By Taylor Lindsay | Indiewire January 15, 2014 at 10:30AM
Brit Marling, Elizabeth Olsen, Edward Burns, Terrence Howard and Gabourey Sidibe all came to Park City as relative unknowns and emerged as highly sought-after talents. With the 2014 edition of the Sundance Film Festival launching tomorrow, the springboard is loaded. Here's Indiewire's picks for the 10 actors to watch this year.
Abdikani Muktar ("Fishing Without Nets")
Why You May Know Him: Chances are you don't. Muktar starred in "Fishing Without Nets" when it was a little-known short film, released in Kenya in 2012. It went on to win the Grand Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at Sundance in 2012. It was next seen in 2013 at the War on Screen International Film Festival in France.
What Sundance Could Mean for Him: The original short film was shot in East Africa using Somali non-actors -- if the film is a hit, Muktar will be considered a non-actor no more. Given that "Captain Phillips" gave a huge boost to Somalian Barkhad Abdi (who starred as the eerily threatening pirate leader), this story told from pirates' perspectives might do something similar for Muktar -- you never know.
What's Next: Nothing charted, but we'll see after Sundance.
Astrid Berges-Frisbey ("I Origins")
Why You May Know Her: The trilingual stunner has starred in a series of French films since 2008, but you probably know her from "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011) as Syrena the mermaid. Shortly after in 2012, she appeared in "The Sex of the Angels" (originally "El Sexo de los Angeles") as the lead's girlfriend.
What Sundance Could Mean for Her: After "Pirates," Berges-Frisbey was in one French and one Spanish film -- this is her second on-screen English role. "I Origins" should be a seamless success for her, as it looks like she's used to playing the love interest. She's also no stranger to the drama genre, and given that this film is a drama sci-fi about a molecular biologist, her presence promises to add a satisfying romantic dimension. America will likely fall in love -- there's always a demand for lithe and sultry.
What's Next? There's talk of the mermaid returning for a sort of reprisal role in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" in 2016. But that's a long way off -- expect to see her surfacing all over the world in the meantime.
Grigoriy Dobrygin ("A Most Wanted Man")
Why You May Know Him: This Russian actor is the stuff of Youtube fangirl montages. The roguish 27-year-old stars in a series of Russian action films filled with cars, guns, and grisly extremities. At the Berlin International Film Festival in 2010, he won an award for Best Actor for his role in "How I Ended This Summer" ("Kak ya provel etim letom"). He was last seen in 2012 when he starred in "Atomnyy Ivan," an uncharacteristic Russian Romance flick (probably a stab at CV diversity here). But he's by no means finished with the thriller genre.
What Sundance Could Mean for Him: This is a huge charge forward for Dobrygin. In his first English thriller, he stars in "A Most Wanted Man" as the most wanted man, alongside Rachel McAdams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Robin Wright. From author John le Carre of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, " Hoffman and crew race to uncover Dobrygin's identity: victim, villain, extremist, or thief? Regardless of which, it's probably his big breakout role.
What's Next? We'll see more of Dobrygin later this year in adventure-thriller "Black Sea" alongside Jude Law. He also stars in currently-filming "Territoriya," another Russian drama.
Meredith Hagner ("Hits")
Why You May Know Her: She's got a list of lovable roles. Hagner was most notably in Whit Stillman's adorkable "Damsels in Distress" with Greta Gerwig and "Going the Distance" (in that hilarious tanning salon scene with Justin Long). She's frequently seen in recurring roles in TBS comedy "Men at Work," Fx's "Lights Out," and USA's "Royal Pains" and recently guested in an episode of "The Following" with Kevin Bacon.
What Sundance Could Mean for Her: Hagner has been brushing all the right soldiers and will probably feel familiar to us in "Hits," a dark comedy about a paranoid municipal worker the oddities involved in the struggle between "the man" and the little man. Staring alongside Julia Stiles and Michael Cera seems like a natural progression after her myriad of roles in comedies and dramas. She's already on a steady upward progression, and "Hits" might be that last needed nudge to stardom.
What's Next: Look for Hagner in "We'll Never Leave Paris" (a rom com with Zachary Quinto and Maggie Grace), "Any Tom, Dick, or Harry" (comedy with Leighton Meester) and "Creative Control" (a drama in the works), all coming later in 2014.
Josh Wiggins ("Hellion")
Why You May Know Him: This 13-year-old from Houston is making his debut at Sundance in his first professional acting role. His previous experience includes middle school theater, lip syncing, and YouTube videos. His leap to the screen puts him in the role of Aaron Paul's onscreen son, the titular hellion. Which is a little funny actually, because according to him he was "always kind of a goody two-shoes in school" (read a quick interview here).
What Sundance Could Mean for Him: A lot. His fiery performance as a motocross and heavy metal obsessed angry-young-man is the focal point of "Hellion"'s plot. When his reckless behavior forces the CPS to place his little brother with his aunt, Jacob and his father struggle to rebuild their motherless family and bring Wes home. For his first role, it's a fierce one. There will probably be a lot more opportunities coming his way if "Hellion" hits hard.
What's Next? No buzz, but no rush.