There are millions of actors in the world, some of them being incredibly talented, others not so much, and some of them being wonderfully known by everyone no matter how good or bad they may be when it comes to acting.
But in the history of cinema, there are some actors who in the past, and even nowadays, are known worldwide for their talent and ability to perform in engaging roles without a problem. And when we talk about these actors, especially those who come from Italy, we can’t fail to mention some of these names in order to give you an idea of what they’ve done to be so wildly famous.
Old School Italian Actors
In order to better organize the list, here we are going to talk about those actors who were mostly known for their roles in old classic movies from the last century, starting with:
- Raf Vallone (1916 – 2002)
This actor portrayed many big roles both in Italian movies as well as American ones. His most famous roles were Cardinal Lamberto in the Godfather series, Altabani in The Italian Job, Count Ordoñez in El Cid, and Colonel Diodiece in Lion of the Desert. All his roles were played wonderfully with high-quality no matter how difficult or how much versatility the roles demanded, Raf Vallone was always there to give his best.
- Gian Maria Volontè (1933 – 1994)
If you’ve ever seen Sergio Leone’s famous Dollar’s trilogy, you have for sure seen Gian Maria playing in some of the most recognizable western roles in cinema history. He’s known for playing Ramón Rojo in For a Fistful of Dollars and playing “The Indian” in For a Few Dollars More.Other roles of his were Vogel in The Red Circle, Lucky Luciano in Lucky Luciano and The Doctor in Investigation of a Suspect Above Suspicion.
- Marcelo Mastroianni (1924 – 1996)
Another great successful Italian actor, Mastroianni gave most of his life to the world of acting both in theatre as well as the big screen. His most famous role was Guido Anselmi in 8½ from Fellini, Marcelo Rubini in La Dolce Vita, Fernando Cefalú in Divorce Italian Style, and the unarguably best – Giovanni Pontano in The Night. He was nominated for the Oscar as the best actor three times.
- Stefania Sandrelli (1946)
Stefania is known for being greatly versatile in her career. He has played alongside other great actors and for great directors as well. She’s actually still working nowadays and still gives great performances. Among her most famous roles we can name Giulia in The Conformist, Angela in Divorce Italian Style, and AgneseAscalone in Seduced and Abandoned.
- Sophia Loren (1934)
An Oscar-winning actress as well, Sophia Loren gave her life to acting since she was very young. Her Oscar was given for her inarguably perfect role as Cesira in Two Women, giving enough prestige and recognition to later be cast for great movies like El Cid, A Special Day, and even Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
- Claudia Cardinale (1938)
Another great Italian actress, Cardinale has been present in some of the most famous Italian films as well like Fellini’s masterpiece 8½, Sergio Leone’s jewel Once Upon a Time in the West, and other less famous yet still high-quality movies like Fitzcarraldo from Werner Herzog and The Leopard from Visconti.
- Valeria Golino (1965)
An Italian actress who found fame in American cinema, she’s been part of great films like Rain Main alongside Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, Frida alongside Salma Hayek and even Hot Shot!, playing Ramada Thompson alongside Charlie Sheen.
- Nicoletta Braschi (1960)
Mostly known for playing great films directed by Roberto Benigni, she has also been in Jim Jamursch masterpieces like Down By Law and Mystery Train. Her Italian movies with Roberto Benigni are Life is Beautiful, Pinocchio and The Tiger and The Snow.
- Roberto Benigni (1952)
Known for being the father of Italian modern cinema, he’s also a big comedian and a wonderful director. Yet, he got to stardom thanks to his movie Life is Beautiful in which he played the main character and even won an Oscar for Best Leading Role. He’s also been in other Jim Jarmusch movies like Down By Law, Night on Earth and The Monster.
Best Italian Actors Nowadays
There are many incredibly talented Italian actors today we can name. Yet, we are going to stick with those who have made their way into mainstream media more for their talent than for the opportunities they had. Here we can start with:
- Tony Servillo (1959)
Even though he’s been acting for more than 20 years now, he won more recognition in the last few years thanks to his roles in Tornatore’s movies like Il Divo, Consequences of Love, and the masterpiece The Great Beauty. He’s soon to lead another Tornatore’s movie called Loro to be released in 2018.
- Giancarlo Giannini (1942)
With more than 40 years of career in acting, Giancarlo Giannini has a very famous and important history to talk about. Yet, his most famous roles were in the last few Hollywood movies Casino Royale, A man on Fire, Hannibal and the latest Quantum of Solace. He’s mostly known for being versatile, constantly screen-thief and immensely recognizable in each role.
- Monica Belluci (1964)
When you read the name you are for sure instantly clicked, as Monica Belluci has appeared in many interesting European movies, Hollywood movies and so on. Some of her best roles to be named are Lucia in the last Bond movie Spectre, as the leading actress in Irreversible from Gaspar Noé and as Persephone in the last two Matrix: Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions.