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Greatest Actors of All Time

Updated on March 25, 2014

It is quite difficult to make a list of the greatest actors of all time, as each one has their own personal preferences. The list discussed below is based on the awards, acting skills, popularity, movies done and other factors that place them at a higher pedestal than the rest.

Presented below, in no particular order, is a list of the greatest actors of all time (after the 70s):

  • Jack Nicholson: This bad man of Hollywood will top almost every kind of list possible. He is the kind of actor that you will come across only once in a lifetime. Nicholson wanted to be actor from the very beginning. His talent galore and hard work soon put him amongst the A-listers of Hollywood. He was won two Oscars for best actor for the movies ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest’ and ‘As Good as it Gets.’ In addition to his acting skills, Jack is also known for his glamorous lifestyle. Even at 70 plus he is considered as one of the most desirable men in town. His notable movies include The Departed, The Last Detail, About Schmidt, Chinatown, Batman (1989), Terms of Endearment, The Shining, How Do You Know, and A Few Good Men.

  • Sean Penn: Sean Penn is ‘perfection’ personified. He is a living legend and the darling of all the movie goers. His acting is what breathes life into the many movies that he has done. Sean is best known for his portrayal of a mentally challenged father in the movie ‘I am Sam,’ for which he earned an Academy Nomination for best actor. The winner of two Oscars for best actor for the movies Mystic River and Milk, Penn is arguably every movie aficionados’ delight. Some of his most cherished movies include Dead Man Walking, Carlito's Way, 21 Grams, Sweet and Lowdown and The Assassination of Richard Nixon.

  • Al Pacino: Winner of the best actor Oscar for his mesmerizing role in ‘Scent of a Woman,’ Pacino is an entity by himself. His brilliance on the screen will enrapture you with every single shot. Who can forget his role in ‘The Godfather II,' or ‘Insomnia,’ or ‘The Devil's Advocate.’ He has inspired a legion of actors across the world to follow his style of acting, though none come close.

  • Johnny Depp: You give this guy any role and he seamlessly fits into it like a glove, and portrays the role as if no one on the planet could do it any better. Whenever you see him on the screen be it in ‘Edward Scissorhands’ or ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series, or ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ you will forget that he is enacting the role and not actually living it. And yes, Depp is also one of the sexiest men in Hollywood!

  • Robert De Niro: A movie star blessed with the ability to transform any role into reality, Robert De Niro is an actor par excellence. He may have won the best actor Oscar for ‘Raging Bull,’ but there are many other movies of varied genres where his work has been superlative to say the least. There are not many actors who can portray the characters like he does. Memorable movies include Taxi Driver, Meet the Parents, Analyze this, and lots more!

  • Tom Hanks: He is one of the most lovable actors in Hollywood. Add to it his wide range of acting skills and you have got one of the most complete actors in the world. Tom has done it all, from comedies like ‘Big,’ to action like the recent ‘Captain Philips,’ to romance like 'Sleepless in Seattle,' to offshoots like ‘Forrest Gump.’ He has indeed earned a permanent slot in any list of greatest actors of all time!

  • Denzel Washington: Denzel has the looks, he has that swagger, and he has the talent. This is what makes him a superstar. His striking screen presence combined with unmatched acting skills have taken and placed him at the highest levels of superstardom. Memorable movies include ‘Training Day,’ ‘Philadelphia,’ ‘The Flight,’ ‘Man on Fire,’ and ‘The Pelican Brief.’

  • Leonardo DiCaprio: Get a load of his choice of films - Titanic, The Gangs of New York, Blood Diamond, The Aviator, The Wolf of Wall Street, Catch Me If You Can, The Great Gatsby, and The Departed. The list of awe-inspiring movies just goes on! This is Leonardo DiCaprio. He is not only the heartthrob of millions of women around the world, but is also the favorite actor of almost each and every film buff. He may have burst into superstardom after playing ‘Jack Dawson’ in the romantic saga ‘Titanic,’ but his talent was visible even before that, with gems like ‘The Basketball Diaries,’ and ‘What's Eating Gilbert Grape.’

  • Russell Crowe: He may come across as the guy next door, but do not fall for this deception. Russell is one of the most talented actors of this generation, a fact that is validated by his jaw-dropping performances in ‘Gladiator,’ ‘Cinderella Man,’ and ‘A Beautiful Mind.’ He does choose some of the best scripts on offer and then does a great job of performing them to perfection.

  • Other honorable mentions: Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Robin Williams, Edward Norton, Michael Caine, Richard Gere, Samuel Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, George Clooney, Will Smith, Heath Ledger, Kevin Spacey, Daniel Day Lewis, Christian Bale, and Matt Damon are a list of other actors who make it to the list of actors who command a huge fan-following among the masses and earn the respect from critics.


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    • profile image

      ebersabal 4 years ago

      This is an amazing list! I love british actors. They're accents are so sexy, look at this site, it also has amazing british actors

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 4 years ago from New York

      Great list...excellent choices! Voted up!

    • Kevina Oyatedor profile image

      kevina oyatedor 4 years ago

      friggin love this!