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Added by Joseph Grey on 10 May 2012 07:56
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Iconic and Memorable Roles: Movies

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People who added this item 1218 Average listal rating (715 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8.1
Gandhi (1982)
Ben Kinsley as Gandhi


A truly unforgettable performance by Ben Kingsley. Twenty minutes into the movie and you are telling yourself that this is Gandhi on the screen, not an actor. One of the great performances in cinema history.
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People who added this item 234 Average listal rating (167 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
Zulu (1964)
Michael Caine as Lt. Gonville Bromhead



Stanley Baker as Lt. John Chard


Zulu is a massive movie with an ensemble cast. Two of the lead roles are played brilliantly by Michael Caine and Stanley Baker. Both men had great success, but their roles in this movie stand out quite a bit.
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People who added this item 133 Average listal rating (103 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7
Christopher Plummer as Squad Leader Colin Harvey




Laurence Olivier as Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding



Robert Shaw as Squadron Leader Skipper
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People who added this item 1883 Average listal rating (1174 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.2
Chinatown (1974)
Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes


"I like my nose... I like breathing with it."

Faye Dunaway as Evelyn Mulwray

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People who added this item 1058 Average listal rating (751 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.3
Richard Attenborough as Bartlett "Big X"

Richard Attenborough would later go on to be a great director, responsible for directing Gandhi, Magic, and A Bridge Too Far.


Steve McQueen as Hilts "The Cooler King"


Steve McQueen's rebel attitude and swagger really fit in the role of "The Cooler King."

James Garner as Hendley "The Scrounger"

James Garner in one of his most charming roles as "The Scrounger." His con-man behavior was offset well with Garner's natural likability.

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People who added this item 1782 Average listal rating (1184 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.2
Robert De Niro as Michael



Christopher Walken as Nick

Not many movies can make me cry. This one did. The incredible performances by De Niro and Walken in The Deer Hunter are legendary in cinema.
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People who added this item 1272 Average listal rating (780 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.4
Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence



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People who added this item 379 Average listal rating (228 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.1
Sleuth (1972)
Laurence Olivier as Andrew Wyke


Michael Caine as Milo Tindle




What an amazing portrayal by both Olivier and Caine. Both are at their best, and make for two memorable and powerful performances.
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People who added this item 594 Average listal rating (431 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
Yul Brynner as Chris Larabee Adams



Charles Bronson as Bernando O'Reilly



James Coburn as Britt



The American remake of Seven Samurai. The two movies are quite different in style, actually. Not much time was spent delving into each character, but Coburn, Brynner, and Bronson's performances were strong and memorable.
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People who added this item 721 Average listal rating (512 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8
Papillon (1973)
Steve McQueen as Henri Charriere

Perhaps Steve McQueen's greatest role as the Devil's Island prisoner 'Papillon'. If you haven't seen this movie, you really must.

Dustin Hoffman as Louis Dega
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People who added this item 1220 Average listal rating (725 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.9
My Fair Lady (1964)
Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle


My Fair Lady features a beautiful performance by Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle.
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Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn




Ian McKellen as Gandolf

The Great Ian McKellen. A veteran of the stage, and member of the Royal Shakespeare Academy (with Patrick Stewart and David Suchet in the 80's). I hope Ian McKellen never retires, and continues to give great performances.


Eljah Wood as Frodo Baggins

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Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker



Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa



Harrison Ford as Han Solo

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Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine


This guy scared me a lot as a kid. Ancient looking and wormlike, this was one of the creepiest movie villains.
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People who added this item 1636 Average listal rating (1114 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3
Superman (1978)
Christopher Reeve as Superman


Christopher Reeve is the best movie Superman I've seen. There may never be a better one.
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People who added this item 908 Average listal rating (625 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.2
Alec Guinness as Colonel Nicholson

Alec Guinness was a world famous actor decades before he appeared in Star Wars. He also co-starred in Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, which were alternatives to this choice.
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People who added this item 876 Average listal rating (593 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.8
Gene Hackman as Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle

