by Theron Abel
Our current “mainstream” culture is centered on celebrities, but modern-day media seems to be mass producing more and more of those as people try to claim a spot in the public eye. More people trying their hand at being famous means there are more people for the audience to sift through to see who is worthy of their attention. As such, this is a curated list of the best celebrities in my opinion, heretofore dubbed international treasures.
It is difficult to compare celebrities to each other so I will be including them on this list based on the impact they have had on pop culture and how likely it is for the average person to recognize them.
- Mark Hamill
Luke Skywalker, the Joker, and Fire Lord Ozai, Mark Hamil is well recognized and well-loved by the fanbase of many flagship series of modern-day pop culture like Batman the animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Star Wars. As an actor, voice actor, and writer, he is well known and award-winning. While his face is well known from the Star Wars movies, it has changed significantly since his days as a young Luke Skywalker making it somewhat difficult to recognize his face. His voice, however, is quite distinctive and easier to recognize if you know what to listen for.
- James Earl Jones
It is all in the voice. He is the one who brought Mufasa and Darth Vader to life. James Earl Jones is known for being one of the most distinguished and versatile American actors in American History thanks to his performances on stage, in film, and on TV. While the current generation may not immediately recognize the 90 year-old actor, they should recognize his voice from not only Star Wars and The Lion King, but The Sandlot and Field of Dreams and in cameos in The Big Bang Theory and Robots.
- Adam Savage
The Mythbuster himself, Adam Savage is noted for explosions, creative thinking, and scientific enthusiasm. The special effects designer and fabricator, actor, writer, educator, television personality, and producer has been quite prolific in his work. While not a member of the current run of Mythbusters, Adam Savage has been quite the fixture in the public eye. He has never been overly prominent but is surprisingly well known.
- Ian McKellen
Gandalf and Magneto, this classically trained English Actor has the second-longest career on this list, being just 10 years shorter than that of James Earl Jones. Having performed in genres from Shakespearean and modern theater to science fiction and fantasy, Ian McKellen is well known across the board. He is easier to spot if you have watched a movie he has been featured in, especially if he is wearing his shirt that says “I’m Gandalf and Magneto. Get over it.”
- Lin-Manuel Miranda
This man has changed the game for Broadway. While best known for writing and starring in Hamilton, Mr.Miranda did not stop there. This composer, writer, and actor is award-winning and has been busy. From writing songs for the hit Disney movie, Moana, to acting in Mary Poppins Returns and the movie adaptation of his first Tony-nominated musical, In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda has been an icon in the modern-day entertainment industry. He is a symbol of creativity and thus is more likely to be recognized by creatively minded people and those who have enjoyed his works.
- Johnny Depp
Despite the controversy that has surrounded Mr.Depp over the past year with the news of the trial and the slander that has been going around, he deserves a spot on this list. His role as Jack Sparrow and how prolific he is as an actor in pop culture alone would land him a spot here. Johnny Depp really sells every role he plays due to him being a method actor and being very thorough in his preparations. He is also widely known in Hollywood for being one of the best and nicest people to work with. There was a story from his filming of Pirates of the Caribbean of when he bought the entire crew waterproof jackets, $60,000 out of pocket, after they requested them from the studio and got denied.
- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
The People’s champion has been quite busy in his roles as an actor. While typecast as the “Big Strong guy with a code of honor”, he has managed to get the full breadth of characters and genres available from that role. From playing off of Kevin Hart in comedies like Central Intelligence and the new Jumanji movies to playing more serious roles in action movies like the Fast and Furious saga, The Rock doesn’t stop. Thanks to his major roles in blockbuster action movies and his old career as a WWE wrestler, there are not many people who wouldn’t recognize his quirked eyebrow.
- Keanu Reeves
While Keanu Reeves might be better known to the current generation from the memes of his supposed immortality going around, he might also be recognized for his roles in The Matrix, John Wick, Constantine, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Having appeared in comedies, action, horror, and science fiction, his career is not limited to one genre. Despite having a net worth of 360 million dollars, Keanu Reeves is best known for just acting like a normal guy, taking the train, going to the movies, and treating people with respect and common decency. Once, while flying to Los Angeles, the plane he was on was forced to make an emergency landing and not only did he arrange transportation to their destination, he regaled his fellow passengers with facts about California the entire time and played country music from his phone.
- Jon Favreau
This man is an American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter and he does not miss. He is best known for directing and appearing in the 2008 Iron Man movie that effectively launched the MCU as well as being directly responsible for the 2019 hit show The Mandolorian which redeemed the Star Wars franchise from the horror of Disney’s sequel trilogy. Also known for directing the live-action Lion King and Jungle Book movies, Mr.Favreau is also recognizable in his role of Happy Hogan in the Marvel movies, first in the Iron Man films and more recently in the MCU’s run of Spider-Man. Recently, Jon Favreau has been visible in his efforts to persuade more of the population to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Jackie Chan
Appearing in movies like Rush Hour, Kung-fu Panda, Shanghai Noon, and The Karate Kid, Jackie Chan is the epitome of all things Asian. Best known for his role in martial arts movies, this Chinese actor is an absolute Asian Icon. While known in acting for his slapstick fighting style, doing his own innovative stunts, and his comic timing on the silver screen, he has also appeared on the small screen. Most notably for the current generation he has appeared in his own animated series, Jackie Chan Adventures. Mr.Chan is known for his sense of humor behind the scenes as well as his caring and playful nature and surprisingly good singing voice, being the Mandarin and Cantonese singing voice for Shang in Mulan.