Rowan Atkinson

The British actor with the rubber face, Rowan Atkinson has made a long and lasting career out of his unique brand of physical comedy. His signature role, Mr. Bean - a bumbling idiot who speaks nary a word yet is quick to bring a laugh with his devilishly sarcastic humor - has seen life not only in the live-action version of the televion program, but in a feature length movie and an animated program that mirrors the original.

But even more memorable, to my mind at least, was Atkinson's portrayal of the greedy, witty, and often cruel Edmund Blackadder, always quick to formulate "a cunning plan" for any situation that could bring him advantage.

This stand-out performance can be seen in all it's glory by watching this title:

Antonio Banderas

With his smooth, sexy voice and dark features, Antonio Banderas has come to epitomize the Latin lover and dashing hero, earning his place as one of the ultimate contemporary Hollywood sex symbols.

And while roles like The Mask of Zorro only reinforce that image, it is the somewhat lesser known, more subtle protrayals that I enjoy most. His turn in Philadelphia as the loyal and supportive "Miguel" - partner to Tom Hanks' "Andrew" - stands out as the first to really catch my eye. Other notable performances include "Armand" in Interview With the Vampire and as the voice of "Puss In Boots" in Shrek 2 and Shrek The Third.

These stand-out performances can be seen by watching these titles:

Lindsey Buckingham

Though often overlooked as one of the guitar greats and a master producer, Lindsey Buckingham was undeniably the creative force behind the most successful and revered incarnations of the band Fleetwood Mac. However, his association with that band - and its image as a light pop group of the 1970's - has been almost detrimental to his legacy as a god of the "axe."

His stunning prowess on guitar is most evident in his live performances and to really appreciate his gifts you must see him play. The best way to experience this is, of course, to attend one of his concerts, but as that isn't the most practical method, try these in lieu of the real thing:

Billy Burnette

Though he comes from a family of musicians and has been playing music professionally since he was a child, Billy Burnette has had the misfortune of being known almost exclusively as one of the guys who replaced Lindsey Buckingham as Fleetwood Mac's guitarist. This is unfortunate, because Burnette is a gifted musician whose style is as unlike that of his predacessor as is the style of original Mac guitarist Peter Green. Sadder still is the fact that very little footage of Burnette's performances with the band has been made available and really can only be found in an official release on the not-so-great Tango in the Night DVD. Billy can also be seen backing John Fogerty in his The Long Road Home In Concert DVD.

Interestingly, though little concert footage of Burnette has ever been released, his roles in B movies like Carnosaur 3 and Casper Meets Wendy are relatively easy to find. However, the only truly watchable (if still very, very bad) of these films is Saturday Night Special, in which Burnette plays a country musician named "Travis."

My Recommendations:

Steve Buscemi

Bug-eyed, pastey-faced and strange looking, Steve Buscemi could never be a leading man in Hollywood. But who cares? There are enough of those already and Buscemi's portrayal of an endless line of freaks and weirdos are far more interesting than the hero types anyway.

Sadly, my collection of his work is sorely wanting, but of those that I've purchased his portrayal of the introverted record collector "Seymour" in Ghost World and the somewhat spacey bowling buddy sidekick "Donny" in The Big Lebowski stand out as his best. Though he is perhaps most memorable as the uber-creepy "Garland 'The Marietta Mangler' Greene" in Con Air, of oft overlooked and dismissed - but highly entertaining - action flick.

My Recommendations:

Nicolas Cage

When it comes to my favorite actors, Nicolas Cage is something of a fallen hero. Though he is gifted with an incredible range - able to pull off both comedy and drama, both action and romance, while being either hero or villain - and has won many awards including an Oscar and a Golden Globe (both for Leaving Las Vegas) Cage has all too often made poor choices in the roles he has portrayed. Recent blunders include National Treasure and Ghost Rider.

Even more disappointing than the box office bombs he's dropped in the past few years, is the obvious and radical change in his physical appearance. It's apparent that he's had cosmetic procedures done on his face and has taken to dying his hair. Although I've never found him to be a particularly attractive man, today's Nicolas Cage is a freaky, frightening mutation of his former self.

Still, I can't help but to look back on his body of work with a lingering sense of fondness, particuarly for these films:

Michael Caine

Both my knowledge and collection of Michael Caine's work are, in a word, limited. Though - with entries on his resume that date back to the 1950's and six Oscar nominations (including two wins) - under his belt, there is plenty of unseen material for me to draw from.

