With so many great performers to choose from, who are the top Hollywood actors of all time?
It is no easy task trying to pick the top 10 Hollywood actors out of the enormous number of great performers who have worked in the industry over the years. With more than a century of history, Hollywood has produced some of the best actors to ever appear on the silver screen. While it would be great to mention all of them, sadly we only have time to talk about our top 10.
Thanks to Hollywood’s obsession with the sequel and remakes, great performances these days are few and far between. Over the years, however, Hollywood actors have given some of the most memorable performances and created countless movie moments that we will never forget.
This list will take into account an actor’s entire career rather than just their best roles. While many actors have only been lucky enough to get top roles once or twice in their life, this is not enough to make it onto this list.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the 10 best Hollywood actors of all-time.
Marlon Brando was the actor who perfected the ‘Stanislavski system of acting’ that would influence every actor ever since. He honed his acting skills studying with Stella Adler from whom he learned how to add more realism to his roles. All of his raw ability and training came together when he played a longshoreman in the film On the Waterfront in 1959. The performance would earn him an Academy Award and cement his reputation as a world-class actor.
Brando would go on to win a second Oscar for his role as Don Corleone in The Godfather. Throughout his career he would appear in a string of all-time classic films that are frequently rated as some of the best ever made. As his reputation as an acting god grew, he appeared in fewer and fewer films. Massive weight gain and a reputation for being so difficult to work with led to studios refusing him roles. Nonetheless, he still managed to make even smallparts such as Max in The Score vibrant and memorable.
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Jack Nicholson extreme charisma and defiant anti-hero qualities could have seen him become successful in a huge range of careers. Fortunately, he was also endowed with a tremendous acting talent that first gained worldwide exposure during the counterculture days of the 1960’s.
His role as the heavy drinking lawyer in Easy Rider, 1969, got him noticed by mainstream Hollywood. His portrayal of The Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman propelled him to superstardom. He won several Oscars including one for A Few Good Men, where he even managed to upstage Tom Cruise’s critically acclaimed performance.
It is hard to believe that Al Pacino was nearly dropped from the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather. At the time, the studio was unconvinced that he was able to get to grips with the role. Well, all that changed when they were shown the scene where Michael executes the police captain. Since that day he has not looked back.
A string of amazing performances during the 1970’s that included Serpico gained him a well-deserved reputation as being one of the best actors of his generation. He was credit for getting so immersed in a role that during the filming of Serpico, he actually attempted to arrest someone in the street.
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro’s collaboration with director Martin Scorsese would create several of the top Hollywood films ever made. Beginning with Mean Streets, the pair would go on to make Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas.
Most actors would kill to have one such film role to their credit, De Niro has so many it is hard to pick your favorite. It wasn’t until De Niro played a young Don Corleone in Godfather 2, a film that many critics argue is better than the original, that he got to show how capable he was of standing toe-to-toe with the best actors Hollywood has ever seen.
Daniel Day-Lewis famously spends extended lengths of time preparing for roles. He shot to fame for his portrayal of a man imprisoned by the British government for a crime he did not commit in the film In the Name of the Father. Interestingly, like Brando, as he moved into mainstream film he began to take less and fewer roles and insist on massive amounts of preparation.
His performance in Gangs of New York, where he mastered an early American accent from a 30-second recording of Walt Whitman, completely overshadowed Leonardo DiCaprio. His role as Abraham Lincoln would again gain him worldwide critical acclaim and win him scores of awards including an Oscar.
Charlie Chaplin is the greatest comedy actor who has ever lived. His famous onscreen persona of ‘The tramp” would make him the most famous man in the world during the 1920’s. Chaplin had a range of talents other than acting which included directing, writing, and even writing the music for his films. Such was the depth of his talents that he would win an Oscar for the best original score.
Due to ongoing racial stereotyping and social prejudice, good roles for African American actors were few and far between during the 20th century. When Sidney Poitier took the role of anAfrican American police detective investigating a crime in a racist southern town, he would help kick start the process of pulling down a barrier that had stood in the way of minority actors for generations.
While Poitier was never to reach the same heights of success again, he continued to shine in a number of roles throughout his later career.
Peter Sellers was an English comedy actor who had such supreme acting ability that he was able to perform multiple roles in just one film. Perhaps now most famous for his role as Dr. Strangelove, a scientist who seems to be half processed by evil. Sellers famous performed 3 different roles in the film.
He also starred as the clumsy Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther films, a role that Steve Martin would later try to reprise but never succeed in matching.
Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Mohandas Gandhi in the 1982 film Gandhi won him the best actor Academy Award. Since that time he has become a world-famous actor who is now recognized as being amongst the best who ever lived.
He went on to star in a number of other roles that won him further awards. He stared as Jewish accountant struggling to stay alive in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List. Kingsley also stared as a psychotic criminal who won’t take no for an answer in Sexy Beast. These roles proved just how versatile his acting abilities truly are and why he has earned a place on this list.
Humphrey Bogart remains one of the most famous actors who ever lived. Despite having a pronounced lisp and being rather scrawny, he managed to develop an onscreen persona that deserves a place alongside the very best.
Bogart actually began his career playing bad guy roles opposite the likes of James Cagney in Angels with Dirty Faces. He was quickly able to earn leading roles after his knockout performance in High Sierra. A string of leading roles in now-iconic films such as Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and The Big Sleep cemented his role as Hollywood’s leading actor of the time.
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