The 20 Greatest Actors Of All Time

Though dozens of actors rise to stardom every year, only those with supreme talent can remain in the public eye. Read on to find the 20 best actors of all time.

20. Spencer Tracy

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Spencer Tracy has dazzled audiences with his unparalleled talents and achievements for over 40 years. His popularity stemmed from his box office successes and countless awards and nominations, including nine Academy Award nominations and two Oscars for his roles in Captains Courageous in 1937 and Boys Town in 1938.

19. Morgan Freeman

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You can hardly find a more versatile actor than Morgan Freeman. The 83-year-old from Memphis has performed in movies, TV, and on stage. Whatever it's ex-cons, hitmen, or even God, he can handle it. Hollywood has recognized his capability. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2004.

18. Robert Duvall

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The New York Times praised him as the greatest actor in the US in 1981. The actor does have a remarkable gift for transforming himself into various characters. His performance as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird and Tom Hagen in The Godfather are his highlights. Besides, he has won Academy Awards for his performance in Tender Mercies.

17. Clark Gable

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In his prime, Clark Gable was declared the "King of Hollywood" for his masculine roles in A Free Soul, Red Dust, and San Francisco. He showed his charisma as roguish Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. The delivery of his last line—"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn"—is among the most quoted by movie fans.

16. James Dean

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James Dean made his name in the film industry with only three works before he passed away: East of Eden (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and Giant (1956), and he got Oscar nominations for the latter two movies. Even years after his death, audiences still remember him as a good-looking and brooding boy, as well as a cultural icon.

15. Richard Burton

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Richard Burton is one of the most well known actors both for his excellent performances and for his two marriages to Elizabeth Taylor. The actor had amazed audiences in the West End, Broadway, and Hollywood during the 1950s and 60s. He played many iconic roles like George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Mark Antony in Cleopatra.

14. Orson Welles

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Orson Welles had a quite polarizing career as an actor. He has operated in three media forms: the radio (his infamous War of the World broadcast), theater (he founded the Mercury Theater), and movies. His sublime work Citizen Kane is unquestionably put at the forefront of many "Best Films of All Time" lists.

13. Al Pacino

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Al Pacino can be called one of the greatest film icons in the US and has achieved the rare "Triple Crown of Acting". The gifted actor gained his reputation with his performance in The Panic in Needle Park. However, Michael Corleone in the Godfather trilogy is still one of his most iconic characters. 

12. Cary Grant

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British-born Cary Grant had the rare gift of performing supremely in both thrillers and romantic comedies. His comedic persona helped him remain in his place in Hollywood even as he got older. As a two time Oscar nominee, he received an Honorary Oscar at last in 1970.

11. Paul Newman

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Paul Newman had been a box-office attraction for decades due to his masculine appearance and air of weary virility. The actor won his first Oscar for starring in Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money. It seemed effortless for him to adapt himself to the updated studio systems of the 1960s, and he kept performing in more than 65 films over five decades. 

10. Dustin Hoffman

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Dustin Hoffman is undoubtedly a national treasure. The famous actor first appeared in the public eye as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate. He has surprised audiences with his acting potential by portraying Watergate scoundrel, the existential detective, the enraged divorcee, the two-bit crook, and so on.

9. Sidney Poitier

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Sir Sidney Poitier is so versatile as an actor, a director, and a diplomat. He is the first African American to receive an Oscar for his performance in Lilies of the Field. Poitier is respected for insisting on his principle that he wouldn't portray people's stereotype of African Americans. Additionally, he has been the Bahamian ambassador to Japan.

8. Gregory Peck

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As a favourite actor of audiences for decades, Gregory Peck was featured in many classic films and worked with many eminent directors. He impressed all with his performance as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. His achievement has been reflected by his box office success and the five Best Actor Academy Awards nominations.

7. Anthony Hopkins

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Anthony Hopkins has had a lasting acting career which has included over 130 roles over five decades. Typecasting has never been his concern. Since his movie debut in 1968, Hopkins has tried everything from being a hero, a leader, a servant to a villain. His sublime skill has been recognized with an Academy Award for his performance in Silence of the Lambs.

6. James Stewart

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James Stewart started his career on Broadway and later made his film debut as Spencer Tracy in Murder Man in 1936. Just four years later, Stewart won his first Academy Award for his performance in George Cukor's The Philadelphia Story. Over the course of five decades, he has excelled in varied roles such as the everyday man as well as in darker roles in Hitchcock westerns and thrillers.

5. Jack Nicholson

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Jack Nicholson is a very rare actor who represents the counterculture and is one of the accomplished actors over the past five decades. The three-time Oscar winner has shown his broad spectrum of personas in his films, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Last Detail, The Shining, and his masterpiece About Schmidt. 

4. Laurence Olivier

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Laurence Olivier was regarded as the greatest English-speaking actor in the 20th century for his creativity as an actor and director. He starred and directed quite a few Shakespeare's film adaptations, among which his performance in Henry V won him an Academy Award, and Hamlet earned him an Oscar for both Best Picture and Best Actor.

3. Daniel Day-Lewis

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Sir Daniel Day-Lewis is a legendary but unusual three-time Oscar winner. The actor has threatened to quit his job multiple times. But he has been dazzling audiences with his unrivaled performance in works like There Will Be Blood and Lincoln, which cemented his legacy in the film industry.

2. Marlon Brando

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Marlon Brando brought an excessive vivid quality to his performances. At the start of his career, his character of Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) made him a household name. After that, he altogether won two Oscars for his performance in On the Waterfront and The Godfather.

1. Humphrey Bogart

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Humphrey Bogart was hailed as the greatest male actor in American film history by the American Film Institute in 1999. His influence has gone way beyond the film industry, and he has actually become a cultural icon. Bogart performed in around 75 feature films during his nearly 30-year career, such as Casablanca, The African Queen, and The Maltese Falcon.

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