The best Liev Schreiber movies and TV shows, ranked

Ray Donovan
Image via Prime Video

Liev Schreiber has gained a reputation as one of the most convincing actors of his generation. While many of his roles dwell in some sort of seriousness, the actor has shown off his versatility in a number of projects. Besides becoming an acclaimed film and television star, Schreiber has earned much success on the Broadway stage and is a Tony Award-winning performer. 

Kicking off with several independent films, the actor gained mainstream prominence in the late 1990s and has gone on to star in several memorable films alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Narrowing Schreiber’s performances down to 10 is no easy feat, but here are some of his performances that you mustn’t miss out on, as they show off his incredible range. 

10. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

While not the most positively reviewed film in his remarkable catalog, Schreiber’s live-action portrayal of the Marvel Comics character Sabretooth is still one of his most popular roles to date. X-Men Origins: Wolverine takes a unique turn on the beloved comic book character and declares Victor Creed (Sabretooth) as the titular mutant’s half-brother. There are some intense fight scenes in the fan-favorite film, and Schreiber expertly portrays the character’s villainous rage. While the film might not go down as the best in the long-running X-Men franchise, the complex characters make it worth a watch. 

9. Scream 2

After a cameo on the first installment of the popular slasher film franchise, Schreiber had a leading role the following year as Cotton Weary in Scream 2. After being wrongfully incarcerated and later exonerated for the murder of Maureen, Cotton is on the hunt for fame and features regularly on the news. While he’s not afraid to go head to head with Ghostface, what he’s really after is the spotlight. Schreiber plays a very convincing and self-serving character and reprised his role once more in Scream 3.

8. Salt

Another of his instantly recognizable characters is Ted Winter, or Nikolai Tartovsky in 2010’s Salt. Joining a phenomenal cast led by Angelina Jolie, Schreiber proved his excellence once more as the villainous CIA operative who’s after the downfall of the United States of America. Salt was met with favorable reviews and was a commercial success, grossing over $290 million at the worldwide box office. Schreiber was also praised for his performance.

7. Pawn Sacrifice

Schreiber has starred in multiple biographical films, and Pawn Sacrifice is one of his best performances in the genre. He starred as Russian chess grandmaster Boris Spassky, who is challenged by Bobby Fischer to what is widely considered to be the greatest chess versus match of all time. The film was met with positive reviews from critics, but failed to match its budget at the box office.

6. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Schreiber is no stranger to lending his voice to animated tough guys, but his most memorable performance came when he voiced Wilson Fisk, or Kingpin, in the Oscar-winning superhero film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The crime lord is the main antagonist of the film. Although he has no superpowers of his own, his vast wealth and affluence leave very little out of his reach. Schreiber succeeded in delivering a ruthless-yet-tragic villain with a soft side for his family.

5. Goon

One of few departures from his signature serious roles in film, Schreiber received critical acclaim for his role in 2011’s Goon. The hilarious sports comedy paired the actor with popular comedian Seann William Scott in a tale about professional ice hockey in a minor league. Schreiber stars as the violent star player, Ross “The Boss” Rhea, who is demoted to the minor leagues as punishment for his life-threatening attacks on a player. Goon was well received by critics. Even though it underperformed at the box office, it gained a cult following after its release on streaming giant Netflix. Schreiber reprised his role as Ross Rhea in the 2017 sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers.

4. Walking and Talking

One of several independent films that secured Schreiber’s spot as one of the best actors to watch, Walking and Talking was released to critical acclaim, with Schreiber earning much praise for his acting talents. The film stars Catherine Keener and Anne Heche as best friends who begin to take different paths in life due to the men in their lives. Schreiber stars as Keener’s onscreen ex-boyfriend, Andrew, who she seeks out to best understand why they broke up. Considered one of the best cult classics of all time, Walking and Talking may have been released a few years into his film career, but Schreiber is as good as any other veteran in this role. 

3. RKO 281

Just a few years after his film debut in 1994, Schreiber had become a staple in the independent film industry for his undeniable talents. In 1999, he starred in the historical drama RKO 281. Schreiber stars as actor, producer, and the head of the now-defunct RKO studios, Orson Welles, and the film follows the troubling events leading up to the making and release of the classic film, Citizen Kane. Schreiber received critical acclaim for his performance as Welles and earned numerous awards and nominations. RKO 281 won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Film.

2. Spotlight

Spotlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay and is hailed by many critics and publications as the best film of 2015. Joining an ensemble cast, Schreiber stars as Marty Baron, the new editor at The Boston Globe. He assigns journalists to investigate the Roman Catholic Church which has been met with allegations of child abuse and molestation. The film was praised for its historical accuracy and the performances of the cast. 

1. Ray Donovan

Schreiber’s earlier foray into television consisted of brief appearances and television movies, but he became a TV sensation in 2013 after starring as the eponymous protagonist in the Showtime crime drama, Ray Donovan. He played the character for seven seasons, and the show’s abrupt cancellation left many fans disgruntled. He returned for its feature-length film finale, released in January. The series has received praise for its writing and the performances of the cast, particularly Schreiber’s, and Ray Donovan is undoubtedly his most beloved and popular role so far.