Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play

The Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play is an honor presented at the Tony Awards, a ceremony established in 1947 as the Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre, to actors for quality leading roles in a Broadway play. The awards are named after Antoinette Perry, an American actress who died in 1946. Honors in several categories are presented at the ceremony annually by the Tony Award Productions, a joint venture of The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, to "honor the best performances and stage productions of the previous year."[1] Despite the award first being presented in 1947, there were no nominees announced until 1956.

Tony Award for
Best Actor in a Play
Bryan Cranston at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival (2).jpg
2020 Recipient: Bryan Cranston for Network
Awarded forBest Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
LocationNew York City
Presented byAmerican Theatre Wing The Broadway League
Currently held byBryan Cranston for Network (2019)

Winners and nomineesEdit

  indicates the winner


Jose Ferrer in 1952
Year Actor Role Play Ref.
Jose Ferrer Cyrano De Bergerac Cyrano de Bergerac
Fredrick March Clinton Jones Years Ago
Henry Fonda Lt. Roberts Mister Roberts
Paul Kelly Brigadier General K.C. Dennis Command Decision
Basil Rathbone Dr. Austin Sloper The Heiress
Rex Harrison Henry VIII Anne of the Thousand Days


Sidney Blackmer won for Come Back, Little Sheba in 1950
Paul Muni won for Inherit the Wind (1956)
Fredrick March won for Long Day's Journey into Night in 1957
Jason Robards won for The Disenchanted (1959)
Year Actor Role Play Ref.
Sidney Blackmer Doc Come Back, Little Sheba
Claude Rains Rubashov Darkness at Noon
José Ferrer Jim Downs The Shrike
Tom Ewell Richard Sherman The Seven Year Itch
David Wayne Sakini The Teahouse of the August Moon
Alfred Lunt Diensen Quadrille
Paul Muni Henry Drummond Inherit the Wind
Ben Gazzara Johnny Pope A Hatful of Rain
Boris Karloff Pierre Cauchon The Lark
Michael Redgrave Hector Tiger at the Gates
Edward G. Robinson The Manufacturer Middle of the Night
Fredric March James Tyrone Sr. Long Day's Journey into Night
Maurice Evans King Magnus The Apple Cart
Wilfrid Hyde-White Jimmy Broadbent The Reluctant Debutante
Eric Portman Mr. Malcolm / Major Pollock Separate Tables
Ralph Richardson General St. Pé The Waltz of the Toreadors
Cyril Ritchard Kreton Visit to a Small Planet
Ralph Bellamy Franklin D. Roosevelt Sunrise at Campobello
Richard Burton Prince Albert Time Remembered
Hugh Griffith W.O. Gant Look Homeward, Angel
Laurence Olivier Archie The Entertainer
Anthony Perkins Eugene Gant Look Homeward, Angel
Peter Ustinov The General Romanoff and Juliet
Emlyn Williams Himself A Boy Growing Up
Jason Robards Manley Halliday The Disenchanted
Cedric Hardwicke Koichi Asano A Majority of One
Alfred Lunt Anton Schill The Visit
Christopher Plummer Nickles J.B.
Cyril Ritchard Biddeford Poole The Pleasure of His Company
Robert Stephens George Dillon Epitaph for George Dillon


