Maybe it is their fabled "luck of the Irish" that makes them so popular with movie buffs worldwide, or maybe, Irish men simply are irresistibly hot. While we do not know what the key to this mystery is, we at Entertainism have, with great difficulty, attempted to compile a list of the most famous Irish actors in Hollywood.
Did You Know?
Daniel Day-Lewis, best known as the actor who has won the most number of Oscars for Best Actor (three; 1989, 2007, 2012), holds a dual citizenship of Britain and Ireland since 1993.
Theater has been a huge part of Irish culture right from the 17th century, and this tiny island has made notable and impressive contributions to the history of theater in the Western world. Famous Irish playwrights like Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, and George Bernard Shaw have not just won prestigious accolades for their work, but have basked in the honor of their work being adapted widely.
It is little surprise then, that Irishmen have made their mark in the domains of acting and directing worldwide. We wanted to bring to you a comprehensive list of the top ten, most popular, incredibly talented, and highly accomplished actors who have compelled the world to stop short in their tracks and marvel at their awesomeness.
#1. Liam Neeson
He was born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.
- He is best known for his portrayal of Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, in 1993, which was a film depicting the persecution of Jews in Poland during the World War II, a role for which he was nominated for an Academy award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe award.
- Although his first stint in acting was a school play at the age of eleven, Neeson started his professional acting career in 1976, when he joined the Lyric Player’s Theater in Belfast, shortly after which he starred in a religious film, Pilgrim’s Progress, in 1977.
- Neeson starred as Qui-Gon in the highly anticipated first movie of the three-part prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy; Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), and also lent his voice for the same character in the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
- He played memorable roles in films such as Kinsey, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises, Gangs of New York, Taken, Taken 2, Clash of the Titans and its sequel, Wrath of the Titans.
- He even gave his voice to the character of Aslan the lion in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as well as in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
We are overawed by Liam Neeson for his outstanding performances and felt that a list of the best Irish actors in Hollywood would be pointless without including his name, that too, right at the top.
#2. Pierce Brosnan
He was born in Drogheda, County Louth, and grew up in Navan, County Meath, Ireland.
- His early career included playing the title role in the detective series,Remington Steele, which drew attention to his good looks and charm.
- Apart from his stint in the Bond franchise, Brosnan is also known for his big-screen appearances in films like Laws of Attraction, a supporting role in Mrs. Doubtfire, After the Sunset, Remember Me, The Thomas Crown Affair, and many more.
- But he will always be recognized the most for his recurring role as the British spy, James Bond in four films; GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002).
Any list of greatest Irish actors in Hollywood could never be complete without the name of Pierce Brosnan on it, who, in spite of crossing the age of 60, still holds the power to melt hearts with his intense stare.
#3. Michael Fassbender
Although born in Germany, Michael Fassbender moved to Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland, at the age of two with his family, and grew up there as well.
- This handsome German-Irishman began his professional career with the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks television miniseries the Band of Brothers in 20He played the character of Stelios in the fantasy film 300, in 2006, which marked his entry into mainstream commercial cinema.
- He played the character of Stelios in the fantasy film 300, in 2006, which marked his entry into mainstream commercial cinema.
- He is recognized for his outstanding performance in popular movies from a whole variety of genres, such as Inglorious Basterds (2009), Fish Tank (2009), Jane Eyre(2011), X Men: First Class (2011), A Dangerous Method (2011), Prometheus (2012), 12 Years a Slave (2013).
His classic good looks and sensational talent made us reserve a place in our list for him.
#4. Kenneth Branagh
He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
- A thorough Shakespearean, Sir Kenneth Branagh (knighted in 2012) has acted in or directed a number of films that are adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. His involvement in the film Henry V (1989) brought him Oscar nominations in the Best Actor and Best Film categories. He was also a part of Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Othello (1995), Hamlet (1996), for which too he was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000), and As You Like It (2006).
- Apart from adaptations, Branagh is also known for his memorable roles in Dead Again (1991), Frankenstein (1994), Wild Wild West (1999),The Road to El Dorado (2000), wherein he lent his voice, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), and Valkyrie (2008).
- He has also been involved in many films made for television.
