Actresses' choices for leading men -- Sean Penn and Marlon Brando top our 25 greatest leading ladies co-star hopefuls

Greatest Actresses’ minds think alike. Asked to name the actor they’d most like to work with, Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Alfre Woodard single out Sean Penn, whose work, says Streep, ”is brilliant, inventive, and compassionate, and his choices are unpredictable and true.” Both Michelle Pfeiffer and Glenn Close pick Marlon Brando ”just because he’s Marlon Brando,” says Pfeiffer. Close gets rhapsodic: ”To have been his Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, having him tossing me meat in the first scene! He remains one of the greatest actors this country will ever produce.”

Another country produced Helena Bonham Carter’s choice, the Italian actor-director Roberto Benigni. ”I just saw Life Is Beautiful,” says Bonham Carter, ”and I’m in love with…his exuberance, humor, whimsical imagination, and his big, humane, love-thumping heart.” More sparing with words is Vanessa Redgrave, who chooses Harvey Keitel ”because he’s such a good actor.” Kathy Bates puts Laurence Fishburne on her wish list ”because of his tremendous range and subtleties of his characterizations,” and Sigourney Weaver names Samuel L. Jackson ”because his work is always risky, always fiercely intelligent.”

Women also adore a good sense of humor, especially Sharon Stone, who says Robin Williams ”touches my heart with his creative courage in the most profound way.” And there’s something to be said for sex appeal. Holly Hunter calls Brad Pitt ”alluring and fun and wicked…. He’s candy to my eye.” Jodie Foster picks Tom Cruise because ”I knew him when we were younger. He’s very polite and sincere. He’s incredibly un-lazy.” Gena Rowlands is hot over working with Sean Connery on the upcoming Playing by Heart, while Angela Bassett remains faithful to her husband, Courtney B. Vance.

Julia Roberts picks both Anthony Hopkins and the late great Richard Burton. Roberts, in fact, is one of several actresses willing to rob the grave for a dream date. Peter Sellers gets a thumbs up from Joan Cusack (”I could have learned so much from working with him”) and from Frances McDormand, who also mentions Charles Laughton. ”I may not have wanted to have a cup of coffee with them,” she says of the notoriously difficult duo, ”but they were supremely talented.”

Meanwhile, Susan Sarandon has her eye on James Dean, who’s ”the embodiment of both the masculine and the feminine and therefore very, very surprising,” and Laura Dern thinks Jimmy Stewart ”would guide me in the art of simplicity.” Finally, Emma Thompson is very excited about the impossible prospect of working with Zero Mostel. ”Ideally,” she says, ”we would appear in a black comedy called Dracula’s Sister, also starring Gene Wilder as a nervous priest, during which I would get to wear a fright wig. This would represent total job satisfaction.”