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Worlds Greatest Actor

Oscar.jpgThere was a superb programme on Channel 4 the other night called, and this was a small boast, The Worlds Greatest Actor. It was one of the series of Top Lists that they often produce, and they're usually really good at it, however this one had a twist.

Instead of being penned by the audience, or the teams at Channel 4, or even from that shiny statue up there, this one was chosen from a panel of over one thousand Equity member actors from both the UK and the US, and let me tell you there were some huge names on that voting panel.

I just finished watching it and as I went I took some notes and copied down the entire list, so with some side comments and quotes from the show, here's the Top 50 Worlds Greatest Actors as voted by Actors themselves. So read on for the entire list and some amazing quotes such as...

You have torture yourself to be an actor, if you're not a tortured soul you better become one. - Dennis Hopper

50 - James Dean
Jimmy said that he thought the reason that he would be remembered was that because in one hand he had Marlon Brando saying 'Go fuck yourself' and in the other hand he had Montgomery Cliff saying 'Please forgive me'...and somewhere in the middle is James Dean - Dennis Hopper
49 - Dennis Hopper
48 - Sidney Poitier
47 - Burt Lancaster
46 - Vivian Lee
45 - Orson Welles
I was always afraid he was going to end up eating me - Burt Reynolds
44 - Greta Garbo
43 - Steve McQueen
He was like an animal, not a tiger, what was he like? - Jacquelyn Bisset
The most underrated actor...ever - Burt Reynolds
[This man defines the phrase moviestar!]
42 - Alison Steadman
41 - Helena Bonham Carter
She's not so much beautiful as fascinating - Angie Dickinson
40 - Denzel Washington
I think Denzel Washington is going to be the most important actor of our generation - Martin Kemp
39 - Tom Hanks
He's a brilliant actor and embodies the ordinary man, but he embodies it with such a kind of cuteness, strangeness, ernestnes, a love, that he is the perfect everyman - Stephen Berkoff
38 - Charlie Chaplin
He is the touchstone from which all cinematic comedy - of a sort, a physical in particular - comes from. - Whoopi Goldberg
I saw The Great Dictator, and his speech at the end of that was as exciting and great as anything I've ever seen...It was, and always will be, breathtaking as far as seeing the inside workings of a genius such as Charlie Chaplin - Elliot Gould
37 - Charles Laughton
Though he was so large he could change himself, and that was the mark of his work - Brian Cox
36 - Gary Oldman
I like these calm little moments before the storm, it reminds me of Beethoven - Gary Oldman, Leon
He has that kind of explosive quality that I think we all enjoy. You're not sure what he's going do on the screen. He'll take a scene that is written in a whisper and he'll turn it into an explosive ball - Martin Kemp
35 - Frank Sinatra
34 - Rod Stieger
On The Waterfront opened up for me a whole new world of acting - Patrick Stewart
33 - Sir John Mills
I've always hoped to be remembered as an actor, as a good actor, rather than a film star - Sir John Mills
His body of work, now looking back on it, is incredible, and he is definitely one of the greatest British film actors - [I've forgotten who said that, I'll have to check back!]
Worth waiting for - Sir John Mills, Ice Cold in Alex [That line and that scene...ooh, and it's playing in the Filmhouse in Edinburgh this month!]
32 - Gina Rowlands
She's had an extraordinary career, whether she's in a movie for three minutes or for ninety minutes, whenever she's on the screen she's arresting. - Michael Fenton
31 - Gene Hackman
We haven't got a Hackman in this country. Somebody who is capable of being funny and yet extraordinary in other films where he's playing the heavy. - Bryan Forbes
30 - Brad Pitt
He's so famous, it restricts that artistic development...he really needs a Director to open him up. He has not opened up. He's undiscovered. - Brian Blessed
29 - Kate Winslet
Who seem to have by nature, an absolutely accurate instinct of how to be in front of a camera. - Patrick Stewart
28 - Judy Garland
Judy Garland was no beauty, but she was so beautiful - Diahann Carroll
She left behind this magnificent echo that I think we'll never see the likes of again - Whoopi Goldberg
27 - Humphrey Bogart
26 - Meryl Streep
Won 2, Nominated 11 - Oscars
25 - Sir John Geilgud
The sound of his voice speaking Shakespeare's verse was a benchmark for me - Patrick Stewart
24 - Peter Sellers
[A genius, what right does that twit Steve whats-his-name have to sully his greatest character?]
23 - Cary Grant
22 - Albert Finney
There's a whole generations of actors who wouldn't be here, and I really mean that, if not for Albert Finney - Brian Cox
21 - Dustin Hoffman
Is it safe? Sir Laurence Olivier, The Marathon Man
[They showed a scene with five different actors cut together to retell the Olivier\Hoffman acting style in the above movie, and they were all telling it the same way almost word for word, that is legend]
20 - Maggie Smith
19 - Sean Penn
You always feel like there's something about to explode - Celestia Fox
That's cooking a lot of juice, you know? - Dennis Hopper
18 - Edward Norton
All of us who are in the hiring business of actors put Edward Norton at the very top of our lists - Michael Fenton
17 - Bette Davis
Nominated 10 Oscars
She just looked fabulous onscreen - Alison Steadman
16 - Montgomery Clift
15 - Daniel Day Lewis
Certainly there's nothing better than My Left Foot. Sublime, sublime work...we miss him when we don't see him - Jon Voight
14 - Christopher Walken
He has a unique talent to tell one story with his mouth, and another story with his eyes - David Harewood
13 - James Stewart
12 - Richard Burton
[I was named after him. Richard Burton playing Richard III. My Mother thought it an omen!]
Wonderfully gifted, compelling to watch - Brian Blessed
Got pissed out of our minds, many, many times - Robert Wagner
11 - Alec Guinness
[No, not for Star Wars, in fact he wished he hadn't done that role you know]
10 - Spencer Tracy
He brought realism to the screen - Robert Wagner
[Bad Day at Black Rock - one of the most viewed movies in the Whitehouse cinema]
He was drunk from Friday to Monday, but he always new his lines on Monday - Burt Reynolds
9 - Katherine Hepburn
[Won more Oscars than any other actress in the history of cinema]
8 - Dame Judi Dench
Wonderfully shaggable - Brian Blessed
She's one of the most astonishing actors we have, she always has been - Edward Woodward
7 - Jack Nicholson
Whatever he plays he's just sensational - Angie Dickinson
5 - Robert De Niro \ Al Pacino
4 - Sir Laurence Olivier
People just fell at his feet - Robert Wagner
[He was right when he told Hoffman there was an easier way to act, a better way too]
3 - Sir Anthony Hopkins
The grace and power and poignancy is staggering and touches on greatness - Brian Blessed
2 - Johnny Depp
He's got beauty, he's got wit, he's ironic, he's subversive, he's unorthodox - Edward Fox
1 - Marlon Brando
[That's an amazing choice, well done Depp for being so high]
In art you have to look at the original, what was first, and what was first was Marlon - Dennis Hopper [What a quote]

