In what’s become an annual tradition over the last few years, we’ve been running our On The Rise series of talent on the way up in the last few weeks. We’ve looked at Composers, Cinematographers, Actors, Actresses, Directors and Screenwriters. But what about the next next generation? To continue the series, we’ve picked 20 actors and actresses who are 20-years-old or under, a selection of teenaged stars-to-be who’ve caught our eye this year and could well be making a bid to become major stardom tomorrow.
It’s the first time we’ve run a separate category for this younger age group, but it felt like an appropriate way to be able to cover a few more names, and also to comment on the ever-expanding space for teen and young adult movies, which come with a built-in need for younger actors as viable leads. Not only that, but the unstoppable rise of prestige TV, especially ensemble shows like “Game of Thrones,” which feature a whole host of younger actors, makes it seem like there are more avenues than ever into the world of acting for this age group.
Based on a highly unscientific mix of who’s impressed us to date, how much buzz there is around their future projects, how their 2014 has been so far and pure gut instinct. Here are the 20 young faces we hope and trust we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the coming years.
Want to make teen hearts swoon? Be the doomed love interest in a potentially generation-defining weepie. At least, that’s worked for “The Fault In Our Stars” lead Ansel Elgort. Before this year, he was much less well-known than his co-star Shailene Woodley, but after joining her in two big hits, and with lots more on the way, he’s likely to become as much of an on-screen fixture as she is. The New York-born son of Vogue photographer Arthur Elgort and opera director Grethe Holby, Elgort made his acting debut off-Broadway in “Regrets,” a McCarthy-era play by British writer Matt Charman, alongside Alexis Bledel, in 2012. This brought him swiftly to Hollywood’s attention, and he appeared last year in Kimberley Peirce‘s “Carrie” remake as Tommy, Sue Snell’s boyfriend. He went from that to his first appearance alongside Woodley, playing her brother in young adult blockbuster “Divergent” (he’s barely in the first film, but will be more important in next spring’s “The Divergent Series: Insurgent,” or as we prefer to call it, “Thevergent Servegent Divergent: Insurgent“), but was much more visible in “The Fault In Our Stars,” playing Augustus, the cancer-stricken amputee who woos Woodley’s similarly terminally-ill Hazel. We’ll confess that we thought Elgort seemed a little bland in advance, but his performance in the film was the real deal, breaking out far beyond the ‘sensitive jock’ archetype that he could have been. The film was a big hit, landing him on bedroom walls everywhere, but he’d already lined up another major job, starring in Jason Reitman‘s “Men Women & Children” alongside Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner. Down the road, he’s reuniting with the producers of “The Fault In Our Stars” for a biopic of pianist Van Cliburn, and music’s clearly close to his heart: he’s also a EDM artist under the name Ansolo, and just made the iTunes top 10 with a record.
Rian Johnson knew that he was making his own life difficult when he made “Looper” by focusing the second half around a rage-filled, five-year-old, telekinetic child. As he told Time when the movie was released, “Looking back, I’m kind of terrified that I hinged the success of the backend of the movie on finding someone like [him].” But fortunately, he did find Pierce Gagnon, who gave a truly astonishing performance as Cid, the disturbed, hugely powerful son of Emily Blunt‘s character, who may or may not grow up to be the fearsome mob boss the Rainmaker, the target of Bruce Willis’ murderous attentions. Capable of innocent sweetness one moment and terrifying fury the next, the film works in large part because of Gagnon, and in the years since, he’s well on his way to fulfilling Johnson’s prediction that he’ll one day be bigger than his “Looper” co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Gagnon had some acting experience before that, with a tiny role (as ‘Distraught Son,’ no less) in the remake of “The Crazies,” and popped up in the final season of teen soap “One Tree Hill” before the “Looper” gig. It was the latter, of course, that put him on casting director’s maps, and he’s been a regular fixture on screen this year. He voiced one of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway‘s kids in “Rio 2,” and along with list-mate Joey King, was something of a saving grace in Zach Braff‘s “Wish I Was Here” (can you imagine how even more unpalatable it would be without such genuinely likable child performers)? He’s also been seen on TV screens in recent weeks giving a fresh spin to the robot-boy archetype as Halle Berry‘s son on TV show “Extant.” Next up is a role in Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof‘s mysterious “Tomorrowland” alongside George Clooney, but we expect that’ll only be the first of many big projects courting him. Maybe Johnson will end up taking him to a galaxy far, far away?
