The Best Actor From All 50 States

Wyoming: Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox has long been associated with the world of Hollywood. After starring on Party of Five, Fox was the lead on the hit ABC show LOST. His portrayal of Jack Shephard drew both sympathy and a whole lot of acclaim. However before his acting days, Fox was a kid growing up in Wyoming. From the the time he was a year old until his college days, Fox lived on an Indian Reservation in the western part of the state.

Vermont: Zosia Mamet

We haven’t had a ton of actors hail from the great state of Vermont. Zosia Mamet lived in Vermont until the age of five. Though she’s not a longtime resident of the state, she still gets credit as a native. Mamet is most known for roles on Girls, Mad Men, and Parenthood. Her father is famed writer/director David Mamet.

Alaska: Ray Mala

Ray Mala was a transcendent actor in a number of ways. For one, he was one of the first actors to ever hail from Alaska. Secondly, he was arguably the most famous Native American actor in all of cinema. After starting as a camera man in the business, Mala went on to star in a number of Hollywood pictures. He was a part of multiple movies which won Academy Awards.

North Dakota: Josh Duhamel

Heartthrob Josh Duhamel is all about his home state of North Dakota. Growing up in Minot, Duhamel ultimately became a football player for Minot State University. From there, the rest of history. He went on to star in a number of television programs and films. Duhamel continues to be very active in the industry.

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South Dakota: January Jones

Before January Jones was starring in American Wedding and Mad Men, she was living a much simpler existence. Jones grew up in tiny Hecla, South Dakota (with a population of 229). From there, she moved to the slightly larger city of Sioux Falls before developing into an actress. She’s carved out quite a nice career — as Jones has been acting professionally since 1999.

Delaware: Ryan Phillippe

Delaware native Ryan Phillippe cut his teeth in the town of New Castle. He then eventually graduated from the prestigious New Castle Christian Academy before then becoming an actor. Phillippe has established himself as a premier man in the business. Aside from his current role on the USA television program Shooter, he’s also starred in blockbuster hits including Flags of Our Fathers, Cruel Intentions, Crash, and Gosford Park.

Montana: Michelle Williams

Before becoming one of the most accomplished actresses in Hollywood, Michelle Williams was growing up in the rugged terrain of Montana. As a young child, Williams was well versed in the outdoors. Some of her childhood activities included fishing, hiking, and shooting. Since her days in Kalispell, Montana, Williams blossomed into major roles in projects such as Dawson’s Creek, Brokeback Mountain, Shutter Island, and Manchester by the Sea. 

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Rhode Island: Viola Davis

Though born in South Carolina, Viola Davis grew up in the state of Rhode Island. She was a fixture in the community of Central Falls. Upon graduating from high school, Davis spent the next eight years honing her acting skills at both Rhode Island College and Julliard. Davis has burst onto the scene in recent years. Aside from her Academy Award-winning performance in Doubt, Davis has also won a Tony, an Emmy, and has been the leading actress in multiple high profile shows (such as How to Get Away with Murder).

Maine: Patrick Dempsey

“McDreamy” spent his informative years growing up in the quaint state of Maine. After being born in Lewiston, Dempsey spent his youth in the small town of Buckfield. From there, Dempsey’s acting career took hold in the realm of theatre. He eventually made his way to the silver screen, and on a number of television programs. Grey’s Anatomy is undoubtedly his biggest project to date.

New Hampshire: Adam Sandler

One of New England’s prodigal sons, Adam Sandler was brought up in the city of Manchester, New Hampshire. A fixture within the high school scene, it was where Sandler’s comedic genius was first realized. Though he hasn’t made a quality film in roughly two decades, we’ll forever remember Sandler for his brilliance in The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, and Billy Madison.

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Hawaii: Kelly Preston

Kelly Preston was born and raised in Honolulu. Her middle name is Kamalelehua. She also attended Punahou School — the alma mater of President Barack Obama. If these facts don’t make Preston a native of Hawaii, virtually nothing will. She’s acted steadily since the 1980s. Though not as prevalent in recent years, Preston will be remembered for films such as Twins, Jerry Maguire, and For Love of the Game.

