Last week, we picked out ten actors who are On The Rise, a group of guys who all impressed us in recent roles and likely have put themselves on the radar of Hollywood, with names like Corey Stoll, Alex Karpovsky, Jack Reynor and Omar Sy coming to our attention.
So this week, it only seems natural to turn our focus to the actresses. There’s been a pretty impressive crop of late, with stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain and Felicity Jones breaking out, and the likes of Elisabeth Moss, Andrea Riseborough, Juno Temple, Rooney Mara, Emma Stone, Nicole Beharie and Brie Larson figuring on our previous lists.
So who have we gone for this time around? Again, we tried to emphasize people whose skills and talent we can attest to, rather than picking out the names on every casting shortlist, but the latter’s true for some of the actresses below too. You can read our ten picks below, and let us know your own favorites in the comments section.
Looking like a genetically-engineered blend of Carey Mulligan and Abbie Cornish, part-Australian, part-British 23-year-old Adelaide Clemens (who was born in Japan, and raised in France and Australia) has every chance of following them into stardom. Clemens started out in TV back in Australia before breaking into movies with a small role in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” before graduating to a lead role with “Wasted On The Young” with “Chronicle” star Alex Russell. This led to some biggish roles in indies (“Camilla Dickinson,” long-delayed Keanu Reeves vehicle “Generation Um…“) and horror flicks (“No One Lives,” “Silent Hill: Revelation“), and while not the stuff that A-list stardom is made of, Clemens always acquitted herself well in the films. But things changed with HBO miniseries “Parade’s End,” in which Clemens was cast as Valentine Wannop, the young suffragette object-of-the-affections of Benedict Cumberbatch‘s Christopher Tietjens. Clemens had to fight hard for the role, walking to her London audition in period garb to convince director Susannah White and writer Tom Stoppard, but it paid off, and Clemens was terrific, easily proving her place among a superb cast. At one time, she was meant to be among the cast of “Mad Max: Fury Road,” but fell out when the film was delayed. That’s not a huge problem, though; she’s got another big homegrown production on the way, playing Myrtle Wilson’s sister Catherine in Baz Luhrmann‘s “The Great Gatsby.” And next month she stars in the first ongoing series from the Sundance Channel, “Rectify,” created by Ray McKinnon, and co-starring Luke Kirby, Hal Holbrook, J. Smith-Cameron and Abigail Spencer.
How many episodes did it take you? What point of “House of Cards” were you at when the penny dropped and you realized that Christina Gallagher, the aide/lover to Corey Stoll‘s tragic Congressman Peter Russo, was played by the same actress who last year headed up Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard‘s gloriously enjoyable meta-horror “The Cabin In The Woods“? That actress is 32-year-old Kristen Connolly, and we suspect that her one-two punch of late is going to get her much more work going forward. Apparently a one-time professional tennis player (though we can’t find much evidence to back this up…), Connolly trained at Yale, and started out her career with bit parts in films like “Mona Lisa Smile,” “The Happening” and “Meet Dave,” before grabbing recurring roles on daytime soaps “The Guiding Light” and “As The World Turns.” Some more high-profile TV gigs followed, but her big break finally arrived when she was cast as Dana, the not-as-virginal-as-she-might-appear heroine of “Cabin in the Woods.” It’s not quite Hedda Gabler when it comes to roles for woman, but Connolly was winning and capable, and proved to be equally so when she returned to the horror flick for Barry Levinson‘s “The Bay.” But it was on “House of Cards” where she truly impressed. Though she didn’t always get the best material, she proved to be a rare moral center of the show, and her relationship with Russo was truly heartbreaking. It looks like she’s going to get more to do in season two, if the closing episodes are anything to go by, and we can’t wait to see if she manages to stay clean, or if the corruption in the rest of Washington overtakes her.
