Best 80s Actors and Actresses

The 80s was a time of neon, mohawks, and Nintendo. The age of MTV, Goonies, and DnD! How many of us still live in the 80s? Collecting toys and albums that we loved in the 80s. Even pop culture has either borrowed or outright brought back 80s trends. Some of our most popular shows, like Stranger Things, are based on this idea!

But the 80s had another great thing, Movies. So many directors today were influenced by the young directors, actors, and actresses of the 80s. Steven Spielberg with all of his great 80s movies like Jaws, ET, and all of the Indiana Jones movies.

And what the Sci-Fi world would be without George Lucas and Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi! Or John Hughes and the ageless wonders of Uncle Buck, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Buellers Day Off! 

But we’re not here to talk about all those great movies (which I could do for days). We’re here to discuss who were some of the best Actors and Actresses of the 80s. Actors like Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Molly Ringwald, and Goldie Hawn! But there are so many great ones! Let’s talk about a few.

  • Tom Hanks

    Tom Hanks will always be a joy to me. He may be in a movie you don’t like, but his performances are never dull. While really becoming the Hollywood elite as both a comedic and serious actor in the 90s. It was the 80s Tom cut his teeth with incredible movies like The Burbs (1989), Big (1988), and Splash (1984). I try to watch The Burbs at least 4 times a year or more. The Money Pit (1986) is another great movie, especially when you want to relate to everything just going wrong.

  • Kurt Russell

    For me, Kurt Russel is everything I loved about the 80s. He was this guy who wasn’t huge like Arnold or Stallone, but just badass enough. With a little bit of work, I could be Kurt! Maybe. But Kurt was the go-to guy for the director John Carpenter. Kurt would star in some of Carpenter’s best like The THING (1982), Escape from New York (1981), and my favorite movie, Big Trouble in Little China (1986).

  • Jack Nicholson

    Jack Nicholson has always been known for his great performances. The 80s really gave Jack some great movies to shine in. But one of the big money makers was Batman (1989), with Jack as The Joker. Jack Nicholson famously took a cut in salary so that he could negotiate a cut in merchandising and ticket sales. But before Batman, Jack was winning Oscars in movies like Terms of Endearment (1983). But he started the 80s off by starring in one of the best horror movies of all time, The Shining (1980). A horror movie that other horror movies should be rated against for all time.

  • Harrison Ford

    He’s freaking Indiana Jones and Han Solo! Ke Huy Quan, who played Short Round in Indiana Jones Temple of Doom, was still geeking out meeting Harrison years later while winning his own Oscar for Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022). Harrison Ford had an amazing run in the 80s. He played in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983), and Indiana Jones Crusaders of the Holy Grail (1989). He also starred in one of the greatest films of all time, Blade Runner (1982).

  • Tom Cruise

    Tom Cruise is still making box office smashes 40 years later. Ironically Tom’s latest movie Top Gun Maverick (2022), is the sequel to one of his great 80s movies, Top Gun (1986). We also fell in love with that smile watching him in Risky Business (1983) and Cocktail (1988). And he was critically acclaimed for his roles in Rainman (1988) and Born on The Fourth of July (1989). My personal favorite though is him as Jack (odd he has LOTS of roles as a Jack) in Legend (1985). Seriously, ask me to do a voice from that movie! 

  • Sylvester Stallone

    My wife and I try to watch the whole Rocky series several times a year. Sylvester Stallone became an action hero during the 80s. He continued the Rocky series with one of the strongest 80s-pop movies Rocky III (1982). It had Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in the same movie! But it was Rambo that really took off in the 80s. Stallone starred in Rambo First Blood (1982), Rambo 2 (1985) and Rambo 3 (1988). He also continued with Rocky in Rocky IV (1985). 

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger

    What can I say about my favorite actor of all time? Seriously I’ve watched more 80s Arnold Schwarzenegger movies than probably any other movies. Arnold became the most iconic action star of all time (Maybe the Rock comes close?). But in the 80s, Arnold ruled! And he ruled as CONAN (1982), one of my favorite movies! I’m so nerdy about it, I’ll quote the “riddle of steel”.  He went on to star in so many great movies such as The Terminator (1984), Commando (1985), Raw Deal (1986), Predator (1987), Running Man (1987), and Red Heat (1988). He even took a dip into comedy with Twins (1988).

  • Molly Ringwald

    Molly Ringwald is another huge icon of the 80s. She starred in back to back to back John Hughes movies Sixteen Candles (1984), Breakfast Club (1985), and Pretty in Pink (1986).

  • Sigourney Weaver

    Sigourney Weaver gave us one of the first iconic badass warrior women, Ripley. While Sigourney played Ripley in Alien in 1979, which was closer to suspense horror. It was in 1986 we got to see Ripley unleash fury in Aliens directed by James Cameron. But Weaver didn’t stop there with blockbusters, she was also in Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters 2 (1989).

  • Jamie Lee Curtis

    There are not many that would stand toe to toe with Michael Myers, but Jamie Lee Curtis has done that SO MANY TIMES! She began that rivalry with the slasher began in Halloween in 1978, but continued the battle in Halloween 2 in 1982. Jamie is known as one of the great scream queens, starring in numerous horror movies of the 80s. Movies like Fog (1980), Prom Night (1980), and Terror Train (1980). All back to back there in the same year! She went on to do some great comedies too, like Trading Places (1983) and A Fish Called Wanda (1988).

  • Michelle Pfeiffer

    Cat Woman! But before she was Cat Woman, she was in lots of great 80s flicks. From tv to movies, Michelle Pfeiffer starred in some greats like Scarface (1984), Witches of Eastwick (1987), and Tequila Sunrise (1988).

  • Goldie Hawn

    Laugh-Ins tattooed it girl became an 80s staple! Goldie Hawn, with her charismatic smile and bubbly personality, starred in some classic 80 films. She started off the 80s with Private Benjamin (1980) and starred, with her future partner in life, Kurt Russel in Overboard in 1987.

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