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Adrienne Lecouvreur as Cornelia  by Charles-Antoine Coypel
Adrienne Lecouvreur as Cornelia by Charles-Antoine Coypel

"Only animals who are below civilization and the angels who are beyond it can be sincere. Human beings are, necessarily, actors who cannot become something before they have first pretended to be it; and they can be divided, not into the hypocritical and the sincere, but into the sane who know they are acting and the mad do not." --The Age of Anxiety (1947) by W. H. Auden

Male, related: character - men - fiction - stereotype

Characters: Adam - devil - Casanova - Dracula - incubus - Nosferatu - Frankenstein's monster - playboy - satyr

Actors: Paul Bartel - Michel Blanc - Dirk Bogarde - Lon Chaney - Joe Dallesandro - Gérard Depardieu - Bruce Dern - Patrick Dewaere - Clint Eastwood - Harvey Keitel - Klaus Kinski - Bela Lugosi - Marcello Mastroianni - Jack Nicholson - Steve Martin - Sean Penn - Donald Sutherland - James Woods

Female, related: Euro girls - women

Icons: Barbarella - Emmanuelle - Eve - Fanny - Gwendoline - Judith - Justine - Kiki - Lilith - Medusa - Pandora - Salome - Twiggy - Valentina - Venus

Actresses: Ursula Andress - Laura Antonelli - Asia Argento - Ewa Aulin - Theda Bara - Brigitte Bardot - Monica Bellucci - Femi Benussi - Jane Birkin - Erika Blanc - Florinda Bolkan - Clara Bow - Louise Brooks - Marilyn Chambers - Corinne Clery - Marlene Dietrich - Edwige Fenech - Jane Fonda - Laura Gemser - Isabelle Huppert - Eva Ionesco - Grace Jones - Sandra Julien - Nastassja Kinski - Hedy Lamarr - Dagmar Lassander - Marie Liljedahl - Christina Lindberg - Sophia Loren - Linda Lovelace - Silvana Mangano - Jayne Mansfield - Mary Mendum - Soledad Miranda - Chesty Morgan - Jeanne Moreau - Marilyn Monroe - Julianne Moore - Rosalba Neri - Bettie Page - Essy Persson - Ingrid Pitt - Janine Reynaud - Romy Schneider - Delphine Seyrig - Elke Sommer - Barbara Steele - Sharon Tate - Mary Woronov

"This film was not played by actors, but lived by men and women who have given a few moments of their lives to a new experience of cinéma-vérité." --incipit Chronique d'un été (1961), voice over by Jean Rouch

"Life is but a stage"

At the Theater (The Melodrama) by Honoré Daumier

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

An actor or actress is a person who acts, or plays a role, in a dramatic production. The term commonly refers to someone working in movies, television, live theatre, or radio, and can occasionally denote a street entertainer. Besides playing dramatic roles, actors may also sing or work only on radio or as a voice artist.

An actor usually plays a fictional character. In the case of a true story (or a fictional story that portrays real people) an actor may play a real person (or a fictional version of the same). Occasionally, actors appear as themselves, as in John Malkovich's performance in the film Being John Malkovich.


The first recorded case of an actor performing took place in 534 BC (though the changes in calendar over the years make it hard to determine exactly) when the Greek performer Thespis stepped on to the stage at the Theatre Dionysus and became the first known person to speak words as a character in a play or story. Prior to Thespis' act, stories were only known to be told in song and dance and in third person narrative. In honour of Thespis, actors are commonly called Thespians. Theatrical legend to this day maintains that Thespis exists as a mischievous spirit, and disasters in the theatre are sometimes blamed on his ghostly intervention.

Actors were traditionally not people of high status, and in the Early Middle Ages travelling acting troupes were often viewed with distrust. In many parts of Europe, actors could not even receive a Christian burial, and traditional beliefs of the region and time period held that this left any actor forever condemned. However, this negative perception was largely reversed in the 19th and 20th centuries as acting has become an honoured and popular profession and art.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Actor" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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