Zero Mostel won for Rhinoceros (1961)
Paul Scofield won for A Man for All Seasons (1963)
Alec Guinness won for Dylan (1964)
Walter Matthau won for The Odd Couple (1965)
James Earl Jones won for The Great White Hope (1969)
Year Actor Role Play
Melvyn Douglas William Russell The Best Man
Sidney Poitier Walter Lee Younger A Raisin in the Sun
Jason Robards Julian Berniers Toys in the Attic
George C. Scott Lt. Col. N. P. Chipman The Andersonville Trial
Lee Tracy Arthur Hockstader The Best Man
Zero Mostel John Rhinocéros
Hume Cronyn Jimmie Luton Big Fish, Little Fish
Anthony Quinn Henry II Becket
Sam Levene Dr. Aldo Meyer The Devil's Advocate
Paul Scofield Sir Thomas More A Man for All Seasons
Fredric March Angel Gideon
John Mills Aircraftman Ross Ross
Donald Pleasence Davies The Caretaker
Arthur Hill George Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Charles Boyer Lord Pengo Lord Pengo
Paul Ford Harry Lambert Never Too Late
Bert Lahr Various Characters The Beauty Part
Alec Guinness Dylan Thomas Dylan
Richard Burton Hamlet Hamlet
Albert Finney Martin Luther Luther
Jason Robards Quentin After the Fall
Walter Matthau Oscar Madison The Odd Couple
John Gielgud Julian Tiny Alice
Donald Pleasence Bitos (Robespieere) Poor Bitos
Jason Robards "Erie" Smith Hughie
Hal Holbrook Mark Twain Mark Twain Tonight!
Patrick Bedford & Donal Donnelly Gareth O'Donnell Philadelphia, Here I Come!
Roland Culver Pavel Lebedev Ivanov
Nicol Williamson Bill Maitland Inadmissible Evidence
Paul Rogers Max The Homecoming
Hume Cronyn Tobias A Delicate Balance
Donald Madden Harold Gorringe Black Comedy
Donald Moffat Laudisi Right You Are (If You Think You Are)
Hjalmar Ekdal The Wild Duck
Martin Balsam Various Characters You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running
Albert Finney Bri A Day in the Death of Joe Egg
Milo O'Shea Harry C. Leeds Staircase
Alan Webb Tom Garrison I Never Sang for My Father
James Earl Jones Jack Jefferson The Great White Hope
Art Carney Andy Tracey Lovers
Alec McCowen Fr. William Rolfe Hadrian the Seventh
Donald Pleasence Arthur Goldman The Man in the Glass Booth


Alan Bates won for Butley (1973)
Al Pacino won for The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel (1977)
Year Actor Role Play Ref.
Fritz Weaver Jerome Malley Child's Play
James Coco Barney Cashman The Last of the Red Hot Lovers
Frank Grimes Young Behan Borstal Boy
Stacy Keach Buffalo Bill Indians
Brian Bedford Arnolphe The School for Wives
John Gielgud Harry Home
Alec McCowen Philip The Philanthropist
Ralph Richardson Jack Home
Cliff Gorman Lenny Bruce Lenny
Tom Aldredge Ozzie Sticks and Bones
Donald Pleasence Mrs. Artminster Wise Child
Jason Robards Frank Elgin The Country Girl
Alan Bates Ben Butley Butley
Jack Albertson Willie Clark The Sunshine Boys
Wilfrid Hyde-White Marquis of Candover The Jockey Club Stakes
Paul Sorvino Phil Romano That Championship Season
Michael Moriarty Julian Weston Find Your Way Home
Zero Mostel Leopold Bloom Ulysses in Nighttown
Jason Robards James Tyrone Jr. A Moon for the Misbegotten
George C. Scott Mikhail lvovich Astrov Uncle Vanya
Nicol Williamson Ivan Petrovich Voinitsky
John Kani & Winston Ntshona Various Characters Sizwe Banzi Is Dead/The Island
Jim Dale Scapino Scapino!
Peter Firth Alan Strang Equus
Henry Fonda Clarence Darrow Clarence Darrow
Ben Gazzara "Erie" Smith Hughie and Duet
John Wood Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes
John Wood Henry Carr Travesties
Moses Gunn Benjamin Hurspool The Poison Tree
George C. Scott Willy Loman Death of a Salesman
Donald Sinden Arthur Wicksteed Habeas Corpus
Al Pacino Pavlo Hummel The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel
Tom Courtenay Simon Otherwise Engaged
Ben Gazzara George Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Ralph Richardson Hirst No Man's Land
Barnard Hughes Da Da
Hume Cronyn Weller Martin The Gin Game
Frank Langella Dracula Dracula
Jason Robards Cornelius Melody A Touch of the Poet
Tom Conti Ken Harrison Whose Life Is It Anyway?
Philip Anglim John Merrick The Elephant Man
Jack Lemmon Scottie Templeton Tribute
Alec McCowen Mark St. Mark's Gospel