If you’re a keen follower of French cinema, it’s likely that you’ve spotted a new face popping up routinely in the last few years, one who’s undoubtedly impressed you with a brace of head-turning performances. And she’s not even 20 yet. Lola Crèton made her debut a few years back, aged only 16, in Catherine Breillat‘s frustrating fairy-tale “Bluebeard,” but while the film was a bit of a misfire, Crèton’s screen presence was clearly going to lead to bigger and better things. And indeed it did. Two years later, Crèton starred in “Goodbye First Love,” the fourth film from Mia Hansen-Love, playing Camille, something of a surrogate to the filmmaker, a teenage girl left distraught after her boyfriend leaves, only to reconnect with him over a decade later. Together with co-star Sebastien Urzendowsky, Creton gives a powerful performance, impressively aging from 15 to 30 and expertly capturing the naive longings, and the later worldly-wise, aspects of the character. And she kept it in the family for her next role. Hansen-Love’s partner Olivier Assayas cast Crèton as Christine, who becomes the girlfriend of protagonist Gilles in his 1970s revolutionary tale “Something In The Air.” Even at 19, she was the most experienced performer in the cast, and it shows; she gives easily the best performance in the film, and it suffers a little when she drops out of it. Crèton followed it, curiously, with a recurring guest spot on long-running, incredibly terrible British soap “Hollyoaks,” but she’s back on the auteur tip now, featuring in Claire Denis‘ upcoming “The Bastards,” and we’re sure there’s lots more where that came from.
Hollywood royalty thanks to being the granddaughter of Tippi Hedren and daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, Dakota Johnson has been cropping up for a few years now. Having modeled since 2006, she made a strong impression as Sean Parker’s one-night-stand in “The Social Network,” proving to be something of a natural with Aaron Sorkin‘s dialogue. She worked fairly consistently, mostly in the indie world with movies like “For Ellen” and “Goats,” without quite turning heads, but had better luck with a pair of studio comedies, “21 Jump Street” and “Five-Year Engagement.” Even so, we probably wouldn’t have put Johnson on this list a year ago, but then came “Ben & Kate.” The Fox show debuted to some fanfare alongside “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project,” but never quite got a ratings foothold, and was cancelled before Christmas. However, in its few short months in the air, it was turning into one of the best new network comedies of the year. And much of the show’s appeal was down to Johnson, playing one half of the central duo, a young single mother living with her errant brother (Nat Faxon), and showing she could be sweet, warm, awkward, moving and very funny. While the show has passed on (Kickstarter, anyone?), Hollywood definitely paid attention, with the actress landing a key supporting role in actioner “Need For Speed,” opposite Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots and Michael Keaton. Frankly, someone needs to get her a romantic comedy, and stat, because she’d kill in one, but “Need For Speed” will do for now.
We’ve been on record before now, more than once, about what a spectacular cast Steve McQueen‘s “Twelve Years A Slave” has. It’s led by one of our favorite working actors, Chiwetel Ejiofor, with Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Adepero Oduye, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Garret Dillahunt, Sarah Paulson, Michael K. Williams, Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry, Alfre Woodard and Scoot McNairy joining him. But one of the more head-turning parts might end up coming from an actress who you might not know right now, but should be more familiar by the end of the year — 31-year-old Ethiopian-Irish actress Ruth Negga. Having trained at Trinity College, Dublin, Negga found some big roles quickly, leading local production “Capital Letters,” and having a role specifically written for her in “Breakfast On Pluto” by director Neil Jordan. This then led to a few quiet years away from film, but with the actress busier than ever on TV in the UK and Ireland, with major roles in “Criminal Justice,” “Misfits” and “Five Daughters,” while also taking lead roles at the National Theatre in London, in “Phedre,” opposite Dominic Cooper and Helen Mirren, and in “Hamlet,” as Ophelia. But she probably got her most attention so far playing legendary chanteuse Shirley Bassey in a BBC biopic which won her an Royal Television Society Award nomination for Best Actress. Having conquered the small screen, Negga’s now turning to the silver one. She co-starred alongside Samuel L. Jackson in thriller “The Samaritan,” and has the Jimi Hendrix biopic “All Is By My Side” coming up. But it’s “Twelve Years A Slave” that should be her biggest launching pad. She’s got a key role as a runaway slave in the film, and so impressed producer Brad Pitt that he brought Negga in for the “World War Z” reshoots, playing a scientist. It’s bound to not be the last time we see her in a blockbuster…
