Power 2004

Movie

The Power List 2004: Movie Actors -- A look at the year's most influential actors

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Will Ferrell
Actor, Writer, Producer
Age 37
A year ago Ferrell was best known to film audiences as that naked guy running through the streets in Old School. But with back-to-back hits Elf and Anchorman, the former SNL comedian proved he needn't take off more clothes to get ahead (and we thank him for that). Virtually overnight he's moved into the high-priced company of Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler, and everyone in Hollywood — plus Woody Allen — wants to work with him. ''Will's going to have a long career,'' says Russell Schwartz, domestic theatrical marketing president at New Line, whose Elf grossed $173 million. ''He's just so innocent, and . . . he did everything we asked him to do — that's so rare.'' Ferrell has almost a dozen projects in the pipeline, including remakes of Bewitched and The Producers, both with Nicole Kidman. Studios now believe that his name attached to virtually any comedy all but guarantees profitability. Which explains why, amid a major bidding war, Columbia snapped up Talladega Nights based on a six-word pitch: ''Will Ferrell as a NASCAR driver.''

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Ben Stiller
Actor, Director, Producer, Writer
Age 38
Meet Hollywood's current king of comedy — he's one funny Focker. Stiller's neurotic shlub shtick goosed Along Came Polly to $88 million, but his winning instincts were more impressively demonstrated in Fox's Dodgeball, the summer's top comedy ($114 million), which he produced and stuck with after DreamWorks rejected it. The Sinatra of a Laugh Pack that includes Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, Stiller should ring-a-ding-ding again at Christmas with Meet the Fockers.

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Jamie Foxx
Actor, Writer, Producer
Age 36
Funny made Foxx famous, but serious is making him a player. Collateral caused critics to take notice; his performance in the upcoming Ray has them singing Oscar. A supporting role in Columbia's '05 tentpole Stealth is already booked, as is a plum role in Sam Mendes' war drama Jarhead. Plus, thanks to growing clout, he's got his own sketch comedy series deal on the of-the-moment cabler FX.

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Johnny Depp
Actor, Writer, Producer
Age 41
After 20 years of mincing and Methodizing in the margins, this was the year that Depp's career of quirky gambles finally hit the jackpot. Aside from being very lucrative for both Disney and himself (Hello, sequel money!), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl gave Depp his first Oscar nod (and Finding Neverland looks like a good bet for a second), as well as the juice to launch Infinitum Nihil, his very own production company — a future hotbed, we're sure, of quirk.

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Vin Diesel
Actor, Writer, Producer
Age 37
The seemingly preordained success of XXX gave him his choice of action scripts and the chutzpah to reportedly demand salaries in the $30-million range. Now? After the demise of The Chronicles of Riddick and the lo-o-o-ng windup to his historical epic Hannibal, he's starring opposite children (children!) in a family action comedy called The Pacifier. Get those Kindergarten Flop puns ready....

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