Idaho: Aaron Paul

Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul grew up in the Idaho capital of Boise. Like many, he left his humble beginnings for a shot at the big time. After toiling around Los Angeles for quite some time, Paul broke out as both a model and an actor. He appeared in a number of popular sitcoms throughout the ’90s and the 2000s. Paul’s role in Breaking Bad led to him winning an Emmy.

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West Virginia: Don Knotts

Portraying lovable Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, Don Knotts enjoyed a lengthy career in show business. Growing up in Morgantown, Knotts had a tumultuous childhood.  After initially being a shy child, Knotts emerged in a large way. After graduating from West Virginia University, Knotts appeared in a number of films and television shows. He became somewhat of a cult icon in his later years.

Nebraska: Marlon Brando

Nebraska native Marlon Brando is one of the most iconic actors in the history of film. He was born in Omaha before moving with his family to southern California. It’s difficult to categorize the breadth of Brando’s career in a few sentences. His portrayals in both The Godfather and On the Waterfront were simply phenomenal. Any movie involving Brando is essentially a masterclass for any aspiring actor.

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New Mexico: Demi Moore

Demi Moore was a bombshell actress throughout the ’80s and ’90s. A Few Good Men, Ghost, and G.I. Jane are the three films Moore is most known for. Prior to her becoming a movie star, Moore grew up in Roswell. Since her career has slowed a bit, Moore has been most recently known for her high-profile relationships with both Ashton Kutcher and Bruce Willis.

Nevada: Jena Malone

Jena Malone has been acting professional dating back to the ripe age of 11. Her family was long rooted in the state of Nevada, as her grandfather owned a casino outside of Sparks. Malone and her mother settled in Las Vegas before eventually making their way to Los Angeles. She’s been in a number of quite successful films — including Donny Darko, Pride & Prejudice, Stepmom, and The Hunger Games.

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Kansas: Dennis Hopper

While the uber-talented Annette Benning was a worthy choice for this state, Kansas ultimately belongs to famed actor Dennis Hopper. The deceased actor was born and raised in Dodge City. He then spent some time with his family in Kansas City before moving out to San Diego. From a young age, Hopper was known to have considerable talent. He developed into a fantastic actor, but also a director as well. Hopper was most known for Rebel Without a Cause, Apocalypse Now, and Hoosiers.

Arkansas: Billy Bob Thornton

Arkansas native Billy Bob Thornton has been a fixture within Hollywood for quite a long time. Thornton won an Academy Award for his work as a screenwriter in the film Sling Blade. Since then, he’s featured in a number of high profile films — many of which turned out to be universally revered. Thornton grew up throughout the state of Arkansas. He even attended Henderson State University in Arkadelphia before leaving for Los Angeles.

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Mississippi: Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman has the best voice in the history of mankind. The silky southern drawl has a virtual life of its own. It’s been Freeman’s main calling card — though his acting skills are equally as amazing. The Mississippi native won an Academy Award for Million Dollar Baby. With that said, Freeman’s most noteworthy performances came in Driving Miss Daisy and The Shawshank Redemption. Freeman grew up in Charleston, Mississippi, and attended high school in Greenwood, Mississippi.

Utah: Roseanne Barr

Though highly controversial, Roseanne Barr had a very productive career in the limelight. She spent her childhood and teenage years in Salt Lake City. Barr even spent time within the Mormon Church. Since then, Barr enjoyed a dual-career as an actress and a stand-up comedian. Roseanne was one of the most popular shows throughout the ’90s. Though she has no further involvement with the program, it will remain a cultural icon from that time period.

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Iowa: John Wayne

No one epitomized masculinity quite like John Wayne. Born Marion Morrison, the actor was born in Winterset, Iowa. Wayne spent his childhood here before moving with his family to southern California. Wayne quickly developed into a fantastic actor. He was the quintessential protagonist in any western-centric film. To this day, he remains a hero for generations upon generations of people.

