Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play

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Tony Award for
Best Actor in a Play
Simon Russell Beale.jpg
2022 Recipient: Simon Russell Beale
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 bySimon Russell Beale for The Lehman Trilogy (2022)

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.

Winners and nominees[edit]

  indicates the winner


Jose Ferrer in 1952
Year Actor Role Play
Jose Ferrer Cyrano De Bergerac Cyrano de Bergerac
Fredric 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)
Fredric March won for Long Day's Journey into Night in 1957
Jason Robards won for The Disenchanted (1959)
Year Actor Role Play
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
24th Tony Awards
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
34th Tony Awards
John Rubinstein James Leeds Children of a Lesser God
Charles Brown Cephus Miles Home
Gerald Hiken Strider Strider
Judd Hirsch Matt Friedman Talley's Folly
Ian McKellen Antonio Salieri Amadeus
Tim Curry Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Amadeus
Roy Dotrice Drumm A Life
Jack Weston Jerry Wexler The Floating Light Bulb
Roger Rees Nicholas Nickleby The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
Tom Courtenay Norman The Dresser
Milo O'Shea Father Tim Farley Mass Appeal
Christopher Plummer Iago Othello
Harvey Fierstein Arnold Beckoff Torch Song Trilogy
Jeffrey DeMunn Taylor K2
Edward Herrmann Raymond Brock Plenty
Tony Lo Bianco Eddie A View from the Bridge
Jeremy Irons Henry The Real Thing
Rex Harrison Captain Shotover Heartbreak House
Calvin Levels Calvin Jefferson Open Admissions
Ian McKellen Himself Ian McKellen Acting Shakespeare
Derek Jacobi Benedick Much Ado About Nothing
Jim Dale Bri A Day in the Death of Joe Egg
Jonathan Hogan Rich As Is
John Lithgow Harlan "Mountain" McClintock Requiem for a Heavyweight
Judd Hirsch Nat I'm Not Rappaport
Hume Cronyn General Sir Edmund Milne The Petition
Ed Harris Fred Precious Sons
Jack Lemmon James Tyrone Sr. Long Day's Journey into Night
James Earl Jones Troy Maxson Fences
Philip Bosco Waiter You Never Can Tell
Richard Kiley Joe Keller All My Sons
Alan Rickman Le Vicomte de Valmont Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Ron Silver Charlie Fox Speed-the-Plow
Derek Jacobi Alan Turing Breaking the Code
John Lithgow Rene Gallimard M. Butterfly
Robert Prosky Andrey Botvinnik A Walk in the Woods
Philip Bosco Saunders Lend Me a Tenor
Mikhail Baryshnikov Gregor Samsa Metamorphosis
Victor Garber Max Lend Me a Tenor
Bill Irwin The Post-Modern Hoofer Largely New York


Robert Morse won Tru (1990)
Ralph Fiennes for Hamlet (1995)
Christopher Plummer won for Barrymore (1997)
Brian Dennehy won twice for Death of a Salesman (1999) and Long Days Journey into Night (2003)
Year Actor Role Play
44th Tony Awards
Robert Morse Truman Capote Tru
Charles S. Dutton Boy Willie The Piano Lesson
Dustin Hoffman Shylock The Merchant of Venice
Tom Hulce Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, USN, JAG Corps A Few Good Men
Nigel Hawthorne C.S. Lewis Shadowlands
Peter Frechette 2nd Lieutenant Ralph Clark Our Country's Good
Tom McGowan Valere La Bête
Courtney B. Vance Paul Six Degrees of Separation
Judd Hirsch Eddie Conversations with My Father
Alan Alda Jake Jake's Women
Alec Baldwin Stanley Kowalski A Streetcar Named Desire
Brian Bedford William Charles Macready Two Shakespearean Actors
Ron Leibman Roy Cohn, et al. Angels in America: Millennium Approaches
K. Todd Freeman Jacob Zulu The Song of Jacob Zulu
Liam Neeson Mat Burke Anna Christie
Stephen Rea Edward Someone Who'll Watch Over Me
Stephen Spinella Prior Walter Angels in America: Perestroika
Brian Bedford Timon Timon of Athens
Christopher Plummer Spooner No Man's Land
Sam Waterston Abraham Lincoln Abe Lincoln in Illinois
Ralph Fiennes Prince Hamlet Hamlet
Brian Bedford Sganarelle The Molière Comedies
Roger Rees George Indiscretions
Joe Sears Various Characters A Tuna Christmas
George Grizzard Tobias A Delicate Balance
Philip Bosco George Hay Moon Over Buffalo
George C. Scott Henry Drummond Inherit the Wind
Martin Shaw Lord Goring An Ideal Husband
Christopher Plummer John Barrymore Barrymore
Brian Bedford Sir Harcourt Courtly London Assurance
Michael Gambon Tom Sergeant Skylight
Antony Sher Stanley Stanley
Anthony LaPaglia Eddie Carbone A View from the Bridge
Richard Briers Old Man The Chairs
John Leguizamo Himself Freak
Alfred Molina Yvan Art
Brian Dennehy Willy Loman Death of a Salesman
Brían F. O'Byrne Valene Connor The Lonesome West
Corin Redgrave Bert "Boss" Whalen Not About Nightingales
Kevin Spacey Theodore "Hickey" Hickman The Iceman Cometh


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


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 has won the award twice, for All the Way (2014) and Network (2019)
Kevin Kline won for Present Laughter in 2017
Year Actor Role Play
64th Tony Awards
Denzel Washington Troy Maxson Fences
Jude Law Hamlet Hamlet
Alfred Molina Mark Rothko Red
Liev Schreiber Eddie Carbone A View from the Bridge
Christopher Walken Carmichael A Behanding in Spokane
65th Tony Awards
Mark Rylance Johnny "Rooster" Byron Jerusalem
Brian Bedford Lady Bracknell The Importance of Being Earnest
Bobby Cannavale Jackie The Motherfucker with the Hat
Joe Mantello Ned Weeks The Normal Heart
Al Pacino Shylock The Merchant of Venice
66th Tony Awards
James Corden Francis Henshall One Man, Two Guvnors
James Earl Jones President Art Hockstader The Best Man
Philip Seymour Hoffman Willy Loman Death of a Salesman
Frank Langella Gregor Antonescu Man and Boy
John Lithgow Joseph Alsop The Columnist
67th Tony Awards
Tracy Letts George Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Tom Hanks Mike McAlary Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane Chauncey Miles The Nance
David Hyde Pierce Vanya Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge Phillip Orphans
68th Tony Awards
Bryan Cranston Lyndon B. Johnson All the Way
Samuel Barnett Viola Twelfth Night
Chris O'Dowd Lennie Small Of Mice and Men
Mark Rylance Richard III Richard III
Tony Shalhoub Moss Hart / Barnett Hart / George S. Kaufman Act One
69th Tony Awards
Alex Sharp Christopher Boone The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Steven Boyer Jason / Tyrone Hand to God
Bradley Cooper John Merrick The Elephant Man
Ben Miles Thomas Cromwell Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
Bill Nighy Tom Sergeant Skylight
70th Tony Awards
Frank Langella Andre The Father
Gabriel Byrne James Tyrone Sr. Long Day's Journey into Night
Jeff Daniels Ray Brooks Blackbird
Tim Pigott-Smith King Charles III King Charles III
Mark Strong Eddie Carbone A View from the Bridge
71st Tony Awards
Kevin Kline Garry Essendine Present Laughter
Denis Arndt Alex Priest Heisenberg
Chris Cooper Torvald Helmer A Doll's House, Part 2
Corey Hawkins Paul Six Degrees of Separation
Jefferson Mays Terje Rød-Larsen Oslo
72nd Tony Awards
Andrew Garfield Prior Walter, et al. Angels in America
Tom Hollander Henry Carr Travesties
Jamie Parker Harry Potter Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Mark Rylance Philip V of Spain Farinelli and the King
Denzel Washington Theodore "Hickey" Hickman The Iceman Cometh
73rd Tony Awards
Bryan Cranston Howard Beale Network
Paddy Considine Quinn Carney The Ferryman
Jeff Daniels Atticus Finch To Kill a Mockingbird
Adam Driver Pale Burn This
Jeremy Pope Pharus Jonathan Young Choir Boy


Year Actor Role Play
74th Tony Awards
Andrew Burnap Toby Darling The Inheritance
Ian Barford Wheeler Linda Vista
Jake Gyllenhaal Abe Sea Wall/A Life
Tom Hiddleston Robert Betrayal
Tom Sturridge Alex Sea Wall/A Life
Blair Underwood Captain Richard Davenport A Soldier's Play
Ceremony not held
75th Tony Awards
Simon Russell Beale Henry Lehman The Lehman Trilogy
Adam Godley Mayer Lehman The Lehman Trilogy
Adrian Lester Emanuel Lehman
David Morse Uncle Peck How I Learned to Drive
Sam Rockwell Teach American Buffalo
Ruben Santiago-Hudson Various Lackawanna Blues
David Threlfall Harry Wade Hangmen

Multiple wins[edit]