Some actors get stuck playing the same type of roles over and over again. But here are 8 great actors who delight in taking "the road less traveled".
8. Natalie Portman
Why she's good: Natalie Portman has that old school Hollywood charm reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn. And she's smart, wicked smart--the kind that graduates from Harvard University and that's probably why she knows how to pick great roles in superb movies. After her breakout role in Star Wars Episode I should have went down the road of making fluffy teeny-bopper movies, but she didn't and ended up with an Oscar nomination. And all the film critics said amen.
Versatile roles: She shaved her head for V for Vendetta, she toted a laser gun in Star Wars Episode I, she made us ball our eyes out in Where The Heart Is with her "Walmart baby" and she wowed us as alongside Julia Roberts and Jude Law in Closer. What's next? She'll be teaming up as Scarlett Johansson's sister in The Other Boleyn Girl.
Standout performance: Sam in Garden State
7. Winonna Ryder
Why she's good: Before she was known for her shoplifting escapades, she was the darling of quirky. She started off as the young awkward girl in Lucas and throughout her career she's made her offbeat characters seem...strangely cool.
Versatile roles: She was crazy good in Girl, Interrupted, eerily cute in Edward Scissorhands, mischievous cunning in The Crucible, cheesy but fun alongside Adam Sandler in Mr. Deeds, and sinisterly sweet in Heathers. What's next? She'll be playing Wes Bentley's (American Beauty) love interest in The Last Word.
Standout Performance: Jo March in Little Women
6. Jack Nicholson
Why he's good: He's been making films since the '50s and he knows how bring so many facades to playing "the crazy guy".
Versatile roles: He's crazy funny in As Good As It Gets, a crazy villain in Batman, lunatic crazy in The Shining, crazy in love in Somethings Gotta Give, and just down right crazy good in A Few Good Men. What's next? He teams up with Morgan Freeman for one last crazy road trip in The Bucket List.
Standout performance: Randle Patrick McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
5. Denzel Washingston
Why he's good: Other than having an amazing smile and killer good looks, we like him because he brings his A game to everything he's part of whether it's in front or behind the camera.
Versatile roles: He was a sweet angel in The Preacher's Wife, an uber bad guy in Training Day, quoted Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing, a kick-butt soldier in Glory and an outstanding coach in Remember the Titans. What's next? He takes on the role of director for a film based on a true story in The Great Debaters.
Stand out performance: Malcolm X in Malcolm X.
4. Kate Winslet
Why she's good: We all know that two Oscars slipped through her hands for best leading actress, but that only makes us like her more. We like her accent and how she brings a strong presence to all of her movies.
Versatile roles: She was a free-spirit in Eternal Sunshine of the Mind, sisterly in Sense and Sensibility, a journalist in The Life of David Gale and a caring mother in Finding Neverland. What's next? She's teaming up with Leonardo DiCaprio again in Revolutionary Road.
Standout Performance: Rose in Titanic
3. Johnny Depp
Why he's good: He's in his forties but he still oozes cool. We never know what to expect with his movies, but however strange his characters may be, we like them, a lot.
Versatile roles: He was creepy but cool in Edward Scissorhands, superb in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, a rebel in Cry-Baby and dark and serious in Donnie Brasco. What's next? Pirates of the Caribbean 3!
Standout performance: Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.
2. Samuel L. Jackson
Why he's good: What's a Samuel L. Jackson role? It's hard to put a finger on it because he's been in so many movies and played some many different roles. And that's exactly what we like about him.
Versatile roles: He toted a gun in Pulp Fiction, a lightsaber in Star Wars Episode III, a cane in Unbreakable and rode ice waves in The Incredibles. What's next? He teams up with John Cusack in a thriller based off a Stephen King novel in 1408.
Standout performance: Carl Lee Hailey in A Time to Kill.
1. Tom Hanks
Why he's good: He was able to carry a movie by himself in Cast Away. How many actors can do that?
Versatile roles: He was a sweet widower in Sleepless in Seattle, child-like funny in Big, a serious leader in Saving Private Ryan and a suave record label guy in That Thing You Do! What's next? He'll be teaming up with Julia Roberts in Charlie Wilson's War.
Standout Performance: Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump.