10 Up-and-Coming Actors To Watch

You’ve seen them in your favourite recent movies – you just might not know it. They’ve shared the screen with actors such as Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, and Pierce Brosnan. They’ve played such memorable roles as “Teenager #1” and “Boy on Bike”. They are the next wave of up-and-coming actors.

Everyone likes to predict which young performers will hit it big, and these ten actors, while hardly household names, have proven that they have charisma and talent, even in the smallest of roles. If you hurry, you can still claim that you liked them before they hit it big.

And if you’d like to see more lists of up-and-coming actors, check out the archive!

1. Reece Thompson

Age: 21

Why he’s on the list: Because he’s already proven that he’s a leading man. After a slew of bit parts in TV shows and straight-to-DVD movies, Thompson got his first big starring role with 2007’s fabulous but underseen Rocket Science. Playing a stuttering debate team hopeful, Thompson grasped the off-beat humour of the film perfectly and also added some genuine emotional heft. The same year, he took the lead in The Assassination of a High School President, and Thompson’s modern riff on the hard-boiled detective genre was a blast.

Where you’ll see him: In two different indies screening at TIFF. Daydream Nation is a “provocative yet humorous romance” starring Kat Dennings, and Thompson will play the younger of her two love interests. As well, he’ll play a friend to Michael Angarano in Max Winkler’s comedy
Ceremony, which also stars Uma Thurman.

2. Zoe Kazan

Age: 26

Why she’s on the list: Because she knows how to pick a role. Even her earliest credits include films like Fracture and Revolutionary Road. Kazan (who, yes, is the granddaughter of Elia Kazan) has since gotten larger roles, and audiences are most likely to recognize her as Meryl Streep’s younger daughter in It’s Complicated, or alongside Zac Efron in Me and Orson Welles. But the critical acclaim came with a little-seen film from last year called The Exploding Girl, which stars Kazan as a college student suffering from epilepsy.

Where you’ll see her: Her biggest upcoming film, Meek’s Cut-Off, is a period-piece western premiering at TIFF. The film is directed by Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy), and it stars Paul Dano, Bruce Greenwood, and Michelle Williams. She’ll also take a supporting role in Happythankyoumoreplease, the directorial debut of actor Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother)

3. Mark Rendall

Age: 21

Why he’s on the list: Because he’s a magnetic, quirky presence. Before he got cast in larger parts, he (like most Canadian actors, it seems) paid his dues on various homegrown children’s shows and made-for-TV movies. After voicing everyone’s favourite aardvark, Arthur, and a starring role in the Canadian film Childstar, he began to land supporting roles in some larger Hollywood films. In 2007’s Charlie Bartlett, he stole the show as Kip, a sensitive, depressed teen. He’s also appeared in Silk, 30 Days of Night, My One and Only, and earned praise for his work  in The Exploding Girl

Where you’ll see him: He actually doesn’t have any upcoming projects currently listed on IMDB, aside from a short film called Up & Down.

4. Olivia Thirlby

Age: 23

Why she’s on the list: Because she’s just plain awesome. She’s best known as Juno‘s shrewd best friend, but her first role was in Paul Greengrass’ acclaimed drama, United 93. Since then she’s appeared in a slew of smart indies, including Snow Angels (a Times Like Those favourite), The Wackness, Uncertainty, Breaking Upwards, and Solitary Man.

Where you’ll see her: In Kenneth Lonnergan’s follow-up to You Can Count on Me, Margaret, whose cast includes Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Kieran Culkin, and Matthew Broderick. Thirlby will also take supporting roles in the Ivan Reitman-directed No Strings, The Darkest Hour (an alien thing with Emile Hirsch), and Dredd (another sci-fi thing, written by Alex Garland [28 Days Later, Never Let Me Go]). As well, she’ll finally get to try her hand in leading roles in M and The No Game.

5. Johnny Simmons

Age: 23

Why he’s on the list: Because he’s on the rise. With only a handful of feature credits to his name, Simmons has quickly transitioned from films like Evan Almighty and Hotel for Dogs to a trio of showier roles. He was terrorized by Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body and charmed as Michael Cera’s bandmate “Young Neil” in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. But for me, the performance that showed the most promise was a supporting role in The Greatest. He played a likeable but very flawed teenager struggling to come to terms with the death of his older brother, and Simmons deftly handled a complicated range of emotions.

