Who were the top actors and actresses of the 90s?



A decade of profound cultural and cinematic shift, the 1990s witnessed the emergence of a number of exceptional actors and actresses who went on to star in some of the most iconic movies of the decade. Some of the best actors and actresses of the 1990s were able to rise beyond their roles and establish themselves as household names, garnering accolades, critical praise, and fans all over the world. From the different names that would be discussed in this article, the 1990s gave us some of the most recognizable performances in movie history. We will examine some of the most gifted performers who helped shape the 1990s and forever changed the cinema industry in this piece.

90s top actors and actresses

Meg Ryan

Ryan at 2009 Tribeca film festival

Meg Ryan was undoubtedly one of the most popular performers of the 1990s because of her winning combination of skill, charisma, and adaptability. She made her debut in the late 1980s in iconic supporting roles in movies like “Top Gun” and “Innerspace,” but it was not until the 1990s that she really started to make an impact. Her performances in these movies captured the hearts of audiences all over the world and helped establish her as one of the defining actors of the era. Ryan’s natural charisma and talent for romantic comedy made her a sought-after leading lady, and she starred in some of the decade’s most beloved films, including “When Harry Met Sally…,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” and “You’ve Got Mail.”

Ryan was known for her roles in romantic comedies, but she could also pull off intense serious performances. She portrayed a military official looking into the death of a helicopter pilot in the war thriller “Courage Under Fire,” and her performance was hailed for its nuance and complexity. Ryan was one of the most well-liked performers of the 1990s and beyond due to her natural ability to switch between humor and drama as well as her unquestionable talent and likeability. Her movies are still highly regarded by viewers today, and she has a strong place in history as one of the key performers of her time.

Angelina Jolie

Jolie in 2022

Real name Angelina Jolie Voight, the American actress and director Angelina Jolie was born in Los Angeles, California, on June 4, 1975. She is highly known for her philanthropic work as well as for her edginess and sex appeal. She received an Academy Award for her supporting performance in Girl, Interrupted (1999) as a mentally ill patient.

Jolie, the daughter of the actor Jon Voight, grew up in New York for most of her youth until moving to Los Angeles at the age of 11. Before transferring to Beverly Hills High School, she spent two years studying at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. She later studied acting at New York University. She did modeling and starred in music videos in addition to acting in theatrical shows.


  • The bone collector (1999)
  • Love is all there is (1996)
  • Hell’s Kitchen (1998)
  • Pushin Tin (1999)
  • Without evidence (1996)
  • Hackers (1995)
  • Playing by Heart (1998)
  • Gia (1998)
  • Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Demi Moore

Moore in 2012

Unquestionably one of the best actors of the 1990s, Demi Moore was renowned for her grace, skill, and imposing presence on film. She originally became well-known for her performance in the 1990 romance film “Ghost,” in which she co-starred with Patrick Swayze. She received critical praise for her portrayal of a heartbroken widow who can converse with her departed husband, solidifying her position as a leading lady.

Throughout the decade, Moore continued to give standout performances as the lead in movies including “A Few Good Men” (1992), “Indecent Proposal” (1993), and “Disclosure” (1994). Moore’s range and versatility as an actress, coupled with her inborn charisma and beauty, made her a sought-after talent and a favorite of viewers all over the world. In films like “Striptease” (1996), for which she famously shaved her head, and “G.I. Jane” (1997), in which she played a female Navy SEAL, she also took on more challenging parts.

In addition to her success on the big screen, Moore was a trailblazer in the modeling and fashion industries. She was featured on the covers of several publications and contributed to the redefining of beauty standards in the 1990s. She had an indisputable impact on popular culture at this time, and she continues to be a fashion and cinema star today.

Sandra Bullock

Bullock in 2013

Sandra Bullock is a very skilled and adaptable actress who first gained notoriety in the 1990s and has since remained a cherished Hollywood icon. She made her initial impression on viewers in the 1994 action film “Speed,” in which she portrayed a passenger on a bus that had been bombed. Her portrayal in the movie, which was endearing and realistic, contributed to her being well-known.

Bullock maintained her reputation as a leading woman during the 1990s thanks to a succession of hit movies including “While You Were Sleeping” (1995), “A Time to Kill” (1996), and “Hope Floats” (1998). Her performances in these movies demonstrated both her acting versatility and her capacity to give her characters subtlety and depth.

Bullock maintained her success as an actress in the years that followed, playing in a variety of movies, from tragedies like “Crash” (2004) and “Gravity” (2013) to comedies with a love theme like “Miss Congeniality” (2000) and “The Proposal” (2009). She is one of the most adored actresses of her time because of her skill, charisma, and relatability, which have won over fans all over the world.