Despite not having been born when “Finding Nemo” came out, 11-year-old Rohan Chand has already racked up a more diverse career than many actors three times his age, and is only set for bigger things in the future. Chand was born in New York to Indian parents, and made his acting debut as Adam Sandler‘s adopted son in 2011’s “Jack and Jill.” Fortunately, things went up from there. Soon after, he played the son of terrorist Abu Nazzir in “Homeland,” starring in a memorable episode opposite Damian Lewis and doing a sterling job. Last year, he also played a key role in war flick “Lone Survivor,” and was the co-lead in Jason Bateman‘s “Bad Words,” proving an effortlessly funny highlight of a middling film, and elevating the ‘nerdy kid who learns to swear’ archetype. He had a small role in this summer’s “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” as the younger version of Manish Dayal‘s lead character, but his biggest gig so far is still to come. Andy Serkis just picked him to play Mowgli in “The Jungle Book: Origins,” his gritty mo-cap version of Rudyard Kipling‘s classic tale, in which he’ll be the only human on screen opposite a group of CGI animals played by big names like Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett. That’s a hell of a compliment, and we’re sure, based on what we’ve seen so far, that Chand is more than up to it.
As testosterone-y as “True Detective” was, the show did allow a few
women to make an impression. Michelle Monaghan, obviously, and Alexandra
Daddario in the early episodes, but there was one actress who delivered
a subtle and impressive turn later on, who also turned out to be someone
we’d already seen and been taken with in very different roles. That’s
Erin Moriarty, who played the older, troubled version of Woody
Harrelson‘s daughter Audrey on the acclaimed HBO drama. The New
York-born actress made her debut in long-running soap “One Life
To Live” back in 2010, before landing a notable part as Vince Vaughn‘s
daughter in comedy flop “The Watch.” She then appeared alongside Radha
Mitchell in short-lived drama “Red Widow,” but really made her name as
Kelly in Jordan Vogt-Roberts killer indie-com “Kings Of Summer.” It’s a
tricky part, one that could feel token, but Moriarty did an excellent
job at making her a fully-dimensional human being, even among the boys.
“True Detective” followed earlier this year—it’s a brief performance,
but a burning one that demonstrates her dramatic range. And she’s got
several high-profile projects coming next year too: thriller
“Crawlspace,” a turn opposite Viggo Mortensen in indie drama “Captain
Fantastic,” and the co-lead with Mel Gibson in actioner “Blood Father.”
For the last five or six years, one of the very best performances in TV
has come from an actress who wasn’t even in high school yet. From the
very first, Kiernan Shipka impressed as Sally, the daughter of Jon Hamm‘s
Don and January Jones‘ Betty, in the justifiably acclaimed “Mad Men,”
but she’s become increasingly central to the series,
with a performance that’s become more and more mature and brilliant as
time’s gone on. With acting credits stretching back to when she was
seven, the now 14-year-old Chicago native has plenty else on her resume,
including small parts in Will Ferrell comedy “Land Of The Lost,” and a
regular voiceover on acclaimed animated series “The Legend Of Korra,”
though her most notable screen credit to date was as Dakota Fanning‘s
sister in Sundance drama “Very Good Girls.” But with “Mad Men” now
wrapped forever, she’s lining up further work, winning acclaim for TV
movie “Flowers In The Attic,” as well as landig the co-lead alongside Emma
Roberts in horror flick “February.” She’s also shown a healthy sense of
humor about herself too, with web series “Child Star Psychologist,” and
a cameo as herself in “Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23.” The
sky’s pretty much the limit for this one.
At just 17, Tony Revolori landed the role of a lifetime (over his
brother Mario, who was the other finalist for the part) as Zero
Moustafa, the Indian immigrant lobby boy whose relationship with M.
Gustav (Ralph Fiennes) provides Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
with so much of its huge, nostalgic heart. The American actor is
himself actually of Guatemalan descent, but was so convincingly
subcontinental that his very next project is a still-in-production Hindi
film, “Umrika,” in which he stars opposite “Life of Pi”’s Suraj Sharma.
