Celebrities on Time’s 2012 “100 Most Influential People in the World” list

Erin Patrice O'Brien

Today, Time released its 100 Most Influential People in the World list (The Time 100), an annual ranking of “breakouts, pioneers, moguls, leaders and icons” who “inspire us, entertain us, challenge us and change our world,” according to the magazine.

Each year, the list features a wide array of people, from political leaders and scientists to athletes and actors, accompanied by a brief writeup of each person by another well-known personality who admires the influencer. The 2012 list is no different, and below, we have compiled a list of the notable entertainment and sports celebrities who were included among the Top 100 this year, along with excerpts from their writeups. The complete list can be found here.

Adele (singer) — Fellow singer Pink says of the recent Grammy winner, “Turn on any radio station in the world and you will probably hear Adele. Go to Mars right now and I’m pretty sure if there is life on that planet, they’re playing Adele. And for good reason. There are a few artists in my life who I can think back and remember where I was when I first heard them. … When I first heard Adele, I was on tour, alone in a hotel room in London, watching her sing from a rooftop on YouTube — a song called ‘Hometown Glory.’ I thought, Who is this creature? This voice! Her tone!  Why is the entire world not watching this video?”

Jessica Chastain (actor) — Fellow actor Gary Oldman raves about Oscar nominee Chastain, “When the French call something formidable, they mean tremendous, terrific, awesome. These are words that came to mind when I first encountered the work of Jessica Chastain during her performance as Salome in Al Pacino’s remarkable film of Oscar Wilde’s play. .. I knew when I saw Wild Salomé that I had better learn the name, that I was watching an actress from whom we could expect great things in what, no doubt, will be a long, very successful future.”

Louis CK (comedian) — The star of FX’s hit series Louie is described by Joan Rivers as “Steven Spielberg without the beard and with humor. … What you see on Louie is just the tip of the iceberg — a funny, clever show. What you’re not seeing is that he produces it, he writes it, he edits it, he knows every lens, every camera angle.”

Stephen Colbert (provocateur, pictured above) — Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau says that before every taping of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, “Stephen visits the green room and tells that evening’s guest the same thing: ‘My character’s an idiot. Your job is to set him straight.’ Easier said than done, especially since the first part’s a lie. Stephen’s character may ask idiotic questions, but they’re so unexpected and diabolically entangling that watching his guests fight their way toward daylight is unalloyed pleasure. … How he can be so devastating and endearing at the same time I cannot say, but it sure wears well.”

Claire Danes (actor) — Former CIA covert-operations officer Valerie Plame Wilson writes about how Danes truly embodies her character on the Showtime series Homeland, CIA analyst Carrie Mathison. “Danes breathes life and realism into a character who, for once, goes against the cliches of what a female CIA officer is supposed to do and look like. No sequined gowns or casual gunplay for Carrie — she works in the real world of gathering intelligence. Her bipolar disorder, which she must hide from her employers, is both a blessing and a curse. … Carrie may be an improbable CIA agent, but Danes’ finely calibrated, delicate and nuanced portrait of her is breathtaking.”

Viola Davis (actor) — In her writeup of the Oscar nominee, fellow actress, Oscar nominee and The Help costar Cicely Tyson describes Davis as “a serious and soul-stirring actress, and her rich body of work represents the full range of our humanity.”

Chelsea Handler (funny lady) — Kathy Griffin, another funny lady, writes about Handler, “Look, I don’t know how [she] does it. She presides over her own media empire — talk show, sitcom, books — all while sharing a network with Ryan Seacrest and the Kardashians. To hell with the Time 100; she should be Person of the Year just for putting up with Khloe.”

Matt Lauer (Today show host) — According to Howard Stern, “We all wondered, Was it over? It’s over, it’s over, he’s losing his hair! It’s got to be over! But we were wrong! The strength was still there, perhaps stronger still, crashing pillars to earth with innate strength and charm and class — Matt Lauer, 54, the anti-Samson, going up against pretty guys and girls, the hairy people. He was still the smartest, the strongest, the classiest. How? Why? This is a guy who never gives up!”

Jeremy Lin (point guard) — U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan writes that “Jeremy Lin’s story is a great lesson for kids everywhere because it debunks and defangs so many  of the prejudices and stereotypes that unfairly hold children back. He’s dispelled the idea that Asian-American guards somehow couldn’t hack it in the NBA — and that being a world-class athlete on the court is somehow at odds with being an excellent student off the court.”

Rihanna (superstar, pictured left) — Stella McCartney says that the musical megastar is “one of the coolest, hottest, most talented, most liked, most listened to, most followed, most impressive artists at work today, but she does it in her own stride. … This is just the beginning for Rihanna — she has so much more to do and to give.”

Tilda Swinton (actor) — British filmmaker Sally Potter, who directed Swinton in Orlando, says of the actress, “[She] prioritizes being over acting, presence over character. She is interested in the whole rather than the part and is happiest at the core of a film, embodying its deepest themes with the luminous, naked face for which she is known.”

Tim Tebow (quarterback) — New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin — who himself went through the sudden fan attention of “Linsanity” this year — writes about the quarterback who experienced the similar “Tebow-mania” adoration of fans during the 2011 NFL season. “As athletes, we pour our hearts into winning games. Tim is a reminder that life is about much more than that.”

Harvey Weinstein (moviemaker) — According to actor Johnny Depp, “There are producers, and then there are producers. Harvey belongs to the latter batch. It’s an elite club for those with the kind of maverick vision to bring such disparate films as Pulp Fiction, Kids, Finding Neverland and umpteen others to the screen with equal aplomb.”

Kristen Wiig (actor) — Judd Apatow, co-producer of Wiig’s Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids, writes, “I remember seeing Kristen Wiig on her first episode of Saturday Night Live. I don’t remember the sketch, I just remember her. She was so confident and funny right out of the gate. You would have thought she had been on the show for years. She was instantly one of my all-time favorite cast members.”