That being said, the only films I have seen by Sir Michael Caine are those included in my collection - most of which are small parts that are not hugely important to the films. However, it took only one role - "Dr. Royer-Collard" in the film Quills - to cement Caine's status among my favorite actors.

Dr. Royer-Collard is "a distinguished alienist" who is enlisted by Emporer Napoleon to control the Marquis de Sade, who resides as an inmate in an insane asylum run by the benevolent Abbe du Coulmier. Indeed, the viewer comes to find that the good Doctor is, as the Marquis puts it, "a man after my own heart" and reveals himself to be as much the Sadist as the man whose name is the root of the word itself.

My Recommendation:

Bruce Campbell

That chin. That ridiculous voice and over-confident swagger. All the trademarks of an actor who exists on the fringe of Hollywood celebrity, yet has a following that might rival any A-lister.

While many know him from the Evil Dead trilogy and The Legend of Brisco County, Jr., I didn't become aware of his work until an article in Rolling Stone magazine prompted me to rent Bubba Ho-Tep. After seeing his over-the-top antics as an aging Elvis impersonator (who believes that he truly is Elvis) determined to save his rest home from a soul-sucking Egyptian mummy in cowboy duds, I immediately fell in love and had to look further. And, while I've enjoyed his other performances, Bubba Ho-Tep will always be my favorite.

My Recommendations:

In addition to these films, I highly recommend reading Campbell's autobiography If Chins Could Kill - Confessions of a B Movie Actor and his novel Make Love!* *The Bruce Campbell Way.

Kevin Costner

Yes, his films tend to be overly long and self-absorbed. Yes, his body has seen better days and his time as a Hollywood sex symbol is pretty much over, but let's not forget that this two-time Academy Award winning actor, director, and producer has brought us some of the most memorable films (and yes, some of the biggest flops - Waterworld, anyone?) in recent decades.

Probably the most notable of his performances were in Dances With Wolves, a sweeping epic in which a Lieutenant in the Civil War finds himself living among the native people, and Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves. And while these are certainly among my favorites, another I highly recommend is Costner's turn as the lovably goofy "Jake" in the 1985 western Silverado.

My Recommendations:

Russell Crowe

Unfortunately, in the last few years, his hot-headed, sometimes violent temper has landed him far greater publicity than any of his movie roles, however, it should not be forgotten that this 3-time Oscar nominated actor has made his career by bringing to life a wide range of characters, from the heroic to the despicable.

Though, to the American public at least, Russell Crowe seemed to come out of nowhere and became an overnight household name with his Academy-Award winning portrayal of "Maximus" in the swords-and-sandals epic Gladiator, he had in fact been turning out equally stunning performances in lesser known flicks since the early 1990's. One of these performances, and indeed the one that landed him the part of "Maximus," was as "Hando" in Romper Stomper, a violent and disturbing film about a gang of Australian skinheads. Other notable performances are as "Bud White" in L.A. Confidential and as "John Nash" in A Beautiful Mind. I also recommend the highly entertaining western The Quick and the Dead.

My Recommendations:

John Cusack

Though many of his early roles had him playing the geek (often right alongside his sister Joan), John Cusack has a certain quiet, unassuming sex appeal. Though he is rarely the leading man and has been known to choose odd roles, his performances are always memorable even if the movie isn't (such as in the case of America's Sweethearts).

Indeed, one of his strangest and most memorable performances - in what is certainly one of the strangest films I've ever seen - was as puppeteer "Craig Schwartz" in Being John Malkovich. Another notable performance was in the mystery/thriller Identity.

My Recommendations:

Patrick Dempsey

A full ten years before there ever was a "Dr. McDreamy," I fell in love with a then not-so-well-known former child star named Patrick Dempsey. It was in a movie called With Honors (co-starring Joe Pesci and Brendan Fraser) and Dempsey's laid-back and funny "Everrett" was a huge part of what makes that film one of my all-time favorites. (His ability to look good sporting a "white-boy afro" - reminiscent of a mid-1970's Lindsey Buckingham - didn't hurt, either.)

Of course, it was only when Grey's Anatomy hit the airwaves that the American public took notice as Dempsey steamed up their televisions in his role as Seattle Grace's resident sexy brain surgeon "Derek Shepherd."

My Recommendations:

Johnny Depp

Despite his strikingly handsome features, Johnny Depp rarely takes the role of heroic leading man in blockbuster features. He is an actor of both talent and integrity, choosing his roles based on the originality of the script and the appeal of the subject matter.