There you have it. So what do you think? A good list? A bad list? Any missing, some that should be there, some that are just plain wrong?



Where's Jodie Foster, surely one of the finest actors of all time! What a crock...

Anthony Hopkins has also never been a favourite of mine so I wouldn't put him in the top three. Johnny Depp deserves to be up there though.

All in all this is a fabulous list with very deserving actors.

I only have a one major complaint -

30 - Brad Pitt?? How he made it so high on the list I don't know. I do partially agree with the comment beneath his name, perhaps one day he'll surprise us and get rid of those emotionless eyes.

I would have liked to see Lucille Ball on the list, she was fabulously funny.
Not to mention Doris Day, who is one of favorite actresses.

Anything, poll, survey, or a group of actors that vote for fellow actors that puts Brad Pitt before Tom Hanks is a farce. And where's Russell Crowe or Tom Cruise, how come they didnt make it but Brad Pitt did, what did he do that was more noteworthy? I didnt even care anymore if most of my favorite actors made it to Top 10. What a mockery.

as soon as i saw brad pitt's name on the list, i stopped reading. this is obviously bogus.

Christopher Walken - best EVER actor. It's all in the scary eyes...

"12 - Richard Burton
[I was named after him. Richard Burton playing Richard III. My Mother thought it an omen!]"