Connecticut: Katharine Hepburn

Class personified, Katharine Hepburn was a regal figure in the Hollywood scene for over a half century. Herpburn was born and raised in Hartford. At one point, she was considered one of the best youth golfers in the entire state. As she got older, Hepburn transitioned from the athletic realm into theater. She has an all-time record for the most Academy Awards (four) for Best Actress. Hepburn’s versatility in a number of genres makes her one of — if not the best actress ever.

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Oklahoma: Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris has recently turned into a creature of mythical proportions. Not only is he a karate master, but he’s also a leading actor in multiple martial arts-based shows and films. Norris and his family grew up in the small town of Ryan, Oklahoma. Upon being a teenager, he moved out west to southern California. Still, Norris’ heart and soul remains in the heartland.

Oregon: Bridgette Wilson

The state of Oregon is a little light when it comes to famed actors. Ty Burrell (aka Phil Dunphy) is a proud native of Oregon. However, based on career longevity, we’re going to give it up for Bridgette Wilson. The Gold Beach, Oregon native has starred in a number of notable ’90s films. She’s most famous for playing Adam Sandler’s love interest Ms. Veronica Vaughn in the cult classic Billy Madison.

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Kentucky: George Clooney

George Clooney is a philanthropist, lead actor, sex symbol, and basically everything in between. It may shock people to realize that he indeed did grow up in the commonwealth of Kentucky. Clooney lived in his home state for 18 years before eventually making the move to Los Angeles. From there, the rest is history. Clooney has gone on to star in a number of massive films. He’s one of the most recognizable actors anywhere in the world.

Louisiana: Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres has entered the rarefied air of being an individual known by a single name. As such, this makes her a pretty big deal. Before she became a television personality, Ellen grew up in the greater New Orleans area. She then went to college at the University of New Orleans. Ellen ultimately became a stand-up comic — which then morphed into a very successful acting career.

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Alabama: Jim Nabors

Octavia Spencer was neck-and-neck for the denotation as being the flagship actor from the state of Alabama. However, Jim Nabors narrowly edged her out (at least for now). An Alabama boy through and through, Nabors was born and raised in the state. He also attended the University of Alabama. Ultimately, his role as Gomer Pyle in The Andy Griffith Show garnered him plenty of esteem. He went on to have a very successful acting career in the post-Griffith period.

South Carolina: Andie MacDowell

If you were a fan of movies in the ’80s and ’90s, you most likely know who Andie MacDowell is. The ’90s in particular showcased MacDowell’s depth as an actor. Roles in Multiplicity, Groundhog Day, and Michael brought her into the public’s eye. Growing up, MacDowell lived in the South Carolina city of Gaffney. She also attended college at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

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Colorado: Amy Adams

Though born in Italy, Amy Adams grew up primarily in the state of Colorado. Her childhood in Castle Rock, Colorado included participating in makeshift plays with the rest of her family. After toiling away in musical theater productions, Adams got her big break with the Disney film Enchanted. Since then, she’s blossomed into one of the biggest stars in the industry.

Minnesota: Judy Garland

Judy Garland (real name Frances Gumm) lived the first few years of her life in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Her father was involved in community theater — which ultimately spurred on her love of acting. Aside from being a very gifted singer, Garland was also an exceptional actress. Her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz will forever be lauded as an exceptionally noteworthy performance.

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Wisconsin: Gene Wilder

There are a number of comedic actors (Mark Ruffalo, Chris Farley) hailing from the state of Wisconsin. However, none of them can hold a candle to the late Gene Wilder. Born as Jerome Silberman, Wilder grew up in Milwaukee. He eventually developed into a comedic giant. Wacky and uber-talented, Wilder worked side-by-side with Mel Brooks to work on a number of ridiculously successful comedies (Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, The Producers). To this day, many still associate Wilder with his role as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Maryland: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Julia Louis-Dreyfus grew up primarily in the greater Washington D.C. area. After graduating from high school in Bethesda, Maryland, Louis-Dreyfus embarked on a highly acclaimed career. She garnered lead roles in major shows including Seinfeld, Veep, and The New Adventures of Old Christine. Her comedic timing is simply brilliant — as is Louis-Dreyfus’ ability to effortlessly ping-pong back and forth between comedic and serious roles.

