born as Klaus Günter Karl Nakszynski in Zoppot, Free City of Danzig (now Sopot, Poland), to Susanne (Lutze), a nurse, and Bruno Nakszynski, a pharmacist. He grew up in Berlin, was drafted into the German army in 1944 and captured by British forces in Holland. After the war he began...

Nosferatu the Vampyre, For a Few Dollars More

11. David Warner

Actor | Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

David Hattersley Warner was born July 29, 1941 in Manchester, England, to Ada Doreen (Hattersley) and Herbert Simon Warner. He was born out of wedlock and often accepted to be raised by each of his parents, eventually settling with his father and stepmother. His father changed jobs often and moved ...

Time Bandits, The Omen

12. Scatman Crothers

Actor | The Shining

Scatman Crothers was born Benjamin Sherman Crothers on May 23, 1910 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Songwriter ("Dearest One"), actor, composer, singer, comedian and guitarist who, after high school, appeared in nightclubs, hotels, films and on television. He made many records, including his own ...

One Flew over The Cuckoos Nest, The Shining

13. Fred Ward

Actor | Short Cuts

A marvelous character actor with intense eyes, a sly grin and somewhat grizzled appearance, Golden Globe-winner Fred Ward has nearly 90 appearances under his belt in many tremendous films. He first became interested in acting after serving three years in the US Air Force and studied at New York's ...

Southern Comfort, Tremors

14. Brad Dourif

Actor | One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Gaunt character actor Brad Dourif was born Bradford Claude Dourif on March 18, 1950 in Huntington, West Virginia. He is the son of Joan Mavis Felton (Bradford) and Jean Henri Dourif, a French-born art collector who owned and operated a dye factory. His father died when Dourif was three years old, ...

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Alien: resurrection

15. John Hurt

Actor | Nineteen Eighty-Four

This transatlantic talent was born John Vincent Hurt on January 22, 1940 in Shirebrook, a coal mining village near the busy market town of Chesterfield, in Derbyshire, England. He is the son of Phyllis (Massey), an engineer and one-time actress, and Arnold Herbert Hurt, an Anglican clergyman and ...

Midnight Express, Alien

16. James Rebhorn

Actor | Independence Day

James Robert Rebhorn (September 1, 1948 - March 21, 2014) was an American actor who appeared in over 100 films, television series, and plays. At the time of his death, he had recurring roles in the current series White Collar and Homeland.

An early performance was in Butterflies are Free at the ...

The Game, Scent of a Woman

17. Ron Perlman

Actor | Hand of God

Ron Perlman is a classically-trained actor who has appeared in countless stage plays, feature films and television productions.

Ronald N. Perlman was born April 13, 1950 in Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York. His mother, Dorothy (Rosen), is retired from the City Clerk's Office. His father, ...

Enemy At The Gates, Alien: Resurrection

18. Lance Henriksen

Actor | Hard Target

An intense, versatile actor as adept at playing clean-cut FBI agents as he is psychotic motorcycle-gang leaders, who can go from portraying soulless, murderous vampires to burned-out, world-weary homicide detectives, Lance Henriksen has starred in a variety of films that have allowed him to stretch...

The Terminator, Aliens

19. Eli Wallach

Actor | Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

One of Hollywood's finest character / "Method" actors, Eli Wallach was in demand for over 60 years (first film/TV role was 1949) on stage and screen, and has worked alongside the world's biggest stars, including Clark Gable, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, Peter O'Toole,...

The Godfather: Part III, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

20. Ian Holm

Actor | The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Sir Ian Holm is one of the world's greatest actors, a Laurence Olivier Award-winning, Tony Award-winning, BAFTA-winning and Academy Award-nominated British star of films and the stage. He was a member of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company and has played more than 100 roles in films and on ...

The Madness of King George, Alien

21. Christopher Lee

Actor | Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was perhaps the only actor of his generation to have starred in so many films and cult saga. Although most notable for personifying bloodsucking vampire, Dracula, on screen, he portrayed other varied characters on screen, most of which were villains, whether it ...

The Wicker Man, The Man with the Golden Gun

22. Danny Trejo

Actor | Machete

Danny Trejo was born Dan Trejo in Echo Park, Los Angeles, to Alice (Rivera) and Dan Trejo, a construction worker. A child drug addict and criminal, Trejo was in and out of jail for 11 years. While serving time in San Quentin, he won the lightweight and welterweight boxing titles. Imprisoned for ...

Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn

23. Tim Roth

Actor | Rob Roy

Often mistaken for an American because of his skill at imitating accents, actor Tim Roth was born Timothy Simon Roth on May 14, 1961 in Lambeth, London, England. His mother, Ann, was a teacher and landscape painter. His father, Ernie, was a journalist who had changed the family name from "Smith" to ...

Rob Roy, Reservoir Dogs

24. Gary Oldman

Actor | Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Gary Oldman is a talented English movie star and character actor, renowned for his expressive acting style. One of the most celebrated thespians of his generation, with a diverse career encompassing theatre, film and television, he is known for his roles as Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy (1986), ...

True Romance, The Fifth Element

25. Royal Dano

Actor | Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Royal Dano was undoubtedly one of the best, most quirky and striking character actors to ever grace the big and small screen alike in a lengthy and impressive career which spanned 42 years.

Royal Edward Dano was born on November 16, 1922 in New York City, to Mary Josephine (O'Connor) and Caleb ...

Outlaw Josey Wales, The Right Stuff

26. Bill Paxton

Actor | Aliens

Bill Paxton was born on May 17, 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas. He was the son of Mary Lou (Gray) and John Lane Paxton, a businessman and actor (as John Paxton). Bill moved to Los Angeles, California at age eighteen, where he found work in the film industry as a set dresser for Roger Corman's New World ...

27. Ned Beatty

Actor | Network

Stocky, genial-looking supporting actor Ned Beatty was once hailed by Daily Variety as the "busiest actor in Hollywood".

Ned Thomas Beatty was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Margaret (Fortney) and Charles William Beatty. He grew up fishing and working on farms. His hometown of St. Matthews, ...

28. Robert Loggia

Actor | Big

Born and raised in New York City, Robert Loggia studied journalism at the University of Missouri before moving back to New York to pursue acting. He trained at the Actors Studio while doing stage work. From the late 1950s he was a familiar face on TV, usually as authoritative figures. Loggia also ...

29. Brian Dennehy

Actor | First Blood

Imposing, barrel-chested and now silver-haired Brian Dennehy is a prolific US actor, well respected on both screen and stage for the best part of 25 years. He was born in July 1938 in Bridgeport, CT, and attended Columbia University in New York City on a football scholarship. He majored in history,...

30. George Kennedy

Actor | Cool Hand Luke

George Harris Kennedy, Jr. was born on February 18, 1925 in New York City, to Helen A. (Kieselbach), a ballet dancer, and George Harris Kennedy, an orchestra leader and musician. Following high school graduation, Kennedy enlisted in the United States Army in 1943 with the hope to become a fighter ...



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