By EW Staff
Updated August 07, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT


Wait. Put the pen down. Before you write that angry letter to the editor, let us explain. We haven’t forgotten those great, distinguished giants whose dazzling achievements have influenced every other actor on this list. In fact, we respect these lions so much we’re awarding them their own list—the Pantheon—which includes:

JACK LEMMON, 73, a human rainbow of nervous tension — as the real Felix Ungar in The Odd Couple (1968), in Missing (1982), and in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992); 8 Oscar nominations, 2 wins

PETER O’TOOLE, 66, for his brilliant brooding in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and his boozy brio in My Favorite Year (1982); 7 nominations, no wins

MARLON BRANDO, 74, for his Methodic mumbling in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), On the Waterfront (1954), and The Godfather (1972); 8 nominations, 2 wins

SIDNEY POITIER, 74, whose steely confidence in A Patch of Blue (1965), In the Heat of the Night (1967), and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) remains Hollywood’s most underused asset; 2 nominations, 1 win

DUSTIN HOFFMAN, 61, for achieving adulthood in The Graduate (1967), fatherhood in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), and womanhood in Tootsie (1982); 7 nominations, 2 wins

ROBERT DUVALL, 67, for paving a terrifying road to hell in Apocalypse Now (1979) and looking heavenward in Tender Mercies (1983) and The Apostle (1997); 5 nominations, 1 win

AL PACINO, 58, for the greatest criminal record in movie history in The Godfather films (1972, 1974, 1990), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Scarface (1983), and Donnie Brasco (1997); 8 nominations, 1 win

PAUL NEWMAN, 73, for teaching Robert Redford how to swim in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Tom Cruise how to act in The Color of Money (1986), and the rest of us how to age gracefully in Nobody’s Fool (1994); 8 nominations, 1 win

GENE HACKMAN, 67, who makes discovering the souls of his characters look easy in The French Connection (1971), The Conversation (1974), and Unforgiven (1992); 5 nominations, 2 wins

JACK NICHOLSON, 61, for his nose for trouble in Chinatown (1974), his frontal lobe in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), his potbelly in Terms of Endearment (1983), and for the Best Supporting Eyebrows in the biz; 11 nominations, 3 wins

Okay, now you can write that letter.


Bruce and Demi aside, love and devotion, it seems, are still in vogue. When we asked a few of our top 25 actors which actresses they’d most like to work with (or work with again), four chose their wives. Nicolas Cage picked Patricia Arquette, and Ed Harris chose Amy Madigan. Kevin Bacon named Kyra Sedgwick (“She’s the best actress I know…. And we can save money on hotel rooms”). And Sean Penn said of Robin Wright Penn: “Me like way lady act. Face okay, too.” We think that sweet. Other actors favored screen legends. Kim Basinger’s husband, Alec Baldwin, chose Elizabeth Taylor. “If you have to ask why,” he said, “you’re either dead or need your head examined.” The other winners: