One of the most exciting things about the coming of the fall movie season is the chance to see some new talent emerge from some of the prestige fare that'll be hitting theaters in the next few months. Last year, for instance, saw the likes of Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Eddie Redmayne, Rooney Mara, Shailene Woodley, Elizabeth Olsen and Felicity Jones go from virtual unknowns to, if not household names, than certainly performers whose next moves would be watched closely.
So with the summer now an increasingly distant memory and festival season upon us, we thought we'd take a look at some of the names that are likely to break out over the next four months or so. Some we've tipped before, some are even newer, but you'll be seeing all of the faces below on screen before too long, and if the buzz behind them is correct, you'll be seeing them many, many times more. Read our picks below, and you can let us know who you're tipping for stardom this fall in the comments section below .
While it can't be said that there are very many actors who've come up that way ("The Namesake" star Jacinda Barrett was a graduate of "The Real World," and "Rock of Ages" lead Julianne Hough came to fame through "Dancing with the Stars"), there's still a certain stigma attached to being an actor or actress who was discovered in part through a reality TV series. But there's every chance the stigma might be lifted if Samantha Barks pulls off her key supporting role in Tom Hooper's film, "Les Miserables." 21-year-old Barks, who hails from the Isle of Man in the U.K., came to fame as a contestant on "I'll Do Anything," a 2008 Saturday night reality show that set out to find an actress to play Nancy in a new production of the musical "Oliver!," co-starring Rowan Atkinson. Barks was beaten at the last, placing third in the final, but was swiftly in demand in the musical theater world; she played Sally Bowles in a British tour of "Cabaret," and in the summer of 2010, landed the role of Eponine, the starving waif in love with Marius, in the long-running West End production of "Les Miserables." Off the back of that, she was selected to sing the part in a huge 25th anniversary all-star concert production of the show, and presumably impressed producer Cameron Mackintosh. Because when the film came to cast, Barks ended up beating out the rumored Taylor Swift for the same part. Among a cast that features Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter and more, Barks is the least known, but her part's a dramatic one, and she gets one of the show's best-known numbers, "On My Own," so she's likely to make a serious impression. If she's able to land parts away from the musical world, this could be the creation of a massive new star.
One of the major critical favorites at Sundance this year — albeit one that hasn't yet got the crossover buzz of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "The Sessions," was Ava DuVernay's "Middle of Nowhere." The film involves a med student who drops out of school when her husband is sent to prison for eight years in order to focus her attentions on keeping his spirits up. But as his parole hearing approaches, she finds herself drawn to a bus driver who's fallen for her. DuVernay won Best Director in Park City and is increasingly seen as one of the most exciting new voices in African-American cinema, but the cast has won just as much acclaim. The men in the film — Omari Hardwick ("Kick-Ass") as the husband, fast-rising star David Oyelowo ("Jack Reacher, "Lincoln," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes") as the bus driver — are both familiar faces, but leading lady Emayatzy Corinealdi, who's getting just as much praise, is a new face, so much so that the film's trailer bills her 'And Introducing…' The New Jersey-born actress has only a handful of credits behind her — most notably a four-episode run in "The Young & The Restless," TV movie "The Nanny Express" and a guest appearance in short-lived sitcom "Romantically Challenged." But by all accounts she gives a phenomenal performance in her first go at a lead, and could well become just as in demand as Oyelowo in the near future. Indeed, she's already wrapped another indie, "In The Morning," and recently signed to ICM, so big things are certainly expected in the future.
