From Meryl Streep to Angelina Jolie to Scarlett Johansson, check out the top Hollywood actresses of all time from our list below!
The top Hollywood actresses who went on becoming household names have done it so with their sheer amount of talent and charisma. There are a number of female stars throughout the history of films who have become icons of their era and beyond. But becoming a starlet on screen is not about having just a pretty face, and these actresses have proven it time and again with their stellar performances.
The Greatest Hollywood Actresses to Remember
So here are the names of the most iconic women whose beauty and talent have adorned cinema screens over these years. And to make your read interesting, I have also added famous quotes both from the actress and their movies together. So let’s start.
1. Helen Mirren
“Listen, I like to be called Governor or the Boss. I don’t like Ma’am — I’m not the bloody Queen.’ – Prime Suspect (British TV crime series, 1991)
She is undoubtedly one of the versatile Hollywood actresses of all time and the world cannot enough of her. Helen Mirren’s flourishing career took off in the 1960s as she enrolled in the Royal Shakespeare Company. In fact, she is the lone actor ever to play both Queen Elizabeth roles. Beyond her royalty ties, Helen has also portrayed an extreme variety of roles. In several movies, she played the ‘wife’ involved in numerous affairs such as The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, and contributions to mega movies like Hitchcock. In action movies like Fast & Furious, the audience hailed Helen Mirren’s character of a seasoned criminal, Magdalene ‘Queenie’ Shaw.
The actress is best known for her Oscar-winning performance in the ‘Queen.’ In February 2020, she was honored with a lifetime achievement award at Berlinale.
2. Julie Andrews
“Of course, you can say it backward, which is dociousaliexpilisticfragicalirupus, but that’s going a bit too far, don’t you think?” – Mary Poppins (1964 film)
Regarded as one of Hollywood’s darlings, Julie Andrews is best known for her iconic movies like The Sound of Music and The Princess Diaries. The poised and brilliant actress made humble beginnings in theater before she took over Hollywood with her iconic roles. She is also remembered as one of the most elegant actresses and rightly so. In 2019, the actress published her new memoir, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years.
3. Susan Sarandon
“If she calls, just be gentle, you know? Like you’re really happy to hear from her. Like you miss her. Women love that shit.” – Thelma and Louise (1991 film)
Easily one of the most-loved female actors in Hollywood, Susan Sarandon was an icon. The actress in her 70s now still continues to charm us. She is best remembered for her mega movie Thelma and Louise. It was a path-breaking movie since there was hardly any subject on feminist power. It was deemed as one of Hollywood’s first feminist movies. Also a prominent activist, Susan wants to use her platform for good measures. She stated, “I’d say it’s a platform for survival. It’s not even like a qualitative thing, it’s quantitative. Are we here, or aren’t we? Do we have water, or don’t we? Do all the coastal towns go underwater? What happens? It’s real. So if I can use my voice to highlight that, then I must do so.”
4. Diane Keaton
“Hey, what’s wrong with you? Every time someone threatens your pride or hurts your little fat feelings, you puff up like an emotional porcupine.” – Hampstead (2017 film)
Truly a Hollywood original, Diane Keaton has dabbled different things – as an Academy Award-winning actress, a style expert, a gifted author, a winemaker, a regular house flipper, and a mother to two kids (both adopted in her 50s). With breakout roles in movie cults like The Godfather and Annie Hall, Diane won hearts not only for her strong acting skills but with her effortless, outlandish fashion choices.
5. Meryl Streep
“I have doubts… I have such doubts.” – Doubt (2008 film)
Meryl Streep is indisputably one of the greatest living legends of our times. Ever since her move to New York City in 1975, the actress did nothing but astonished the audience both on stage and screen. Her stellar career is attributed to her performance in leading roles like Mamma Mia, Big Little Lies, It’s Complicated, The Devil Wears Prada, and Little Women, in 2019. She has been nominated more than any other actor – 21 times for the Academy Awards.
6. Elizabeth Taylor
“I want it all quickly ’cause I don’t want God to stop and think and wonder if I’m getting more than my share.” -National Velvet (1944 film)
Movie star Elizabeth Taylor’s career started at the age of 11. She passed away at the age of 79 due to heart failure. But we still remember her for the movies she’s done, her radiant beauty, her boldness, her carefree character, her sense of humor, her eight marriages, her exquisite diamond collection, and her humanitarian works, all of which added why she was renowned. Her magnetic screen presence, in movies such as A Place in the Sun, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, was commendable.
7. Katherine Hepburn
“All I’m trying to say is that there are lots of things that a man can do and in society’s eyes it’s all hunky-dory. A woman does the same thing – the same thing, mind you – and she’s an outcast.” – Adam’s Rib (1949 film)
Consider Katherine Hepburn as the fiercest and boldest Hollywood actresses. The four-time Oscar-winning actress was also known for her independent life, sharp wittiness, and outspoken demeanor. She was a role model for women all over and a beloved actress to movie makers for no less than 60 years.
8. Ava Gardner
“After my screen test, the director clapped his hands gleefully and yelled, ‘She can’t talk! She can’t act! She’s sensational!’” – Ava Gardner (positivequotesdaily).