Ian McKellen won for Amadeus (1981)
Jeremy Irons won for The Real Thing (1984)
Derek Jacobi won for Much Ado About Nothing (1985)
James Earl Jones won for Fences (1987)
Year Actor Role Play
John Rubinstein Children of a Lesser God James Leeds
Charles Brown Home Cephus Miles
Gerald Hiken Strider Strider
Judd Hirsch Talley's Folly Matt Friedman
Ian McKellen Amadeus Antonio Salieri
Tim Curry Amadeus Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Roy Dotrice A Life Drumm
Jack Weston The Floating Light Bulb Jerry Wexler
Roger Rees The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby Nicholas Nickleby
Tom Courtenay The Dresser Norman
Milo O'Shea Mass Appeal Father Tim Farley
Christopher Plummer Othello Iago
Harvey Fierstein Torch Song Trilogy Arnold Beckoff
Jeffrey DeMunn K2 Taylor
Edward Herrmann Plenty Raymond Brock
Tony Lo Bianco A View from the Bridge Eddie
Jeremy Irons The Real Thing Henry
Rex Harrison Heartbreak House Captain Shotover
Calvin Levels Open Admissions Calvin Jefferson
Ian McKellen Ian McKellen Acting Shakespeare Himself
Derek Jacobi Much Ado About Nothing Benedick
Jim Dale A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Bri
Jonathan Hogan As Is Rich
John Lithgow Requiem for a Heavyweight Harlan "Mountain" McClintock
Judd Hirsch I'm Not Rappaport Nat
Hume Cronyn The Petition General Sir Edmund Milne
Ed Harris Precious Sons Fred
Jack Lemmon Long Day's Journey into Night James Tyrone Sr.
James Earl Jones Fences Troy Maxson
Philip Bosco You Never Can Tell Waiter
Richard Kiley All My Sons Joe Keller
Alan Rickman Les Liaisons Dangereuses Le Vicomte de Valmont
Ron Silver Speed-the-Plow Charlie Fox
Derek Jacobi Breaking the Code Alan Turing
John Lithgow M. Butterfly Rene Gallimard
Robert Prosky A Walk in the Woods Andrey Botvinnik
Philip Bosco Lend Me a Tenor Saunders
Mikhail Baryshnikov Metamorphosis Gregor Samsa
Victor Garber Lend Me a Tenor Max
Bill Irwin Largely New York The Post-Modern Hoofer


Robert Morse won Tru (1990)
Ralph Fiennes for Hamlet (1995)
Christopher Plummer won for Barrymore (1997)
Brian Dennehy won for Death of a Salesman (1999)
Year Actor Role Play
Robert Morse Tru Truman Capote
Charles S. Dutton The Piano Lesson Boy Willie
Dustin Hoffman The Merchant of Venice Shylock
Tom Hulce A Few Good Men Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, USN, JAG Corps
Nigel Hawthorne Shadowlands C.S. Lewis
Peter Frechette Our Country's Good 2nd Lieutenant Ralph Clark
Tom McGowan La Bête Valere
Courtney B. Vance Six Degrees of Separation Paul
Judd Hirsch Conversations with My Father Eddie
Alan Alda Jake's Women Jake
Alec Baldwin A Streetcar Named Desire Stanley Kowalski
Brian Bedford Two Shakespearean Actors William Charles Macready
Ron Leibman Angels in America: Millennium Approaches Roy Cohn, et al.
K. Todd Freeman The Song of Jacob Zulu Jacob Zulu
Liam Neeson Anna Christie Mat Burke
Stephen Rea Someone Who'll Watch Over Me Edward
Stephen Spinella Angels in America: Perestroika Prior Walter
Brian Bedford Timon of Athens Timon
Christopher Plummer No Man's Land Spooner
Sam Waterston Abe Lincoln in Illinois Abraham Lincoln
Ralph Fiennes Hamlet Prince Hamlet
Brian Bedford The Molière Comedies Sganarelle
Roger Rees Indiscretions George
Joe Sears A Tuna Christmas Various Characters
George Grizzard A Delicate Balance Tobias
Philip Bosco Moon Over Buffalo George Hay
George C. Scott Inherit the Wind Henry Drummond
Martin Shaw An Ideal Husband Lord Goring
Christopher Plummer Barrymore John Barrymore
Brian Bedford London Assurance Sir Harcourt Courtly
Michael Gambon Skylight Tom Sergeant
Antony Sher Stanley Stanley
Anthony LaPaglia A View from the Bridge Eddie Carbone
Richard Briers The Chairs Old Man
John Leguizamo Freak Himself
Alfred Molina Art Yvan
Brian Dennehy Death of a Salesman Willy Loman
Brían F. O'Byrne The Lonesome West Valene Connor
Corin Redgrave Not About Nightingales Bert "Boss" Whalen
Kevin Spacey The Iceman Cometh Theodore "Hickey" Hickman


