Marlon Brando is considered to be one of the greatest and influential actor of the 20th century. He has earned great respect among critics and theater experts for his memorable performances and charismatic screen presence.
In the book Movies in American History: An Encyclopedia, James Delmont wrote: "Marlon Brando was arguably the finest screen actor of the twentieth century, winning worldwide acceptance as both a movie star of the first rank and as a performer of uncommon skill." Film scholar Richard Schickel, while examining his charismatic screen presence and acting ability, argued: "As a movie actor he has no peer in this generation. That he consistently underplays, yet still packs more emotion into a scene than anyone else, is a sign of a charisma that may be an act of God." Similarly, Roger Ebert, writing of his iconic performance in Last Tango in Paris, said: "This was the greatest movie actor of his time, the author of performances that do honor to the cinema."
Tennessee Williams, among the many who acknowledged his finesse, described Brando as "the greatest living actor ever... greater than [Laurence] Olivier." Laurence Olivier himself said: "Brando acted with an empathy and an instinctual understanding that not even the greatest technical performers could possibly match." Johnny Depp credits Brando with changing the way actors work, stating that "Marlon reinvented acting, he revolutionized acting." Depp also said he was "probably the most important actor—just speaking in terms of him as an actor—of the past two centuries". In a 2007 Best Life article, praising his performance in On the Waterfront, Rob Reiner wrote: "Marlon Brando gives the single greatest performance ever. It's just so natural, powerful, real, and honest.