10+ Best Estonian Actors And Media Icons

estonian actors

Estonia is among the least populated countries in the world, which made me wonder if the nation has produced acclaimed Estonian actors or anyone who excelled in media and films. Unsurprisingly, many notable names made it on the list. While some were born and raised in Estonia, others became famous for having Estonian lineage.

I have come up with a list of Estonian actors, but not limited to men and women who acted in stage plays, theatre, television, or films, but the talented bunch who made their marks in any media-related fields in the industry. Ready? If you are super eager to learn who these Estonian-speaking (or non-native speakers) talented people with Estonian affiliations are, read on.

Estonian Words Related To Films

While cinematic language is universal, understanding some key terminologies can enrich the viewing experience. The table below provides translations of select film-related terms from English to Estonian. Whether you’re an enthusiast wanting to dive deeper into Estonian cinema or just curious about the language, these translations will serve as a handy guide.

EnglishEstonian Translation
actressnäitleja (female actors are also referred to as “näitleja”)
directorlavastaja or režissöör
short filmlühifilm
feature filmmängufilm
photographers wearing black shooting their subject

Talented Estonian Actors

Let’s begin with the actors who were born and raised in Estonia and personalities with an Estonian heritage:

Kirill Käro

He’s a familiar face from the TV series “The Sniffer.” Among the other notable works of this Russian actor include “To the Lake” and “Better Than Us.”

Johann Urb

This Estonian-American actor has graced his presence in films, including “Lord of Shanghai” and “Resident Evil: Retribution.” He is a former model who also ventured into producing films.

Erika Eleniak

This Estonian actress with German heritage gained prominence in American TV shows and as a former model for Playboy. Most notably, this television actress gave life to the role of Shauni McClain, a lifeguard in the TV series Baywatch.

Ornella Muti

Born in Rome to an Estonian mother and an Italian father, Muti has appeared in both Italian and Hollywood films. Class Magazine awarded her “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World” acclaim in 1994 after winning a poll from its global readers.

Mena Suvari

Renowned for her comedic prowess, Mena Suvari has left an indelible mark through her roles as an actor, including the poignant film drama American Beauty. She was born to a father with an Estonian lineage. Suvari cemented her skills and popularity in comedy via the American Pie film series.

Miliza Korjus

In the 1930s, this soprano opera singer born from an Estonian father and Lithuanian-Polish mother captivated audiences at the Berlin State Opera in Germany. Aside from being a singer, she was also an Academy Award-winning film actress in Hollywood.

Andrey Batt

He’s a Russian actor who was tapped to perform for the halftime show of EuroLeague, a popular sports tournament in Europe, in 2016. Aside from acting, Batt is also a talented songwriter and rapper who has tried his hands at producing films and records.

Ita Ever

Before her death at age 92 in 2023, Ever was praised for being Estonian theatre’s Grand Old Lady. Aside from theatre, she also shared her skills as a TV and film actor and radio talent. She was the mother of actor Roman Baskin from her marriage with Estonian actor Eino Baskin.

Lenna Kuurmaa

She was part of a popular Estonian girl group Vanilla Ninja. Following her group’s hiatus, she pursued a solo career as an Estonian singer-songwriter in 2009. The following year, she formed the band “Lenna” and released its first album.

girl watching netflix on her tablet

Other Notable Media Icons With Estonian Lineage

Aside from acting, many Estonians have ventured into different media careers. Here are some who made a lasting impact in the paths they have taken:

Annie Leibovitz

Born from an Estonian-Jewish mother, Leibovitz became an icon in the photography industry after taking a photo of music legend John Lennon hours before his tragic death. Her career started almost the same year in the 70s when Rolling Stone magazine was only beginning to make a solid footing in the US.

James Murdoch

Born to a mother of Estonian descent, James is the fourth child of News Corp’s founder and media mogul, Rupert Murdoch. He served as the 21st Century Fox’s chief executive officer from 2015 to 2019. Like his father, he also handled and invested in many other media companies and ardently supported charitable causes.

Louis Kahn

Raised in a Jewish family in Estonia, Kahn migrated to the US with his family, where he became known as “America’s foremost living architect” during his lifetime. He was responsible for popularizing an architectural style that was monolithic yet monumental.

Learning Estonian Through Ling

Estonia is brimming with talents who excelled in many media platforms and industries. For sure, many are still lined up to make their marks by starring in highly-coveted roles in TV and films. If you want to learn Estonian or other languages you can use when traveling the world, such as Swedish, Georgia, Greek, Polish, German, and more, download the top-notch language learning app, Ling, on the App Store or Play Store. You never know, but you may one day meet personalities with Estonian lineage, and you can impress them by speaking their native tongue.

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