She was widely remembered as one of the most stunning women in the history of Hollywood. Her 50 years (almost) in films are proof of that. From growing up in North Carolina to become one of the successful film stars, Ava Gardner came a long way. She highly publicized tabloid love life, alongside the numerous marriages that saw a tumultuous ride. In fact, her movies like The Barefoot Contessa and Show Boat are said to be almost drawn from her personal life.
Gardner’s acting experience was quite limited at the start of her career. Her first few roles in the movies were small-time one-liners. She had to attend acting classes and speech lessons to soften her Southern accent before she slowly worked her way up.
9. Grace Kelly
“Emancipation of women has made them lose their mystery.” – Grace Kelly (Goodreads).
The exceptionally beautiful Grace Kelly was propelled into the big leagues of Hollywood pantheon in no time. She has crowned Princess of Monaco after marrying Prince Rainer III. With the kind of poise she had, her transition to royalty was justified.
Vanity Fair’s Women on Women mentioned how Editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Laura Clark, shared her experiences of working with Grace Kelly in the early 1950s. “She was fun and jolly and pretty and nice to have around”. She remembered Kelly’s dressing style to be conservative.
The drama movie, Country Girl, was her first Oscar win for Best Actress. She did not stop there. In 1955, Grace Kelly was the peak of her career, becoming the highest-paid female leads. That same year, she also made it to the top of the Best-Dressed List. In 1956, she won a special Academy Award for World Favorite Film Female.
10. Mia Farrow
“You’re like the weather, you just happen.” – Avalanche (1978 film)
Mia Farrow started her career as an actress at 18 with a stage play, The Importance of Being Earnest. She belonged to a Hollywood family with six other siblings. Maureen O’Sullivan, the lead actress from the 1930s movie Tarzan was her mother while her father was John Farrow, an award-winning director, and screenwriter.
Her life was not short of achievements. She was nominated for the Golden Globes nine times, whilst winning twice. Out of her 14 children, 10 are adopted and four are biological. In 2000, she was announced as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Through this mission, she has traveled to Chad and Darfur 15 times to work for refugees.
11. Natalie Portman
“I am a very strict vegetarian. …I just really, really love animals, and I act on my values.” – Natalie Portman (inspiring quotes)
The 39-year-old actress is one of the most recognizable faces of Hollywood actresses and is incredibly talented. She has been acting before she entered her teens. Apart from her acting stints, Natalie Portman is a Harvard graduate with a psychology degree and has published several scientific papers.
Born in Jerusalem as Natalie Hershlag, the actress decided to use her grandmother’s maiden name ‘Portman’ to keep her family’s identity protected. At 10, she was approached for modeling in a Long Island pizza shop for a Revlon campaign but ended up with an acting scout. She was ultimately cast for a Broadway musical alongside Britney Spears both as an understudy.
Her first Oscar win was for the movie, Black Swan. For the movie, Natalie took two hours of rigorous dance lessons for one year before filming began. She also learned choreography and cross-training from eight hours to two months.
Apart from her contribution to cinema, the actress supports various campaigns. She is an environmental activist, works for animal rights, and supports gender equality. Natalie is also chosen as an ambassador of FINCA International, an organization that works for anti-poverty campaigns.
12. Cate Blanchett
“My destiny is to rule all others” – Thor: Ragnarok (2017 film)
The list of movies that Cate Blanchett has done so far only proves that actresses can play strong leading roles and nail it. The Oscar-winning actress is at the peak of her career, playing diverse characters in Carol, Blue Jasmine, Thor, Lord of the Rings, and many more. Whether she’s delivering strong messages on the screen, or busy accepting awards or carrying off a street-style look, Cate Blanchett has truly secured her spot as one of the top Hollywood actresses of all times.
13. Julia Roberts
“For the first time in my life, I got people respecting me. Please, don’t ask me to give it up.” – Erin Brockovich (1960 film)
Julia Roberts is one of the iconic Hollywood actresses remembered till date. In her extensive filmography, Roberts has done the most number of roles one could imagine. Whether it’s a drama movie like Mona Lisa Smile, or a romantic comedy like Runaway Bride, or a whimsical kids’ movie like Smurfs: The Lost Village, she has done it all. Her movies are also fondly remembered as one of the most-watched fashionable movies (think, Pretty Woman and Mirror, Mirror).
14. Julianne Moore
“Who can take us seriously when we are so far from who we once were? Our strange behavior and fumbled sentences change other’s perceptions of us and our perception of ourselves. We become ridiculous, incapable, comic. But this is not who we are, this is our disease.” – Still Alice (2014 film)
Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore’s films are forever classics. From her role in The Hunger Games, to Still Alice, to Boogie Nights, to Children of Men, and to Far from Heaven; Moore is amazing. Over the course of her acting career, she played all the roles to perfection. She was nominated for five Academy Awards and eight Golden Globe Awards respectively. She won an award each from both for her role in the movie, Still Alice where she plays a linguistic professor diagnosed with familial Alzheimer’s.