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Missouri: Betty Grable

Many would put Brad Pitt in this slot. There’s certainly some validity to that thought. But before Pitt was a megastar, Betty Grable was existing with a similar standing. During the height of her career, Grable was raking in more money than any of her peers. She had a longevity as a star which few have been able to replicate. Before making the move to Hollywood, Grable grew up in St. Louis.

Tennessee: Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates is one of the most underrated actors over the last 50 years. She’s supremely gifted as a storyteller on screen. Duly, Bates is highly versatile. She’s portrayed every possible character imaginable over her illustrious time as a professional thespian. The early parts of her life include being raised in the famed city of Memphis. Her love of theater eventually enabled her to book roles in Titanic, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Waterboy, and Misery.

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Indiana: Adam Driver

Adam Driver is one of the younger actors within this list. His career hasn’t been exceptionally long. There’s still plenty of time to diversity his acting portfolio. With all of that said, it’s clear that Driver is a rising star within the industry. He first garnered notoriety (and three Emmy nominations) as the character Adam in Girls. From there, Driver made the move into film. He most recently starred in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and BlacKkKlansman. Before joining the Marines in 2001, Driver grew up in Mishawaka, Indiana.

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Massachusetts: Matt Damon

Throughout the course of his career, Matt Damon has tested himself. He’s played nice guys, psychopaths, violent individuals, and the average everyday guy. It’s made for a very rich slate of films. Damon grew up in the Massachusetts towns of Newton and Cambridge. He attended Harvard — where he happened to form the partnership between himself and fellow Massachusetts native Ben Affleck.

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Arizona: Emma Stone

Lynda Carter and David Spade were two other Arizona natives vying for this spot. However, Emma Stone’s overall trajectory as an actor has her claiming the top spot. She grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona before making the move out to Los Angeles. Superbad was the first role in which the public got to know Stone. From there, appearances in The Help and The Amazing Spider-Man only grew her reputation. Most recently, Stone won the Academy Award for Best Actress based upon her role in La La Land.

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Washington: Adam West

The current generation might not know his name, but Adam West was a big deal all throughout the ’60s. West grew up in both Seattle and Walla Walla. He even attended in-state liberal arts school Whitman College. Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, West broke out as a signature name within the industry. Multiple guest roles on sitcoms led West into his most recognizable role, Batman.

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Virginia: Warren Beatty

Warren Beatty is an exceptionally talented individual. Throughout his illustrious career, Beatty has shined as a director, producer, writer, actor, and all-around filmmaker. He’s garnered 14 Oscar nominations in a number of different fields. Beatty has his fingerprints on virtually every single project he’s been a part of. All the while, Beatty is as well respected as they come. His childhood/adolescent roots hail from Arlington, Virginia.

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New Jersey: Meryl Streep

New Jersey features a who’s-who of acting talent. Whether it be Joe Pesci, James Gandolfini, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Anne Hathaway, Danny DeVito, or Queen Latifah, the state is littered with ability. However, the queen of Jersey is Meryl Streep. Her acting talent is exquisite. She’s won multiple Academy Awards, and has been (to date) nominated for a record 21 Oscars. There’s nothing she can’t do as an actress.

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Michigan: Tim Allen

Tim Allen spent most of his formative years in the state of Michigan. Raised in a Detroit suburb, Allen ultimately became a graduate of Western Michigan University. A burgeoning stand-up career was eventually parlayed into a successful role as Tim ‘The Toolman’ Taylor on the hit sitcom Home Improvement. Becoming a star overnight, Allen then jumped into film — starring in the likes of Toy Story, The Santa Clause, and Galaxy Quest.

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North Carolina: Andy Griffith

Whenever that iconic whistle comes on, you think of Andy Griffith. The creator of The Andy Griffith Show, Griffith captivated audiences everywhere with a wholesome take on life in a fictional North Carolina town. It eventually became one of the most popular sitcoms in television history. Drawing from his upbringing, Griffith grew up in Mount Airy, North Carolina. He also attended the University of North Carolina later as a student.