Besides a few recent exceptions (Eva Green and Gemma Arterton aren't doing too badly), building a big screen career after playing a Bond girl isn't always the easiest thing in the world. For every Famke Janssen or Michelle Yeoh, there's an Izabella Scorupco or Denise Richards, and only a handful of people in the world can name a Bond girl of the Roger Moore or Timothy Dalton eras (we're not sure even Moore or Dalton could do it…). It's taken a few years, but Olga Kurylenko, who played vengeful Camille Montes in "Quantum of Solace," looks like she'll be cementing her stardom in a big way in the next few months. The Ukranian-born former model had a handful of roles pre-Bond, including "Paris, je t'aime" and "Hitman," and her first few roles after that breakout weren't especially inspiring: another video game adaptation in "Max Payne" and a villainess in Neil Marshall's Roman actioner "Centurion" opposite a pre-stardom Michael Fassbender. But 2012 has seen things pick up in a big way, and that's set to continue in the coming months. Late last year, she starred in Chernobyl drama "Land of Oblivion," giving a performance we called "a small revelation" (read our review and interview with Kurylenko from the Marrakech Film Festival). And a few months back, she starred in Starz's increasingly strong cable drama "Magic City" alongside Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Danny Huston, giving another good performance. But the big one lands later in the week: at the end of 2010, Kurylenko was cast as Ben Affleck's wife in "To the Wonder," the latest film from reclusive auteur Terrence Malick. And as it turns out, it's very much her film with the actress getting more screen time than any of her better-known co-stars. Some have issues with the character, but we thought Kurylenko was terrific in the film, certainly showing that "Quantum of Solace" barely scratched the surface of her talents. She's also playing Sam Rockwell's girlfriend in Martin McDonagh's "Seven Psychopaths" in the next few months, which will hopefully bring more critical plaudits, and next year returns to the blockbuster arena in Tom Cruise's "Oblivion." So all in all, she'll be nearly inescapable in the next few months.
John Magaro, Will Brill & Jack Huston
Starring in the feature film debut of writer/director David Chase, the man behind "The Sopranos," a TV show regarded by many as the finest-ever example of the genre, would come with a little pressure for anyone. But if you're virtual unknowns carrying a movie for the first time, one can only imagine that you'd be feeling the pressure a little more, and that's the case for John Magaro, Will Brill and Jack Huston, who star in Chase's film "Not Fade Away." Huston is by some distance the best known; part of the Huston acting dynasty (John Huston was his grandfather, Angelica and Danny are his aunt and uncle), the British-born Huston has racked up a number of screen credits in the last few years, showing a charisma befitting his surname in films like "Factory Girl," "Outlander" and "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse." But it's in the last couple of years that he really grabbed attention, often stealing the show playing war veteran-turned-mobster Richard Harrow, who wears a mask to disguise a horrible facial injury, in the Terence Winter-created HBO show "Boardwalk Empire." But in fact, Huston doesn't have the lead role in "Not Fade Away" — instead, it's relative newcomer John Magaro. The actor's had a handful of screen credits so far, including Neil Jordan's "The Brave One," Richard Kelly's "The Box" and a lead in Wes Craven's dreadful "My Soul to Take," but nothing of the magnitude of his part in the Chase film, in which he plays a New Jersey kid who defies the wishes of his father (James Gandolfini) to form a band with two friends in the early 1960s. The central trifecta is completed by theater vet Will Brill, who makes his screen debut (bar a brief appearance on "Louie") here. With the film premiering at the New York Film Festival, this could turn out to be one of the big surprises of the fall, and if it works out, it's likely to take its three young leads with it.
Scoot McNairy has come to the brink of stardom more than once in the past — he had roles in films like "Wonderland" and "Herbie Fully Loaded" in the mid-noughties, and five years ago toplined the well-received indie romance "In Search of a Midnight Kiss," but could never quite convert either into true Hollywood attention. But that all changed when the Texan actor starred, with his girlfriend and soon-to-be-wife Whitney Able, in Gareth Edwards' micro-budget sci-fi "Monsters." The film proved to be a big festival hit, and suddenly McNairy was the toast of the town. And while he had a number of offers floating around (including Logan Marshall-Green's part in "Prometheus" and another in "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"), he seems to have pretty good taste, turning down both for three serious, dramatic pictures from top directors which will land in the fall. First up is Ben Affleck's based-in-fact drama "Argo" as Iranian Consul Officer Joe Stafford, one of the hostages that Affleck's CIA team is tasked with rescuing (and was our Telluride reviewer's stand-out member of the ensemble), swiftly followed by a major role in the return of the "The Assassination of Jesse James" helmer Andrew Dominik, with crime tale "Killing Them Softly," in which McNairy and "Animal Kingdom" star Ben Mendelsohn play two junkies who rip off a mob-affiliated card game, bringing enforcer Brad Pitt down on them. And finally, the very tail end of the year brings Gus Van Sant's "Promised Land," alongside the film's writers, Matt Damon and John Krasinski, as well as Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt and Hal Holbrook. He's not letting up, either. He's got both Steve McQueen's "Twelve Years A Slave" and "Your Sister's Sister" director Lynn Shelton's "Touchy Feely," with Ellen Page coming up as well.