Julia Roberts 

Roberts in 20212

Julia Roberts is a well-known actress who shot to fame in the 1990s. She is renowned for her brilliant smile, easy charisma, and broad acting abilities. In the romantic comedy “Pretty Woman,” in which she starred as a prostitute who falls in love with a rich businessman, she made her debut in 1990. She received a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her work in the movie, solidifying her position as a leading woman.

Roberts kept giving enthralling performances in a range of movies throughout the 1990s, such as “Steel Magnolias” (1989), “The Pelican Brief” (1993), and “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (1997). She was recognized as one of the most gifted and admired actors of her time when she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the drama “Erin Brockovich” in 2000.

Since then, Roberts has continued to steadily work in Hollywood, taking on a variety of parts that highlight her acting flexibility. Her inherent charm and charisma, together with her talent for giving her characters depth and subtlety, have made her a beloved figure in Hollywood and beyond. She was a pioneer for women in the entertainment business and one of the most recognizable actors of all time.

Susan Sarandon

sarandon in 2017

With the drama movie Joe, Susan Sarandon made her acting debut in 1970. For her decades-long career, she has subsequently garnered awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She received Best Actress Academy Award nods for Thelma & Louise, Lorenzo’s Oil, The Client, and Dead Man Walking from her 1990s career. She also had appearances in the 1990s films Cradle Will Rock, Little Women, James and the Giant Peach, Stepmom, White Palace, and Little Women. In 1994, Sarandon won the Women in Film Crystal Award and was nominated for eight Golden Globes, including for Stepmom and White Palace. Sarandon claimed that “acting is like loving very often for me; it uses the same muscle that you use in loving, in that, your heart feels open.”

Winona RyderRyder at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival

Winona Ryder is a legendary actress who gained notoriety in the 1990s because to her mesmerizing performances and distinctive style. Her main performance in the 1990 film “Edward Scissorhands” solidified her reputation as one of Hollywood’s most promising young actresses. She originally earned global attention for her appearance in the 1988 film “Beetlejuice,” but that was not the role that really made her a household name.

In other movies during the 1990s, including “Mermaids” (1990), “The Age of Innocence” (1993), and “Little Women” (1994), Ryder continued to give standout performances. For the latter, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. She became a favorite of both viewers and critics thanks to her acting skill and flexibility as well as her eccentric manner and captivating on-screen presence.

Ryder has worked continuously in Hollywood since the 1990s despite significant difficulties and disappointments in her personal life, giving strong performances in movies like “Black Swan” (2010) and “Stranger Things” (2016–2019). Her incredible talent and distinctive personality on film are testaments to her lasting popularity and impact in the entertainment business.

Alicia Silverstone

Silverstone in 2019

Alicia Silverstone made her film debut in The Crush in 1993 and was honored for her performance at the 1994 MTV Movie Award, earning the award for Best Breakthrough Performance. According to Silverstone, “When I was younger, pre-Clueless, I was very shy, but I was very real, which is why I got parts… Once I started working in theater something came out of me… I became more of a woman, I was no longer a quiet little girl, and that has a lot to do with growing up.” Silverstone then gained more fame by appearing in the music video for Aerosmith’s “Cryin,” in the movie Clueless in 1995.

Drew Barrymore

Barrymore in 2014

Actress, producer, and director Drew Barrymore first gained notoriety in the 1990s as one of Hollywood’s most adored and gifted young stars. She started acting at an early age, with her breakthrough part coming in Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” in 1982 as Gertie.

In other movies during the 1990s, including “Poison Ivy” (1992), “The Wedding Singer” (1998), and “Never Been Kissed” (1999), Drew Barrymore continued to display her acting prowess. She also made a name for herself as a producer, working on such blockbusters as “Charlie’s Angels” (2000) and “Donnie Darko” (2001).

Her inherent charisma, contagious enthusiasm, and talent for giving her characters depth and subtlety have made Drew Barrymore a revered figure in Hollywood and beyond. She has been a well-known activist and supporter of several causes, including animal welfare and breast cancer research, in addition to her job in the entertainment industry. She became a real star of the 1990s and beyond thanks to her ability, enthusiasm, and dedication to using her platform for good.

Michelle Pfeiffer

Pfeiffer in 2018

The highly acclaimed actress Michelle Pfeiffer became well-known in the 1990s because to her outstanding performances and extraordinary range. Her performances in movies like “Scarface” (1983) and “The Witches of Eastwick” (1987) first brought her fame, but her depiction as Catwoman in “Batman Returns” (1992) solidified her reputation as a leading lady.

