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The top greatest Irish actors of all time: From Cillian Murphy to Pierce Brosnan

This small yet vibrant island nation has birthed a plethora of actors whose talents have lauded critical acclaim

The Irish actor accepts the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Oppenheimer at the Oscars
Faye James
Senior Editor
15 March 2024
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Ireland's tradition of storytelling and performance artistry stretches back to the ancient legends of the Tuatha Dé Danann and continues to thrive on the global stage today. This small yet vibrant island nation has birthed a plethora of actors whose talents have transcended borders, leaving an indelible mark on the realms of cinema and theatre.

These actors, through their award-winning performances and memorable roles, have not just celebrated Irish cinema but have also contributed significantly to the fabric of the worldwide film industry. Let's celebrate some of the most illustrious Irish actors who have graced the screen with their presence.

Pierce Brosnan speaks onstage at the 18th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards held at Bad Robot on March 7, 2024 © Variety
Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan, hailing from County Louth, epitomizes the quintessential James Bond with his sophisticated and charismatic portrayal of the iconic spy throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Pierce's journey from the stage to the echelons of Hollywood stardom has seen him in a variety of roles beyond 007, including memorable performances in Mrs. Doubtfire, The Thomas Crown Affair, and Mamma Mia! His versatility and charm have made him one of Ireland's most beloved actors on the international stage.

Michael Fassbender© Mondadori Portfolio
Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender, with Irish and German roots, has become synonymous with powerful and immersive acting. Raised in Ireland, Michael's portfolio includes standout roles in Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class, and Steve Jobs. His ability to explore the depths of his characters, displaying a broad spectrum of emotions, showcases his exceptional talent and commitment to his craft.

Saoirse Ronan© John Salangsang/BEI/Shutterstock
Saoirse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan, at just 27 years old, has already secured her place as one of her generation's finest talents. Born in New York to Irish parents and raised in Ireland, Saoirse's breakthrough role in Atonement led to acclaimed performances in Brooklyn, Lady Bird, and Little Women. With four Academy Award nominations under her belt, Saoirse's remarkable talent and dedication to her roles have distinguished her as a leading actress of her time.

Liam Neeson attends the premiere of the film '96 Hours - Taken 3' at Zoo Palast on December 16, 2014 in Berlin, Germany© Getty Images
Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson, from Northern Ireland, has captivated audiences for over four decades with his powerful screen presence and versatility. Known for roles that range from the heroic Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List to action-packed performances in the Taken series, Liam's breadth of work demonstrates his enduring talent. His recent forays into comedy, including A Million Ways to Die in the West and the Naked Gun reboot, reveal a lighter side to his formidable acting repertoire.

Cillian Murphy at the 30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards© Michael Buckner
Cillian Murphy at the 30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Cillian Murphy

Cillian Murphy, a native of County Cork, has emerged as one of the industry's most compelling actors, celebrated for his intense performances, winning an Academy Award for Best Actor in Oppenheimer. From his early days in theatre to breakout roles in 28 Days Later, Inception, and Dunkirk, as well as the critically acclaimed series Peaky Blinders, Cillian's depth and intensity have garnered him critical acclaim and a dedicated following.

Colin Farrell © Pascal Le Segretain
Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell, with his undeniable charisma and intensity, has become one of Hollywood's most sought-after actors. Born in Dublin, Colin's career has spanned roles in Tigerland, "n Bruges, and The Lobster. His willingness to embrace complex characters and push the boundaries of his craft has made him a standout figure in the film industry.

Daniel Day-Lewis © Jim Spellman
Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis, though born in London, proudly embraces his Irish heritage. A three-time Academy Award winner for Best Actor, Daniel's roles in My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood, and Lincoln have cemented his status as one of the greatest actors of our time. Known for his method acting and deep immersion into his roles, Daniel's dedication to his craft is unmatched.

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