In case you can’t tell by now, one of my favorite ways to relax is to watch a good movie. Heck, passing the time by watching a bad movie isn’t all that bad a proposition either and I’ve seen all sorts of films from both ends of the spectrum. From monster movies to gangster flicks, my tastes for the silver screen vary considerably.

In deciding what movie to watch, several factors come into play. For example, if the concept behind the movie intrigues me, I may be willing to endure it, despite the fact that it may star an actor that I do not like. Such was the case with 30 Days of Night and Josh Hartnett.

On the flip side, I can’t help but to put a fair amount of weight on the cast. If the starring role goes to an actor or actress that I particularly admire or enjoy watching, I’m much more likely to watch that movie, even if the base material isn’t up my alley. And here are five actors that get me to watch just about anything they’re involved in.

robin williams
Robin Williams: They say that there is a very fine line between genius and insanity, and Robin Williams straddles that line better than anyone. It’s widely acknowledged that he has bipolar disorder, but this could be the source of his comedic genius. We loved him in Mrs. Doubtfire and The Birdcage, but I was particularly enthralled by his darker work, even though many folks disliked that “period” in his actor career. I’m talking about movies like Insomnia, One Hour Photo, and The Final Cut. I have yet to see Man of the Year and The Night Listener, but those look fascinating too.

al pacino
Al Pacino: Woo-ha! Al Pacino isn’t quite as cool as he was during his Scarface and Godfather days, but he still manages to pull out some gems from time to time. He absolutely commands your attention when he’s on screen and he simply does not let go. Like Robin Williams, Pacino is definitely on the more eccentric side of things, but unlike Williams, Al Pacino’s eccentricity has made him less appealing over time. Some of his more recent work that I liked include The Recruit, Devil’s Advocate, and Donny Brasco. Here’s a little known fact: Al is short for Alfredo. Like we didn’t know he was Italian already.

ed norton
Ed Norton: There aren’t too many actors that are quite as talented as Ed Norton. Although he’s a fair bit younger than the veterans of the screen — Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, etc. — he’s arguably a better actor than any of them. My favorite Ed Norton movie has to be American History X, a film about neo-Nazis in modern day America. It’s a shame that he’s also been cast in not-so-good films like Death to Smoochy and The Illusionist.

steve carell
Steve Carell: This guy is hilarious, easily ascending the ranks as one of the world’s greatest masters of deadpan comedy. The first time I saw Carell was in The 40 Year Old Virgin, but it as after this that I started discovering the Even Stevphen segment that he had on the The Daily Show with Stephen Colbert. Carell got even better with The Office, but where he really got to demonstrate his actual acting ability was in Little Miss Sunshine.

jean claude van damme
Jean-Claude Van Damme: My final selection will probably surprise some people. I’m not a huge fan of “The Muscles from Brussels” anymore, but I have to admit that I watched a lot of Van Damme movies growing up. I’m not just talking about cult classics like Bloodsport and Kickboxer, but also several obscure action flicks like Double Impact and Hard Target. And who could forget Jean-Claude as Colonel Guile in Street Fighter: The Movie. I quit Van Damme flicks around the same time I gave up watching professional wrestling. I guess that only makes sense.

Actors that didn’t quite make the list for whatever reason are Don Cheadle, Adam Sandler, Robert De Niro, Rainn Wilson, and Matt Damon. Note that I said actors… I might be saving actresses for a future post.