Indeed there is a similarity between Sharma and Revolori. Both were cast
as virtual unknowns to be the centerpieces of huge, critically acclaimed
movies for auteur directors, yet both face a Hollywood landscape in
which leading roles for non-white actors are rare indeed (aside from
“Umrika,” Sharma’s post-‘Pi’ roles have been a supporting slot in “Million Dollar Arm” and a recurring role in season 4 of “Homeland.”)
But Revolori’s characterful, droll but goodhearted turn in ‘Grand
Budapest’ has to have turned some heads—it’s not just any actor who can
be cast opposite Ralph Fiennes, himself turning in one of the most
eyecatchingly atypical performances of his career, and hold his own, to
the point of actually stealing quite a few scenes. And Revolori has one
other ace up his sleeve, experience. Having picked up TV credits on and
off (in the likes of “Entourage,” “Shameless” and “My Name is Earl”)
for a decade prior to his big break—yes, since he was eight—he’s
already well aware of the swings and roundabouts of this fickle
industry. We have to believe that his work ethic (straight from the
30+take ethos of Anderson to learning a new language for his next film),
impish charisma and versatility will see him buck the odds, or at least
that a promising future in indie cinema beckons, until such time as
Marvel needs a Guatemalan-American superhero.
Among the stellar performances given by pretty much everyone in David Cronenberg‘s “Maps To The Stars“—Julianne Moore‘s Cannes Best Actress-winning turn, typically impeccable work from Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack on the comeback trail, the enjoyably frosty Olivia Williams—there’s one actor who doesn’t have nearly the profile of his co-stars, and yet proves to be the most memorable one in the film. That actor is teenage British Columbia native Evan Bird. He’s been acting since the age of eight, but first entered the mainstream a few years back with small roles in TV shows “Caprica,” “Psych” and “Fringe.” Following that, he had a more regular, prominent role as Tom, the sister of murder victim Rosie Larsen, on AMC’s divisive murder mystery “The Killing.” That put him on the map, along with a small role in Jennifer Lynch‘s horror film “Chained,” but it’s “Maps To The Stars,” in which he plays Benjie, the son of Cusack and Williams’ characters, and brother to Wasikowska’s, that really shows off his talents. Benjie is a young movie star whose fondness for drugs, binge-drinking and the like makes Justin Bieber look like Jonathan Lipnicki, and Bird gives a ferociously nasty performance while, almost unfathomably, making you care for, or at least empathize with, the little shit. Look for him to land a lot more work off the back of it.
It feels (happily) like Kaitlyn Dever has been virtually
omnipresent in the last few years, so imagine how much work the
17-year-old actress will be able to get done once she doesn’t have to go
to school and star in a TV series that you’ve never seen (Tim Allen vehicle “Last Man Standing“). Dever’s been acting since she was a child, making her debut aged 13 in “An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong” in 2009, also cropping up in an episode of “Modern Family” the same year. She also then appeard in comedy “Bad Teacher,” “J. Edgar,” an episode of “Party Down” and HBO movie “Cinema Verite,”
before landing the role that made her name, precocious Loretta
McCready, who became a key pawn in the classic second season of FX‘s Elmore Leonard adaptation “Justified.” Winning ecstatic reviews for her excellent turn helped her land the job on “Last Man Standing,” but she also soon was picking up bigger film roles. She played Shailene Woodley‘s best friend in “The Spectacular Now,” and even among the outstanding cast of indie drama “Short Term 12,”
she stood out as troubled new girl Jayden, a fiery performance with
winning flecks of vulnerability that firmly placed her on just about
everybody’s radars. More recently, she made a welcome return to
“Justified” (sparking up an otherwise underwhelming fifth season). Coming up, she backing up Keira Knightley and Chloe Moretz in Lynn Shelton‘s “Laggies,” and has a key role in Jason Reitman‘s TIFF-bound “Men, Women & Children.” Further off, she’s also playing Tye Sheridan‘s girlfriend in indie “Grass Stains,” and joined Catherine Keener, Maya Rudolph, Anton Yelchin and Riley Keough for “The Greens Are Gone.”