As a result, Depp has been involved in some very strange films and has become something of a muse to Tim Burton, starring in five of the unique producer/director's movies. Still, it wasn't until Depp's turn as "Captain Jack Sparrow," in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, that Depp truely acquired his movie-star/sex symbol status - and earned his first Academy Award nomination in 2004 (his second nomination came the following year for his role in Finding Neverland).

My Recommendations:

Leonardo DiCaprio

His pretty boy face and roles in 1990's films like Titanic and Romeo + Juliet have saddled this talented and versatile actor with the image of "sex symbol to the teeny-bopper set" for far too long.

Time and again he's shown his skill and range in film after film yet only rarely has he been rewarded for his efforts. He's been nominated three times for the Academy Awards, but has never won and of his six Golden Globe nominations - including dual Best Actor (Drama) nominations this year for his roles in Blood Diamond and The Departed - his only win was for his portrayal of Frank Abignale, Jr. in 2002's Catch Me If You Can. But, at only 32 years old, DiCaprio is just coming into his own as one of Hollywood's finest and there is plenty of time yet for him to receive those overdue accolades.

My Recommendations:

Colin Firth

The sex appeal of British actor Colin Firth is a bit hard to put into labels. He's soft spoken. His body type is pretty average, being neither muscular nor skinny. There's nothing especially striking about his facial features, yet he has legions of fans - both male and female - and has been named one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People (in 2001).

As an actor, he typically plays the role of the good guy who has been romantically burned in the past. This description is true of his biggest stand-out roles - that of Mark Darcy in both Bridget Jones films, and that of Jamie in Love Actually.

My Recommendations:

Brendan Fraser

Although his roles in goofy comedies like Encino Man, George of the Jungle, Blast From the Past, and Dudley DoRight often overshadow his other work, Canadian-born Brendan Fraser is actually a gifted dramatic actor, most notably in the haunting films School Ties, Gods and Monsters, and Crash - all three of which deal with the themes prejudice and hatred.

That's not to say, however, that Fraser lacks comedic chops, indeed he is hilarious as "Link" in Encino Man, "George" in George of the Jungle, and "Chazz" in Airheads - though his well-toned body (covered only by a loin cloth) didn't hurt his appeal any in the first two.

My Recommendations:

Tom Hanks

Ever the good guy, it's difficult not to like five-time Oscar nominated actor Tom Hanks. Equally at home in comedies (such as Big, Turner and Hooch, Forrest Gump and Toy Story), romance (Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail), and heavy drama (Philadelphia, Saving Private Ryan), Hanks has something to offer for nearly everyone.

And, despite being the second person ever to win back-to-back Best Actor Oscars, it isn't just as an actor that Hanks has made his name in Hollywood. He was both writer and director for That Thing You Do and has produced numerous films including Cast Away, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Ant Bully, and Evan Almighty.

My Recommendations:

Gale Harold

Though virtually unknown, Gale Harold's aloof nature and model-like features made him the perfect choice to portray promiscuous, predatory, gay ad-executive "Brian Kinney" in the ground-breaking Showtime series Queer As Folk. Indeed, Harold has appeared in only a handful of movies and television shows and had worked as a carpenter and a mechanic before being cast in the series.

For five seasons, Gale and fellow castmates Hal Sparks, Peter Paige, Scott Lowell, Randy Harrison, and Sharon Gless presented the audience with some of the most accurate and honest portrayals of gay life and culture ever seen on television, and addressed subjects ranging from HIV/AIDS, to drug addiction, hate crimes, and the obsession with youth.

My Recommendations:

  • Queer As Folk - Season 1 (American) (2002, Not Rated)
  • Queer As Folk - Season 2 (American) (2003, Not Rated)
  • Queer As Folk - Season 3 (American) (2004, Not Rated)
  • Queer As Folk - Season 4 (American) (2005, Not Rated)
  • Queer As Folk - The Final Season (American) (2006, Not Rated)

    Samuel L. Jackson

    The epitome of cool. Although his choice of roles have not always been the greatest, he has always represented men of confidence and style - whether they be the hero or the villain.

    His most notable role was as "Jules" in the Tarantino classic Pulp Fiction, a film that is, in itself, the epitome of cool. But Jackson has also demsonstrated versatility - starring in action flicks, comedies, heavy drama, horror/suspense, and even lent his voice to an animated feature.

    My Recommendations: