Top 10 Modern Day Cary Grants

Cary Grant was the number one leading man in Hollywood throughout much of the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and is considered to be one of the greatest leading male actors of all time. He was in more than 70 films including classics such as Arsenic and Old Lace, Notorious, To Catch a Thief, North by Northwest, Holiday, Houseboat, Operation Petticoat, Monkey Business and That Touch of Mink.


He was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award in 1941 and 1944 and for the Golden Globe Best Actor in 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962 and 1963. After being passed over for the Oscar for decades he was belatedly given an Honorary Oscar in 1970.

Cary Grant was known for his comedy as well as his dramatic acting and carried off both with equal ease. He worked with the top movie Directors and actors of the day including Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Joan Fontaine, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Deborah Kerr, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Doris Day, Robert Mitchum, Howard Hawks and of course a number of films with Alfred Hitchcock.

He was handsome, debonair, charming and a real old school film star. Dashing, the Rolls Royce, holidays in the French Riviera, caviar and so on. Born Archibald Alexander Leach, he thankfully changed his name to Cary Grant and became an American citizen in 1942.

Do we have a modern day equivalent?

10. Ryan Gosling

At 33 years old Ryan Gosling is equal youngest actor on this list. His film resume is already impressive, particularly the dark, intense drama/thrillers like Drive, The Ides of March and Blue Valentine. He produced a great performance in the quirky Lars and the Real Girl and Crazy, Stupid, Love showed him in a romantic comedy.

He makes it in at number 10 because he has the looks and the on-screen presence needed to make it as a true Hollywood leading man, in abundance. Although the breadth of his acting capabilities is clearly substantial, more romantic comedies will be needed for him to move up this list.

A bunch of great Ryan Gosling moments from Stupid, Crazy, Love. Fantastic.


9. Christian Bale

Christian Bale is an English actor although he has lived in Los Angeles for more than 20 years. He has a diverse filmography and is obviously unafraid to look outside the mainstream for his artistic satisfaction. Having said that he has starred in some of the most mainstream blockbusters Hollywood are capable of producing such as The Batman series, Terminator Salvation and Public Enemies to name a few.

Bales classic good looks can be in the mould of Cary Grant from time to time and he can be absolutely debonair when he wants to. Bruce Wayne would not have it any other way. A lack of solid romantic comedy experience counts against Bale in this list, otherwise he would probably be higher.
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A passionate Christian Bale talking about his latest film, Out of the Furnace, plus clips and more.


8. Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise has been one of Hollywood’s leading men for a long time, rocketing to stardom in the 1980’s in films such as Risky Business, Top Gun, The Colour of Money and Rain Man. In fact there has barely been a year without a Tom Cruise hit on the film circuit.

Although he is best known for his action, sci-fi and dramas, he has mixed in some romantic roles from time to time that have worked well.

While Cruises’ good looks, impressive resume and Hollywood legend status put him in the Cary Grant league more generally, he doesn’t have the mix of onscreen humour and charm that’s needed to match it with the best on this list.
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The trailer for Tom Cruises latest film, Edge of Tomorrow, a sci-fi thriller with Emily Blunt.

7. Jake Gyllenhaal

At 33 years old Jake Gyllenhaal is the youngest member of the list along with Ryan Gosling. Which makes his acting credits that much more impressive. He certainly started his career with a bang, clocking up October Sky, Donnie Darko, The Good Girl, The Day After Tomorrow, Jarhead and Brokeback Mountain before he was 25.

Many of Gyllenhaal’s films have been drama’s or sci-fi thrillers but Love & Other Drugs showed that he can do romantic comedies with the best of them.

He has Grants good looks, easy going demeanor and a touch of charm that we are tipping will see him continue his journey to the very top of the modern Cary Grant list.
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The trailer for Gyllenhaal’s latest film, Enemy. A surreal thriller.


6. Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds is relatively young and doesn’t quite have the filmography needed to make a full comparison with Cary Grant. However his success in romantic comedies such as Chaos Theory and The Proposal put him squarely in line to be higher up this list in the future.

In addition, his performances in Buried and Safe House show that he is more than capable of adding action and drama to his great rom-com abilities and become a fully fledged Hollywood leading man

He has Grants boyish good looks and a sense of the debonair that should grow in the coming years. Position 6 with an arrow.
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If you haven’t seen Chaos Theory, or even if you have, watch this video. The opening and closing scenes, which don’t have a lot to do with the film proper (they won’t give anything away). Ryan Reynolds is great.


5. Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck is clearly one of the most successful leading men in Hollywood and a great Director to boot. His filmography includes an outstanding list of drama and action films that have won him two Oscars, three Golden Globes, two BAFTA’s and a number of others awards.

He’s a good looking bloke who has a distinguished air about him when he’s all spruced up and he certainly has the Hollywood glow. However Affleck is not debonair in a Cary Grant sense. He’s got all the same qualities as Grant but they tend toward the rugged male rather than the debonair male. Which is not a bad thing, except in the context of this list.
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A great video of Top 10 Ben Affleck performances from WatchMojo.


4. Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio certainly has the boyish good looks and Hollywood cachet that puts him in the Cary Grant league. His acting is outstanding and his films are invariably impressive and commercially successful. He has been nominated for an enormous five Academy Awards, ten Golden Globes and three BAFTA’s (if you include The Wolf of Wall Street which is yet to be confirmed). For an actor still in his 30’s this is an incredible resume.

His acting roles have evolved from romantic adventures to being largely dramatic or historic pieces. At this point he doesn’t have the strength in the humour element in his CV that he needs to be considered another Cary Grant, but he’s certainly got everything else.
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A great interview with Ellen talking to DiCaprio about his latest movie, The Wolf of Wall Street.


3. Matthew McConaughey

At first glance Matthew McConaughey is just too outdoorsy, has his shirt off too often and has too much wild hair to be a modern day Cary Grant. Not dissimilar to Brad Pitt. But dig a little deeper and he is very, very close to the mark.

His impressive list of films includes a great mix of romance, comedy and drama. His comedy style has similarities to Grants’ with a touch of self-deprecating bumbling sitting well with his strong physical presence. And his rugged good looks can take on a touch of the debonair when he’s in a suit and his hair is all gelled back.

Serious dramas have dominated the more recent period of McConaughey’s career, adding a layer of depth to his acting credentials and putting him firmly in the running to be a modern day Cary Grant.

Modern actors who are like Cary Grant.


2. Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt has a superb movie catalogue going back to the 1980’s that includes a long list of screen classics (including a number with Clooney). He has been nominated for many awards including five Academy Awards and five Golden Globes.

Brad Pitt’s acting covers a diverse range of styles and certainly includes humour and drama, some of which could be considered Grant-esque. In some ways he is a better actor than Grant, although that’s not in the scope of this list. He is also a true Hollywood ‘movie star’ with a glittering life and a touch of the debonair.

He is certainly considered to be a handsome man although in a slightly different mould to Cary Grant. His demeanor is a bit more bohemian, a bit rougher, a bit more relaxed.

All in all he could well be a modern day Cary Grant.

Best modern actors


A great, in-depth interview with Brad Pitt talking about his career, his films and his life in general.


1. George Clooney

Yes, George Clooney fits the bill on all counts and can genuinely be compared directly with Cary Grant. He has classic good looks, plays comedy and drama equally well and draws enormous crowds to any red carpet event he attends.

Unlike Grant, George Clooney has received numerous awards including three Golden Globes and two Academy Awards as both actor and producer. He spent much of his early years in television but has an impressive movie catalogue going back to the early 1990’s.

Although he largely spurns the glitter and glitz of Hollywood, preferring to get involved in political activism and peace initiatives instead, he remains a classic debonair Hollywood movie actor in the Cary Grant mould, right down to the facial tics and nuanced acting mannerisms that help create that magic X factor.
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A most interesting interview with George Clooney talking about his latest film Gravity, the satellites he owns (yes, the satellites he owns) and more.

Clooney in Burn After Reading (Coen Brothers). Great facial expressions. Cary Grant would have loved this role.



Cary Grant was paid:

$450 per week for Madame Butterfly (1932)
$750 per week for I’m No Angel (1933)
$2,500 per week for The Last Outpost (1935)
$3,500 per week for Wedding Present (1936)
$50,000 + 10% of gross for The Awful Truth (1937) ($500,000 in back end earnings)
$75,000 + 11% of gross for Bring Up Baby (1938)
$125,000 for Gunga Din (1939)
$150,000 for The Philadelphia Story (1940)
$150,000 + 10% of profits for None But the Lonely Heart (1944)
$300,000 for People Will Talk (1951)
$750,000 + 10% of gross over $8m for To Catch a Thief (1955)
$300,000 + a Rolls Royce for Indiscreet (1958)
$450,000 + $315,000 overtime + % of gross for North by Northwest (1959)
$3,000,000 for Operation Petticoat (1959)
$4,000,000 for That Touch of Mink (1962)

After adjusting for inflation, $4,000,000 would be worth over $30,000,000 today.

Top 10 Modern Day Cary Grants


Hi, I'm Aarden. I walk along the beach in the morning and swim in the afternoon. The rest of the time I just love making up the best lists I can and moderating others. It's a fantastic way of bringing together interesting, important or fun information that you wouldn't otherwise get. Enjoy List Land!

1 Response

  1. JRD says:

    No, none of these second rate actors could even hope to be mildly compared to Mr. Grant. None has the style, charisma or grace and what’s really lacking are the memorable movies. Cary Grant at one point was in a zone. Every movie he made at one stretch was a hit or just a damn good movie. He is the quintessential “movie star.”
    Hollywood for me doesn’t even exist today. The actors seem generic, the moves lack good writing, and are often loaded with pointless CGI in many cases to keep the video game generation interested. The red carpet at any awards show is a great indication of how Hollywood lacks any real star power such as in the past. They’re all on Turner Classic Movies.

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