02/12/2013 12:19 pm ET Updated Apr 14, 2013

Who Is the Greatest Actor Amongst Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and Jack Nicholson?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by John Gibson, Restaurateur

Unquestionably, Day-Lewis. Imagine that you're at a party and someone starts doing impersonations. Are you at the party? Can you see this impersonator guy in front of you? He's doing Brando. Can you see him, can you hear him? Then he moves on to Pacino. And De Niro. Then Nicholson. Admit it, in your mind's eye you can envision the impersonations. And we love those guys.

Now imagine your impersonator doing Day-Lewis. I wager no image springs forth. We can envisage the other four because they imprint their own personae onto whatever fictional roles they are playing.

In due credit to them, this is what the great stars of Hollywood have always figured out. Create a persona that is very watchable and intriguing and be that in almost all the films. People went to Bogart films because they wanted to see Bogart. Or John Wayne, pilgrim.

Almost all the great male stars had similar careers -- Fonda. Stewart, Cooper. And they are all great film stars. But the great actors are great because they imprint the personae of the fictional characters on themselves, not the other way around. They paint the character on their artistic instrument, that is their bodies, voices, gestures and mannerisms, employing nuance and style to (this word used here in its literal meaning) literally invent a new human being before our very eyes. That's entertainment!

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