Jefferson Mays won for I Am My Own Wife in 2004
Richard Griffiths won for The History Boys in 2006
Frank Langella won for Frost/Nixon in 2007
Mark Rylance won for Boeing-Boeing (2008), and Jerusalem (2011)
Geoffrey Rush won for Exit the King in 2009
Year Actor Role Play
54th Tony Awards
Stephen Dillane The Real Thing Henry
Gabriel Byrne A Moon for the Misbegotten James Tyrone Jr.
Philip Seymour Hoffman True West Austin
John C. Reilly Lee
David Suchet Amadeus Antonio Salieri
55th Tony Awards
Richard Easton The Invention of Love A. E. Housman, aged 77
Sean Campion Stones in His Pockets Jake Quinn
Conleth Hill Charlie Conlon
Gary Sinise One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Randle P. McMurphy
Brian Stokes Mitchell King Hedley II King
56th Tony Awards
Alan Bates Fortune's Fool Vassily Semyonitch Kuzovkin
Billy Crudup The Elephant Man John Merrick
Liam Neeson The Crucible John Proctor
Alan Rickman Private Lives Elyot Chase
Jeffrey Wright Topdog/Underdog Lincoln
57th Tony Awards
Brian Dennehy Long Day's Journey into Night James Tyrone Sr.
Brian Bedford Tartuffe Orgon
Eddie Izzard A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Bri
Paul Newman Our Town Stage Manager
Stanley Tucci Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune Johnny
58th Tony Awards
Jefferson Mays I Am My Own Wife Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, et al.
Simon Russell Beale Jumpers George
Kevin Kline Henry IV Sir John Falstaff
Frank Langella Match Tobi
Christopher Plummer King Lear King Lear
59th Tony Awards
Bill Irwin Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? George
Philip Bosco Twelve Angry Men Juror #3
Billy Crudup The Pillowman Katurian
James Earl Jones On Golden Pond Norman Thayer Jr.
Brían F. O'Byrne Doubt Father Flynn
60th Tony Awards
Richard Griffiths The History Boys Douglas Hector
Ralph Fiennes Faith Healer Francis Hardy
Željko Ivanek The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial Lt. Com. Phillip Francis Queeg
Oliver Platt Shining City John
David Wilmot The Lieutenant of Inishmore Padraic
61st Tony Awards
Frank Langella Frost/Nixon Richard Nixon
Boyd Gaines Journey's End Lieut. Osborne
Brían F. O'Byrne The Coast of Utopia Alexander Herzen
Christopher Plummer Inherit the Wind Henry Drummond
Liev Schreiber Talk Radio Barry Champlain
62nd Tony Awards
Mark Rylance Boeing-Boeing Robert Lambert
Ben Daniels Les Liaisons Dangereuses Le Vicomte de Valmont
Laurence Fishburne Thurgood Thurgood Marshall
Rufus Sewell Rock 'n' Roll Jan
Patrick Stewart Macbeth Lord Macbeth
63rd Tony Awards
Geoffrey Rush Exit the King King Berenger
Jeff Daniels God of Carnage Alan
Raúl Esparza Speed-the-Plow Charlie Fox
James Gandolfini God of Carnage Michael
Thomas Sadoski reasons to be pretty Greg