Hopefully she’ll get out of that “Last Man Standing” contract soon
enough and bigger and better things will come her way.
The benefit of being at the start of your career is that you can shrug
off something terrible and go to even greater things. The older cast
members of semi-intentional kitsch classic “Sharknado” might struggle to
escape the film’s shadow, but Audrey Peeples (who played the teenage
daughter of Ian Ziering‘s lead character) has only gone on to bigger and
better things since the film debuted last year. The 20-year-old Florida
native (who’s deferred a place at Harvard to focus on her acting
career) began her career with straight-to-video comedy sequel “Ace
Ventura Jr,” before going on to TV appearances in “Drop Dead Diva,”
“Charlie’s Angels,” “Burn Notice” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” But it was
“Sharknado,” perversely, that seemed to kick-start her career. She then played Nicolas Cage‘s daughter in actioner “Rage,” and has appeared in country-music drama “Nashville in a
recurring role since last year. But the biggest deal is yet to come, as Peeples won out
in a huge casting hunt to play the lead role in Jon M. Chu‘s live-action
adaptation of musical cartoon “Jem And The Holograms.” If the attention
that the low-budget film has already attracted is anything to go by,
Peeples could well be a massive star by this time next year, once
Universal opens the movie.
Appearing on the cover of the New York Times Magazine would mark a
career high for many. Liana Liberato did it at the start of her career,
and is likely to only keep on rising from there. The now-19-year-old
featured in the Grey Lady as part of a large feature on acting schools
for child stars, having made her screen debut in “Cold Case” the same
year. Since then, she’s popped up in “Sons Of Anarchy” and in a
memorable episode of “House,” but really kicked off her career with an excellent performance in David Schwimmer‘s “Trust,” in which she
played the daughter of Clive Owen and Catherine Keener‘s characters,
who’s targeted by a sex offender. An underrated and raw drama, it
features some astonishing work from Liberato, and it’s surprising that
it’s taken this long for her to catch on. That said, she’s been steadily
working. She played Nicolas Cage‘s daughter in “Trespass,” cropped up
in Josh Boone‘s drama “Stuck In Love” and played the lead in
little-seen horror “Haunt.” The second half of 2014 looks to be the
making of her, though, as she played Chloe Moretz‘s best friend in weepie
“If I Stay,” and will shortly be seen as the younger version of Michelle
Monaghan‘s character in Nicholas Sparks adaptation “The Best Of Me.”
Given that Sparks movies have helped to launch the careers of people
like Rachel McAdams and Taylor Schilling, that alone seems to be reason
to put your money on her success.
The word “revelation” is tossed around fairly liberally, but expect to be seeing it bandied about once again when Xavier Dolan’s terrific “Mommy” gets its U.S. release (and with Roadside Attractions recently picking it up, that should hopefully happen sooner rather than later). One of our very favorite Cannes films this year (our Cannes review describes it as “fucked up, profane and amazingly alive”), lead Antione-Olivier Pilon is absolutely riveting as the troubled, volatile, unpredictable Steve, who while tied with bonds of ferocious affection to his mother (Anne Dorval) also veers erratically from manic highs to violent, explosive lows. It’s hard to imagine that the film could have succeeded without a performance this electrifying and committed (and this perfectly in sync with Dolan’s own hyperactive sensibilities), but Pilon, who’s been a fixture on the Canadian TV and movie scene for a couple of years now, also taking a small role in Dolan’s “Laurence Anyways,” feels like he completely embodies the difficult, contradictory character. And it’s not just his acting chops that are in his favor, the Quebecois Pilon is immensely photogenic, with eyes of the kind of ridiculous blue we haven’t seen since Peter O’Toole’s heyday. Still, we hope something a little more interesting than teen heartthrob status develops for him, because the way he holds his own against (or rather, in concert with) two of the other greatest performances of the year from Dorval and Dolan regular Suzanne Clement, is something to behold and we’d hate to see him trade in that edge of ambivalence and unpredictability for something blander. For now you’re going to have to take our word for how impressive his performance is, but if it makes just one more person curious to seek out “Mommy” on the big screen, as soon as you can, his inclusion here will have been worth it.
