In this study, graphene nanoplatelets (0.10, 0.25, and 0.50 wt.%) were loaded into cellulose matrix to improve electroactive performance of cellulose-based composite actuators. Firstly, cellulosic films were produced by dissolving microcrystalline cellulose in 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride. Afterwards, graphene loaded cellulosic films were fabricated and gold leaf was coated on both surfaces of graphene loaded cellulose-based films. The changes in crystallographic properties and chemical functional groups of cellulose were investigated by X-ray diffraction and Fourier transform infrared analyses, respectively. Besides, thermal stability, electrical conductivity, and morphological properties of the films were examined by thermogravimetric analysis, electrical conductivity measurement, and scanning electron microscopy, respectively. The tensile strength and the Young's modulus of the films and actuators were also determined by tensile tests. The electroactive characteristics were analyzed under DC excitation voltages of 3 V, 5 V and 7 V. The time responses were evaluated via proposed experimental data based model. The performances of the actuators were compared in terms of maximum tip displacement, minimum tip displacement and time constant. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.