Top 10 Tough Guys ...


Top 10 Tough Guys ...
Top 10 Tough Guys ...

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article listing the best action movies, which got me thinking, of course, about the tough guys from those movies. The guys who know how to use their muscles, brains, and other noteworthy skills to save the girl, the money, the world. Some of these tough guys are played by a small set of elite bad-ass actors, but some are one-offs, characters that have been played by actors we wouldn’t have expected (like Matt Damon). After consulting my boyfriend and some other guy friends, and exhaustively comparing the bad-assery of a slew of tough guys, here’s my list of the top 10 tough guys.

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Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris Chuck Norris is perhaps the toughest of all the tough guys, though none of my guy friends could tell me exactly why. Personally, I don’t think Walker, Texas Ranger is all that tough, and his action movies are laughable, but… according to a book he co-authored, Chuck Norris is so tough, he kills two stones with one bird. And that’s pretty tough.


Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone From Rocky to Rambo to his role is this summer’s “The Expendables,” Sylvester Stallone has been a movie tough guy (and real-life tough guy) for decades. He’s something of a trail-blazer, one of those tough guys we love to see getting beat up, but coming back and winning in the end.


Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan. The Terminator. Dutch in “Predator.” Even the Kindergarten Cop. Governor of California? Arnold Schwarzenegger is an over-the-top tough guy, with bulging muscles, cheesy one-liners (“hasta la vista”), starring in movies where he’s inflicting more pain and spilling more blood than just about any other tough guy action hero.


Schwarzenegger's legendary status doesn't just come from his roles; his real-life persona exudes toughness too. A Mr. Universe bodybuilder turned Hollywood icon, he epitomizes the rags-to-riches American dream. Off-screen, his initiative and tenacity propelled him into the political arena, where he served as "The Governator", blending his Hollywood nickname with his political title. Arnie's toughness is multifaceted – from the sheer physicality he brought to his characters to the mental grit he's shown in his personal and political life. He makes toughness look almost as effortless as snapping a bad guy's neck in a blockbuster action scene.


Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood Let’s see, which Clint Eastwood characters should I include? How about ALL of them… Dirty Harry, Josey Wales, heck, even the old curmudgeons Bill Munny from 1992’s “Unforgiven” and Walt Kowalski from 2008’s “Gran Tourino.” Aside from his role in the god-awful “Bridges of Madison County,” has Clint Eastwood ever played a character that wasn’t a total bad-ass? No. He hasn’t.


Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford Here’s another actor that always seems to be playing a tough guy, from his career-launching dashing bad-boy smuggler Hans Solo to his iconic scared-of-snakes-but-still-tough Indiana Jones to The Blade Runner to patriotic spy Jack Ryan, there’s no tough guy we like to see get beat up (or carbonite frozen) more than Harrison Ford.


John Wayne

John Wayne Is there any tough guy actor more revered and, well, more tough, than John Wayne? For decades he dominated the big screen with his tough-guy characters, mostly in western and war movies. Perhaps the toughest of all were


Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis After seeing some of Bruce Willis’ movies, I was reluctant to include him in this list, but really, I have to include him. I mean, he was John McClane from the “Die Hard” series, and that one scene of him in the office, picking glass shards out of his feet… that alone earns him a spot in my tough guys list.


Matt Damon

Matt Damon I’m so glad I can include Matt Damon in this list, because I think we’ll be seeing him in a lot more tough guy action roles. He clearly has a talent for it, after seeing him in “Saving Private Ryan” and then in the Bourne series.


Damon's intensity on screen is matched by his physicality, which he showcases effortlessly. Whether he's outsmarting enemies with Jason Bourne's lethal precision or leading a desperate squad through war-torn France, he brings a believable fierceness to his roles. Off-screen, his commitment to rigorous training and preparation speaks volumes about his dedication to embodying the tough guy persona. And with every new character he takes on, audiences can anticipate that trademark Damon grit, solidifying his spot among Hollywood's hard-as-nails elite.


Any Actor Who Ever Played James Bond

Any Actor Who Ever Played James Bond So many actors have portrayed the ultimate tough guy — James Bond. So all of them deserve a place on this list, even the lack-luster Pierce Brosnan, and especially the ultra-hot Daniel Craig and Sean Connery. While some may argue James Bond isn’t a tough guy, I wholeheartedly disagree… he’s suave, smart, and knows when to fight with his fists, and when to shoot it out.


The Entire Cast of the Godfather

The Entire Cast of the Godfather Marlon Brando. Al Pacino. Even James Caan. It seems like anyone who starred in this movie is a tough guy, especially The Godfather himself. In fact, let’s extend this to cover anyone who ever had a starring role in a gangster flick, shall we? They’re almost their own brand of tough guy, from Jack Nicholson in “The Departed” to Leo DiCaprio in “Gangs of New York.” Tough guys, all of them.

BONUS: The Most Interesting Man in the World
If you’ve ever seen any of the Dos Equis TV commercials featuring “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” then you know he’s a new tough guy in the making, part James Bond, part Chuck Norris, all style and sophistication and sportsman. Check out the series of commercials on the Dos Equis site, or at YouTube. They’re fantastic examples of what a tough guy should be!

I know some of you will give me a hard time for not including Jet Li, Bruce Lee, or Chow Yun Fat in my list, but I’m saving them for another list… who on this list is your favorite tough guy actor, and who else did I leave out? Please let me know!

Feedback Junction

Where Thoughts and Opinions Converge

I agree with almost the whole list. Replace #s 8, 9, & 10 with Samuel L Jackson, Johnny Depp, and John Travolta.

BRUCE LEE IS THE MAN!!!!! compared to him everyone is second

NO list of movie tough guys is complete without the toughest, and baddest man of them all...who is the only man in movie history to kill Chuck Norris in a fight!! I mean, of course, Bruce Lee! This list, as good as it is, is a DISMAL FAILURE without the Dragon in it. Shame on your boyfriend and guy friends for not mentioning him. That'd be like me making a list of all-time chick-flick actresses and leaving out Julia Roberts. ;)

Loved this! After seeing Red last weekend I wish Bruce Willis was a bit further up the list. Could just be my intense hatred for Sylvester and Arnold :-) Thanks for the stalking!!!

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