Even writing this title, I argued with myself because there are endless possibilities. I mean are we talking about new actors? Classic actors from the 1900s? Or are we talking about 80's and 90's actors? Because Ireland really does produce some of the best!
"Above all else, deep in my soul, I'm a tough Irishwoman."
- Maureen O'Hara
Classic Hollywood Irish Actors
How could we possibly start anywhere else? Naturally, we have to start way back in the 1900s in the black-and-white movies of Hollywood with the greats.
Because there are so many actors that claim Irish descent I am only going to talk about the ones that were born in Ireland in the section. No, I know that means I have to leave out a lot of great actors, but I simply don't have the space to write about them all.
- George Brent - what I found amusing when I researched George Brent for this piece, was every website/article claims he was born somewhere different in Ireland. Some say Dublin, but some say he was born in Ballinasloe Co.Galway, then again some say he was born near Shannonbridge Co.Roscommon. However, what is absolutely undebated is that George Brent was highly regarded by Bette Davis, he became her most frequent male co-star, appearing with her in thirteen films, including:
- Front Page Woman
- Special Agent
- The Golden Arrow
- The Old Maid
- Dark Victory
- The Great Lie
- Maureen O'Sullivan - Lucky for me Maureen O'Sullivan's origins were less debated, she came from Boyle County Roscommon. A lot of tabloids at the time claimed she was Ireland's first film star. Maureen O'Sullivan is probably most famous for starring Jane Parker in the 'Tarzan the Ape Man' films opposite co-star Johnny Weissmuller. However, she did appear and several other movies including
- Pride and Prejudice
- Hold That Kiss
- Let Us Live
- Where Danger Lives
- All I Desire
- Hannah and Her Sisters
- Maureen O'Hara - My namesake seems do you have been one of the most iconic of Hollywood back in the day, our second Maureen, is Maureen O'Hara. Maureen O'Hara was an Irish actress and singer from Dublin, who became successful in Hollywood throughout the 1940s to 1960s, she is best remembered for playing passionate but sensible heroines, often in westerns and adventure films such as:
- The Black Swan
- Buffalo Bill
- Do You Love Me
- Miracle on 34th Street
- The Quiet Man
- Lady Godiva of Coventry
- Brenda Fricker - Although she may not have been recognised in Hollywood until night in 1989 when she starred in the film My Left Foot with Daniel Day-Lewis and then in the Field and after that Home Alone 2, Brenda Fricker was acting since 1964 in films in the UK and Ireland.
Famous Irish Actors 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's and 10's
"A man becomes what he dreams. And I dreamed of being in the movies. I was brought up on Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty, and Cary Grant."
- Pierce Brosnan
Some of the biggest names in the acting world of the last 5 decades have come from Ireland so let's look at the top 10!
- Liam Cunningham - I just had to start with this man. He is possibly one of the most humble actors ever and he has played some of the most iconic roles on TV and in film including Dan in The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Davos Seaworth in Game of Thrones.
- Maria Doyle Kennedy - Much like Mr Cunningham, Maria Doyle Kennedy has easily one of the most recognisable faces and voices in the Irish film and television industry. Maria has starred in films such as The Commitments, Tara Road and The Conjuring 2 as well as hit TV series such as Orphan Black, Outlander and Downtown Abbey.
- Fionnula Flanagan - Another absolute icon! Fionnula was she was given the IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, for her contributions to the Irish film and television industry. She is best known for roles she played in The Others, Waking Ned, and The Gaurd and is also the only actor to appear in three Star Trek spin-off series.
- Brendan Gleeson - We're starting into legend territory here. Brendan Gleeson is not only an Irish actor but also a film director. He has to date received 3 IFTA Awards, 2 British Independent Film Awards, and a Primetime Emmy Award. He has also been nominated twice for a BAFTA and 4 times for a Golden Globe Award. Some of his most memorable roles include 'Mad Eye Moody' in the Harry Potter film series and recently a very accurate betrayal of ex POTUS Donald Trump.
- Pierce Brosnan - Pierce Brosnan (OBE) is an Irish actor and film producer. He is best known as the fifth actor to play secret agent James Bond in the Bond film series, starring in four films from 1995 to 2002. Pierce was born in Drogheda, raised in Navan (I don't know where he got that smooth accent) and in the years since portraying 007 he has proved himself to be a very versatile actor taking on roles such as Sam in Mamma Mia! and quiet accurately channelling Gerry Adams in The Foreigner.
- Domhnall Gleeson - I've mentioned the father so it's only right I acknowledge the son. Domhnall Gleeson, although we all recognise him from originally staring alongside his father in the Harry Potter film series portraying Bill Weasley, Domhnall has gone on to secure several notable roles including the extremely popular "About Time" and "Brooklyn".
- Michael Fassbender - Everyone that I know has their own favourite Fassbender movie/movie series. I'm an X-men girl so naturally, I think he plays an excellent young Magneto! But I honestly don't have enough space to list all of his most memorable roles here. What I can say is if you haven't seen his portrayals of Bobby Sands in Hunger and Steve Jobs in the film of the same name, then you really need to.
- Liam Neeson - Yes, Liam Neeson, We're into the Holy Trinity of Irish Acting Gods now... He has received several accolades throughout his career, including nominations for an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, two Tony Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and a Volpi Cup. I don't even know what the last one is but he deserves more, I've never seen a film in which Neeson hasn't given 110% to the role he's been in. From Schindler's List and Taken to Love Actually and Narnia, there's nothing he can't act!
- Colin Farrell - In the '90s, 00's and even 10's you could not turn on the TV, pick up a magazine or scroll through social media without seeing Colin Farrell's name. Yes, some of it was because he was a bit of a playboy, but a lot of it was because he was in almost every blockbuster movie released. Colin has starred in several films including Daredevil, S.W.A.T, Miami Vice, In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths and The Gentlemen.
- Saoirse Ronan - Saoirse R0nan is not even 30 and she has starred in some of Hollywood's highest-ranking and most profitable movies of the last 2 decades! Ronan received her first Oscar nomination when she was just 13 for her performance as Briony Tallis in Atonement. Since then she has gone from strength to strength and there are no bounds to her talent she has taken on roles such as “Lady Bird” McPherson in the film Ladybird and Jo March in Little Women.
How to Become an Actor in Ireland?
Every actor needs to start somewhere, so it's a good idea to get a little training first. Below are some of the types of training available to you:
- Acting schools and classes: Acting classes range widely in terms of content, time commitment, and price making them the best option for most aspiring actors.
- Acting coaches: Coaches are an important part of acting, but they’re not a stand-in for other training methods. Especially if you're trying to get into acting with no experience, acting coach Marci Liroff recommends starting with weekly classes.
- Summer training: If you’re a teen actor looking to sharpen your teeth with like-minded young talents, there’s no better place than summer training.
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