15. Kate Winslet
“I’ve found almost everything ever written about love to be true.” – Iris (2001 film)
Kate Winslet is one the youngest actresses ever nominated for six Academy Awards. She started acting from a pretty young age. At the age of 11, Kate started studying drama at the Redroofs Theatre School. She got her first job by the age of 12 for a Sugar Buffs advertisement. After doing several TV shows, she switched to movies. Heavenly Creatures was her first movie break after which shortly after, she starred in Sense and Sensibility. The latter won her a BAFTA and Scream Actors Guild Award. But it was not until she played the role of Rose in the movie Titanic that she became a popular face. The movie went on to become one of the greatest hits of all times, and the rest is history.
16. Angelina Jolie
“Happy endings are just stories that haven’t finished yet.” – Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005 film)
Angelina Jolie is one of the most recognizable female stars and most popular Hollywood actresses on screen. She is better known as Lara Croft for her role in Tomb Raider but it was the psychological drama, Girl, Interrupted that won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Her most recent roles include Disney’s Maleficent.
On the personal front, she was married to TV actor Jonny Lee Miller and director, actor, Billy Bob Thornton. But it was her high profile bond with Brad Pitt whom the actress met while shooting for Mr. and Mrs. Smith that had the media’s attention. The pair later filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. Despite the changes in her personal front, Angelina has kept it together bonding strongly with her six kids and her notable humanitarian works.
17. Charlize Theron
“Don’t be discouraged – every relationship you have is a failure until you find the right one.” – Libby Day (2015 film)
Charlize Theron made her Hollywood debut at the age of 18 in 1994. She arrived with a big dream with just $400 and a tattered suitcase-to make her mark in the films. Exactly ten years later, the actress walked away with the Academy Award for Best Actress. To date, she has served us with astounding movies; from Mad Max Fury Road, Monster, and The Huntsman: Winter’s War, to Sweet November.
18. Halle Berry
“Freedom is power. To live a life untamed and unafraid is the gift that I’ve been given, and so my journey begins.” – Catwoman (2004 film)
The X-Men actress had a rough start before her stint in Hollywood. From overcoming personal setbacks and racial barriers, Halle has seen it all. All of which added to her marking of not only being an excellent actress but also winning big at the Oscars with Best Actress Award. Over the past years, Halle Berry has shined in numerous movies, with many remembering as the ‘Catwoman’ and Storm in X-men movies.
19. Sandra Bullock
“I would just want a simple life. I just wanna hold down a job, make some friends, go for a walk after work in the fresh air, and pay my bills.” – Ocean’s 8 (2018 film)
As one of the greatest Hollywood actresses, Sandra Bullock has numerous acting credits added to her name. She was once named Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses with a whopping $51 million. Over the years, she has starred in movies like Miss Congeniality and 28 days. But it was the movie “The Blind Side” that won the actress her first Academy Award. Despite all the fame, the actress stays away from social media saying she’s too lazy for it.
20. Emily Blunt
“I think it is nice for people to appreciate a slow-burning, beautiful story that makes you feel good when it is over.” – Emily Blunt (Allauthor).
The Golden Globe award-winning starlet has given the audience one of Hollywood biggies like Mary Poppins Returns, A Quiet Place, The Devil Wears Prada, and many others. Emily has also earned huge acclaim starring in a number of thrillers and independent dramas. With an expansive work repertoire of around 30 movies, Emily is one of those Hollywood actresses who has been nothing short of amazing.
21. Scarlett Johansson
“Life was given to us a billion years ago. What have we done with it?” – Lucy (2014 film)
Named the highest-paid actress by Forbes in 2019, Scarlett Johansson racked up $56 million. Easily one of the most-loved Hollywood actresses, her work ranges from blockbuster films like Marvels: Avengers, Lost in Translation, Jojo Rabbit, He’s Just Not That Into You, and Marriage Story.
She made her acting debut with the movie, North at the age of eight. While shooting for an interview with James Lipton, she recalled shooting for the movie and looking up at the lighting equipment on set, thinking, ‘I’m home.’ Well, we couldn’t agree more with that.
So that was our list of the top Hollywood actresses of all time. Which of these female starlets are your favorites? Tell us by tweeting @shilpa1ahuja!
Limawapangla Aier is a Staff Writer overseeing #content pertaining to latest news, fashion, beauty, and red carpet dressing. Prior to ShilpaAhuja.com, Lima started her career as a B2B writer which helped her quickly understand the business lingo and channel work around SEO articles for different writing spheres like financial services, education, marketing/advertising, software technology, and healthcare. Surely this experience fostered awareness around business writing, but it was her sweet spot for fashion and keen eye for trends that made her transition into fashion writing. The intersection of the business writing skills to working on current fashion gave her the added bonus to be adaptable for handling a number of client’s style.
She did Bachelors and Masters in English from North Eastern Hill University. In addition, she obtained a Diploma in Creative Writing. Originally from Dimapur, Nagaland, Lima loves staying up to date in current culture news, be it movies, music, or social media. When she isn’t staring at an accessible screen, you can find her spending way too much napping or trying new beauty products.
She can be contacted at [email protected]