Pfeiffer kept giving captivating performances in a range of movies throughout the 1990s, such as “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988), “The Fabulous Baker Boys” (1989), and “The Age of Innocence” (1993). She also won praise from critics for her performances in “Frankie and Johnny” (1991) and “One Fine Day” (1996), which demonstrated her versatility as an actress and her capacity to give her characters depth and subtlety.

Pfeiffer is well-liked in Hollywood and beyond thanks to her skill, attractiveness, and intellect. Since the 1990s, she has continued to work in the field, giving strong performances in movies like “Hairspray” (2007) and “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017). She is one of the best actors of her time, and her ongoing popularity and impact are proof of both her extraordinary talent and stature.

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise at the 61st Academy Awards in 1989

In the 1990s, Tom Cruise was at the height of his popularity, appearing in blockbusters like Jerry Maguire, Interview with the Vampire, Eyes Wide Shut, and of course Mission: Impossible. His personal life did not look too awful either; he was married to Nicole Kidman and the two of them had two children. He won a few honors, including the Golden Globes.

It often seems as though Cruise’s affiliation with Scientology is more well-known than his acting career nowadays. He has not lately been in any blockbuster films, but in the sixth installment of his franchise, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, he returned to the character of Ethan Hunt.

Jim Carrey

Carrey in Madrid, Spain, on December 13, 2008

Jim Carrey began his career in stand-up comedy in the early 1990s, and his acting career really took off in the mid-1990s. Carrey was regarded as one of the funniest performers of the decade because of roles in movies like Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura, The Mask, and many more.

Carrey has recently taken a step back from his humorous parts and is branching out into other genres. He produced, published a book, and featured in two documentaries. He most recently played Robotnik in the kid-friendly Sonic the Hedgehog movie. Carrey is candid about his battle with depression as well.

Stacey Dash

Dash in 2013

In the 1990s, Stacey Dash became well-known after playing Cher’s closest friend Dionne in the movie Clueless. The actress also appeared in various television shows.

Dash has not recently had much acting work. She began working for Fox News in 2014 as a cultural analyst and commentator. Dash has been transparent about her stand as a Republican and her political beliefs.

Brendan Fraser

Fraser in Toronto in June 2006

With parts in films like George of the Jungle, The Mummy, Blast from the Past, and Airheads, Brendan Fraser’s career reached its height in the 1990s. His career extended throughout the 2000s, most notably in the year 2004 when he played a part in the Oscar-winning movie Crash.

Fraser is still employed in Hollywood, but his career is no longer as successful as it once was. He has had a few minor roles in TV series including Trust and The Affair.

Sharon Stone

Stone at the Deauville American Film Festival in 1991

It is not exaggerating to claim that Sharon Stone was one of the most popular actresses of the 1990s because of her parts in films like Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Casino, and The Specialist. In a fairly extensive list of movies from the era, many of which are still well-liked today, Stone both starred in and made guest appearances.

Although Stone’s career may have slowed down a little bit since the 1990s, she is still a very well-liked actress who consistently lands excellent assignments. Stone has most recently been seen in the films The Disaster Artist and Life on the Line. Her most recent and largest part was in HBO’s Mosaic.

Will Smith

Smith at the Emmy Awards 1993

One of the biggest stars in the world in the late 1980s and early 1990s was Will Smith. Smith accomplished it all, from his work on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to his career in movies to his legacy in hip-hop music.

One of the few A-list stars from the 1990s who have sustained a successful career is Smith. Smith is still a prominent actor with parts in blockbuster movies like Aladdin and Suicide Squad, despite having mostly abandoned his music career. Jaden and Willow Smith, the couple’s two children, are equally well-known as their famous parents. Smith previously married Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Whoopi Goldberg

Goldberg in 1996

Whoopi Goldberg’s career really took off in the 1990s because of her parts in films like Ghost, Sister Act, Eddie, and How Stella Got Her Groove Back as well as her talk show, The Whoopi Goldberg Show, even though she was popular in the 1980s as well. As the first black woman to receive the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the film Ghost, Goldberg also made history.

As a co-host of The View and a great actress, Goldberg continues to have a very successful career today. She has made guest appearances on a few TV programs, including Glee and The Middle, and she agreed to reprise her role as Guinan in Star Trek: Picard’s second season.

Neve Campbell

Campbell at the BAFTA Awards in 2006

In the 1990s, Neve Campbell’s career was at its peak, and it all began with her performance as Julia Salinger in Party of Five. She went on to play prominently successful parts in movies including The Craft and Scream.

The previous several years have seen a little less activity in Campbell’s career. She has acted in a few independent films and appeared in a few series, including Manhattan and House of Cards.


The entertainment industry was greatly impacted by a number of brilliant and varied performers and actresses throughout the 1990s. They together influenced Hollywood’s future and serve as a reminder of the impact of strong performances and the continuing allure of film.

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