Actors come and go, but many reach an iconic status that leaves them among the most famous and memorable of all time, spanning generations. Some have reached this high level relatively early in their theater careers. Although it is difficult to limit the top 10 young male actors, there are some that represent decades of excellence that will be difficult for new and future actors to emulate.
Probably one of the most famous and iconic young male actors of the 20th century, James Dean lived a short but eventful life. Born in Indiana, the dean was occupied by his aunt and uncle. While at UCLA, he turned his major into a drama and made Malcolm’s coveted role in the university’s production of ‘Macbeth’. After dropping out of college, he first appeared on television in a Pepsi commercial. was ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ where he played the rebellious teen Jim Stark. He also starred in ‘Giant’ and ‘East of Eden’ where he posthumously won Best Actor in a Leading Role Academy Award, a rare achievement. Dean died Ron Howard Probably one of the most famous actors of the mid-20th century, Ron ‘Ronny’ Howard had his first movie gig ‘Frontier Woman’ at just 18 months old. As the son of two actors, Howard had played in his blood from an early age. From there, he rose to fame as the iconic Opie Taylor on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’. Once a teenager, he went on to another famous TV show ‘Happy Days’, where he played as the lovable Richie Cunningham. Unlike countless child actors whose success is not a transition to adulthood, Howard has made his mark in Hollywood as a director and producer. Some films he has directed include ‘Splash’, ‘Backdraft’, ‘Apollo 13’ and ‘A Beautiful Mind.’
At a very young age of 15 months, Mickey Rooney (birth name Joseph Yule, Jr.) made his entrance into the acting world. As the son of two players, it came as no surprise that Rooney would follow their lead. From 1927 to 1933, he played Mickey McGuire in a series of 50 silent comedies. During school, Rooney met Judy Garland, with whom he would star in several films throughout his career. Some of his famous films include ‘The Huckleberry Exists Adventure’, ‘National Velvet’, ‘Summer Holiday’, ‘The Human Comedy’, ‘Babes in Arms’, ‘The Bold and the Brave’ and ‘The Black Stallion.’ He was nominated for four Oscars but never took home the coveted award. He won an Emmy in 1981 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a limited series or one special for his role in ‘Bill’. Rooney was best known for his Andy Hardy character, which he portrayed in 16 films produced by MGM.
Born in 1979, Australian actor Heath Ledger made his mark both in Australia and in the United States. After leaving school at a young age of 16 to pursue his dream of an acting career, he struggled to make ends meet early. Through a series of small roles, he worked on the actor who led to a part in ‘Home and Away’, an extremely successful Australian TV series and a part in ‘Blackrock’, an Australian film that marked his feature film debut. After moving to the United States, he landed an important role in the comedy ’10 Things I Hate About You ‘, which launched his American career. Other notable films Ledger starred in include ‘Patriot’, ‘Monster’s Ball,’ ‘A Knight’s Tale’ and ‘Lord of Dogtown’. ‘His fame increased dramatically with his starring role opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in’ Brokeback Mountain ‘, for which he was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award. His last major role was played by Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’, for which he won the Oscar Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Support Actor. Ledger received both awards posthumously, following his sudden death in 2008 due to an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.