We’ve had our eye on British actress Tuppence Middleton for a few years now, but 2013 looks to be the year that she fulfills her promise, having already had a pretty great start to the year. The 26-year-old Bristol native trained at London drama school Arts Ed, before getting her first major role on a two-part U.K.-set episode of long-running procedural drama “Bones.” This was followed soon after by the lead in horror-comedy “Tormented” — like Connolly, she proved a winning scream queen, although the film came and went quickly. Smaller roles in Brit flicks “Skeletons” and “Chatroom” followed soon after, before a shift to TV with recurring roles on series “Friday Night Dinner,” “Sirens” and “Sinbad.” But things have really come to a head in the last few months. She played David Tennant‘s sister on BBC drama “Spies Of Warsaw,” just led the remake of “The Lady Vanishes” (she’s perhaps a little too modern for the role, but proved admirably unsympathetic in the part), and got her badass on in an episode of Charlie Brooker‘s “Black Mirror.” Coming up, Middleton has no less than five high-profile movie roles. First up, there’s a key part in Danny Boyle‘s “Trance” that we couldn’t possibly give away here, along with dark comedy “Love Punch” with Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan. She’ll appear alongside the latter, plus Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul and Toni Collette in the Nick Hornby adaptation of “A Long Way Down,” followed by co-starring with Alexandra Roach in Iain Softley‘s “Trap For Cinderella.” And perhaps most importantly, she’s set to make her Hollywood debut shortly, joining fellow bright young things Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis and Eddie Redmayne in the Wachowskis‘ “Jupiter Ascending.”
Of all the paths you could take into the movies, being a professional kiteboarder seems one of the least likely, not least because we had no idea that you could make a living out of kiteboarding, or that kiteboarding was really a thing. But that’s how Maika Monroe got her start, and given how impressive her debut performance is, maybe casting directors should start hanging out with kickboarders more often. She got started in the sport as a teen, and had a small role in short-lived TV show “Eleventh Hour,” but wasn’t really on our radar before we saw Ramin Bahrani‘s “At Any Price” last year. Even among a cast full of surprising turns from the likes of Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron, the 18-year-old Monroe stands out as the latter’s girlfriend. We called her “a real find’ in our review, and she’s exactly that, authentic and nuanced beyond her years. And though she’s gone through the rite of passage of a ropey SyFy movie with “Flying Monkeys” (it’s exactly what it sounds like…), Bahrani’s melodrama seems to have brought her to the attention of some big names, with a part in the ensemble of Sofia Coppola‘s “Bling Ring” coming up, as well as the younger version of Josh Brolin‘s wife in Jason Reitman‘s “Labor Day.” When we exclude “Flying Monkeys,” it’s about as impressive a trio of directors you could ask for when kicking off a career, and given the quality of that first performance, they’re unlikely to be the last top-flight filmmakers wanting to work with Monroe.
As “Boardwalk Empire” continues to improve season-on-season, the cast grows ever more impressive (with Jeffrey Wright and Brian Geraghty among the new additions for the coming series), but the show’s yet to have a true breakout movie star emerge from an ensemble that was already pretty familiar with the silver screen, although Jack Huston, who plays Richard Harrow on the show, is certainly heading that way. But if anyone truly made an impression across the series’ third season, it was Wrenn Schmidt, who plays Harrow’s love interest, Julia Sagorsky. The actress is an NYC theater veteran who first made her name alongside Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin in a production of “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf,” and her stage credits also include “Come Back Little Sheba,” “Katie Roche,” with “The Master Builder” with John Turturro on the way. She had smallish TV roles in the likes of “Body of Proof” and “Blue Bloods,” and on the big-screen in “Our Idiot Brother” and gave an excellent performance in Alex Gibney‘s “Client 9,” but it’s ‘Boardwalk’ that really provided a showcase. There’s nothing showy about Sagorsky or Schmidt’s portrayal of her, but there’s a striking little spark of fire when the character has to draw a line in the sand, and Schmidt makes perhaps a token, underwritten character someone we want to root for and whose story we’ll always be invested in. While she hasn’t overly impressed in any major roles beyond that, there seems to be something crackling underneath the surface that suggests bigger things are on the horizon once more casting directors take notice.
