I thought it would be a good idea to do a blog post on my favourite Irish actors in celebration of St Patrick’s Day but when doing my shortlist, I realised just how few Irish actors I knew. Therefore, I would like to formally apologise to all the people of Ireland and I hope that this goes a little way to absolving me of my ignorance.
Note: When listing films, I have only included films that I have seen myself, you may know them from elsewhere 🙂
Happy St Patrick’s Day!!
10. Jonathan Rhys Myers
Honestly, I am only familiar with a few pieces of Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ work but the main reason he made it into my top ten ahead of other actors (Liam Cunningham, Brendan Gleeson etc) is his appearance as Bishop Heahmund in Vikings.
Other credits: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013), The Tudors (2007-2010) and Bend It Like Beckham (2002).
9. Ciaran Hinds
Ciaran Hinds is one of those actors who I always think I am seeing for the first time but when I look at his career, I realise that he has been in loads of films that I’ve seen and I just didn’t put two and two together. Although I suppose that is the sign of a good actor.
His recent film credits include; First Man (2018), Red Sparrow (2018), Justice League (2017), Frozen (2013), The Woman in Black (2012) and the HP series, to name but a few. Personally, the role that puts him in my list is his turn as Mance Rayder in Game of Thrones.
8. Aidan Gillen
Aidan Gillen came onto my radar with his delightfully manipulative and shady performance as Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish in Game of Thrones. He’s also recently starred in the Oscar nominated Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) and the fantastic BBC series, Peaky Blinders.
Other credits: The Maze Runner Trilogy (2015-2018), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
7. Colin Farrell
Colin Farrell is an odd one, he almost didn’t make it on my list. Honestly, I am not really a big fan of Farrell as a person (not sure why though) but I cannot deny that he is a good actor and has had some cracking roles. My favourites include: Seven Psychopaths (2012), Horrible Bosses (2011) and In Bruges (2008).
Other credits: Widows (2018), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), Total Recall (2012) and Phone Booth (2002).
6. Domhnall Gleeson
Domhnall Gleeson first came to my attention playing Bill Weasley in the HP series, alongside his father Brendan Gleeson (Alastor ‘Mad Eye’ Moody) and he has grown into somewhat of a Hollywood powerhouse, with a coveted role in the new Star Wars film.
Other credits: Peter Rabbit (2018), Mother! (2017), The Revenant (2015), Black Mirror and Ex-Machina (2014).
5. Liam Neeson
Neeson was nominated for an Oscar for his brilliantly heart-wrenching performance in Schindler’s List (1993) but he is probably most famous for his epic speech in Taken (2008). As much as I love both of those performances, my favourite of his roles are in a couple of grossly underrated films, Chloe (2009) and The Grey (2011).
Other credits: The LEGO Movie 2 (2019), Widows (2018), The LEGO Movie (2014), The A-Team (2010), Batman Begins (2005), The Chronicles of Narnia, Love Actually (2003) and Star Wars.
4. Sir Kenneth Branagh
Sir Kenneth Branagh is a total chameleon actor, almost unrecognisable from one role to the next. You wouldn’t believe that the person who plays William Shakespeare in All Is True (2019) also plays Professor Lockhart in Harry Potter.
Other credits: Murder on the Orient Express (2017), Dunkirk (2017), Valkyrie (2008) and Wild Wild West (1999).
On top of his acting credits, Branagh is also a great director, having directed films such as; All Is True (2019), Murder on the Orient Express (2017), Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) and Thor (2011).
3. Chris O’Dowd
It makes me really happy when I see TV actors break into Hollywood and Chris O’Dowd is one of my favourite success stories. My first introduction to O’Dowd was as the hapless IT support worker, Roy, in The IT Crowd (2006-2013) but he has been going from strength to strength in big budget movies. Although he is predominantly a comedic actor, my favourite performance of his is in a more dramatic role in The Program (2015).
Other credits: Mary Poppins (2018), Molly’s Game (2017), Cuban Fury (2014), Thor: Dark World (2013) and Bridesmaids (2011).
2. Cillian Murphy
Whilst Cillian Murphy has been a big name in Hollywood for some time, my favourite role of his is in the epic BBC TV drama, Peaky Blinders (2013-2019). And it is honestly epic, definite must-watch. As good as his acting is, his distinctively striking blue eyes offer an added intensity to his performances that can be quite sinister in the right role.
Other credits: Dunkirk (2017), Transcendence (2014), The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012), Inception (2010), Red Eye (2005) and 28 Days Later (2002).
1. Saoirse Ronan
As surprised as I was by how few Irish actors I knew, I was even more surprised by the lack of well-known female actors to come from Ireland, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure whether Saoirse Ronan counts as she was born in New York but lived in Dublin from the age of three.
I included her anyway because I think she is an amazing actress and I wanted to give her a little shout-out. Not quite twenty-five, she already has three Oscar nominations to her name and probably deserved more. Most recently she has been in Mary Queen of Scots (2018) but my particular favourite role of hers was in Hanna (2011). Oh and don’t forget her appearance in Ed Sheeran’s video for Galway Girl :).
Other credits: Ladybird (2017), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Byzantium (2012) and Atonement (2007).
So there you have it, my top ten Irish actors. I hope that I have either introduced you to some new actors or have interested you in some new films. I would love to know if you agree or who else you would have included.