This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Leading man" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (August 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Clark Gable was a leading man in over 60 major Hollywood productions
Clark Gable was a leading man in over 60 major Hollywood productions

A leading man is a complimentary term for the actor who is the primary male protagonist in a film, television show, or play, usually the main character who can be an action hero or any sort of man, often including a love interest to the leading lady. A leading man is sometimes an all-rounder; capable of being comical and/or heroic, singing, dancing, and acting at a professional level.

A leading man can also be an actor who is often seen in romantic roles. An example of this would be Bruce Cabot's role playing against Fay Wray in King Kong. Less frequently, the term has been applied to an actor who is often associated with one particular actress; for example, Spencer Tracy had a similar association with both Katharine Hepburn and Joan Bennett, and Clark Gable made numerous major films with Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, or Jean Harlow. The term is also used collectively, as in "Hollywood's leading men" to refer to a group of notable, famous, or popular actors.



Leading men of the silent era included Francis X Bushman, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Ramon Novarro, John Barrymore, John Gilbert, Wallace Beery, Conrad Nagel, Conrad Veidt, Rudolph Valentino, Sessue Hayakawa Henry B. Walthall and [(Melvyn Douglas)].


Leading men of the 1930s included Clark Gable, Ronald Colman, Maurice Chevalier, Warren William, Robert Young, William Powell, Fredric March, Paul Muni, Gary Cooper, George Raft, Edward G. Robinson, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda, Robert Montgomery, Youssef Wahbi, Bing Crosby, Fred MacMurray, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, John Wayne, Burgess Meredith, George Brent, Robert Taylor and Charles Boyer.


In the 1940s, leading men included James Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, George Sanders, Tyrone Power, Joel McCrea, Ray Milland, Ronald Reagan, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dana Andrews, Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck, William Holden, Burt Lancaster, Victor Mature, Laurence Olivier, Mahmoud Zulfikar and Robert Mitchum.


The 1950s included Marlon Brando, Farley Granger, Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum, Michael Rennie, Gene Kelly, Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Norman Lloyd, Ricardo Montalbán, Jeff Chandler, Yul Brynner, James Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Jack Lemmon and Paul Newman.


The 1960s included Steve McQueen, James Garner, Sidney Poitier, Clint Eastwood, Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Rex Harrison, Robert Redford, Keir Dullea, Salah Zulfikar, Kirk Douglas, Lee Marvin, Jerry Lewis, Dick Van Dyke, Christopher Lee, Omar Sharif and Sean Connery.


The 1970s included Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, James Caan, John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Salah Zulfikar, Gene Wilder, George Segal, Martin Sheen, Burt Reynolds, Woody Allen, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris.


The 1980s included Harrison Ford, Kevin Costner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eddie Murphy, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Michael J. Fox, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Richard Gere, Kurt Russell, Amitabh Bachchan and Michael Douglas.


The 1990s included, Johnny Depp, Bruce Willis, Keanu Reeves, Shah Rukh Khan, Nicolas Cage, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert Downey, Jr., Anthony Hopkins, Robin Williams, Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Jim Carrey.


Some examples of new leading men at the beginning of the millennium include Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Gerald Butler, Russell Crowe, Will Ferrell, Hugh Grant, Ben Stiller, Matthew McConaughey, Daniel Craig, Hugh Jackman, Adam Sandler and Vince Vaughn.

2010s and 2020s

Modern examples of the leading man include Christian Bale, Austin Butler, Chris Evans, Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Timothee Chalamet, Adam Driver, Ryan Gosling, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson and Channing Tatum.

See also