'I Pray at the Temple of Jack Nicholson': Actors on Their Favorite Actors

Jennifer Lawrence and Natalie Portman wax poetic about Meryl; Jon Hamm has a photo of Harrison Ford on his fridge.
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The Ryan Gosling fan club is getting even more crowded. Recently, James Franco took to the Huffington Post to do what countless fans and stalkers have spent the past several years doing: writing on the Internet about Ryan Gosling. "I want to make love to this section," Franco writes of the first, Gosling-heavy hour of The Place Beyond the Pines. "He played the role to a T. Look at the funny glasses he wears when he robs banks, green on the sides; look at the writing on the bike before he paints it black; Gosling touches, all, I'm sure of it."

Actors obsessing over actors—they're just like us! There's something kind of wonderful about actors and actresses who genuinely love one another's work, and who can articulate what makes it great (and not in an awkward, self-congratulatory, awards-show kind of way). So I went on the hunt for the favorite actors of some of our era's most beloved actors, to find out who they love, who inspires them, and why.

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Ryan Gosling

"Gene Wilder is my Marlon Brando. Gene Wilder will break your heart and make you laugh at the same time. And that's deep. There's something really profound about what he's able to do. It's transcendent. It's everything. He gives you everything at once and you have to decide what you feel about it."

[via What Culture]


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Emma Stone

"I'm a big fan of Lauren Bacall. Maybe because everyone was smoking more heavily then, but that raspy, throaty quality seems to be much more prevalent in those '40s movies. Mine was from colic when I was a baby."

[via Cineplex]


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Kevin Spacey

"Who was this man who had such influence, a career that lasted through every decade, every fad, every 'new;' Jack Lemmon that came along? Like the handful of great actors before him—Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda, and Jimmy Stewart—he managed to make us feel that we were all him. He located the Jack Lemmon in all of us. That his concerns, his feelings, his pain, his humor, his way of seeing the world, even his hacking nasal whine, was our own."

[via Entertainment Weekly]


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Philip Seymour Hoffman

"Working on Magnolia with Jason Robards was definitely one of the highlights of my life. He was so much fun to be around, and more professional than most actors, with his preparation and the fact that he just wanted to act... When you start out, you look at some actors' careers and you say, I want to follow the path they've taken. And he's one of those guys. He's somebody who's been a consummate actor in all ways, and fully respected in both theater and film. I feel a kinship with him in the way he never abandoned the theater, and he reignited that urge in me. Through just example, he's telling younger actors, if you truly are passionate about both these mediums, and you work hard in both of them, you'll not only be more satisfied, but you'll also be a better actor, and I think that's true."

[via Entertainment Weekly]


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Morgan Freeman

"I think we all have a private bucket list. It may not be written down, but I'm constantly checking them off. I just checked off Jack Nicholson. Every day was a holiday because I've been praying at the temple of Jack ever since Five Easy Pieces."

[via IMDb]


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Jennifer Lawrence

"Once I'm obsessed with somebody, I'm terrified of them instantly. I'm not scared of them —I'm scared of me and how I will react. Like, for instance, one time someone was introducing me to Bill Maher, and I saw Meryl Streep walk into the room, and I literally put my hand right in Bill Maher's face and said, 'Not now, Bill!,' and I just stared at Meryl Streep."

So did she meet Streep? "Of course not. I just creepily stared at her."

[via Vanity Fair]


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Natalie Portman

"You look at Meryl Streep, who is so phenomenally, freakishly gorgeous, and in some ways it's just bizarre that she was never a sex symbol. But it was always about her—and now it doesn't matter that she's getting older, because we just want to continue watching her be an interesting person."

[The Independent]


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Brad Pitt

"When you see a person, do you just concentrate on their looks? It's just a first impression. Then there's someone who doesn't catch your eye immediately, but you talk to them and they become the most beautiful thing in the world. The greatest actors aren't what you would call beautiful sex symbols. I'll tell you who my favorite actress is: Dianne Wiest. And you wouldn't call her a sex symbol. Dianne Wiest is, to me, the most beautiful woman on the screen."

[via Brad Pitt Press]


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Will Smith

"I really wanted to work with [Aishwarya Rai Bachchan] in Hitch but she was shooting for Bride and Prejudice at the time and she couldn't do it. She has this powerful energy where she doesn't have to say anything, do anything, she can just stand there. Anything she's making, I'll be there."

[via BBC]


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Michelle Williams

"I wish that I could play [Marilyn Monroe] for the rest of my life. Because when can you say that you've really solved the riddle? When can you say that you really know her? Her deepest desire was to be taken seriously as an actress, but she doesn't really shine in her serious roles. Where she happens to shine is in comedy and in song and dance, but she denied that. She essentially said, 'It's not what I'm good at.' She didn't know it, but she clearly was incandescent."

[via Vogue]


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George Clooney

"I love Spencer Tracy. Love him. He's a hero of mine. I heard he never wore makeup, so I've never worn makeup, ever. I won't put it on in any movie. I'm dark complexioned, so I can get away with it. I cut my own hair. It's sort of still being scrappy."

[via George Clooney's Open House]


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Matt Damon

"I think I can say I'm a better actor after having worked with Robert De Niro."

[via IMDb]


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Edward Norton

"I look at De Niro, and the thing I admire about him is just the length and diversity of his career. He has just done so much wonderful work and so many different kinds of work. That to me is worth something."

[via IMDb]


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Johnny Depp

"Marlon Brando is maybe the greatest actor of the last two centuries. But his mind is much more important than the acting thing. The way that he looks at things, doesn't judge things, the way that he assesses things. He's as important as, uh... who's important today? Jesus, not many people... Stephen Hawking!"

[via IMDb]


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Jon Hamm

"I was a Star Wars fan, so I wanted to be Han Solo. And I've gotten the chance to meet Harrison Ford a few times, and that was a pretty cool experience... If you would have told my eight-year-old self, 'Someday you're gonna have a picture of yourself with this guy on your fridge,' I would've told you to go take a flying leap."

[via The Huffington Post]


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Sean Penn

"[Daniel Day-Lewis] may very well be the greatest actor ever recorded to the screen."

[via IMDb]


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Emily Blunt

"[Susan Sarandon] is just a force of nature. Amazing to work with. We just had such a laugh. And she's frighteningly smart."

[via The Age]


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Emma Watson

"Renee Zellweger, because she's not afraid to take on character parts-she's a real actress, which I look up to. She's not just someone who wants to stand around and look beautiful. I also think Natalie Portman is brilliant."

[ELLEgirl]


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Tina Fey

"Mary Tyler Moore was a working woman whose story lines were not always about dating and men. They were about work friendships and relationships, which is what I feel my adult life has mostly been about."

[via IMDb]


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Tom Hardy

"With Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the first time I worked with Gary Oldman, I had to watch him because we had to re-shoot... because my beard fell off while I was talking. So we had to go back and re-shoot the entire scene that I had with him in that, in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Which is good because I spent my entire experience with Gary staring at him, and not returning any lines, because I think he's basically God, you know?... Gary Oldman is one of my heroes, completely. I did nothing but gleam from him."

[via Digital Spy]

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

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Jason Bailey is the film editor at Flavorwire, and has also written for Slate, Salon, and the Village Voice.

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