Richard, I actually thought you were related to him! *winks*

Just reading through the list makes me want to go home and watch some movies.

A talented bunch of individuals, Brad Pitt isn't too bad, but saying that i don't think he is better than most of the other people below him on the list.

He was pretty good in:

12 Monkeys and Fight club

Kevin Spacey should DEFINTELY have made this list.

Pablo: I agree, he didnt do too bad in "12 Monkeys", but what about that horrible performance in "Troy" and most of what he's done are really shmaltzy stuff, that was it, so to merit a place in the Top 50 is like, WTH? Oh well...

Johnny Knoxville. ~ Just kidding

LOL! Brad, you crack me up! Maybe one day HE'LL be #30 - hahahahahahaha. ;)

Though I did enjoy him in MIB II.

My Top Ten

1. Al Pacino
2. Tom Hanks
3. Rusell Crowe
4. Jack Nicholson
5. Marlon Brando
6. Tom Cruise
7. Gregory Peck
8. Sir Laurence Olivier
9. Robert de Niro
10. Johnny Depp

Yeah, good point simone....

his good movies don't outweigh the cash grabbing roles he has done inbetween.

although the same could possibly be said about other actors.. cruise for one.

Pablo, I am glad you think so. Anyway, IMHO, Cruise has done more serious and award worthy films such as, "Magnolia", "Born on the Fourth of July", "The Last Samurai", heck even if "Jerry Maguire" was cheesy, he pulled that one off without looking too cute. If Pitt was on this list, Cruise should have also made it, a little respect please.

My list:

1. James Stewart
2. Al Pacino
3. Jack Nicholson
4. Laurence Olivier
5. Alec Guiness
6. Marlon Brando
7. Richard Burton
8. Toshiro Mifune
9. Morgan Freeman.
10. Meryl Streep

Just a shameless plug if you happen to be in the UK. Please catch Kevin Spacey's heart-wrenching performance in 'A Moon for the Misbegotten' playing at the Old Vic Theater until 23 December.

Al Pacino holds top spot for his consistency,his depth and reaction.

Totally agree with you Colin! ;)

Thankyou Simone.
As for the contenders.Robert de Niro is close,timing perfect etc,but isnt as consistant and seems to lack the depth.
Johnny Depp seems to hide behind this persona hes created.
The top contender alive is Russel Crowe.

despite all the people who say brando is great he really is great.depp doesn't even desrve to be on the list.

Why Johnny Depp, he's good but not great ! Pacino deserves it more than Depp, Sorry Mr Depp...


Really? Clark Gable? What performances would you rate so highly?

Robert Deniro The Best Actor In History!!!!

Nobodies Better

Robert De Niro?! Oh come on, have you seen any of his films to date?

Depth of DeNiro v Paccino (their great roles):

Paccino - Godfather 1 and 2, dog day afternoon, serpico, Donnie Brasco, Glengarry Glen Ross, carlito's way(maybe), Scent of a Woman

DeNiro - Godfather 2, Taxi Driver, Awakenings, Casino, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Untouchables, Once Upon a Time in America, The Deer Hunter, The King of Comedy

Hard to say who has more depth in my opinion.

Pitching the two against each other is difficult, but if you were to only take their later careers I'd be hard pressed to see them beat any other leading actor out there.

That said, it looks like they might be seriously trying to change that around and forget the recent run of rubbish they've been putting out.

I'm really surprised Roy Scheider isn't on this list! His versatility was incredible, i mean, going from Jaws to All That Jazz?! Unbelievable talent who will surely be greatly missed!

Absolutely agree, he was a superb actor who was slightly overshadowed for his Jaws role.

no morgan freeman n kevin spacey. very disappointing


there is no acting exists


1-Alex Guinness
2- Barbara Stanwyck
3- Richard Burton
4- Gregory Peck
5- Spencer Tracy
6- Burt Lancaster
7- Inger Stevens
8- Brad Pitt
9- James Mason
10- Al Picino


1- Tom Arnold
2- Paris Hilton
3- Tom Cruise

I'm really surprised Roy Scheider isn't on this list! His versatility was incredible, i mean, going from Jaws to All That Jazz?! Unbelievable talent who will surely be greatly missed!

A friend linked me to your site. Thanks for the information.


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