This is our selection of the most talented actors of all time, so there are no specific categories here. Nor is it from a specific decade. The only requirement is that they’re SO GOOD at pretending to be another person, we actually believe it.
10) Marlon Brando
Kicking off our list strong is the legendary Marlon Brando. He was one of the first to do method acting,showing that the art is more than reading out lines. You have to live and breathe the character, thereby changing the landscape of acting forever. Brando also played arguably his most memorable role, Vito Corleone, in the latter part of his career – proving it’s never too late to pull out a show-stopping performance.
9) Robert De Niro
You talkin’ to me? No but we are talking about you, Robert. Yes, Ninth place is Brando’s Godfather Part ll co-star Robert De Niro. From tackling serious roles in films like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, to showcasing his more comedic side in Meet The Parents. I mean, that just goes to show, a pro like Robert can and WILL adapt to any genre — demonstrating that he won’t ever be pigeon holed.
8) Denzel Washington
An actor that fully commits to every role thrown his way, it’s Mr Denzel Washington at eight. You believe he’s a football coach with his heartfelt, motivational speeches in Remember The Titans. Then you think he MUST be the rogue cop in Training Day because he was breaking all the rules with bad boy swagger. That’s because he plays every role with pure conviction and will keep doing so as Denzel NEVER turns in a limp, half-hearted performance.
7) Samuel L Jackson
Samuel L Jackson slides into seventh. He may be notorious for profanity-laden performances, but pay attention to his more serious roles like in A Time To Kill. Jackson plays a father in 1960s segregated America, whose daughter has been raped and he’s fighting for justice. You can’t help but empathise with his character. Samuel is also a life long comrade in the famously gory Tarantino films, in which he goes FULL THROTTLE with each and every part. You will never see a lacklustre performance from Mr Jackson.
6) Leonardo DiCaprio
Swooping into sixth place is Leonardo Dicaprio. It’s easy to dismiss Dicaprio as the Titanic kid but he’s really blossomed into a Box Office sensation. In fact, Leo has been hustling from his first major role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape to the role that eventually won him his well-deserved oscar in The Revenant. He just jumps from one genre to the next with such passion, that you have to admire it.
5) Robin Williams
Taking the halfway position is the late, great Robin Williams. You would think that if Robin started as a comedian, he wouldn’t be suited to serious parts. But his performances in Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting prove otherwise. Williams used his comedic genius to practically improvise the entirety of the now iconic Genie from Aladdin. It’s that type of ingenuity that will forever cement his place on this list.
4) Christian Bale
In fourth place is Christian Bale. He’s one of the main actors today who was inspired by Marlon Brando’s method acting and took it to a whole new level. Christian regularly moulds his body to match each character he plays. Take his part in The Fighter, he played real life former boxer Dicky Ecklund. You see the real Dicky as the credits roll and Bale could be his twin, he played him that well.
3) Tom Hanks
Taking the bronze medal is Tom Hanks. Where to start? As well as voicing Woody in all four Toy Story films, he was in Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan and Castaway. I was also captivated by his performance in Big, where he plays a 13 year old who has wished to be 30. I truly felt the wish worked as 30 year old Hanks perfectly encapsulated teenage mannerisms and attitudes.
2) Al Pacino
The runner-up is none other than Al Pacino, the third actor from The Godfather trilogy on the list. Micheal Corleone is just one of many unforgettable performances by Pacino. How about parts in films like Scent of a Woman, Dog Day Afternoon and The Irishman? OF COURSE, there is Tony Montana from Scarface too. These are memorable because Al puts every last ounce of energy into each role, leaving the audience’s eyes glued to the screen.
1) Jack Nicholson
Now the number one spot goes to someone who has been in the business since 1956! Although he has been retired since 2010, Jack Nicholson packed a WHOLE LOT of iconic performances into those 54 years.
You’ve got “heeerrres JOHNNY”, an infamous line he improvised from The Shining. His turn as the Joker will go down as one of the best villains before the Marvel Universe began. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest? It has stood the test of time, decades after its release. Jack has this cool confidence to be able to give razor sharp performances like no one else in the business — it is why he is the most nominated male actor in the history of the academy awards. Not too shabby, Mr Nicholson.
Who would YOU have on YOUR list? Let me know in the comments section below.