Famous Film Artists - Most Famous Actors

The expansion of cinema in the 30s and 40s created the term “movie star,” a leading actor that, through popularity and his acting ability, managed to capture the attention, adoration, and respect of both the general public who followed movies and film critics. These prominent actors (sometimes called superstars by journalists, writers, and marketing people) achieved the height of planetary popularity between the 1930s and 1960s, ranging from the stars of the silent movie cinema, and early talkies, to the golden age of Hollywood and, fall of the US studio system, and the birth of the modern cinema.

Silent Era

During the era of silent movies (1905-1930), film producers saw that the promotion of film actors could lead not only to more significant financial success but that studio association with certain actors could promote entire studios and other movies and film types they were producing. During that time, film icons such as Greta Garbo, Max Linder, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino, Lillian Gish, William S Hart, Buster Keaton, and Louise Brooks created movies that captured the imaginations of countless movie fans. They also provided enough attention to the film media worldwide to create many national film industries in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Publicity photo of Greta Garbo

Talkies (the 1930s)

The arrival of “talkies” in the 30s brought the rise of a new kind of movie stars, actors, and actresses that could showcase their talent in much more lavish film productions and more complicated film types. The planetary success of film stars such as Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind), Shirley Temple (The Little Princess), Will Rogers (Judge Priest), Fred Astaire (Top Hat), Ginger Rogers (Swing Time), Bela Lugosi (Dracula), Errol Flynn (Robin Hood) solidified film as one of the most famous art styles in the world, with ability to instantly set new fashion trends.

Golden Age of Hollywood

The 40s, 50s, and 60s are remembered today as the “Golden Age of Hollywood” that gave us some of the most significant and well-known movies and stars. For years Humphrey Bogart reigned supreme as the most famous Hollywood actor of all time, and Alfred Hitchcock created his masterpieces. Hollywood films enjoyed the talent of magnificent actors such as Marlon Brando, James Stewart, Cary Grant, Laurence Olivier, Robert Mitchum, Orson Welles, Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Gary Cooper, Alec Guinness, James Dean, Kirk Douglas, Gene Kelly, James Cagney, Paul Newman, Charlton Heston, Peter Selllers, Buster Keaton, Max von Sydow, Yul Brynner, Anthony Quinn, and others.

The 70s and the birth of modern film

70s movie history was marked by the performances and the star status of many actors - Sean Connery expanded his popularity with several appearances in James Bond movies, Gene Hackman helped “The French Connection” to win Oscar for best film, Al Pacino masterfully portrayed drug detective in Sidney Lumet's “Serpico,” Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” launched the career of Malcolm McDowell, Marlon Brando reached the height of his popularity in a film trilogy “The Godfather,” Robert De Niro starred in internationally praised “Taxi Driver” with Jodie Foster, Faye Dunaway won Oscar for “Network.” Silvester Stallone started his career with the very successful “Rocky.” The 1970s was also the decade in which Hollywood blockbuster movies were born, and films like Star Wars, Jaws, King Kong, and Superman launched careers (Harrison Ford, Christopher Reeve) and solidified the status of old stars (Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss). The end of the 70s was marked with two new styles of movies – disco films with John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever”) and Vietnam movies with “The Deer Hunter” and “Apocalypse Now” that promoted Christopher Walken, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Meryl Streep, and Robert Duvall. 1979 was also significant for introducing Sigourney Weaver to the public in the Ridley Scott space horror film “Alien.”

Movie stars of the 1980s

The 1980s brought us countless great movies, and their most popular stars were Mathew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Sigourney Weaver (Working Girl, Ghostbusters), Ally Sheedy, Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg (Fatal Beauty, Jumping Jack Flash), Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket), Mel Gibson (Mad Max, Lethal Weapon), Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Michael J Fox (Family Ties, Teen Wolf, Back to the Future), Corey Feldman (Goonies, Stand by Me, The Lost Boys), James Spader (Pretty in Pink), Bruce Willis (Die Hard), Kevin Bacon (Footloose), James Woods, Sally Field, Holly Hunter, Charlie Sheen (and his brother Emilio Estevez), Danny Glover, Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan, Commando), Melanie Griffith, Michelle Pfeiffer (Married to the Mob, Scarface), and others.


  • The most popular stars of the 1990s were, without a doubt:
  • Tom Hanks (Forest Gump, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (Romeo + Juliet, Titanic)
  • Tom Cruise (Days of Thunder, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Interview with the Vampire, Mission Impossible, Jerry Maguire, Eyes Wide Shut, Magnolia)
  • Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, The Client, Dead Men Walking)
  • Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Bill&Ted’s franchise, Dracula, Speed, The Devil’s Advocate, Matrix)
  • Brad Pitt (Interview with the Vampire, Legends of the Fall, Se7en, Twelve Monkeys, Meet Joe Black, Fight Club)
  • Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct, Casino)
  • Sylvester Stallone (Cliffhanger, Demolition Man, The Specialist, Cop Land)
  • Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands, Don Juan DeMarco, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Sleepy Hollow)
Portrait of Charles Chaplin
  • Meg Ryan (Sleepless in Seattle, When a Man Loves a Woman, City of Angels)
  • Bruce Willis (Last Boy Scout, Color of Night, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Twelve Monkeys, The Fifth Element, Armageddon, The Sixth Sense)
  • Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, My Best Friend's Wedding, Notting Hill)
  • Kevin Spacey (Seven, The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, American Beauty)
  • Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs)
  • Meryl Streep (The Bridges of Madison County, One True Thing, Music of the Heart)
  • Winona Ryder (The Age of Innocence, Little Women)
  • Emma Thompson (Much Ado About Nothing, Sense, and Sensibility)

The 2000s and beyond

  • Matt Damon (Jason Bourne franchise, The Departed)
  • Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Little Children, The Reader, Revolutionary Road)
  • Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Notes on a Scandal, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
  • Christian Bale (Batman Franchise, American Psycho, The Machinist, The Prestige)
  • Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Lord of the Rings franchise)
  • Helen Mirren (Gosford Park, The Queen, The Debt)
  • Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Finding Neverland, Sweeney Todd)
  • Renée Zellweger (Bridget Jones's Diary, Chicago, Cold Mountain)
  • Robert Downey, Jr. (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man, Tropic Thunder, Sherlock Holmes, The Avengers)
  • Nicole Kidman (The Others, The Hours, Cold Mountain, Rabbit Hole, The Paperboy)
  • Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Catch Me If You Can, The Da Vinci Code)
  • Sandra Bullock (Miss Congeniality, Crash, The Blind Side)
  • Brad Pitt (Ocean's Eleven, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Moneyball)
  • Charlize Theron (Monster, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, North Country, Young Adult)
  • Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich, Closer, Ocean's Eleven)
  • Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby, P. S. I Love You)
  • Marion Cotillard (La Vie en rose, Nine, Inception, Midnight in Paris, Rust, and Bone)
Publicity photo of Greta Garbo
Portrait of Charles Chaplin
A photograph of Marlon Brando
Publicity photo of Kirk Douglas and Eve Miller
Screenshot of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman