the most important actor and actress -- ?

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Senior Member
Chinese, Taiwan
Hi, everyone, what do you think of the following?

To refer to the most important actor and actress in a film or a TV show, what would we call them?

leading actor, leading actress
main actor, main actress
male lead, female lead
hero, heroine

Which are more idiomatic?
Or if you have better expressions, tell me, please.

Thanks in advance for your comments.
  • Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Hi Andychen,

    I've heard "male and female lead", but that might refer more to stage productions. "Hero and heroine" would refer more to the roles they play than to the actors themselves.

    How do the Oscars phrase it? That might give a clue.


    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    1 and 3 are fine. 2 isn't really very idiomatic, and 4 applies more to fictional characters in novels and plays-- not the theatrical professionals who play the role.

    In AE we also call the top-billed actor/actress the star.


    New Member
    English, England
    I'd refer to the people with the leading role as the leading actor/actress.

    Giordano Bruno

    Senior Member
    English, England
    A lot of actresses consider the term demeaning and prefer to be called actors. This is more a consideration of gender political correctness


    Senior Member
    English (American)
    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences uses the terms "performance by an actor/actress in a leading/supporting role" ==> it's the role, not the performer, that is classified as leading or supporting. But the descriptions lead (or leading) actor/actress are heard frequently outside of the Oscar Awards broadcast. ;)



    English U.S.A.
    I would agree with lead actor or actress, or sometimes saying the "star" of the movie denotes the most important or the primary actor or actress of a film, or tv show, or whatever.
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