Most people know that Hollywood is full of famous short men. You can't tell how tall someone is on screen!
There are all sorts of tricks to make people appear taller on camera (like surrounding them by other short people, for example). Here are some of the most successful and influential actors under 5'9″ (sort by name or height):
|Jackie Earle Haley||5'5"|
|Emilio Estevez||5'4 1/2"|
|Jon Stewart||5'6 1/2"|
Let's look at each actor in more detail…
Love him or hate him, Tom Cruise is one of the most legendary actors of our time. From Rain Man to the epic Mission: Impossible franchise, there isn’t a genre in which he hasn’t delivered a captivating (even Oscar-worthy) performance.
At a humble 5’7”, Tom Cruise is somehow larger than life. I think his success is do in part to the intensity that he brings to the screen. This energy seems to be an inherent part of his character, but you can tell that he works hard too.
After all, he does a lot of his own stunts, which is pretty badass. Of course, he does occasionally partner with a stunt double.
For example, in that opening scene of Mission: Impossible 2 he had some help from legendary rock climber Ron Kauk, who is only an inch or so taller.
Short and slender, Wood made a name for himself at a young age when he appeared (briefly) in Back to the Future Part II.
Shortly thereafter, he established himself as an emotional, versatile actor through his roles in Radio Flyer, The Good Son, and The War (which, by the way, is an amazing movie that didn’t get nearly enough attention at the box office).
In 2001, when Wood was 20 years old, he catapulted to super-stardom after portraying the lovable Frodo in the first installment of what would become one of the most epic film trilogies of all time.
Since LOTR, Wood has been in some awesome movies. After all, he has enough money to do whatever he wants, so he doesn’t exactly have to chase the blockbusters anymore. If you want to see the grittier side of Elijah Wood, check out Green Street Hooligans, the brutal tale of soccer gang rivalries in England.
Wood is also a funny dude. If you don’t believe me, check out his new show Wilfred. Fair warning: you’ll either love it or hate it.
An award-winning author, comedian, actor, writer, director and musician, Woody Allen is one of the most talented entertainers and creative minds of the century. He stands five feet and five inches tall and weighs less than 150 pounds, so he's a pretty small guy.
Allen has said a lot of quotable things, but one of my favorite lines of his is:
“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
It's so true. Just show up. Make sure you're on time and looking sharp, and you will get far. But don't take my word for it. Take Woody's. After all, he has won four Oscars, two Golden globes and nine BAFTAs.
What comes to mind when you think of Al Pacino? Is it the fact that he's 5'6″ tall? Or do you picture a pissed-off, blood-covered Tony Montana letting loose with a machine gun? Yeah…me too.
Al Pacino has played some of the most hardcore characters in some of the most dramatic films ever made. The crazy thing is, he actually has a lot in common with these characters that he portrayed so masterfully.
Pacino grew up in a broken family in the bad part of NYC. He was drinking and smoking at a very young age, and he apparently didn't shy away from a fight. He dropped out of high school at age 17 and worked odd jobs to finance his acting lessons.
So, even as a little kid in the ghetto, he didn't let his size hold him back. He worked hard and fought (literally) his way to success. Let Al Pacino be an example of how a short man – or any man – can overcome the odds and achieve great things.
Ben Stiller is a hilarious actor and director. He parents were both established comedians, so it was pretty much inevitable that he was going to be a funny man.
He got his big break with There's Something About Mary in 1998, and it was all uphill from there.
Stiller is only 5'7″ tall, but he stays in great shape. He's been side by side with Tom Cruise in a few short spoofs, and he definitely holds his own when it comes to “jackedness”.
Ben's willingness to use slap-stick, self-deprecating style of humor has worked out well for him. About his commitment to acting and making people laugh, he has said:
“I'm always willing to endure humiliation on behalf of my characters.”
Being a shorter man, I think this sort of “roll with the punches” mentality goes a long way. You should expect someone, at some point, to make fun of you. Whether it's about your height or something else. Your power comes from how you react, and Ben Stiller has mastered that.
Michael J. Fox
Fox is cool for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, he rode a hoverboard in Back to the Future Part II, a scene which, to this day, makes me resentful that we don't have real hoverboards yet.
Second, he became a heartthrob actor, producer, activist and philanthropist despite being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease more than two decades ago.