The passage from kids’ show star to movies was once a difficult one, but in recent years people like Shia LaBoeuf (at least until he went mental) and Brie Larson have given it a new brush of respectability. Nat Wolff is looking like a pretty good bet to join them. The son of jazz musician Michael Wolff and “Thirtysomething” actress Polly Draper, Wolff was twelve when he co-starred with his brother Alex in the hit Nickelodeon series “The Naked Brothers Band,” a sort of ‘Spinal Tap‘ for the pre-teen set created by Draper. Wolff (who also doubles as a musician, co-writing a number of hit songs from the soundtrack) was an immediate standout, and when the show ended after three seasons, he started to pick up movie roles. He co-starred with Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener and Elizabeth Olsen in “Peace, Love & Misunderstanding,” and with Greg Kinnear and Lily Collins in Josh Boone‘s “Stuck In Love,” but he really started to stand out last year. First, he stole the show from Tina Fey and Paul Rudd as a child prodigy in “Admission,” then gave a scorching performance as a sort of self-destructive Ferris Bueller type in Gia Coppola‘s “Palo Alto.” This year he had his biggest movie hit to date, as blind Isaac in “The Fault In Our Stars,” reuniting him with director Boone. The less said about the recent “Behaving Badly,” co-starring Selena Gomez (and currently at a bruising 0% at Rotten Tomatoes) the better, but there’s much more promising stuff on the way. He’s co-starring with Anne Hathaway in “The Intern,” and next summer will lead “Paper Towns,” adapted from the novel by “Fault In Our Stars” author John Green. In the meantime, he’s still working with his brother musically, in a duo aptly and simply named Nat & Alex Wolff. And all before his twentieth birthday.
Most young actors are close to overnight successes, they win out in a casting, they break out in some charming role, and are soon in demand, even if they haven’t finished school yet. But despite only being seventeen, Dylan Minnette is already an industry veteran, with almost ten years of acting experience, experience that looks set to pay off in the very near future. Minnette made his debut in 2005 with appearances on “Drake & Josh” and as the young Charlie Sheen in “Two And A Half Men,” and has since become a TV regular, with recurring gigs on “Prison Break” and “Lost,” regular appearances on Holly Hunter show “Saving Grace,” and a particularly memorable performance on short-lived Jason Isaacs show “Awake” (more recently, he popped up in “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D” and as the president’s son on “Scandal“). But it’s on the big-screen where he’s really impressed us, starting with a brief, but memorably textured turn as the ill-fated bully in Matt Reeves‘ “Let Me In.” Since then, he also proved quietly impressive as Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello‘s son in “Prisoners” (and cropped up in “Labor Day” too). Minnette keeps busy playing in a modestly successful band called The Narwhals, but bigger stuff is sure to come, first with a supporting turn in family comedy “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” then, more crucially, as the lead in the unexpectedly-promising-looking family horror-comedy “Goosebumps.” Trust us, this kid’s going places.
“The Giver” boasts both Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep (and Taylor Swift,
let’s not forget) among the cast, and is based on a hugely popular book. But the book came out in 1993, so those who were young
adults back then are in their thirties now, and subsequent generations
have had a glut of shiny newer properties to take the gloss off. So, influential as the book may be, it seems overfamiliar as a movie. It didn’t fare well last month, but expect to be seeing a lot more of female romantic lead
Odeya Rush despite poor numbers. The Israeli-born actress’s most high-profile role prior to
now came in 2012 cloying, treacly “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,”
in which she played the titular magical boy’s crush. But we can’t blame
her for that film, any more than we can really credit her with too much
of the success of Jim Mickle’s cannibal horror “We Are What We Are,”
in which she plays the central girls’ ancestor in old-timey
flashback—she’s memorably haunting, but it’s a tiny sliver of a role.
However, not only has she a substantial part in “The Giver,” she also landed a lead role opposite Jack Black in the adaptation of “Goosebumps,”
which will be aiming to conquer the family Summer film niche in 2015.
