20 Most Influential Actors Of All Time

The true heavyweights of cinema royalty.

Streetcar Named Desire Marlon Brando
Warner Bros.

Over the years, Hollywood has produced some truly wonderful actors and their roles in some of cinema's most iconic and beloved pictures have helped shape a generation of movie-goers, film-makers and younger waves of acting talent. These actors have done more than shape than the landscape of cinema; they helped create it.

The actors on this list have made their careers out of being themselves. Each are as unique and as powerful as the last in their own way, all full of great roles and commitment. All act because they need to; there's nothing else for them, and their passion for the craft - which they each have perfected - is palpable with every frame of a movie in which they appear.

The films in which these stars played vital roles helped make cinema what it is today, and without their talent, grace and mastery of the craft of acting our screens would be much less bright today.

Be they comedians turned kings and queens of the dramatic, method actors with a uncanny ability to become every character they play, women who defied stereotypes or the every-man who captured the true essence of human nature, all 20 actors on this list have more than earned their place.

20. Tom Hanks

Streetcar Named Desire Marlon Brando
Dreamworks

Tom Hanks is one of the world's most beloved film stars, and he has carved a mesmerising and long career out of being cinema's most compelling every-man. Often playing men who are instantly relatable and multi-layered, Hanks has an almost unrivalled ability to capture the essence of what it means to be a regular guy in an irregular world.

From classic rom-coms like You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle, to dramas analysing the highs and lows of modern America, like Philadelphia, Terminal and Captain Phillips, his range is unquestionable and it seems as though he can act in every possible film. One of his darker and more underrated turns, with the crime-drama Road to Perdition, fully cements Hanks as a man who can do anything from comedy to romance to crime to sci-fi. And let's not forget his voice work in the wonderful Toy Story franchise, which has captured the heart of an entire generation.

His influence, then, cannot be understated. With every one of his early roles accepted as classics - Big, The Money Pit, and oh-so-many more - he has gone into the second half of his career with every role more measured and mature than the last, and he is one of only two actors to win consecutive Best Actor Oscars (Philadelphia and Forrest Gump), and even now he shows no signs of slowing down.

With a career spanning decades and multiple genres, Tom Hanks' influence is a welcome wonder, and we're lucky to have him.

Contributor
Contributor

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