Hollywood’s film industry began as early as 1908. Since then, countless filmmakers, actors, and actresses have graced Hollywood’s spotlight, delivering films, movies, musicals, and television series to our enjoyment.
What drives an actor to act in a film – Is it the promises of fame and fortune? Or the love and passion for the art itself? Some actors are seen in hundreds of films, while others might just appear in a few. Here, we focus on the former as we narrow down 20 of Hollywood’s most prolific actors who have been in the most movies.
Editor’s Note: This post was updated in October 2023 and aims to list the actors with currently the most acting credits!
20. Lance Henriksen – 267 acting credits
Lance Henriksen, born in 1940, is an American actor known for his distinctive looks and versatile performances in film and television. He has had a prolific career spanning several decades and is particularly recognized for his work in the science fiction and horror genres.
Henriksen’s breakthrough came with his role as the android Bishop in James Cameron’s “Aliens” (1986). This marked the beginning of a successful collaboration with Cameron, as Henriksen also appeared in “The Terminator” (1984) and “Alien³” (1992). His portrayal of Bishop became one of his most iconic roles.
In addition to his work in the “Aliens” franchise, Henriksen has been a sought-after actor in the horror genre, with notable roles in films like “Near Dark” (1987) and “Pumpkinhead” (1988).
19. Chris Mulkey – 274 acting credits
Chris Mulkey, born in 1948, is an American actor and musician with a career that spans over four decades. He has built a diverse and extensive filmography, showcasing his talent across various genres.
Mulkey has appeared in a wide range of films, from independent productions to mainstream Hollywood releases. Some of his notable roles include appearances in films like “First Blood” (1982), where he played the character Ward, and “Whiplash” (2014). His ability to portray both intense and nuanced characters has contributed to his success as a character actor.
18. Dee Wallace – 274 acting credits
Dee Wallace, born in 1948, is an American actress known for her work in horror and science fiction films. She has had a prolific career spanning several decades and is widely recognized for her roles in iconic films.
Wallace’s breakthrough came with her portrayal of Mary in Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), which remains one of her most memorable roles. Her emotional performance in the film earned her acclaim and solidified her status in the industry.
In the horror genre, Wallace is well-known for her role as the mother in the classic werewolf film “The Howling” (1981). She also starred in other horror films such as “Cujo” (1983) and “Critters” (1986).
17. Michael Ironside – 285 acting credits
Michael Ironside, born in 1950, is a Canadian actor known for his distinctive voice, intense performances, and versatility across various film genres. He has had a prolific career spanning several decades.
Ironside gained attention for his roles in science fiction films, including his portrayal of the villainous Darryl Revok in David Cronenberg’s “Scanners” (1981). He continued to establish himself in the genre with roles in “Total Recall” (1990) and “Starship Troopers” (1997).
In addition to science fiction, Ironside has been a sought-after character actor in action films, playing memorable roles in movies like “Top Gun” (1986), “Highlander II: The Quickening” (1991), and “Terminator Salvation” (2009).
16. Malcolm McDowell – 288 acting credits
Malcolm McDowell, born in 1943, is an English actor with a career spanning over five decades. He gained international fame for his iconic role as Alex DeLarge in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), which established him as a significant talent in the film industry.
McDowell’s early success continued with roles in films like “O Lucky Man!” (1973) and “Caligula” (1979). While “A Clockwork Orange” remains one of his most memorable roles, he has showcased remarkable versatility, taking on characters in various genres.
In the 1980s, McDowell appeared in films such as “Time After Time” (1979), “Cat People” (1982), and “Star Trek: Generations” (1994), where he portrayed the character Soran. His career includes both mainstream and independent films, and he has collaborated with renowned directors like Lindsay Anderson, Paul Schrader, and Rob Zombie.
15. Cloris Leachman – 289 acting credits
Cloris Leachman, was an American actress with a career that spanned over seven decades. She was known for her versatility, comedic timing, and ability to portray a wide range of characters.Leachman’s breakthrough came with her role as Frau Blücher in Mel Brooks’ comedy classic “Young Frankenstein” (1974).
She received widespread acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show” (1971). Leachman’s ability to seamlessly transition between comedy and drama was evident in her roles in both film and television.
14. Christopher Lee – 289 Acting Credits
Christopher Lee, born in 1922, was a legendary English actor with a career that spanned nearly seven decades. He is best known for his work in horror films, particularly his iconic roles in the Hammer Horror productions and as Count Dracula.