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Georgia: Julia Roberts

With her parents functioning as her personal acting coach, Julia Roberts learned the tricks of the trade from a very early age. She grew up in a suburb of Atlanta — where her family were fixtures in the arts scene. An eventual modeling career led Roberts back towards the path of acting. Roles in Steel Magnolias and Pretty Woman made Roberts a global star. From there, she had a run of highly successful moves all throughout the ’90s and the 2000s. Roberts’ claim to fame was her Oscar winning performance in Erin Brockovich.

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Ohio: Clark Gable

Before we had Clooney and Pitt, we had Clark Gable. Gable was what every man wanted to be, and every woman desired. He was the prototype leading man throughout the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. Possessing devilishly good looks and disarming charm, Gable was the total package. He was born in Cadiz, Ohio, and was raised in a suburb of Akron. For all of the great actors to hail from The Buckeye State, Gable was the best.

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Pennsylvania: Will Smith

Pennsylvania is loaded with elite actors (Sharon Stone, Jack Palance, Grace Kelly, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Cosby). With that said it’s Will Smith taking the crown as the actor from the state. Raised in West Philadelphia, Smith’s earliest roots as an entertainer came in the form of rapping. He paired his ability on the mic with a role in the hit show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Smith’s career skyrocketed, as he developed into a global star. His films killed it at the box office from a monetary standpoint. Ali, Independence Day, Men in Black, and Bad Boys are just some of his cash-cow films.

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Illinois: Ronald Reagan

Before becoming the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan enjoyed a fruitful acting career. The iconic figure grew up all over the state of Illinois. After being born in Tampico, Reagan and his family ultimately settled in the northern Illinois city of Dixon. He went on to participate in both film and radio. Eventually, Reagan entered the realm of politics. To this day, he is considered one of — if not the most popular Republican politician in the history of the United States.

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New York: Robert De Niro

It’s almost unfair to pick one single actor from the state of New York. Al Pacino, Denzel Washington, and Humphrey Bogart are just a few hailing from New York. When looking at a total body of work, we will (narrowly) give the edge to Robert De Niro. Raised in Manhattan, De Niro immediately showed a proclivity for the arts. De Niro had an innate toughness, which he beautifully illustrated on screen. He also had the ability to play tortured souls seamlessly. While he was a part of an inordinate amount of classics, De Niro is best known for his work in The Godfather II, The Untouchables, Raging Bull, The Deer Hunter, Goodfellas, Casino, A Bronx Tale, and Taxi Driver.

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Florida: Sidney Poitier

With apologies to Johnny Depp and Mickey Rourke, Sidney Poitier is the class of the acting world from the state of Florida. Born to parents from the Caribbean, Poitier split his time between the Bahamas and Miami. Poitier first cut his teeth in the realm of Broadway productions. From there, Poitier’s career quickly spiraled into a vortex of immense success. He was the first black male actor to win an Academy Award (for his portrayal in Lilies of the Field).

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Texas: Tommy Lee Jones

Matthew McConaughey will likely be atop this list down the line. But for now, we’re gifting the honor to longtime actor Tommy Lee Jones. The 71-year-old was born in San Saba, grew up in Midland, and lived a large chunk of his life in Dallas. After prepping at Harvard, Jones moved to New York in order to being an acting career. Gigs on Broadway were followed by film roles. Jones won an Oscar for his role in The Fugitive. Since then, he’s appeared in a number of worthwhile pictures.

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California: Tom Hanks

Leonardo DiCaprio and Marilyn Monroe make real cases to feature as the top dog in this hotly-contested category. The state of California houses more actors than any other state. However, Tom Hanks will be the individual representing for The Golden State. Hanks is as versatile an actor as they come. He has played a plethora of different roles throughout his career. Whether comedic or serious, Hanks has proven to be the epitome of professionalism and respect. Prior to becoming an actor, Hanks grew up in the region of Northern California.

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