Despite their general excellence, the cast of beloved TV drama "Friday Night Lights" is yet to provide a breakout movie star. Hopes were high for Taylor Kitsch, but with two giant flops this year, it's unlikely to happen any time soon. The likes of Kyle Chandler, Minka Kelly and Michael B. Jordan keep getting new movie roles, but none have quite made it there. But could the one to keep an eye on be the show's secret weapon, Jesse Plemons? The 24-year-old Texan played Landry Clarke on the show, starting out as comic relief, but getting better and better material to play with as it went on (bar the much-lamented murder plot in season two). And even as the series was ongoing, he started racking up movie roles; small parts in comedies like "Paul" and "Observe & Report," and a nice little cameo opposite Kevin Spacey in the underseen "Shrink." But things have really been gearing up in 2012 now that "Friday Night Lights" is done. He reunited with Kitsch and the show's creator Peter Berg for "Battleship," proving one of the few bright spots in the film, and has been cropping up in another highly acclaimed TV series of late, playing Todd in season five of "Breaking Bad," a part that looks like it could be increasingly important as the series moves towards the endgame. Perhaps most importantly, the actor's playing Philip Seymour Hoffman's son in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," which is about to hit theaters. It's not a huge part, but Plemons acquits himself very well indeed in his brief screen time. The resemblance to a young Seymour Hoffman is strong, but it should also be noted that Plemons also played the young Matt Damon in "All The Pretty Horses" as a pre-teen, and he seems to land almost exactly between the two actors; not a bad place to be in at all. Aside from more "Breaking Bad," Plemons doesn't seem to have anything lined up immediately, but there could be plenty of knocks on his door before too long.
Some might argue that an actress who's already had many high-profile roles on stage, TV and film, including playing the second female lead in two giant blockbusters, isn't quite qualified for this list. But while Kelly Reilly is a vaguely familiar face, she hardly got to show what she can do as Dr. Watson's love interest Mary in Guy Ritchie's two "Sherlock Holmes" films, whereas word on the grapevine is that she's poised to go on to bigger and better things as a result of her performance in one of the big fall movies. Reilly has credits going all the way back to 1995, when she starred alongside Helen Mirren in an episode of "Prime Suspect," and went on to a number of roles on stage, including playing Elaine in "The Graduate," and working with the great Karel Reisz. Meanwhile, the last decade has seen work steadily on film too, from early performances in "Last Orders" (where she played a young Mirren) and "L'Auberge Espanole" through supporting turns in "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and "Pride & Prejudice," to a lead alongside Michael Fassbender in hoodie horror flick "Eden Lake." It was after the latter that things really took off, however, thanks both to her presence in "Sherlock Holmes" and its sequel, as well as the success of TV show "Above Suspicion," a hugely popular cop show that's been running since 2009 in the U.K., in which Reilly stars alongside Ciarán Hinds. But regardless of all this success, eyebrows were raised a little when Reilly landed a part described as 'the female lead' in "Flight," Robert Zemeckis' return to live-action filmmaking since despite 'Holmes,' Reilly was far from a household name. But if rumors are to be believed, Reilly — who plays a drug addict who befriends Denzel Washington's alcoholic hero pilot — steals the show in the Zemeckis film, with a performance that some are tipping for awards success. There's more on the way afterwards as Reilly is starring alongside Sam Rockwell in "A Single Shot," and with Brendan Gleeson in "The Guard" follow-up "Calvary," so chances are by the time "Sherlock Holmes 3" comes around, she may even end up on the poster…
The list of famous Belgians, especially those involved in the film industry, is a short one: Jean-Claude Van Damme, and… Audrey Hepburn (who was born Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston in Brussels). But we may be about to have another major star from the nation, in the shape of Matthias Schoenaerts, who stars opposite Marion Cotillard in "Rust & Bone," the latest film from "A Prophet" director Jacques Audiard, which Sony Pictures Classics will open in November. The 35-year-old Belgian first appeared on screen in 1992's "Daens," a film about a Catholic priest, which won an Oscar nomination back in 1994. Once he left drama school, he worked steadily in supporting roles — most notably as a resistance member in Paul Verhoeven's "Black Book" in 2006, but got a major boost two years later by starring in Erik Van Looy's "Loft," a thriller about five friends who share a flat to take their mistresses but