There are many talented people with Robert as a first name who have made their mark on cinema history. It may only be about the 80th most popular name nowadays, but between 1924 and 1939, it was the most popular boys’ name in the United States (and remained incredibly popular into the 1950s and beyond). With this knowledge in mind, maybe the sheer quantity of Roberts in Hollywood isn’t as surprising.
As far as directors named Robert go, there’s Zemeckis, Altman, Eggers, and Wise, to name a few. However, when it comes to actors, there seems to be even more Roberts. To celebrate some of the most notable Roberts in acting history, here are 10 notable actors who share it as a first name.
Robert De Niro
It’s hard to imagine what American cinema for the last 50 years would have looked like without the involvement of Robert De Niro. He’s been acting in well-known movies since the early 1970s, and has seemingly never slowed down as an actor, with many of his best roles coming from his classic collaborations with director Martin Scorsese.
Picking a favorite Robert might be like picking a favorite child, but at the same time… maybe it is De Niro? Beyond Scorsese’s films, he’s been in movies like Once Upon a Time in America, Brazil, The Godfather Part II, Heat, and even far lighter films, like Meet The Parents. Whether he’s in the lead role or a supporting player, De Niro always brings his A-game, and his reputation for being one of the greatest actors of all time is well-deserved.
Like De Niro, Robert Duvall is another Robert who’s featured in The Godfather films. In both cases, neither had their debuts in the iconic trilogy, but both became more popular in its wake, with an Oscar win for De Niro’s single appearance, and Duvall being nominated for his performance as Tom Hagen in the first film.
It’s far from Duvall’s only great role, though. He also had a memorable turn in Apocalypse Now, making a huge impression despite only being in a handful of relatively short scenes in a lengthy movie. He’s also stayed active in the film world into his 80s, earning an Oscar nomination for 2014’s The Judge, and giving a strong performance within the ensemble cast of 2018’s Widows.
Robert Downey Jr.
It probably goes without saying, but yes, to many people, Robert Downey Jr. essentially is Iron Man. He made the role his own, playing Tony Stark/Iron Man for over 10 years, being the lead character in three solo movies, playing a major role in all four Avengers movies, and having smaller (yet enjoyable) appearances in films like Spider-Man: Far From Home and even The Incredible Hulk.
It’s worth highlighting that he’s not just Tony Stark, though, and given what happened to the character at the end of Avengers: Endgame, we may have seen the last of Stark. He’s also been in Natural Born Killers, the hilarious and underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and gave a fantastic performance in 1992’s Charlie Chaplin biopic, simply titled Chaplin.
Robert Loggia might not be a household name, but he has a very memorable screen presence, and chances are, you’ve seen him in something before. Funnily enough, while he usually plays tough guys (often in crime movies), his single most famous movie role might be in the 1988 comedy Big (starring Tom Hanks).
He also had a recurring role as Feech La Manna in The Sopranos during the show’s fifth season, and on the topic of gangsters, also featured in 1983’s Scarface. With 233 (usually supporting) roles in both TV and movies during his career, there are simply too many others to list here.
For playing the villain in Terminator 2 – arguably one of the best action movies of all time – Robert Patrick has earned his place among other notable Roberts of the acting world. He’s a menacing antagonist and a force to be reckoned with in James Cameron’s 1991 classic, even whilst being up against Arnold Schwarzenegger, who’s clearly bigger and more imposing than Patrick.
He’s otherwise had a solid career, appearing in The Sopranos, The X Files, and the recent Peacemaker, to name just a few shows. However, it’s hard not to think of him as the bad guy from the second Terminator movie, but given that movie’s so good, maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world.
Robert Forster had a long career in Hollywood, establishing himself as an always reliable character actor from the late 1960s onwards. His presence always improved the film he was in, and his career even managed to get a second wind with 1997’s Jackie Brown, which saw Forster earning an Oscar nomination.
One of his last roles was as mysterious and professional Ed in Breaking Bad, where he made a huge impact, despite appearing in just one of the final season’s last episodes. He reprised the role for the sequel movie El Camino, which ended up being released on the day Forster passed away.
For several decades, Robert Redford was arguably one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. While he continued to act into the 21st century, he was probably at his peak in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and well-celebrated by many for his on-screen presence, his charisma, and his famously good looks.
He did some of his most iconic movies with fellow superstar Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and The Sting). He’s slowed down on the acting roles in the 2010s, but could still be seen in a decent number of high-profile movies, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, All Is Lost, and The Old Man & the Gun.
Robert Wagner is another Robert who has been around for many decades at this point. His first credits go back to the early 1950s, appearing in a wide variety of movies, from comedies, to romance films, and war films. He’s also known for being married to Natalie Wood in high-profile marriages from 1957 until 1962, and then from 1972 until her death in 1981.
Nowadays, he might be most well-known for playing Number Two in the Austin Powers trilogy. It’s not a starring role by any means, but he makes it work, and adds yet another eccentric character to the wild world that’s built up in those spoof movies.
Robert Vaughn didn’t often seem to get very many starring roles throughout his lengthy film career, but he had many notable supporting roles, being endlessly reliable in smaller parts. One of the most notable of these roles was being one of the magnificent seven in The Magnificent Seven, and he ended up being the last surviving member of the main cast, passing away in 2016.
He also showed up in Superman III, featured in Steve McQueen’s iconic Bullitt, and was a part of the large ensemble casts in both The Ten Commandments and The Towering Inferno. He may have rarely stolen the spotlight, but he was always a strong element of any large cast he appeared in.
Robert Pattinson stands out from the other famous acting Roberts for being significantly younger. He’s still in his 30s, but has already accumulated a huge number of iconic roles. And yes, even if the Twilight films aren’t particularly great, his role in them is memorable, and the series is ultimately a big reason why he became a well-loved actor in the first place.
Of course, it’s his post-2012 roles that have been the most exciting. He shocked a lot of people in Good Time, because of how good he was, and The Lighthouse came a couple of years later, and proved to give him just as iconic a role. Into the 2020s, he starred in Tenet and The Batman, and so really, the sky’s the limit for Pattinson at this stage in his already remarkable career.