Lee’s breakthrough came in the late 1950s and early 1960s when he portrayed the titular character in “Dracula” (1958). This role established him as a leading actor in horror films. He went on to play Dracula in numerous sequels, becoming synonymous with the character. His association with Hammer Horror also led to other memorable roles in films like “The Mummy” (1959) and “The Hound of the Baskervilles” (1959).
Beyond his work in horror, Christopher Lee displayed incredible versatility. He portrayed the villain Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974) and became widely known to a new generation of audiences as Saruman in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” film trilogies.
13. Joe Estevez -317 acting credits
Joe Estevez, born in 1946, is an American actor and the brother of actor Martin Sheen. While he may not be as widely known as his brother, Joe Estevez has had a prolific career in film and television.
Estevez has appeared in a large number of films, often taking on supporting roles in various genres. He has worked on both independent and mainstream projects, showcasing his versatility. Some of his film credits include “Soultaker” (1990), “Dillinger and Capone” (1995), and “Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan” (2013).
12. Michael Madsen – 329 acting credits
Michael Madsen, born in 1957, is an American actor, producer, director, and writer known for his work in film and television. He gained prominence in the 1990s and has built a reputation for playing intense and often tough characters.
Madsen’s breakthrough role came with Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” (1992), where he played the memorable character Mr. Blonde. This marked the beginning of a collaboration with Tarantino, as Madsen also appeared in “Kill Bill: Volume 1” (2003) and “Kill Bill: Volume 2” (2004).
11. Gertrude Astor – 333 acting credits
Gertrude Astor, born in 1887, was an American actress who had a prolific career in the silent film era. She appeared in over 250 films during her career, making her one of the most recognizable and versatile actresses of her time.
Astor started her career in silent films in the 1910s and quickly became a popular actress, known for her beauty and acting skills. She worked with prominent directors such as Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffith. Some of her notable films include “The Strong Man” (1926) and “The Cat and the Canary” (1927).
10. Ed Begley Jr. – 344 acting credits
Ed Begley Jr., born in 1949, is an American actor and environmentalist with a career spanning several decades. He comes from a family with a history in the entertainment industry, and he has made a name for himself through his diverse roles in film, television, and theater.
Begley’s early career included roles in films such as “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984) and “St. Elsewhere,” a television series in which he played Dr. Victor Ehrlich. His work on “St. Elsewhere” earned him critical acclaim and recognition.
Throughout his career, Begley has been known for his comedic roles, often playing characters with a quirky or eccentric edge. He appeared in Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries like “Best in Show” (2000) and “A Mighty Wind” (2003).
9. Mickey Rooney – 344 acting credits
Mickey Rooney, born in 1920, had one of the longest and most prolific careers in the history of American entertainment. He started as a child actor in the silent film era and continued to be active in the industry for nearly nine decades.
Rooney’s breakthrough came with his role as Andy Hardy in a series of films in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He earned an Academy Juvenile Award for his work in 1939, recognizing his significant contribution as a young actor.
One of Rooney’s most iconic roles was in “Boys Town” (1938), where he starred alongside Spencer Tracy. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance. Another notable film in his early career was “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1939).
8. John Carradine – 353 acting credits
John Carradine, born in 1906, was an American actor known for his prolific career in film, stage, and television. He appeared in over 200 films and numerous stage productions, showcasing his versatility across various genres.
Carradine’s early career included roles in classic films like “Stagecoach” (1939) directed by John Ford, and “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940). He became associated with the horror genre, particularly through his roles in a series of low-budget horror films produced by Universal Pictures, including “The Invisible Man” (1933) and “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935).
Throughout his career, Carradine worked with notable directors such as Cecil B. DeMille, John Huston, and Martin Scorsese. He also collaborated with fellow horror icon Vincent Price in several films.
7. Keith David – 371 acting credits
Keith David is a highly regarded actor with a diverse and extensive career in film, television, and voice acting. Born in 1956, he has showcased his talent across various genres and mediums.
In film, Keith David has appeared in a wide range of movies, including “Platoon,” “The Thing,” “They Live,” and “Crash.” His commanding presence and deep, distinctive voice have made him a memorable figure in both leading and supporting roles.
In the realm of television, David has been involved in numerous projects, such as his role as the voice of Spawn in the animated series “Todd McFarlane’s Spawn.” He has also been part of shows like “Community,” “The Cape,” and “Greenleaf,” showcasing his versatility in both live-action and animated formats.