Leonardo DiCaprio got his name because he first kicked inside his mother’s womb when she was in Italy looking at a Leonardo da Vinci painting. His first break came in 1990 when he was cast in ‘Parenthood’, a television series. After having several small parts on famous shows, including ‘The New Lassie,’ Roseanne ‘and’ Santa Barbara ‘before being cast in one of his first publicly known roles, Luke Brower, on ABC’s hit sitcom’ Growing Pains. ‘ Shortly afterwards, he landed a key role in ‘This Boy’s Life’ starred Hollywood icon Robert De Niro. His performance in this role earned him the respect and praise of Hollywood. He also co-starred in ‘What’s Sitting Gilbert Grape’, for which he received both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. His career really took off after he played Jack Dawson’s legendary role in ‘Titanic’, which became the highest blockbuster earned 11 Oscars. From there, he landed roles in ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’, ‘Gangs of New York’, ‘Capture Me If You Can’, ‘The Aviator’, ‘The Departed’ ‘and’ Blood Diamond ‘. ‘
Born in Dublin in 1976, Colin Farrell briefly attended The Gaiety School of Acting, but decided to drop out. He was cast as Danny Byrne on ‘Ballykissangel’, which was a BBC TV show. His film debut was ‘The War Zone’, but his first major role came as private Roland Bozz in the film Tigerland. His fame rose with the well-received films ‘Phone Booth’, ‘SWAT’ and ‘recruit’. Farrell is a heart helmet for drums of adoring families, who can act with an American accent in addition to his native Irish accent. Farrell has worked with A-list celebrities such as Bruce Willis in ‘Hart’s War’ and Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report.’ He has consistently been hailed as one of Hollywood’s hottest young actors. In 2009 he won a Golden Globe for his work in the film ‘In Bruges’.
At the age of 14, Tom Cruise (born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV) had attended 15 different schools in both the United States and Canada. In high school, his interest in acting blossomed and at the age of 18, he dropped out of school and moved to New York to begin his career. His first film was ‘Endless Love’ in 1981, where he worked with Brooke Shields. Many believe that Cruise’s breakthrough is ‘Risky Business.’ After ‘Risky Business’, its star continued to rise with the box office crushing ‘Top Gun’, ‘The Money of Money’, ‘Rain Man’ and ‘Born of the Fourth of July’. ‘Several times throughout his career, Cruise has become one of People Magazine’s 50 most beautiful people in the world.’ He has also starred in ‘Interview with the Vampire’, ‘Jerry Maguire’, ‘Mission Impossible’, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ and ‘Valkyrie.’
Nicknamed ‘Prince’ because he could boast out of almost any situation, Will Smith is known for both his acting and musical careers. In 1989, he starred in NBC’s hit ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, in which Smith mainly starred. For six years he became popular, especially with female viewers. He dabbled in movies while playing roles in ‘Made in America’ and ‘Six Degrees of Separation.’ His career was heightened with the success of his starring roles in ‘Bad Boys’, ‘Independence Day’ and ‘Men in Black’. ‘Smith never looked back as his career continued to rise with the lead roles in’ Bad Boys II ‘,’ Men in Black II ‘,’ I, Robot, ” Hitch ‘and’ I Am Legend. ‘ He has also released four albums. Smith was married to Sheree Zampino for three years and has been married to Jada Pinkett Smith for more than a decade. Matt Damon was born in 1970 and only became in 1970 when he participated in Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where he performed in many theater productions. He attended prestigious Harvard University for 4 years, but did not graduate. He was much more interesting to act than in school, so he dropped out and moved to Los Angeles. His breakthrough came in 1997 when he and his good friend, actor Ben Affleck, wrote a screenplay for the box office ‘Good Will Hunting’, in which they both starred. The film received nine Oscar nominations, for which Damon and Affleck won the Oscar for best screenplay. Shortly after, Steven Spielberg threw Damon in the battle ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ From there, Damon has starred in ‘Dogma’ and ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley. ‘ He is best known for his leading roles in the Bourne series (‘Bourne Identity’, ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ and ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’) as well as his roles in Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve ‘and’ Ocean’s Thirteen. ‘
As the son of a film producer and Hollywood screenwriter and the brother of an actress, Jake Gyllenhaal was destined to make it into the show business. In just 11 years, he broke the screen as Billy Crystal’s son Danny Robbins, in the box office smashed ‘City Slickers’, where he became famous and famous. He worked on several films over the years before being cast as the title character in the 2001 film ‘Donnie Darko’, where he acted with his sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Other notable films include ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, ‘Jarhead’ and the critically acclaimed ‘Brokeback Mountain’.