It doesn’t hurt as well that the 17 year-old Rush is strikingly gorgeous
to look at and we can see her managing the kid-movie actress-to-starlet
transition very smoothly. Plus, she won kudos from us by namechecking Julie Delpy, Kimberly Peirce and Sofia Coppola as the directors she’d most like to work with next during a recent Twitter chat.
Given how few of our judging criteria for this list 18-year-old Karidja
Toure meets—there’s relatively little buzz around her so far, her 2014
film is French-language and hasn’t even been released in its native
France yet, she has exactly one credit to her name so far—it’s a mark
of just how highly she’s scored on the one category she does meet that she’s
here. But based on “who’s impressed us” the most, Toure scores off the
charts, as the unknown, previously non-professional actress chosen to
play the lead in Celine Sciamma’s Cannes hit “Girlhood.” Not a companion piece to Richard Linklater’s all-conquering “Boyhood,”
Sciamma’s film, whose native title actually translates closer to “Girl
Gang” (“Bande des Filles”) details the coming of age pains of a young
black girl living in the suburbs of Paris as she negotiates her way
through rival girl and boy gangs, romantic entanglements, criminality,
racism and problems at home. Toure is in every single scene, and has a
very tricky and subtle job to do as her character, Marieme, makes
choices that could easily alienate the audience, yet she never loses our
sympathy, and we never stop rooting for the real girl we believe is
inside. France seems to have a glut of preternaturally talented young
female actresses, and Toure entirely follows in the tradition of Lea Seydoux, Adele Exarchopolous,
et al in being absolutely stunning but also astonishingly naturalist on
screen, and uncompromising in portraying her character’s darker sides.
Indeed, who’s to say she wouldn’t have picked up more heat had Sciamma’s
“Girlhood” played in competition, where it easily belonged in terms of
quality, rather than the Director’s Fortnight? Anyway, Strand has
picked up the film for U.S. release, but with the French date not till
October it’s possible that this will be a 2015 release stateside. Which
means you all have a treat in store, but perhaps Toure has a few more
months to wait before her phone starts to ring in earnest.
When we came to put this list together, we initially didn’t consider Kodi Smit-McPhee. We figured that he’s been around for a while, and that we’d probably covered him in a previous iteration of the On The Rise features. But in fact, we never did, and given that the young Australian is still only eighteen, we’d be remiss in not including him here. The Adelaide-born actor made his debut in impressive fashion alongside Eric Bana in Richard Roxburgh‘s “Romulus My Father” back in 2007, which brought him to the attention of U.S. casting directors working on John Hillcoat‘s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy‘s “The Road.” Alongside Viggo Mortensen, Smit-McPhee carried the movie on his shoulders, and it’s a remarkably affecting performance, without any child-star affectations or mannerisms. He repeated the trick the following year in Matt Reeves‘ excellent “Let Me In,” appearing in Australian comedy-drama “Matching Jack” in the same year, and again proving a standout. 2012 brought a terrific vocal turn as the lead in “ParaNorman,” but it’s 2014 in which he’s seemed to be inescapable. He was very good in indie Bildungsroman “A Birder’s Guide To Everything,” provided able back-up in mega-hit “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes,” played Robin Wright‘s son in “The Congress,” and, at Sundance, again impressed in post-apocalyptic drama “Young Ones.” Next up, he has the lead with Michael Fassbender in another cowboy picture, “Slow West,” and has also returned home to star in World War I miniseries “Gallipoli,” produced to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle of the title.
Most savvy movie watchers are aware of Tye Sheridan. The 17-year-old actor was the lead in “The Tree Of Life,” “Joe” and “Mud,” and has a number of high-profile gigs on the way that look to be make him even more well known. But his co-star in “Mud,” Jacob Lofland, who played Neckbone in the film, is catching up to Sheridan with rapid speed. He was just as impressive as his co-star (or indeed, much older actors like Matthew McConaughey or Sam Shepard) in Jeff Nichols‘ film, and others swiftly caught on to the Arkansas native (who’s also seventeen). At Sundance, he cropped up as the ostensible lead in “Little Accidents,” a bleak, murky morality drama co-starring Elizabeth Banks, Josh Lucas and Chloe Sevigny. The film’s a bit of a mess, but despite featuring in a cast full of infinitely more experienced stars, Lofland’s the clear highlight, giving a blazing, hugely powerful performance that goes some way towards redeeming the movie. Almost immediately afterwards, he joined the cast of the fifth season of “Justified,” as the youngest member of the Miami crime family led by Michael Rapaport and Alicia Witt, the season’s principle adversaries. Again, despite the show entering a rare lull, Lofland proved a real highlight giving nuance, vulnerability and strength to his young character. Next up is History Channel miniseries “Texas Rising,” about the formation of the Texas Rangers, alongside the likes of Brendan Fraser, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Ray Liotta, Thomas Jane, Bill Paxton and Crispin Glover, but we’re sure more movies gigs will be along very shortly.
