A rundown of the top Irish actors– be warned this isn’t a definitive list – these are just my top picks!
When I first wrote this, Fassbender was the new acting kid on the block, and on the cusp of being the next big thing. Inglorous Basterds, Hunger and Fish Tank had shown his range, and X-Men First Class, Shame and Prometheus have solidified his talent and status in Hollywood. He’s also one hell on an actor!
There’s a certain irony that Irish-born Pierce Brosnan will always be known as English spy James Bond, considering the amount of films that Brosnan has now made in his homeland of Ireland. The Nephew, Evelyn and Laws of Attraction have helped him put his Bond money where his mouth is. However, one really has to see his 80s Irish western Taffin to know that he’s been dabling in Irish films for years.
Liam Neeson has always been a well-respected character actor, but in recent years he’s gone to the next level as the go-to aging action badass. With Taken he showed that no ass would be left un-kicked and The A-Team kept that trend going. And of course what cements your rep as an aging kick-butt actor more than fighting a wolf with mini-bar bottles strapped to your fingers (The Grey)?
Brendan Gleeson has been showing minor support in big films for the past three decades. From his scene-stealing performance in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, to the great In Bruges and Perrier’s Bounty, it would appear Gleason is going to remain a fixture on our screens for a good while yet. There’s also his outstanding lead role in John Boorman’s The General.
Kenneth Branagh is a quadruple threat on both stage and screen. He has won plaudits for his Shakespearean work, but films like Dead Again and the ill-fated Wild Wild West have shown that he isn’t adverse to some genre material. Next up is Jack Ryan, in which he directs and has a supporting role.
O’Toole’s friend and carousing buddy Richard Harris has also given some mighty performances throughout his career. While he may have passed on in 2002, he did go out on a career high after starring in Gladiator and the first two Harry Potter films.
Acting great and infamous booze-hound Peter O’Toole certainly has to top the list of great Irish actors. The Oscar-winner has been a legend on the stage and screen for decades, delivering performances that would make a lesser man blush!
Colin Farrell, Cillian Murphy, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Stephen Rea, Gabriel Byrne and Daniel Day Lewis (he’s not Irish, but he might as well be!)