Gene Hackman is one of those guys who are too good to be type-casted. I could have chosen a few different iconic roles of his, but I chose this one, because many people have seen it.
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People who added this item 971 Average listal rating (601 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.4
Das Boot (1981)
Jürgen Prochnow as Captain Henrich

Prochnow played the Captain of the U-Boat in this film masterpiece. It is easily his most amazing and memorable role.
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People who added this item 2210 Average listal rating (1418 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8
Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse

Who wasn't somehow affected by this movie after seeing it? Imagine if someone else had been given the role? ... yeah, I can't either. Mia Farrow had the natural innocence, with the acting talent to keep us following her through the end of the movie.
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People who added this item 5899 Average listal rating (4175 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.6
Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter

You're not likely to forget Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Hannibal Lecter once you've seen Silence of the Lambs. His treatment of the character is impeccable.


Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling



Ted Levine as Jame Gumb
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Harrison Ford as Dr. Henry 'Indiana' Jones

Harrison Ford really threw himself into being Indiana Jones. He made kids around the world want to study Anthropology, carry a whip, and wear a brown fedora. It was both the image, and his tough but likeable portrayal of the character that made a memorable impression upon the movie.
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People who added this item 3993 Average listal rating (2895 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.5
Alien (1979)
Sigourney Weaver as Ripley


This is where it began. Sigourney Weaver played flight officer aboard a deep space mining vessel. Her stress and fear were palpable, and added tension to the scenes. In combination with the rest of the cast, Sigourney Weaver's performance is both dramatic and believable.
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People who added this item 4618 Average listal rating (3309 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.5
Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator

Arnold was a veteran of the screen at this point. But his portrayal of The Terminator was more impactful in this movie than the first, and the story gave the character a third dimension.

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor

Linda Hamilton really did a great job as Sarah Connor. She did a great job of transforming herself into a doomsday prepper, a very different person than she was in the first movie.

Edward Furlong as John Connor

Edward Furlong may not have much of a career today, but his role as John Connor will always be remembered as one of the best portrayals of a child character in recent memory.

Robert Patrick as T-1000

This guy was scary. No emotion, no hesitation, no... bones? The T-1000 is the scariest Terminator. He can look like anyone, and absorb your bullets. A walking nightmare to fight against.
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People who added this item 3846 Average listal rating (2592 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.2
Blade Runner (1982)
Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty


Rutger Haeur's portrayal of the replicant Roy Batty felt like a combination of genius and insanity. Many of the characters in the movie are memorable, but this was the strongest performance, and perhaps the best of Hauer's career.

Edward James Olmos as Gaff


Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard


Dean Young as Rachael


This is one of my favorite movies.
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People who added this item 967 Average listal rating (699 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.3
The Sting (1973)
Robert Redford as Johnny Hooker


Paul Newman as Henry Gondorff


Great performances by the entire cast. Paul Newman and Robert Redford are at their best, and give a performance even more memorable than their roles in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
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People who added this item 351 Average listal rating (275 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7
Death Wish (1974)
Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey

Charles Bronson was a veteran actor before taking this role, but this movie helped to make him famous as a leading actor. Not his best work, but he carries the role well.
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People who added this item 1812 Average listal rating (1267 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
Misery (1990)
Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes


If You've seen Misery, then you know just how terrifying one woman can be.
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People who added this item 128 Average listal rating (80 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7
Sean Connery as Pierce

Easily one of Connery's best roles. He plays the charming swindler Pierce, looking to pull one big heist with his team of criminals.
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People who added this item 318 Average listal rating (234 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.7
Shane (1953)
Alan Ladd as Shane



Jack Palance as Jack Wilson
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People who added this item 3799 Average listal rating (2646 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8.2
Die Hard (1988)
Bruce Willis as John McClane

This movie really propelled Bruce Willis into the action movie world. Personally, I liked him better in moonlighting, but he does have a strange almost clumsy way of outsmarting and killing the bad guys.

Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber
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People who added this item 1124 Average listal rating (809 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
Dr. No (1962)
Sean Connery as James Bond 007



Ursula Andress as Honeychile 'Honey' Ryder


You may ask "why choose Doctor No. ?" Easy. If this movie tanked, and Sean Connery wasn't convincing as James Bond, there would be no 'From Russia With Love', 'Goldfinger', and perhaps no James Bond movie franchise at all. This movie started the James Bond movie franchise as we know it today.
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People who added this item 5433 Average listal rating (3592 ratings) 8.7 IMDB Rating 9.2
The Godfather (1972)
Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone



Al Pacino as Micheal Corleone



James Caan as Sonny Corleone
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People who added this item 8506 Average listal rating (5576 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.8
Forrest Gump (1994)
Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump



Forrest Gump wasn't my only choice for Tom Hanks. I think he did a better performance in Philadelphia, and it may find it's way into this list.
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People who added this item 2009 Average listal rating (1281 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett


Denzel Washington as Joe Miller




A great understated performance by Tom Hanks. He has to exhibit multiple stages of illness from the AIDS virus, all while having to portray a believable and memorable character.

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People who added this item 3642 Average listal rating (2440 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.7
GoodFellas (1990)
Ray Liotta as Henry Hill



Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVitto



Lorraine Bracco as Karen Hill
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People who added this item 693 Average listal rating (458 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.3
Yojimbo (1961)
Toshiro Mifune as Sanjuro, the Wandering Samurai

A great role for Mifune, as the wandering Samurai who decides to become involved in a war between two crime families. This movie was the inspiration for the 'Fistful of Dollar' movies.
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People who added this item 1270 Average listal rating (929 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8
Clint Eastwood as Joe, the Wandering Gunfighter


Gian Maria Volonte, as Ramón Rojo, Crime Boss
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People who added this item 524 Average listal rating (373 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
Lee Marvin as Major Reisman



Charles Bronson as Joseph Wladislaw



Jim Brown as Robert Jefferson



Telly Savalas as Archer Maggott



John Cassavetes as Victor Franko
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People who added this item 3916 Average listal rating (2656 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 8.7
Jack Nicholson as R.P. McMurphy




Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratchet



Will Sampson as Chief Bromden


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People who added this item 832 Average listal rating (564 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.2
Paul Newman as Luke

Paul Newman played many excellent roles, but this is one of his best.

Strother Martin as The Captain


The psychological and spiritual battle between Luke and The Captain was accentuated by Strother Martin's bi-polar treatment of the character.
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People who added this item 2041 Average listal rating (1426 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.9
Halloween (1978)
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode



Donald Pleasance as Dr. Sam Loomis

Donald Pleasance has a talent for understatement and the ability to communicate emotion without using words. This is not the best movie he was in, and probably not his best performance. But, he was in at least four Halloween movies, so he is part of the franchise. You should watch him in THX-1138.
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People who added this item 4395 Average listal rating (3018 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8.4
Braveheart (1995)
Mel Gibson as William Wallace



Patrick McGoohan as Longshanks - King Edward I

Ah, Braveheart. Great battle scenes, strong characters, and a very enjoyable movie, as long as you're not a history major.
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People who added this item 2453 Average listal rating (1716 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 8.1
Rocky (1976)
Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa

This is probably Sylvester Stallone's most memorable movie role. He wrote this story (based off a real boxer), and did a great job portraying a local punk turned local hero.

Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed

Carl Weathers really convinced me that he was a trash talking, athletic fighter in this movie. A really great performance, and good contrast with Stallone's character.

Bugress Meredith as Mickey Goldmill

Many a parody has been made of the character Mickey. But that's only because the world class actor Burgess Meredith gave such a memorable performance.
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People who added this item 4364 Average listal rating (2769 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.4
Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb


Ellen Burstyn may have been the best performance of the cast. Going from odd to bat-shit crazy isn't easy when you're in less than half the movie. A great performance.