These days, Michael J. Fox puts a lot of energy in to his foundation for Parkinson's research, although he still does some acting (like unexpected and often hilarious appearances on Saturday Night Live, Rescue Me and Curb Your Enthusiasm).
Most people, however, will remember Fox for his starring roles in the classic films like Teen Wolf, Back to the Future, Doc Hollywood and Stuart Little.
Some people love him for Jaws, some respect him for Mr. Holland's Opus, and others just want to watch What About Bob on repeat.
Regardless, most of us generally agree that Richard Dreyfuss is an outstanding actor.
At 5'5″ he is one of the shortest actors on our list. This didn't stop him from winning an Oscar for Best Actor, along with a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award.
Dreyfuss is also a political activist, public speaker, author and academic. He has battled bipolar disorder for a long time, but he clearly didn't let this or any other physical or mental conditions stop him.
Standing at 5’5”, Dustin Hoffman has starred in over fifty films.
He’s perhaps best known for his role in the hit film Tootsie, released in 1982.
Son of famous bad boy actor James Caan, Scott Caan measures 5’5” tall.
He’s forayed into both the world of Hollywood and television acting and has even made a name for himself as a photographer.
Let's hop over to the other side of the pond for our next short actor, shall we?
At 5’4” tall, English actor Tom Hollander had been starring in film and television since he was just fourteen.
Here's a talented English actor (and comedian, by the way) who has gotten very famous over the past few years.
Measuring 5’4”, Martin Freeman is best known for his portrayal of Dr. John Watson in the hit British TV series Sherlock.
Galecki has been acting in movies since he was just a kid, starring in classics such as Prancer and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Now, this 5’5” actor is most well-known for his role as Leonard Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory.
Hmm…we're thinking CBS must have a soft spot for men of modest height. What do you think?
Standing at 5’6”, Simon Helberg also stars in the hit show The Big Bang Theory as the goofy yet loveable Howard Wolowitz.
5’4” tall actor Kevin Hart isn’t just an accomplished actor.
This famous short man also a comedian, a television host, and a producer.
American comedian and actor Ken Jeong stands at 5’4” tall and is best known for his role as Leslie Chow in The Hangover.
Many people don’t know this, but he’s also a licensed physician in the state of California!
At 5’4”, Seth Green doesn’t let height get in the way of fame and fortune.
He’s been acting since he was just ten and has appeared in comedies such as Austin Powers and Without a Paddle.
What’s more, he’s married to a gorgeous taller woman who loves short men.
Jackie Earle Haley
Although not as well known as some of the short actors on this list, Haley has made quite a name for himself in Hollywood.
Standing 5’5” tall, Earle Haley has acted in and produced famous films such as Watchmen, Little Children, and a Nightmare on Elm Street.
In an age of blockbuster-only movie stars, Jones is truly a well-rounded actor.
5’5” English actor Tony Jones is one of greatest stage and screen actors both in the UK and abroad, starring in movies, television, and even Broadway musicals.
Giancarlo Esposito, 5’8” tall, landed his first role at age eight back in 1966.
These days, though, he’s better known for his role as Gus on the TV series Breaking Bad.
Okay, he's not technically an actor, but Scorsese is still insanely talented and very famous in Hollywood.
In his more than fifty-year career, 5’3” Martin Scorsese has become arguably one of the most famous directors to hit the big screen, producing films such as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and The Wolf of Wall Street.
Ducks fly together! Sorry…had to.
Standing 5’4 1/2” tall, Estevez has acted in an impressive number of classic movies, including The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, and the 1983 adaptation of the book The Outsiders.
Nobody in their right mind can question Danny DeVito's acting chops. The 4'10” actor, writer, and producer has been involved in countless TV shows and movies.
You can also hear his distinctive New York accent in voice-over work.
Italian-American actor Joe Pesci measures 5’3” and has starred in action movies such as Goodfellas and comedies such as Home Alone.
He owes his acting career to actor Robert De Niro, who helped him to land his first major role.
Despite his 5’6” stature, Jet Li is known worldwide as a certifiable badass.
He started training in the martial arts at just eight, moving onto acting in his late teens.
Before he was an actor, Breckin Meyer was a drummer and a vocalist.
Standing at 5’5”, Meyer made his Hollywood debut in the 1991 film Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.
