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10 Best Actors of All-Time Relay Race

04 June 2012 | People Lists | by David Zou

For this blog-a-thon started by Nostra of My Filmviews, it’s about listing the 10 best actors ever where on person passes on that list to another where they can remove one actor in that list and insert a new one. It’s a simple contest but given that there’s so many actors, it’s a very difficult thing to do. Here’s what Nostra had to say about this blog-a-thon:

“So what’s the idea behind the relay? I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actors. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his/her own post. This blogger will have to remove one actor (that is an obligation) and add his/her own choice describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses to remove and add an actor. We will end up with a list (not in ranked order) which represents a common agreement of the best actors.

It will also mean that those who follow this relay race will get to know new blogs as well.”

Steven of Surrender to the Void has chosen me for relay and here are the previous participants that has started way back since March:

The Actors
(listed alphabetically)

Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando
Daniel Day-Lewis

Robert de Niro

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp
Leonardo DiCaprio

Gene Hackman

gene hackman
Paul Newman

Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson
James Stewart


When I first saw this list,wow,there are some of my fave American actors like Robert De Niro and Jimmy Stewart,I could add Henry Fonda and Al Pacino to it,but there are already soooo many Americans in the list,I need to add someone different.

Before this,I need to do the dirty job first,I know this would be harsh on the blogger who added it,and it would definitely broke many girls’ hearts including my wife’s,my decision is to remove Johnny Depp from the list

Johnny Depp

Depp,if you can hear me,I know you make all girls crazy about you,but your unique charm does not work for me,as a man.I do like your early performances in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Arizona Dream,and your Jack Sparrow character in the Pirates Trilogy is pretty impressive,but that’s all for me.Your collaboration with Tim Burton used to interest me but definitely not now.So,here you go.

Do you guys mind if I add an Italian?

marcello mastroianni

Yes,Marcello Mastroianni,read it in Italian!!I choose him for several reasons:

1.He has universal appeal.People who has watched 8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita would immediately recognize this face.

2.He was the big one in the golden age of Italian cinema.In 1960s,Italian cinema was at its second peak after Neo-realism,Mastroianni was the leading man of nearly every Italian classics made in this decade,and he had worked with almost every great Italian directors at that time,including La Notte(Antonioni),Divorce Italian Style(Pietro Germi),8 1/2(Fellini),The Organizer(Mario Monicelli),Yesterday Today and Tomorrow and Marriage Italian Style(De Sica),The 10th Victim(Elio Petri),before that he was already in Visconti’s La Notte Blanche and after that he was famously chosen as the leading actor in Greek master Theo Angelopoulos’  O melissokomos(The Beekeeper).

3.He has range.I like to use a actor’s acting range as a major criteria to judge if he is good or not,my definition of range here is not emotion or action level,but the acting style,Mastroianni is a actor who can be dead serious in some films(8 1/2,La Notte),and hilariously funny in others(Divorce Italian Style,Yesterday Today and Tomorrow). He is as great as any actors in the list when acting in dramas,but his unique comedy talent beats them all.

4.I specially watched 2 of his films(La Notte Blanche and The Beekeeper) last weekend for the preparation of this post,which convinced me again I made the correct decision.I found there are no “big performance” or “big character” in his career,because his way of acting is deep in the soul,watching him on the screen,you can feel something profound inside the character.If you had the chance to see The Beekeeper,you will know what I mean.


Ok,that’s all I want and need to say about one of my fave actors of all time,but I still want to mention some Englishmen who almost made it in the list

Alec Guinness(Kind Hearts and Coronets,The Lady Killers,The Lavender Hill Mob,The Bridge on the River Kwai)

Peter Sellers(Lolita,Dr. Strangelove,Being There)

Anthony Hopkins(Remains of the Day,Howards End,The Silence of the Lambs)

Jeremy Irons(Dead Ringers,M. Butterfly,Lolita,Damage)


I’m gonna pass the baton to Steve on 1001plus,eager to know whom he will add to the list.





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  • I never saw any movies Mastroianni played in, but started watching 8 1/2 yesterday (only first half an hour unfortunately) and I did recognise him. Don’t mind removing Depp.

    • Thanks for the comments,Nostra,and also thanks for the great idea of this blogathon.I’m glad you remember the face,haha,I bet you will see this faces more and more as you dig deep into Italian cinema.Men all don’t mind Depp,do we?

      • Still so many Italian movies I need to check out. Depp is a good actor, but not one I will immediately think of when I have to name the best actors around.

        • I totally agree,I think he was chosen here as a contemporary representative along with DDL,he is certainly popular and cool,but definitely not great to my standard.

  • I’m not familiar w/ Marcello Mastroianni’s work but I’d think he is a better actor than Johnny Depp. I think Depp is ok, but not exactly in the same league as some of them on this list.

    • I agree with you,Ruth,he is just not that good,as simple as that.Thanks for the comments!!

  • MARCELLO!!!!! OH! That’s a magnificent pick. I love Marcello Mastroianni. I was thinking you were going to go for an Asian actor but… Oh… I can’t top that.

    • Steven,thanks for choosing me first.I considered 2 Hong Kong actors – Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung,they are fantastic actors but I gave them up because they are not big names for Western audience.

  • Anthony Hopkins was my pick, he’s gone, too bad ( :
    I actually considered Marcello Mastroianni, because I didn’t think there was enough foreign flavour on the list. Good choice, he’s been in as many classics as Robert Duvall ( :
    I also saw White Nights (1957) this year, which , maybe, is my favorite performance by Mastroianni, cinematic gold ( :

    • Just read your post,Chris,Anthony Hopkins is a great choice to me.I certainly did not see as much of his films as you did,but his range is already there,he could be gentleman and cannibal, that’s range for me.Mastroianni is pretty good in White Nights though he was still in young age,the last scene he walked away with a dog is so heart-breaking!!

  • Thanks for tapping me on this. I think had he still been there when it got to me, I’d have tapped Depp as well. These days, it seems like all of his roles are essentially the same.

    My list is up, by the way, as you can see by my “recent post.”

    • No prob,man.Yeah,his roles are essentially the same: weirdos.I’m checking your list now.

  • I’ve seen a couple of films with Mastroianni and he’s definitely a fine actor. It’s nice that from time to time a blogger puts a foreign actor on the list. But of course I’m sad to see Depp go.

    • Thanks for your comments,Lesya.I could add a bunch of foreign actors on the list but the rule only allows me to add one.I knew removing Depp would break hearts,but as I said,men do not like him that much.

  • Pingback: The Ten: Best All-Time Actors Relay Race()

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  • Tim

    Gotta agree with you on this one. Johnny Depp is good, but not great. I’m ok with either Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio going. I’ve seen Mastroianni in the Fellini films, so I only have a small sample size, but he’s great in those two flicks. I wouldn’t have thought of him off the top of my head, but the more I think about it the more I like it. Nice choice.

    These relay blogathons are pretty cool, I find myself wondering who I’d pick if I got the baton. Definitely fun to think about!

    • Thanks for the comments,Tim.Yeah,you can’t compete with legends,if DiCaprio was not chosen by Scorsese in his films,he might not even be here,I do think he made a tremendous progress during the last decade.Mastroianni is not a obvious choice here because as I said,he did not have any big performances,but as you spend more time thinking those roles he played,you would find the brilliance in it.

  • Milad Mohammadi

    Forget great Marcello Mastroianni is like forget to breath!

  • corvus coraX

    I really doubt Johhny Deep deserve a place in top ten. But Mastroianii 100% yes!

  • ㅇㅇ

    where is Tom Cruise?