Who Are the 10 Best Irish Actors?

These handsome actors who hail from Ireland are a talented bunch when it comes to American film. These modern movie stars have reputations in type cast roles like being a bad boy, the super spy, and the heroic dad. With actors like Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson, the following list provides the top 10 best Irish actors who have a lot more than luck on their side. The following actors are either from Ireland, have the accent and/or have lived there for some time before becoming remarkable Hollywood actors.

01
of 10

Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Colin Farrell attends 'Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology', the 2016 Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2016 in New York, New York. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic).

Born in Castleknock, Ireland, hot-blooded bad boy Colin Farrell first received attention after starring in Tigerland for director Joel Schumacher.

Other high profile films Farrell has starred in include Minority Report, Phone Booth, S.W.A.T., Alexander, Miami Vice, New World, In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths, Saving Mr. Banks, and The Lobster.

Farrell has won prestigious awards since 2000 from The Boston Society of Film Critics, the Golden Globes, Goldene Kamera and more.

02
of 10

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan attends Oceana's 2008 Partners Award Gala on October 18, 2008. David Livingston / Getty Images

Pierce Brosnan was born in County Meath, Ireland, but moved to London at age 11.

Brosnan's tackled films of all genres, and he even has his own production company, yet he'll always be associated with one role above all others: that of the suave super-spy Bond, James Bond.

Brosnan tackled the iconic Bond character in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World is Not Enough. His other noteworthy roles include Mrs. Doubtfire, The Matador, and Mamma Mia!

03
of 10

Cillian Murphy

Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy at the Premiere of Red Eye. © Elias Palma

Cillian Murphy is best known for his role in Inception and has a captivating gaze and mesmerizing eyes.

Born in Douglas, Cork, Ireland, his starring role in Danny Boyle's thriller 28 Days Later placed him into the public eye. Other major films include Intermission, Breakfast on Pluto, Red Eye, and playing Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan's trilogy.

04
of 10
Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson at the BFI 52 London Film Festival on October 17, 2008. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Liam Neeson is from Northern Ireland and has been acting in films since the late '70s. Nominated for an Oscar for his starring role in Steven Spielberg's critically acclaimed film Schindler's List, Neeson's filmography is not only impressive but also eclectic.

Neeson has done comedy, a comic book film (Batman Begins), historical epics (Kingdom of Heaven, Rob Roy), and action movies such as the famous Taken trilogy. He has also tackled the role of a Jedi Knight in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. More »

05
of 10

Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Jonathan Rhys Meyers at the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation Party on June 7, 2008. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Jonathan Rhys Meyers was born in Dublin and emerged as an actor to keep an eye on when he took on the role of glam rocker Brian Slade in the indie film, Velvet Goldmine.

Meyers sang his way through the Todd Haynes film and then later went on to play rock and roll icon Elvis Presley in a made-for-TV movie about the famous musician's life, which earned him an Emmy nomination.

He also earned rave reviews for his portrayal of King Henry VIII in Showtime's The Tudors (2007-2010). On the film side, he has also appeared in Match Point and August Rush.

06
of 10

Gabriel Byrne

Gabriel Byrne
Gabriel Byrne at the 62nd Annual Tony Awards on June 15, 2008. Bryan Bedder / Getty Images

Another product of Dublin, Gabriel Byrne is well-respected and undeniably talented, yet he's never really achieved that A-list status he so justly deserves.

Byrne's filmography includes starring roles in Excalibur, The Usual Suspects, End of Days, and Vanity Fair. Byrne is also a cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator whose career started at the Focus Theatre. He has won awards like the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance.

07
of 10

Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh
Director Kenneth Branagh at the UK premiere of 'The Magic Flute' on November 26, 2007. Rosie Greenway / Getty Images

Originally from Belfast, multi-talented Kenneth Branagh not only stays busy in front of the camera but also writes, directs and produces feature films.

A fan of Shakespeare's work, Branagh has brought Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, and Love's Labour's Lost to moviegoers worldwide. ​Shakespeare has heavily influenced his work, and he has notably said, "One of the things that make Hamlet unique among Shakespeare's characters is his courage to face up to the darker elements of his personality."

08
of 10

Stephen Rea

Stephen Rea
Stephen Rea at the screening of Synecdoche, New York on October 15, 2008. Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

Stephen Rea is an Irish film and stage actor more often found in supporting roles than as the lead. As many actors will note, it's not always the size of the role that matters. Rea proves that point time and time again.

Rea's roles include parts in Interview with the Vampire, V for Vendetta, The Crying Game, and Breakfast on Pluto.

09
of 10

Ciaran Hinds

Ciaran Hinds
Ciaran Hinds at the premiere of There Will Be Blood on December 10, 2007. Bryan Bedder / Getty Images

Ciaran Hinds was born and raised in Northern Ireland and inherited his drive to act from his mother, who was an amateur actress.

The 1981 John Boorman movie Excalibur was Hinds' first major film. Other big movies include Mary Reilly, Oscar and Lucinda, Road to Perdition, The Phantom of the Opera, Veronica Guerin, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

10
of 10

Stuart Townsend

Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend
Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend at the Hollywood Premiere of In the Valley of Elah. Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Stuart Townsend has become part of trivia as the actor was originally cast to play Aragorn in Peter Jackson's trilogy. After rehearsing for the role, Townsend was released just two days before filming began.

Townsend was either let go because they decided the part should be played by someone much older or because there were 'creative differences' that couldn't be overcome. Enter Viggo Mortensen and the rest is movie history.

As for movies Townsend has starred in, his best work includes Head in the Clouds, Simon Magus, and Queen of the Damned, though he's better known for his television roles on TV's Salem.

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Murray, Rebecca. "Who Are the 10 Best Irish Actors?" ThoughtCo, Oct. 7, 2017, thoughtco.com/best-irish-actors-2432026. Murray, Rebecca. (2017, October 7). Who Are the 10 Best Irish Actors? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/best-irish-actors-2432026 Murray, Rebecca. "Who Are the 10 Best Irish Actors?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/best-irish-actors-2432026 (accessed November 18, 2017).