While the Toronto International Film Festival is mostly known for its star wattage and Oscar-bait fare, the event also serves as a springboard for up-and-coming actors to make their marks. Freida Pinto, Ellen Page, Shailene Woodley, Dev Patel, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Oscar-nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes all came to Toronto as relative unknowns and emerged as highly sought-after talents.
With the 37th edition of the festival launching tonight with the world premiere of Rian Johnson's sci-fi spectacular "Looper," we offer our picks for the ten actors to watch this year.
Penn Badgley ("Greetings From Tim Buckley")
Why You May Know Him: If you're a fan of the CW, chances are you know the hunky Badgley as Blake Lively's love interest, Dan Humphrey, on their hit teen soap opera "Gossip Girl." On the big screen, the actor's also appeared in a number of films, including "Easy A," "The Stepfather" and most memorably as an ensemble player in "Margin Call" opposite Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey and Demi Moore.
What Toronto Could Mean For Him: As the beloved musician Jeff Buckley, Padgley has a lot riding on his ability to deliver a credible take on the cult star, who died in a swimming accident in 1997 at the age of thirty. Dan Algrant's "Greetings From Tim Buckley" finds the actor portraying Buckley in the days leading up to his 1991 performance at his father's tribute concert in St. Ann's Church. Following his acclaimed turn in last year's indie sleeper hit (and Academy Award-nominated) "Margin Call," his performance as Buckley could further endear him to critics and art-house audiences, and bolster his prospects as a leading man in Hollywood.
What's Next: With "Gossip Girl" wrapping for good this fall, Badgley is reportedly in talks to star in Richard O'Sullivan's Hollywood satire "One Night With You."
Alice Englert ("Ginger and Rosa")
Why You May Know Her: Chances are you don't, unless you're an avid fan of all things Jane Campion (who happens to be her mother). Her only credit prior to Sally Potter's coming-of-age tale "Ginger and Rosa" is her mother's short film "The Water Diary."
What Toronto Could Mean For Her: A ton. Appearing as one of two leads opposite Elle Fanning in "Ginger and Rosa," Englert is said to give an impressive debut performance in a film that left Telluride audiences in tears. Co-starring Annette Bening, Christina Hendricks and Alessandro Nivola, "Ginger and Rosa" centers on two girls coming of age during the 1960s in London. Fanning's already an established commodity, paving the way for Englert to startle audiences as a fresh new face.
What's Next: The New Zealand beauty already has three films currently in post-production: the supernatural drama "Beautiful Creatures," starring Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson; "In Fear"; and Roland Joffe's love story "Singularity," starring Josh Hartnett.
Holliday Grainger ("Anna Karenina," "Great Expectations")
Why You May Know Her: If you have a thing for period romps, chances are you've seen Grainger before. Best known for playing Lucrezia Borgia opposite Jeremy Irons in Showtime's historical soap opera "The Borgias," Grainger has also popped up in the latest "Jane Eyre" film adaptation to hit theaters and in "Bel Ami," opposite Robert Pattinson.
What Toronto Could Mean For Her: With a supporting role in Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina," one of the most highly anticpated films to play at the festival, and a lead in Mike Newell's take on "Great Expectations," this is Grainger's event to own if the films (and her performances) go over well.
What's Next: Showtime recently renewed "The Borgias" for a third season, set to air sometime next year. Film-wise, Grainger doesn't have anything in the works, but that will no doubt soon change should "Great Expectations" impress in Toronto and when it opens theatrically in the UK this fall.