Top 15 Essential New York Film Actors and Their Greatest Roles

New York Film Actors

Photo: By Lascher (ebay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Our Top 15 Essential New York Actors list takes a look at New York Actors who were not only born and raised in New York, but also spent a significant part of their careers filming in New York City.  This is a tough list to write because there are so many wonderful thespians who hail from New York. We have broken this list down to feature those who have made their living for the most part on the silver screen. Undoubtedly, many of these actors especially in recent years have begun to work in television. As pay channels like HBO, Showtime, Starz and streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have had huge successes in developing their own scripted television series, many actors have crossed over with incredible fanfare. This is a first in series of six articles. In separate articles we will examine the most essential actors and actresses in film, television and Broadway. All these articles have been written by New York writers.

One of the attributes that we considered very important in choosing these 15 was the New York attitude. Of course there is the argument that great acting can tackle any sort of attitude character, dialect or style. But New Yorkers know how to spot a real New Yorker from one who is just acting. These 15 have always brought a real New York attitude to the plate. That attitude defined some of their greatest screen moments. Robert De Niro as Jake Lamotta, was pure New York in every aspect. This is New York History, written by New Yorkers.

# 15 – Robert Davi

Born – June 26, 1951 – Astoria Queens, New York

Most Essential Movie Role:  Danny – The Dukes (2008)

# 14 – Mickey Rourke

Born – September 16, 1952 – Schenectady, New York

Most Essential Movie Role:  Charlie – The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984)

# 13 – Paul Sorvino

Born –  April 13, 1939 – Brooklyn, New York

Most Essential Movie Role: Paul Cicero  Goodfellas (1990)

# 12 – Sammy Davis Jr.

Born – December 8, 1925 – Harlem, New York

Most Essential Movie Role:  Adam Johnson – A Man Called Adam (1966)

# 11 – Ben Stiller

Born – November 30, 1965  New York City, New York

Most Essential Movie Role:  Ted Stroehmann – There’s Something About Mary (1998)

# 10 – Ben Gazzara

Born – August 28, 1930  New York City, New York

Most Essential Movie Role:  Lt. Frederick Manion – Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

#  9 – Ving Rhames

Born – June 26, 1951 Astoria Queens, New York

Most Essential New York Role:  Marsellus Wallace – Pulp Fiction (1994)

#  8 – James Caan

Born – March 26, 1940  The Bronx, New York

Most Essential New York Role:  Santino “Sonny” Corleone – The Godfather (1972)

#  7 – John Turturro

Born – February 28, 1957  Brooklyn, New York

Most Essential New York Role:  Pino – Do The Right Thing (1989)

# 6 – Harvey Keital

Born – May 13, 1939  Brooklyn, New York

Most Essential Movie Role:  The Lieutenant – Bad Lieutenant (1992)

# 5 –  Christopher Walken

Born – March 31, 1943 Astoria Queens, New York

Most Essential Movie Role:  Nikanor “Nick” Chebotarevich The Deer Hunter (1978)

# 4 –  Humphrey Bogart

Born – December 25, 1899 – New York City, New York

Most Essential Movie Role:  Rick Blaine – Casablanca  (2008)

# 3 –  Denzel Washington

Born – December 28, 1954 – Mount Vernon, New York

Most Essential New York Role:  Malcom X –  Malcom X (1992)

 

# 2 –  Al Pacino

Born – June 26, 1951 Astoria Queens, New York

Most Essential New York Role:  Michael Corleone The Godfather Part II (1974)

 

# 1 –  Robert De Niro

Born – June 26, 1951 Astoria Queens, New York

Most Essential New York Roles:  Jake Lamotta  – Raging Bull (1980) 

 

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