In case you’ve been ignoring it after its insufferable adorkable launch campaign, and rocky first half-dozen episodes, “New Girl” has steadily been marking out its ground as one of the best sitcoms on TV. It’s been a genuine pleasure to watch the supporting cast of Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris grow into their own, and Hannah Simone, who plays the best friend of lead Jess (Zooey Deschanel) has been right there with them. The London-born, Canadian-based actress started out as a presenter on Canadian TV, though she managed to mix that with a few small roles on Vancouver-shot TV shows like “Kevin Hill” and the “Kojak” remake. But she moved to LA in the late 2000s, and after a few quiet years, landed the part on “New Girl.” Like the show itself, Simone got off to a slowish start, but when the writers figured out she was more than just a pretty face, and as comedically and dramatically adept as the rest of the cast, she started to excel, and her plotline in season two, which sees her flirting with the idea of an arranged marriage, has provided a strong emotional backbone. She squeezed in the Bryan Singer-produced web series “H+” in between seasons, but is soon to crack the big screen for the first time, with a role in Spike Lee‘s remake of “Oldboy.” The first of many movie roles, we’d reckon.
We happen to think that “Jack The Giant Slayer” has gotten a rough ride. It’s hardly a hall of fame film, or anything more than a pleasant way to pass an afternoon, but it’s well made, well acted, and much better than this month’s other $200 million fairytale flick, “Oz The Great & Powerful.” So, as such, we hope that the film’s underperformance doesn’t hurt the continuing career of female lead Eleanor Tomlinson too much, and we’re sure that it won’t. The 20-year-old Tomlinson first cropped up in the movies aged only 14, playing the younger version of Jessica Biel (opposite a similarly-youthful Aaron Johnson, as the younger Edward Norton) in “The Illusionist.” Some other small roles followed, with Johnson again, in the teen comedy “Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging,” and as the title character’s rival Fiona in Tim Burton‘s “Alice in Wonderland,” before beating out other rising stars Juno Temple, Lily Collins and Adelaide Kane to the part of Princess Isabella in Bryan Singer‘s fairytale epic. It’s a potentially rote role, but Tomlinson impresses not just with her luminous screen presence, but with the texture she gives the part that doesn’t have all that much on the page. Going forward, she’s got an interesting choice of roles, with foreign-language fare “Educazione siberiana” and “Styria” in the can, along with BBC historical epic “The White Queen” alongside Max Irons, Rebecca Ferguson and Aneurin Barnard. So all things considered, she should bounce back nicely from the beanstalk.
Honorable Mentions: There are a few actresses who look set for great things, building up a lot of buzz and new roles, but whose work we haven’t yet been able to catch firsthand. They include Elizabeth Debicki, who plays Jordan in Baz Luhrmann‘s “The Great Gatsby,” Gabriella Wilde, who’s in the upcoming “Carrie” remake, Margot Robbie and Cristin Milioti who are both co-starring in “Wolf of Wall Street,” Lindsay Burdge, who got strong reviews at Sundance for “A Teacher,” and Jessica Mauboy who is by most accounts a stand-out in “The Sapphires.”
Also worth keeping an eye on: “Downton Abbey” and “Game Of Thrones” star Rose Leslie (who we’ve covered before), Alona Tal from “Broken City,” Ashley Benson, the most impressive of the central quartet in “Spring Breakers,” Sting‘s daughter Mickey Sumner who stars in Noah Baumbach‘s “Frances Ha,” and Emily VanCamp, who’s going from the star of “Revenge” to the lead in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Anyone else you think we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments section below.