1962 – Best Actor in a Leading Role, "To Kill a Mockingbird"
After four Oscar nominations, Peck finally nabbed the award for his riveting performance as Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird." In this legendary performance, Peck helps bring Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to life in his role as the Depression-era lawyer who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in a racially tense town.
Peck, who’s grandmother was a native of Dingle, Co. Kerry, helped his character earn the title of “Greatest Hero in 100 Years of Film History” by the American Film Institute.
1. Sean Penn
2003 – Best Actor in a Leading Role, "Mystic River"
It’s tough to compare 1940s film performances to those of today, but it wasn’t difficult to identify Sean Penn’s depiction of Jimmy Markum in "Mystic River," a film based on the book written by Irish American Dennis Lehane, as one of the best.
In this Clint Eastwood-directed film, Penn, who has Irish roots on his mother’s side, electrifies in his gut-wrenching performance as a father seeking revenge on his daughter’s murderer.
The actor went on to win another much-deserved leading actor Oscar for 2008's "Milk."