Jared Leto as Harry Goldfarb




Jennifer Connelly as Marion Silver



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People who added this item 3956 Average listal rating (2802 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.6
Jean Reno as Leon

Jean Reno is great in playing an understated role. When he finally does reveal his emotions, you believe them.

Natalie Portman as Mathilda

What a performance by Natalie Portman. Utterly convincing, you felt for the character throughout the movie.

Gary Oldman as Stansfield

A great performance as Gary Oldman. Not many people can make being a villain look cool. Gary Oldman did in this role.
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People who added this item 8285 Average listal rating (5473 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.8
Fight Club (1999)
Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden
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People who added this item 1905 Average listal rating (1208 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.6
Billy Crystal as Harry



Meg Ryan as Sally


This isn't the best performance by either Meg Ryan or Billy Crystal, but their chemistry together makes both their performances memorable.
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Mike Myers as Autin Powers



Mike Myers as Dr. Evil


This isn't my favorite movie, but no one can deny it was a memorable performance by Mike Myers. Playing both Austin Powers and Dr. Evil, Myers was able to convincingly be both the hero and the villain.
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People who added this item 1269 Average listal rating (718 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 8.4
M (1931)
Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert


Gustaf Gründgens as Schränker
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People who added this item 391 Average listal rating (219 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.7
Lon Chaney as the Phantom


Mary Philbin as Christine Daae
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This list is a work in progress of some of the most memorable roles in movies. I'll add more movies when I have time, although I'll try not to make this a 100 item list. Many actors are not defined by a single role, so you may see someone appear more than once. In some cases, I'll offer up and alternative to the choices that I made.

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Comments

Posted: 4 years, 4 months ago at May 10 17:35
Nice list! Since you're still working on it I'd say you should add Han Solo for Star Wars, as he's definitely the most iconic one. Lots of films here I still need to see.
Posted: 4 years, 4 months ago at May 11 4:16
@lonelyhearts, the giraffe, carryonbuff: Thank you!

@the giraffe: I'm still filing in some of my choices, as well as in the process of adding more. Sometimes pictures aren't easily available for the characters I'm trying to show, then I have to go find some.
Posted: 4 years, 4 months ago at May 13 7:04
realy great list. many good movies are here.
Posted: 4 years, 4 months ago at May 14 18:00
What a great work you did here! well done!!
I agree with almost every movie and actors in it. I can watch these movies again & again.
But what about women characters?
Posted: 4 years, 4 months ago at May 26 2:36
@ Villiana: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoy it.

@m08221196: I haven't watched the movies you mentioned. I have to stick to movies I know enough about, otherwise I'd just be guessing.
Posted: 4 years, 2 months ago at Jul 23 17:36
good list got my vote
Posted: 4 years, 2 months ago at Jul 25 15:13
WOW,...some of the greatest movies ever! I agree 100% with your comments about "The Great Escape"
Posted: 4 years, 1 month ago at Aug 4 7:29
Deer Hunter is amazing.
Posted: 4 years, 1 month ago at Aug 9 8:12
Excellent, Superb, I cannot agree more with you!
Posted: 4 years, 1 month ago at Aug 18 6:29
Epic list! Great job.
Posted: 4 years ago at Sep 14 19:55
Super-list!
Posted: 3 years, 10 months ago at Nov 9 14:48
excellent list, pictures and comments. maybe you could include rob't shaw for the sting, or jaws, morgan freeman and tim robbins for shawshank redemption, gregory peck for to kill a mockingbird, and ernest borgnine for marty...
Posted: 3 years, 8 months ago at Jan 29 18:59
Great list and choices, after I first saw Misery, I stayed away from people who even slightly looked like her.
Posted: 3 years, 8 months ago at Jan 29 20:53
@everyone: This list hasn't been updated in a while. I will add a few more selections, when I have the time.

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