Where you’ll see him: He’ll play the son of Robin Wright’s rabble-rouser in The Conspirator. The Robert Redford-helmed film is already earning fairly strong reviews at TIFF, and it could be a chance for Simmons to reach a wider audience.

6. Zoe Kravitz

Age: 21

Why she’s on the list: Because she’s an intriguing on-screen presence. As the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonnet, she’s already got star power behind her name, and Kravitz is starting to prove that she’s got the talent to back it up. She hasn’t wasted any time courting high-profile projects, getting her start with a small role in 2007’s No Reservations. She’s also appeared in The Brave One, and stole her scenes (despite her shakily written character) in The Greatest.

Where you’ll see her: The sultry actress will appear in one of this fall’s more buzzed-about indies, It’s Kind of a Funny Story (directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden). She’s also got a couple of potential blockbusters on the horizon with supporting roles in X-Men: First Class and Mad Max: Fury Road.

7. Hunter Parrish

Age: 23

Why he’s on the list: Because he’s got the makings of a full-blown teen heartthrob (he’s already built a bit of a following thanks to his work on “Weeds”) early roles were fairly minor, but 2009 offered a couple of larger big-screen projects. First, he was almost unrecognizable as Zac Efron’s scuzzy nemesis in the surprisingly enjoyable 17 Again. And though he was given very little to do as Meryl Streep’s son in It’s Complicated, his sheer charisma (and blindingly white teeth) made him memorable.

Where you’ll see him: I believe that he’s still on “Weeds”, but aside from that, he doesn’t have any other projects listed on IMDB right now, oddly enough.

8. T.J. Miller

Age: 29

Why he’s on the list: Because he has the everyman humour of Jason Segel or Seth Rogan. Despite being one of the older names on the list (and working as a stand-up comedian for years), Miller made his film debut only two years ago in the much-discussed Cloverfield (if he doesn’t look familiar, it’s because he played Hud, the man holding the camera, and served as more of a narrator than a visual presence). He’s had small roles in Extract (as Jason Bateman’s metalhead co-worker) and How to Train Your Dragon. But his most prominent role to date was in this year’s woefully underrated She’s Out of My League, where he stole the show as “Stainer”.

Where you’ll see him: Miller seems to be everywhere this year, and he’s still got two more appearances to go by the end of 2010. He’ll appear in, um, Yogi Bear (alongside Dan Ackroyd, Justin Timberlake, and Anna Faris) and Gulliver’s Travels (which co-stars Jack Black and Jason Segel).

9. Lily Collins

Age: 21

Why she’s on the list: Because she could be the next big starlet. Aside from an appearance on 90210, Collins’ only film acting gig to date is as Sandra Bullock’s daughter in The Blindside, where she turned in a very respectable performance. She’s also done stage acting, modeling and writing, and happens to be the daughter of Phil Collins. Apparently others are taking note…

Where you’ll see her: She has a role in next year’s sci-fi thriller, Priest, alongside Paul Bettany and Christopher Plummer. She’ll also co-star in Abduction with Taylor Lautner (before you write it off completely, the supporting cast includes Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, and Sigourney Weaver). And finally, she’s slated to take the lead in yet another film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

10. Caleb Landry Jones

Age: 20

Why he’s on the list: Because he has star potential. His first role was as “Boy On Bike” in No Country for Old Men. Despite only appearing on screen for a mere couple of minutes near the end of the film, he somewhat stole the scene from Javier Bardem (and if you’ve seen the movie, you know that it was a fairly memorable scene on its own). He’s since appeared in the “Friday Night Lights” TV show and Fred Durst’s The Longshots. This year, he found himself in a supporting role in the box office quasi-hit, The Last Exorcism.

Where You’ll See Him: He has a role in The Social Network, but considering he’s billed as “Fraternity Guy”, one would expect it to be a fairly minor one. More notably, he was recently cast as Banshee in X-Men: First Class. Previous instalments in the franchise have served as a launching pad for Ellen Page, Ben Foster, and James Marsden.

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One response to “10 Up-and-Coming Actors To Watch

  1. Pingback: Hunger Games Casting « Times Like Those

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