An impressive personage, we couldn’t miss adding his name to our list of the greatest Irish actors ever.
#5. Colin Farrell
Irish Roots:He hails from Dublin, Ireland
- Colin Farrell found success with perseverance and dedication. From being rejected when he auditioned for the Irish boy band, Boyzone, to box office failures like American Outlaws (2001), and Hart’s War (2002), Farrell tasted success with Spielberg’s Minority Report (2002), which was soon followed by the thriller Phonebooth (2002).
- He then went on to star in memorable films from an array of genres, such as Daredevil (2001), S.W.A.T. (2003), The Recruit (2003), Alexander (2004), Miami Vice (2006), Fright Night (2011), and Total Recall( 2012)(the remake of the 1990 film).
We felt we had to include this actor with a career map that is truly inspiring, and not to mention, his rustic good looks.
#6. Cillian Murphy
He was born, and grew up in suburbs of Cork, Ireland.
- He began his career working towards becoming a musician.
- Having performed on stage during his college days and also having starred in an on-screen adaptation of the same play, Disco Pigs (2001), Cillian’s claim to fame, which brought him mainstream success, was Danny Boyle’s 28 days later (2002).
- That was followed by roles in unforgettable films such as Cold Mountain (2003) (where he had a supporting role), Batman Begins (2005), Red Eye (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), In Time(2011), and many others.
We are huge admirers of his dreamy blue eyes and have also been swept away by the charm he brings to every character he has portrayed.
#7. Dylan Moran
He hails from Navan, County Meath, Ireland.
- Dylan Moran left school at the age of 16 to become a stand-up comedian. He won the “So You Think You Are Funny” Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 1993.
- He went on to star in a number of British sitcoms, such as How Do You Want Me (1998), and Black Books (2000), and even had his own comedy show tours Monster and Monster II in 2004.
- Eventually, he shifted his profile from stand-up and small-screen comedy to films. He starred in successful comedies such as Notting Hill (1999), Shaun of the Dead (2004), A Cock and Bull Story (2005), and Run Fatboy Run (2007).
We love Dylan Moran for making us laugh, and he is indispensable to this list.
#8. Stuart Townsend
He was born in Howth, County Dublin.
- Determined to be an actor in spite of a non-film background, Townsend used to support himself by boxing, until he bagged his first break, Trojan Eddie (1996).
- He is recognized for his appearance in mainstream commercial films like Queen of the Damned (2002), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), and made his directorial debut in 2007 with Battle in Seattle.
- He made the world sit up and take notice of his talent when his film About Adam (2000) was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in the year 2000.
Filled to the brim with talent and boyish charm, this Irishman stole our heart and secured a place on our list.
#9. Aidan Turner
He was born, and grew up in Dublin, Ireland
- Aidan Turner is undoubtedly recognized best for his recurring role as Kili in the Hobbit trilogy, before which he had a stint in the television series, Being Human.
- His other memorable appearances in television series were his roles in The Clinic and Desperate Romantics.
- He has also widely performed in theater plays.
- He has also starred in Alarm, in 2008, and Mortal Instruments: City of Bones in 2013.
While his filmography is short and sweet, his unforgettable performance in two of Peter Jackson’s fantasy Hobbit trilogy made us realize that he is a treasure-trove of talent.
#10. Jonathan Rhys Meyers
He grew up in County Cork, Ireland although he was born in Dublin.
- He is better remembered as the incredibly handsome coach, Joe, from the popular British film Bend it Like Beckham (2002), and has been part of both memorable and successful films such as Vanity Fair (2004), Alexander (2004), Match Point (2005) which even earned him a trophy at the Cannes Film Festival, and Mission: Impossible III (2006).
- He appeared in the television series, Dracula (2013) and was the face of Hugo Boss’s men’s fragrance from 2006-2011.
We love Meyers for his make-you-skip-a-heartbeat good looks, and of course, because he is incredibly talented.
Of course, it would not do justice to the immense contribution of Ireland’s talented to cinema in general if we pretend that this list is absolute. We tried to make a comprehensive list of who we thought were the best out of the young, the mature, the upcoming, and the evergreen. If you feel some other famous Irish gem belongs here more than someone we featured, do not hesitate to comment.