Top 15 Irish Actors

17 March 2016
M-Net Movies celebrates fifteen Irish actors in Hollywood, for St. Patrick's Day.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! You might not be Irish (who are generally the ones to celebrate this day), but we bet you watch (and love) a lot of Irish actors, so we took a dip into the golden pot of Irish talent to bring you this list of fifteen great actors.

1. Aidan Gillen

Ireland is one of the primary shooting locations for Game of Thrones, so it’s no great shock that several of the actors in the show are Irish. As Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, Gillen has survived the show thus far. But what’s in store for him in Season 6? Now that the show has pretty much caught up with the books we, like Jon Snow, know nothing.

Watch Game of Thrones Season 6 Express from the U.S. every Monday at 03:00, from 25 April, on M-Net Edge.

2. Brendan Gleeson

You may remember this Irish actor from that Scottish film, Braveheart. If not, you're sure to have spotted him in other epics such as Gangs of New York, Troy and three of the Harry Potter films.

3. Chris O’Dowd

Have you tried turning it off and on again? This became everyone’s IT advice of choice (which is very effective, by the way) after watching the Irish lad in The IT Crowd. It wasn’t long before Hollywood snatched him up, casting him in Bridesmaids and This is 40.

4. Cillian Murphy

When you think of Christopher Nolan’s go-to-guys you think Michael Caine, Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway; but Murphy is one of them too. It’s little wonder the director has twice turned to this remarkable actor (well, four times if you include all three of his Batman movies). Murphy’s mere presence elevates a film, whether he’s practically carrying the entire story, like in 28 Days Later where most of his co-stars are zombies, or forming part of an ensemble.

5. Colin Farrell

During his Hollywood heyday, Farrell’s bad boy image often overshadowed his work. It’s a pity, because he’s a talented actor who, more often than not, makes good choices. Luckily, those days seem to be behind him, so hopefully audiences will pay more attention to the interesting characters he chooses to play.

Watch Colin Farrell in American Outlaws  on M-Net Movies Zone Channel 139. 

6. Daniel Day-Lewis

Perhaps one of the best-known, and most intense, method actors in Hollywood, Day-Lewis chooses his projects with such care that years often pass between his roles. It’s paid off: he’s already won three Oscars, all for Best Actor, for My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood, and Lincoln.

7. Domhnall Gleeson

It's the second time a Gleeson appears on the list, and yes, they are related. Brendan's son, who was also part of the Harry Potter movies, has made quite a name for himself in Hollywood. This past year has been particularly good to him as he appeared in The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina and Brooklyn.

Watch Domhnall Gleeson in Unbroken on M-Net Movies Premiere Channel 103.

8. Gabriel Byrne

If you remember The Usual Suspects (and who could forget it?) you’ll remember Gabriel Byrne. Of course, he’s still around, bouncing between intense indies and Hollywood popcorn pics – like many great British and Irish actors do. If you’re a Vikings’ fan, you’d also have spotted him, as he appeared in the fist season.

Watch Vikings Season 4 Express from the U.S. every Saturday at 03:00, and in prime time every Thursday at 20:00, on M-Net Edge.

9. Katie McGrath

Fantasy fans will remember the Irish actress as Morgana in Merlin; or, if they were paying close attention to dinosaur-fodder, as the unfortunate assistant in Jurassic World. Closer to home (ours, not hers) she starred in local film, Leading Lady, alongside Afrikaans singer Bok van Blerk and South African actress Brümilda van Rensburg.

10. Liam Cunningham

The second Game of Thrones’ star to make our list, he’s won fans as the tenderhearted Davos Seaworth. Although he makes the occasional Hollywood film, he tends to devote his time to the British and Irish stage and screen. He seems to find himself in Africa a lot as well, having worked in Zimbabwe as an electrician, and travelled to South Africa to shoot films and series.

Binge on Game of Thrones Season 5 every Saturday from 22:00 on M-Net Edge.

11. Liam Neeson

His greatest contribution to cinematic history may just be the line “I will find you, and I will kill you.” However, that would be grossly underestimating Neeson, who was just about the only actor to actually deliver a performance in The Phantom Menace. Blockbusters aside, Neeson has astounded time and again with work that includes Schindler’s List, Les Misérables, Michael Collins, The Mission and Kinsey

Watch Liam Neeson in Taken 3 on M-Net Movies Action+ Channel 106.

12. Michael Fassbender

Born in Germany, and raised in Northern Ireland, Fassbender has appeared in each of acclaimed director Steve McQueen’s feature films - Hunger, Shame, and 12 Years a Slave - to rave reviews. The actor also impressed in films such as Fish Tank, Inglorious Basterds, Jane Eyre, Prometheus and, most recently, Steve Jobs, proving his ability to ease from intense character drama to big-budget blockbuster.

Watch Michael Fassbender in Haywire on M-Net Movies Action Channel 110.

13. Michelle Fairley

This Game of Thrones’ actress featured in another famous fantasy series, albeit a filmic one: Harry Potter. Don’t remember who she was? We don’t blame you: she plays the blink-and-you’ll-miss-her role of Hermione Granger's Muggle mother. Television is Fairley's mainstay, and she’s enjoyed a prolific career, including roles in series on both sides of the Atlantic.

14. Pierce Brosnan

To date, Brosnan is the only Irish actor to play James Bond. Post-Bond he’s hopped from genre to genre, trying out drama, comedy, and even a musical. He was already established before Bond, having garnered popularity for his role in the TV series, Remington Steele.

15. Saoirse Ronan

The actress with the most unpronounceable name in Hollywood, she first came to everyone’s attention for her role in Atonement. It was only her third feature film and led to an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. This year she was nominated for Best Actress for her role in the acclaimed film, Brooklyn.