6. Ann Doran – 381 acting credits
Ann Doran, born in 1911, had a prolific career as a character actress in Hollywood, spanning from the 1920s to the 1980s. She appeared in over 300 films, making her one of the most recognizable and reliable supporting actresses of her time.
Doran’s career began in the silent film era, and she successfully transitioned to the talkies. She often played maternal or supporting roles, contributing to a wide range of genres, including westerns, comedies, dramas, and mysteries. While she rarely played lead roles, her presence in a film or TV show added a touch of familiarity and warmth.
Some of her notable film credits include “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Giant,” and “The Best Years of Our Lives.” In addition to her work in film, Doran was a familiar face on television, making appearances in popular shows like “The Twilight Zone,” “Perry Mason,” and “The Donna Reed Show.”
5. Richard Riehle – 404 Acting Credits
Richard Riehle is a seasoned character actor known for his extensive and diverse career in film and television. Born in 1948, he has been a familiar face in the industry for several decades. Riehle has built a reputation for his ability to portray a wide range of characters, from comedic roles to more serious and dramatic ones.
Some of his notable film appearances include “Office Space,” where he played Tom Smykowski, a role that became iconic in the cult classic. He has also appeared in films like “Casino,” “The Fugitive,” and “Bridesmaids.” Riehle’s talent lies in his ability to bring authenticity and depth to the characters he portrays, whether they are quirky, serious, or somewhere in between.
In addition to his work in film, Riehle has made numerous appearances on television, contributing to various shows across different genres. His television credits include roles in “The West Wing,” “ER,” “Desperate Housewives,” and “Modern Family,” among others.
4. Edward Asner – 418 acting credits
Edward Asner, born in 1929, was a highly respected American actor with a career that spanned several decades. He was known for his versatility, excelling in both comedic and dramatic roles. Asner gained widespread recognition for his portrayal of Lou Grant, first in the television series “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and later in the spin-off “Lou Grant.” His performance as the gruff but lovable newsroom boss earned him multiple Emmy Awards.
In addition to his television success, Asner had an extensive career in film and theater. He lent his voice to the iconic character of Carl Fredricksen in the animated film “Up,” which won him an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Asner was not only known for his acting but also for his activism. He was a committed political and social advocate, using his platform to speak out on various issues.
3. Danny Trejo – 455 acting credits
Danny Trejo has had a remarkable career in Hollywood, primarily known for his tough and often villainous roles. Born in 1944, Trejo’s journey to stardom is quite unique. Before becoming an actor, he had a troubled past involving prison time. However, after getting involved in the film industry as a boxing trainer and an extra, he caught the attention of filmmakers due to his distinctive appearance and tough demeanor.
Trejo’s breakthrough came with his role as the character “Machete” in Robert Rodriguez’s “Spy Kids” series, which later led to the spin-off film “Machete.” He has since become a recognizable face in the industry, appearing in numerous films such as “Desperado,” “Heat,” “Con Air,” and “From Dusk Till Dawn.”
2. James Hong – 457 acting credits
James Hong is a legendary actor with a career spanning several decades. Born in 1929, he has amassed over 500 film and television credits. Hong’s career began in the 1950s, and he quickly became a recognizable face in the industry. He’s known for his roles in a wide range of genres, from dramas to comedies to martial arts films.
Some notable films featuring James Hong include “Blade Runner,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” and “Wayne’s World 2.” His work also extends to television, with appearances in series like “Seinfeld,” “The X-Files,” and “Hawaii Five-O.”
Hong has often played characters with a distinctive charm, and his contributions to the entertainment industry have left a lasting impact.
1. Eric Roberts – 758 acting credits
If the name is unfamiliar to you, you would know him as the brother and father of Julia Roberts and Emma Roberts, respectively.
Hailing from Biloxi, Mississippi, USA, Roberts began his career on Broadway, where he won the Theatre World Award for his role in Burn This. His big break came in 1976 when he was cast in the soap opera Another World. He would go on to appear in films such as “King of the Gypsies,” “Raggedy Man”, and “Runaway Train.”
Robert’s mainstream film credits involve blockbusters such as “DOA: Dead or Alive” (2006), “The Dark Knight Trilogy,” and “The Expendables“. An accomplished actor, he has over 758 acting credits on IMDB.
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