Encompassing some of the greatest movements in film history, the 20th Century was an awe-inspiring era for the development of acting as an art form. Here are ten of the best actors from this remarkable period of time, and why their work has never been more relevant.
- Cary Grant
Undoubtedly, Cary Grant remains one of the most sophisticated and complex actors of the 20th Century. His enduring sense of style and grace redefined notions about the impact and influence that actors can have on society.
- Katharine Hepburn
Over the course of her distinguished career, Katharine Hepburn revolutionized the role of women in the film world. Her status as an icon has remained undiminished in the years since her passing.
- Marcello Mastroianni
In roles for the great director Federico Fellini, Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni brought a level of sophistication to the silver screen that hasn’t been matched since.
- Helen Mirren
With a career spanning decades of quality work, Helen Mirren remains very much in-demand as an actor. This is not an easy feat in the youth-obsessed world of mainstream moviemaking.
- F. Murray Abraham
After his standout role as the troubled composer Antonio Salieri in Amadeus, F. Murray Abraham was unjustly sidelined by Hollywood after winning a Best Actor Oscar in 1985. Still criminally underrated as an actor, Abraham remains one of his generation’s greatest talents.
- Ingrid Bergman
One of the most iconic actors to ever grace the big screen, Ingrid Bergman revolutionized the role of women in Hollywood. Her films remain classics, and she is still a hero to new generations of aspiring female actors.
- Alec Guinness
Known far and wide as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Alec Guinness was more than just a sci-fi icon. His work in the British film industry revolutionized 20th Century acting.
- Audrey Hepburn
As an actor, Audrey Hepburn exemplified onscreen grace and charm. A totally unique talent, no actor has yet eclipsed Hepburn’s unique mixture of vulnerability and artistic forcefulness.
- Laurence Oliver
For his onscreen work with Shakespearean masterpieces alone, Laurence Olivier has more than earned a place in the acting world’s hall of legends. Whether he was playing Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights or chilling audiences with his performance in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Olivier channeled something new in the acting form. That legacy has never been forgotten.
- Bette Davis
A true “grande dame” in the Old Hollywood tradition, Bette Davis’s performances remain touchstones within the history of filmmaking due to her acting range. A true great among greats, Davis will always be remembered for her remarkable talent.