Whether they’re shooting up the bad guys or beating them down with their massive fists, there will always be macho action stars in movies. COED has weeded out the meek and complied a list of the manliest men to grace the big-screen whether it’s for their massive muscles, strong attitudes or just plain being cool. These are the actors we’d like to have a beer with, drag race with and maybe even chill with for a game of poker. We wouldn’t suggest cheating, though. Don’t forget to vote in our poll at the bottom of the post.
From Rocky to Rambo, Stallone is the original Italian Stallion. For a dude who started out in soft-core porn, the man has certainly come a long way. Stallone took on supporting roles in several films including Death Race 2000, but it wasn’t until his 1976 role as the boxing legend Rocky that the public took notice.
Since then he has gone on to such action blockbusters as Demolition Man, Cliffhanger and, of course, the Rambo series. Though he slugged through the 1990s with such duds as Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, Stallone bounced back by taking over his characters completely by directing Rocky Balboa, Rambo (2008) and the all-star casted action fest, The Expendables.
Besides the obvious reasons, Sly is super manly because of his ability to take over directing his own characters, a rare victory among actors.
Though his legacy has recently become a joke, it’s hard to deny Arnie’s contributions to manly cinema. The ripped Austrian made a huge impact as a murderous cyborg from the future, a violent barbarian and an alien hunting soldier. Even his less-dignified roles as a sheltered twin, a pregnant man and a cop undercover as a kindergarten teacher were entertaining because of his stature and accent.
It’s amazing how a man who was once a bodybuilder and a chairman for a presidential physical fitness council could make the change to movies so successfully. Even more amazing is that his career was able to last for so long in both cinema and politics. There was even a proposed cartoon series, The Governator, that would portray Arnold as himself becoming a cybernetic superhero. Unfortunately, the series won’t become a reality in light of recent events since the show revolved around Arnold teaming up with his wife and his kids to fight crime and ugly mistresses.
Bow down to the true king of cool. Originally a marine, McQueen started off his acting career with Broadway productions and B-movies but after the western TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive, Steve moved into the big leagues. He starred in such classics as The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and Bullit.
In his spare time, he also raced and collected motorcycles, which explains how he was able to accomplish such bad-ass motorcycle stunts in The Great Escape. Steve also owned a variety of cool cars and aircrafts that (unlike a lot of celebrities) he actually used them himself. What man wouldn’t want to live the life this man had?
It takes a real man to know his strengths and his weaknesses. Despite having a great acting career with roles in movies like 1941, Diner and Barfly, Rourke decided to leave acting to go back to boxing due to his lack of respect for his acting ability. And, boy, did he kick ass at boxing. He fought through the early 90s undefeated with 4 knockouts, but his face had to go through reconstructive surgery as a result.
You’d think getting back into acting would be tough after that, but Rourke came blazing back with incredibly manly roles in Sin City, The Wrestler, The Expendables and Iron Man 2. To leave acting, beat the crap out of boxers around the world and then return to acting much better than you were before, Mickey Rourke is a true inspiration. Also, just look at him. You don’t wanna f*ck with a dude like this. I’m pretty sure he could eat Danny Devito whole.
Before he was directing movies about Iwo-Jima and Rugby matches, Clint was THE man when it came to action movies. Though he started off as a lovable do-gooder in the show Rawhide, it wasn’t until his role as the Man with No Name in the Sergio Leone westerns (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good the Bad and the Ugly) that he achieved the level of badass.
Playing a loner/anti-hero, Clint’s portrayal of the Man with No Name redefined westerns forever. He would later go on to redefine the loose-cannon cop drama for his iconic role as the Magnum-toting Harry Callahan in Dirty Hairy.
When it came to acting cool with a firearm, Eastwood was one of the best. So great, in fact, that he was even offered the role of James Bond, but turned it down to keep the character English.
Most will probably recognize Clint for his acting roles as the grumpy boxing coach in Million Dollar Baby and the grumpy racist from Gran Torino. The fact that this man is still not only acting but directing at his age makes him one of the most legendary movie men on this list.
Of all the actors on this list, Bruce Campbell is the only B-movie actor. Actually, he is THE B-movie actor. The man is best known for his role as Ash in the Evil Dead trilogy where he battled grotesque demonic forces with a shotgun and a chainsaw arm. Since then Bruce has gone on to become a legend of man-cinema appearing in several movies, TV shows and commercials.
While Bruce has really only headlined in B-movies the past few years, he embraces the opportunities with glee and love for his fans. He can even take a joke well as he played a rundown version of himself in the surreal horror flick, My Name is Bruce.
Only Bruce Campbell could do a movie like Maniac Cop and still retain his awesomeness as the big-chinned warrior we all know and love. While others may fade into the obscurity of direct-to-video and TV movies with age, Bruce will still be kicking ass be it on the big screen or a SyFy original movie. His latest project is rumored to be a movie called Bruce vs. Frankenstein. How could you say no to a title like that?
Samuel L. Jackson
He wants your tasty burgers, he hates snakes on planes and he is one bad mutha. In a shouting contest, Samuel Jackson would dominate this whole list with his powerful, commanding voice. From the lovable Nick Fury of Iron Man 2 to the scary robber of Coming to America, Jackson has starred in too many movies to count with too many memorable roles.
While his supporting roles are incredible (the dude who gets eaten by a shark mid-sentence in Deep Blue Sea), most will remember the man as the foul-mouthed Jules from Pulp Fiction. The royalties Sam should be entitled to for his lines like “English, mother f*cker, do you speak it?” and “Does he look like a bitch?” are astronomical. The dude has even made his way into the Star Wars canon and had his own anime, Afro Samurai.
To this day he is still a dominating powerhouse in the acting world with no signs of stopping. The better question is what HASN’T Sam Jackson been in.
Screw you, George Lucas! Han shot first and that is precisely what made Harrison Ford the take-no-sh*t actor we remember him as. Aside from being the most bad-ass characters of the Star Wars universe (Sorry Boba and Darth Maul), Harrison Ford’s other claims to fame include the legendary adventurer Indiana Jones, the Replicant-hunting Blade Runner and the man of action known as Jack Ryan (Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games).
The man is still taking on the big roles to this day. He reprised his role as Indiana Jones in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and will later play a tough-as-nails sheriff in this summer’s Cowboys & Aliens. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more quotable actor with lines like “It had to be snakes” and “Get off my plane”. Unless you’re Samuel L. Jackson.
How could we have a list of the most manliest men without the king of blaxploitation? Before there was Rocky, there was Hammer. Before there was Al Pacino’s Scarface, there was Black Caesar. Fred Williamson was the man who defined the blaxploitation genre and is still going strong with his acting career. You may recognize him from his supporting roles in From Dusk till Dawn and the Starsky and Hutch movie. Whether you remember him as the boxer B.J. Hammer, the kingpin Tommy Gibbs or the sheriff Boss *clears throat* N-word, Fred Williamson is one manly bad-ass of cinema.
You didn’t think we’d forget the bald-headed bad-ass, did you? Becoming a blockbuster action star with his role as John McClane in Die Hard, Bruce Willis has a consistent career over the years.
Starring in such classics as Pulp Fiction, The Fifth Element and The Sixth Sense, Bruce has done it all. He has taken on ultra-violent roles in Sin City and Planet Terror. He has been able to laugh at himself in movies like The Whole Nine Yards. The man even had his own cartoon called Bruno the Kid. And just try not to burst out in idiotic glee as he guest stars in a Gorillaz music video. What more can you say about Bruce’s career other than “yippi ki yay, mother-f*cker.”
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