It must be pretty cool being an actor. Even better if you make it to Hollywood and get to play the really big roles. Out of the hundreds of thousands of actors out there, there are a handful that are just head and shoulders above everyone else in terms of coolness. Here we list our top ten coolest actors, ever.
Sidney Poitier is quite simply style and elegance personified. Always looking absolutely impeccable, few people have the poise, style and presence that Sidney Poitier has. He’s not a tough man, no he’s just too cool for that, but the ladies love him. With films such as To Sir, With Love, In the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, he deserves his place amongst the world’s coolest ever actors.
Best film: In the Heat of the Night
Cool quote: I have never had an occasion to question colour, therefore, I only saw myself as what I was… a human being.
You might not be too aware of Robert Mitchum unless you’re a bit of a film buff, but his movies are definitely worth checking out, as he is certainly one of the coolest actors that has ever graced the big screen. Handsome, dark and brooding, he always played cool and complex characters, always with a cigarette dangly as his deep voice came out with his smooth patter. Known best for the style of films known as ‘Film Noir’, he was known as the ‘Soul of Film Noir’, but was also a regular in Wild West movies. Not just ridiculously cool onscreen, his off-screen life just adds to his legendary status, being jailed for smoking cannabis in the 1940s and even being rumoured to have spent time on a chain gang.
Best film: Cape Fear
Cool quote: The only difference between me and my fellow actors is that I’ve spent more time in jail.
He’s James Bond! Of course he’s going to be on here! Whilst other people have played Bond to a great deal of success (such as Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore), it is still Sean Connery that is the very epitome of what James Bond should be. Suave, sophisticated with a swaggering sense of cool, his ice-cold exterior contrasts sharply with his brooding, sexually charged menacing persona on the inside. If we’re honest, we’d all like to be a little bit more like Sean Connery.
Best film: Goldfinger
Cool quote: Some age… others mature.
We tend to think of Marlon Brando in his later years when he became a fat and eccentric recluse, but back in the day, he was the very epitome of coolness. His role in The Wild One, for example, was one of the greatest performances the cinema has seen. He will also, of course, always be remembered for his stunning performance as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Although he did become somewhat of a weirdo in his later years, there is no denying that Marlon Brando lived life on his own terms and refused to give a damn about what other people thought. And there’s nothing cooler than that is there?
Best film: The Wild One
Cool quote: An actor’s a guy who, if you ain’t talking about him, he ain’t listening.
James Dean didn’t make that many movies and for the past 50 years and he’s probably more famous for being cool than for being an actor. James Dean was the original ‘angry young man’, the good-looking outsider who just oozes coolness. The fact that he died young also really upped his cool factor. James Dean epitomises the word cool and would be higher in our list if it weren’t for the fact his early death robbed him of the chance to make more movies.
Best film: Rebel Without a Cause
Cool quote: Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.
You know who’s really cool? Robert Redford. And it is testament to just how cool Paul Newman was that Redford was reduced to being his sidekick. Best known for the brilliant movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, it’s in the film The Hustler that Paul Newman is at his uber cool best. Devastatingly good looking, Paul Newman had women falling at his feet whilst men just wanted to be like him, smooth, smart with a deadly edge to him. You think George Clooney is cool? Watch Paul Newman in action and you’ll see that Clooney is nowhere near Newman in the cool stakes.
Best film: The Hustler
Cool quote: If you’re playing a poker game and you look around the table and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.
No list of the world’s coolest actors would be complete without the great Clint Eastwood. From his spaghetti westerns such as the Good the Bad and the Ugly to his fantastic Heartbreak Ridge, Clint Eastwood is one of the coolest men ever to have walked the earth. Whatever role he has taken on, whether the bare knuckle fighter with the Orangutang sidekick in Any Which Way But Loose or the Man With No Name, his growling, gravelly voice, and steely stare mark him out as a man not to be messed with. Now an award winning director, you know that he’ll still kick your arse in a fight even though he’s ancient.
Best film: The Good the Bad and the Ugly
Cool quote: They say marriages are made in Heaven. But so is thunder and lightning.
Jack Nicholson is an enigma. He’s short, often a little bit overweight and, if we’re honest, he’s not exactly the best-looking man in the world. But you know what, perhaps more than anyone on this list, he’s got ‘it’ – that indefinable quality that makes the man just so magnetic. He’s starred in some fantastic films over the years, but it was Easy Rider that we first saw him at his brilliant best. As anyone who has ever met him will testify, you feel Jack’s presence in a room before he even enters it. He’s smart, funny and the ladies love him, and he’ll always have his place in history as one of the world’s coolest ever actors.
Best film: Easy Rider
Cool quote: There’s only two people in your life you should lie to… the police and your girlfriend.
He’s not particularly good looking, but boy is Michael Caine cool. With Jack Nicholson, he is the only actor to have been nominated for an Oscar each and every decade from the 60s through to the 2000s. The cool films that Michael Caine has appeared in are endless. Zulu, The Ipcress Files, The Dark Knight Rises, Alfie, Get Carter and Harry Brown to name just a few. He’s undoubtedly the coolest actor the United Kingdom has ever produced.
Best film: The Italian Job
Cool Quote: You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!
You could replace the word ‘actors’ in the title of this article and replace it with ‘people’ and Steve McQueen would still be number one. Nicknamed the ‘King of Cool’, Steve McQueen is the veritable icon of coolness. A hard-drinking, chain-smoking, wife-stealing actor of such magnitude that he stole every scene he played, there’s hardly a man on this planet who wouldn’t to be a little bit more like Steve McQueen. Playing some of the coolest characters in movie history in films such as The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven and Bullitt, Steve McQueen quite rightly sits as number one on our list of the coolest actors of all time. They don’t make ‘em like Steve McQueen anymore.
Best film: The Great Escape
Cool quote: My influences come from real life. I’m not interested in cinema for cinema’s sake. I’m interested in life – what one does and how one interacts.