Hirsch has played in some very interesting roles throughout his career. He seems to pick his acting gigs very carefully.
This 5’7” actor started his career in television, moving onto the big screen when he made his debut in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys.
Here's a super famous short actor who understands how to dress for his body type. He's also looking sharp, even when dressed casually.
Standing at 5’5” tall, actor Josh Hutcherson has won hearts from around the world for his role as Peeta in The Hunger Games.
Giovanni Ribisi, 5’7”, got the acting bug from his mother, who landed him his first role on the tv series Highway to Heaven.
Since then, he’s dabbled in both television and cinema.
5’5” actor BD Wong got started acting on Broadway, starring in the musical Madame Butterfly.
Since then, he’s starred in films such as Jurassic Park and made guest appearances on TV shows.
Famous rock star Jack Black stands 5’6” tall and is bursting with personality.
He’s best known for performing in the two-man band Tenacious D, and for his role as a zany music teacher in The School of Rock.
Standing 5’7”, Scottish actor James McAvoy decided against joining the Catholic priesthood as a teen in favor of acting.
Thank goodness too, or otherwise, we wouldn’t have great films such as Filth, Split, and X-Men.
Alexander is really known for one major TV role, but he's a highly trained, multitalented actor.
The 5’5” Jason Alexander is an actor and comedian best known for his role as George Costanza on the hit TV series Seinfeld.
It’s easy to recognize actor and comedian Zach Galifianakis by his trademark scruffy beard.
The 5’7” actor is most widely known for his role in the comedy The Hangover.
Jonah Hill has mastered a variety of roles, from the comedic to the dramatic.
The 5’7” actor, writer, and director got his start in Hollywood through another famous short actor Dustin Hoffman.
Dave Franco, younger brother of actors Tom and James Franco, stands at 5’7” tall.
Like his siblings, he’s an accomplished actor and is perhaps best known for his role in the movie Neighbors.
Tim Roth, 5’7”, is an English actor who’s a master of accents.
He made his breakthrough in acting when he caught the eye of director Quentin Tarantino, who cast Roth in his hit film Pulp Fiction.
You have to love a shorter man who knows how to dress well. Rodriguez is one of those men!
Standing at 5’6”, actor and producer Freddy Rodriguez is best known for his roles in the films Planet Terror, Poseidon, and Harsh Times.
Many people don't know that Stewart is on the shorter side.
The former host of the long-running of the late night talk show The Daily Show, 5'6 1/2″ comedian Jon Stewart is revered for his insightful humor and sharp wit.
Nathan Lane is most easily recognized by his distinctive voice, which has landed him multiple gigs in major cartoons.
The 5’5” actor is also known for his participation in major films such as The Producers and The Bird Cage.
Multiple Emmy and Golden Globe winner Martin Sheen is an American treasure, known for his on-screen work both domestically and internationally.
The 5’6” actor been in critically acclaimed features such as The Departed and Bobby.
Spade has been around for along time, and we must say: he's aging wonderfully.
American comedian David Spade stands at 5’5” tall and has been in television shows such as SNL and feature films such as Joe Dirt and The Benchwarmers.
While his original dream was to become a baseball player, 5’6” Billy Crystal ended up becoming a world-famous comedian.
He’s starred in shows such as Soap and SNL as well as several movies.
A versatile actor, 5'8″ Mike Meyers has starred in a range of films as everything from a super villain in Austin Powers to a misunderstood ogre in the movie Shrek.
You'd probably be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't seen a movie with Mike Myers.
Here's another actor who doesn't seem short on the big screen. In real life, though, he's at least a couple inches below average height.
A young up-and-coming actor, 5’7” Jesse Eisenberg has starred in films such as Zombieland and The Social Network.
5’4” actor Frankie Muniz is best known for his role as the hapless middle brother in the series Malcolm in the Middle.
Now, he follows his passion for racing and music. Good for you, Frankie!
Schneider started his career as a stand-up comedian, acting in the long-running late night show SNL.
Now, the 5’3” actor, comedian, screenwriter, and director produces and stars in comedy films.
Obviously, these are just a handful of the famous short actors we've grown to love over the years. Perhaps I'll add more to the list or write another post featuring some younger and up-and-coming actors.
Until then, I hope this list inspires you to get out there and do great things.
Want more? Check out part two of this series – Famous Short Men, Part 2: Rockstars.