who are torn apart when they find the body of a murdered woman there. The film proved to be the most successful Flemish-language film of all time, and launched Schoenaerts into local stardom. That acclaim spread even wider when he toplined the superb thriller "Bullhead," giving a stunning, bulked-up performance as a cattle farmer drawn into the organized crime world. The film was an instant hit when it premiered at Berlin last year, and went on to win an unlikely, but deserved, Oscar nomination. And any doubt that he was the real deal was dismissed when "Rust & Bone" unspooled on the Croisette back in May: Schoenaerts drew just as much praise as co-star Cotillard, with comparisons to Tom Hardy frequently drawn — both actors share an undoubtedly masculine look, combined with a certain sensitivity. The praise has been matched by audiences in Telluride and TIFF, with whispers of awards attention starting to arrive of late. And Schoenaerts also seems to be actively looking to break into English-language films too: he's reprising his role in Van Looy's U.S.-set remake of "Loft" alongside Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller and Eric Stonestreet (still awaiting a release), and recently wrapped Guillaume Canet's "Blood Ties," which is co-written by James Gray and stars Cotillard, Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis and Zoe Saldana. Word is Ridley Scott is desperate to work with him. And lord knows he's got an eye for talent…
There's only one total newcomer to acting on this list, and they've perhaps got the most difficult job of all in their fall movie. Not that the others have it easy, but there's only one actor here who pretty much has to carry a film entirely on his own shoulders, working, for the most part, on a single set, with emotionally tough material, not in their native language, and with only invisible CGI creatures to share the screen with. But Suraj Sharma, who plays the title character in Ang Lee's "Life of Pi," did all of that, and did it before his 18th birthday. And given Lee's track record of discovering stars — he's responsible at least in part for breakout roles from the likes of Tobey Maguire, Kate Winslet, Zhang Ziyi and Kate Mara, among others — one has to assume that Sharma was able to pull it off. Sharma, the child of mathematician parents, was a 17-year-old high school student at the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya school in Dehli when Lee's casting team came calling, and beat out 3,000 other auditionees to win the part in a lengthy and extensive process. The big-budget, 3D film marks his screen debut, although he must have had a little idea of what to expect; his younger brother Sriharsh had a small role in Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited." Lee has already praised his young star, saying he gives "an emotional performance," and if the film lives up to 20th Century Fox's hopes, we could be seeing a lot more of him before too long.
23-year-old Swedish actress Alicia Vikander first came to our attention when it was announced that she was in the running to play the title role in "Snow White and the Huntsman" (alongside Bella Heathcote, Felicity Jones and Riley Keough, though Kristen Stewart obviously got the role in the end.). The actress already has an impressive career back home: she trained at the Royal Swedish Ballet School as a dancer before going on to star in the popular series "Andra Avenyn." But it was her performance in 2010's addiction drama "Pure" that really brought her to Hollywood's notice, particularly after she won Best Actress at the Guldbagge Awards (the Swedish equivalent of the Oscars) for her performance, beating out Noomi Rapace and Pernilla August (Joel Kinnaman won the Best Actor equivalent, incidentally). And 2012 has been even better for her — she had two films at the Berlinale, "The Crown Jewels" and "A Royal Affair," the latter of which co-stars Mads Mikkelsen and Berlin Best Actor winner Mikkel Følsgaard, and plays at TIFF before getting a full U.S. release in November. And while 'Huntsman' didn't pan out, her Hollywood debut isn't far away; she stepped in for Saoirse Ronan to play Kitty in Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina," and she stands out in a star-making turn even among a cast of exceptional actresses — Keira Knightley, Kelly MacDonald, Emily Watson, Olivia Williams, Ruth Wilson, Michelle Dockery. She's about to reunite with "Pure" director Lisa Langseth back at home for drama "Hotel," and she's already wrapped her first blockbuster lead, the supernatural period actioner "The Seventh Son," in a cast that also includes Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes and Julianne Moore. Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures hope that'll turn into a franchise, but even if it doesn't, Vikander seems to be showing that she can pull off costume dramas, serious, gritty contemporary work, and effects-driven tentpoles. All she needs is a comedy and she's set for life.