Given that he helped to launch the careers of Ellen Page, Olivia Thirlby and Anna Kendrick, one should probably pay attention when Jason Reitman discovers a new actor. And given that she appeared in both his last film, “Labor Day,” and his upcoming “Men Women & Children,” we should probably be paying special attention to 17-year-old Elena Kampouris. The Bridgewater, New Jersey resident (whose father is Greek, and mother is French-American) first appeared in an episode of “Gossip Girl,” before a leading role in Nickelodeon movie “Jinxed.” She had a tiny role in “Labor Day,” but has been bumped up alongside the likes of list-mates Ansel Elgort and Kaitlyn Dever to a major part in “Men Women & Children,” while also re-teaming with that film’s star Adam Sandler in Tom McCarthy‘s “The Cobbler,” which also screens at Toronto this coming week. In the near-future, she’s also appearing as a regular in NBC‘s mid-season conspiracy thriller “Odyssey,” but is sure to have the movies knocking on her door if Reitman’s casting instincts live up to his previous track record.
Already boasting an intimidatingly long filmography for one so young (and it’s either that or her passing similarity to that over-the-hill ancient Chloe Grace Moretz that has us constantly feeling like we’ve just seen her in something) Joey King’s had a pretty stellar run of late. Like everyone else of her generation (she’s just turned 15) she started out with a couple of episodes of “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and more TV stuff followed—”Entourage” “Jericho,” “Medium,” the obligatory minimum two eps of “CSI” and a couple of “Ghost Whisperer”s. Then came 2010/11, in which King’s movie CV which to that point included “Quarantine” and voiceovers in “Horton Hears a Who” and “Ice Age 3,” expanded exponentially, starting with her landing the role of Ramona opposite wrinkly pensioner Selena Gomez in “Ramona and Beezus.” Since then she’s been omnipresent—”Battle Los Angeles” was a miss, but “Crazy Stupid Love” a hit, then shortlived sitcom “Bent” in which she played Amanda Peet’s daughter was, well, short-lived, which is probably a good thing for her since it freed her up to take small roles in “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Oz the Great and Powerful.” But after all that prolonged throat-clearing, 2013 came along and she had two substantial roles in two big films: sleeper hit “The Conjuring” and big-budget flop “White House Down,” as Channing Tatum’s imperiled but resourceful daughter who gets the unforgettably ludicrous/amazing scene in which she saves the day by waving a Presidential flag on the front lawn of the White House. The “White House Down” apologists among us can stand down, however, as King has subsequently proven her mettle outside the silly bombast of Emmerich’s film, first by being one of the least insufferable parts of Zach Braff’s “Wish You Were Here” (see also Pierce Gagnon). But most importantly, her terrific turn in the “Fargo” TV series as Colin Hanks’ wise, precocious, but admirably un-cutesy daughter Greta has landed her this spot—we’ll particularly miss her as season 2 rolls around sans original cast. Still, plenty of opportunity to catch King in other stuff coming up. She’s reteaming with ‘Oz’ star James Franco for his directorial stab at Faulkner “The Sound and the Fury” which will play Venice soon, and is reuniting with Emmerich for “Stonewall,” among other future projects, so expect her ubiquity to continue, just with a higher profile, into 2015 and beyond.