Denzel Washington won for Fences (2010)
James Corden won for One Man, Two Guvnors (2012)
Tracy Letts won for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2013)
Bryan Cranston won for All the Way (2014), and Network (2020)
Kevin Kline won for Present Laughter in 2017
Year Actor Role Play
64th Tony Awards
Denzel Washington Fences Troy Maxson
Jude Law Hamlet Hamlet
Alfred Molina Red Mark Rothko
Liev Schreiber A View from the Bridge Eddie Carbone
Christopher Walken A Behanding in Spokane Carmichael
65th Tony Awards
Mark Rylance Jerusalem Johnny "Rooster" Byron
Brian Bedford The Importance of Being Earnest Lady Bracknell
Bobby Cannavale The Motherfucker with the Hat Jackie
Joe Mantello The Normal Heart Ned Weeks
Al Pacino The Merchant of Venice Shylock
66th Tony Awards
James Corden One Man, Two Guvnors Francis Henshall
James Earl Jones The Best Man President Art Hockstader
Philip Seymour Hoffman Death of a Salesman Willy Loman
Frank Langella Man and Boy Gregor Antonescu
John Lithgow The Columnist Joseph Alsop
67th Tony Awards
Tracy Letts Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? George
Tom Hanks Lucky Guy Mike McAlary
Nathan Lane The Nance Chauncey Miles
David Hyde Pierce Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Vanya
Tom Sturridge Orphans Phillip
68th Tony Awards
Bryan Cranston All the Way President Lyndon B. Johnson
Samuel Barnett Twelfth Night Viola
Chris O'Dowd Of Mice and Men Lennie Small
Mark Rylance Richard III Richard III
Tony Shalhoub Act One Moss Hart / Barnett Hart / George S. Kaufman
69th Tony Awards
Alex Sharp The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Christopher Boone
Steven Boyer Hand to God Jason / Tyrone
Bradley Cooper The Elephant Man John Merrick
Ben Miles Wolf Hall Parts One & Two Thomas Cromwell
Bill Nighy Skylight Tom Sergeant
70th Tony Awards
Frank Langella The Father Andre
Gabriel Byrne Long Day's Journey into Night James Tyrone Sr.
Jeff Daniels Blackbird Ray Brooks
Tim Pigott-Smith King Charles III King Charles III
Mark Strong A View from the Bridge Eddie Carbone
71st Tony Awards
Kevin Kline Present Laughter Garry Essendine
Denis Arndt Heisenberg Alex Priest
Chris Cooper A Doll's House, Part 2 Torvald Helmer
Corey Hawkins Six Degrees of Separation Paul
Jefferson Mays Oslo Terje Rød-Larsen
72nd Tony Awards
Andrew Garfield Angels in America Prior Walter, et al.
Tom Hollander Travesties Henry Carr
Jamie Parker Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Harry Potter
Mark Rylance Farinelli and the King Philip V of Spain
Denzel Washington The Iceman Cometh Theodore "Hickey" Hickman
73rd Tony Awards
Bryan Cranston Network Howard Beale
Paddy Considine The Ferryman Quinn Carney
Jeff Daniels To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch
Adam Driver Burn This Pale
Jeremy Pope Choir Boy Pharus Jonathan Young


Year Actor Play Character
74th Tony Awards
Ian Barford Linda Vista Wheeler
Andrew Burnap The Inheritance Toby Darling
Jake Gyllenhaal Sea Wall/A Life Abe
Tom Hiddleston Betrayal Robert
Tom Sturridge Sea Wall/A Life Alex
Blair Underwood A Soldier's Play Captain Richard Davenport

Multiple winsEdit