Alec Guinness

Sir Alec Guinness, acting's preeminent master of disguise, first drew attention as Fagin, providing a wonderfully Dickensian performance that totally concealed the actor within in David Lean's "Oliver Twist" (1948). His most dramatic display of versatility came playing eight roles, including a woman, in "Kind Hearts and Coronets" (1949), a film that established him beyond a shadow of a doubt as an expert at make-up and deception. Whether he was an English prime minister (Disraeli in "The Mudlark" 1950), an Arab prince ("Lawrence of Arabia" 1962), a despicable despot (Hitler in "The Last Ten Days" 1973) or an Indian professor ("A Passage to India" 1984), Guinness demonstrated a chameleon-like ability to disappear so completely within the role that filmgoers forgot they were watching an actor and saw the character instead.