With the best will in the world, we just can’t keep up with every movie and TV show aimed at teens that exists in the world, and we’re going to have to admit that “Pretty Little Liars,” the extremely successful ABC Family mystery/drama/soap series that was just renewed for seasons six and seven, is one that has fallen through the cracks for us. In fact, until recently those of us who knew it at all knew it as the weekly home of Ashley Benson, one of the “Spring Breakers” girls. However, stuffy old-person blog The Playlist has finally copped to presence of another talent there in the form of Sasha Pieterse (who plays the murdered—or is she—Alison Di Laurentis on the show), who landed the plum role as runaway Japonica Fenway in our most anticipated film of 2014, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” and was soon after cast in Werner Herzog’s adaptation of “Vernon God Little.” These two roles alone, for two of our favorite directors, prompted us to do our homework a bit on Pieterse, who previously we’d only really recognized from the the final season of “Heroes” in which she had a recurring role (and in its attendant webisodes) as a sweet-faced firestarter mutant. Has it made us into diehard “Pretty Little Liars” fans? Erm, nope, but we can see that Pieterse has range outside of the highly strung hormonal register of that show, and in it she at least gets to have some fun as a manipulative schemer whose innocent exterior conceals something rather darker beneath. But in fact Pieterse’s been on the scene since 2002 when she played one of the kids on doomed single-season sitcom “Family Affair,” which odd-coupled Gary Cole and Tim Curry as a Manhattan bachelor and his English butler (amazing), and then went on to pick up odd guest spots on the “Medium,” “House,”“CSI” and “Without a Trace” in the meantime. So it’s not like she hasn’t done her time in the trenches to earn this sudden crossover onto the big screen. And it’s not like PTA has a poor track record with casting.
Honorable Mentions: So those are the twenty actors, longer shots to odd-on favorites, that we’ve chosen to highlight in depth, but of course there are many more we could have mentioned. We never called out Adele Exarchopolous, who is still just 20, for instance, but it feels like she’s well and truly ‘risen’ by now.
Elsewhere there are a lot of juvenile performers that we called out in December 2013 in our Best Child Performances of the Year piece who we’re hoping to see a lot more of, like Onata Aprile, and Conner Chapman. Opinion was divided over Ty Simkins from “Iron Man 3” and “Insidious,” but there’s no doubting that he’ll be big with “Jurassic World” soon to come. We mention Nat Wolff above, but his “Palo Alto” co-star Jack Kilmer also proved he has the talent, as well as the famous name (he’s the son of Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley) to see him go far, while Olivia Cooke has had a huge 2014 with “The Quiet Ones,” “The Signal,” and TV’s “Bates Motel” all featuring her, and one more to come with October’s “Ouijia.” Kaitlyn Dever flies the flag for the “Short Term 12” cast, though anyone who’s familiar with us will know we loved that film so much that we’d happily have included any number of its under-20 cast, perhaps especially Kevin Hernandez, who has a role in ill-fated sitcom “Surviving Jack” and upcoming comedy “Sex Ed” on his 2014 slate. Like Kiernan Shipka, Holly Taylor’s continually turning in great work as a TV daughter in “The Americans” And if “Hellion” didn’t work for us overall, that’s no reflection of the quality and potential of lead Josh Wiggins.
As we mentioned up top, the “Game of Thrones” cast has thrown up such a raft of new talent in this age bracket—Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead-Wright to name a few—that we nearly fill a whole new list just with them, but as it is it felt a little after-the-fact to include them here when they’ve been on our TVs for three years now. And we loved Marcanthonee Reis as the little boy whose taking sparks the whole rebellion in “Snowpiercer,” and regret not finding room for terrifyingly accomplished polyglot hyphenate Tavi Gevinson on the main list. Although she’s really only had one big screen role to date, she really impressed us in Nicole Holocener’s “Enough Said,” and is by all accounts tearing up the stage alongside Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin in Kenneth Lonergan’s “This is Our Youth.” We have no doubt that one day the 18-year-old fashion blogger/writer/magazine editor/actress and singer will own us all. And finally, a bit of a question mark hovers over the future of Ellar Coltrane, star of undoubtedly the most talked about indie of the year in “Boyhood.” Having watched him grow up onscreen will we really be able to buy him in other roles in future? Does he even want to pursue a career as an actor—a couple of other acting credits along the way suggest he might, but he also confessed in an interview to being “terrified” to work on another project now that “Boyhood” is done, so, like him, we’ll take a wait and see approach there.