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15 Talented Under-30 Actors You Should Keep An Eye On

01 June 2015 | Features, People Lists | by Sebastiano Perulli

talented young actors

This is a list of actors to watch in the coming years; actors who have worked with noted directors. They will be referenced in relation to not only well-known movies but also indie films.

The following list proposes a template by which to judge these promising young actors, focusing on acting skill and both on past experiences and future projects. Obviously the intent is not to outline a biography of the actors, but to offer some interesting insights into understanding their growth within the world of cinema.

From this list emerges a rather curious fact: it is easier to identify promising young actresses in this group than actors whereas normally it’s the opposite.

At the moment there seem to be few emerging actors since the 1990s who are able to repeat the route taken by Leonardo Di Caprio, who went from promising young star to respected actor. Of course Di Caprio has talent, but no doubt he made the right choices in working with great directors and in great movies.

On the female side, actresses like Emma Stone, Rooney Mara, Jennifer Lawrence promise to become leading players on the Hollywood scene in the coming years.

 

15. Jamie Bell

Jamie Bell

This young British actor made himself known to the general public in 2000, when he excited attention in his debut film Billy Elliot. The young actor could identify with the story since as a child he attended dance school.

This interpretation earned him, at age 14, a large number of awards including a BAFTA, and inserted him into the landscape of Hollywood as a rising star.

In subsequent years, Jamie participated in several roles in films of some success. He had the opportunity to work with notable directors like Clint Eastwood in Flags of Our Father and Steven Spielberg in The Adventures of Tintin. Focusing on the last few years, Jamie Bell seems to have raised the bar by providing interpretations that are very convincing and mature.

In 2013 he appeared in Nymphomaniac by Lars Von Trier, in a small but absolutely believable role which demonstrated his versatility as an actor. That same year he starred in the film Snowpiercer by the Korean director Bong Joon-ho, which is considered one of the most discussed films of the year.

 

14. Lea Seydoux

Lea Seydoux

Growing up in the film industry, Lea Seydoux became known to the French public for La Belle Personne, a critically acclaimed film of 2008. With a reputation based on her pure beauty, she obtained small roles in films like Inglorious Basterds and Robin Hood. Having worked with icons like Tarantino and Scott would be a great help in future years.

After a small but significant role in the film Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen, she reached a new high as an actress in Blue Is The Warmest Colour. This performance offered almost all the challenges that an actress must meet. Her charm is neutralized by a masculine look, making her acting skill stand out even more. The highlight is the lengthy progression of scenes concerning explicit sex inserted by director Abdellatif Kechiche, who required considerable openness between the two lead actresses.

 

13. Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick has been passionate about acting in the theater since the age of 10. It was in those years in which she honed her talents for both comedy and drama.

Her debut film is the comedy-drama, Up in the Air, by Jason Reitman. In the role of the newly-hired Natalie, Anna Kendrick offered a performance delineating a character who is nervous, sometimes neurotic but very often sensitive and naive. She discovers the difficulties of the work of dismissing people by having it get under her skin. For this role she was Oscar nominated at age 24.

In the following years Anna took roles in interesting independent movies such as 50/50. More recently she has interpreted Cinderella in the successful movie Into The Woods.

 

12. Shia LaBeouf

Nymphomaniac

Idolized by younger audiences, often scorned by critics, considered one of the emerging stars by major directors like Spielberg, Shia LaBeouf is an interesting actor.

He emerged in the film world in 2005 and 2006, taking part in films such as Constantine and A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints. Following juvenile parts in the Transformers saga and Indiana Jones he looked to become typecast. He then took part in 2010 in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps by Oliver Stone, where he showed a profound maturation in the role of a broker on the Street.

A further step forward was his performance in The Company You Keep, under the able guidance of director Robert Redford. The role of the climber ready to do anything to achieve success and wealth fits him perfectly. Another step forward was his role in the film Nymphomaniac, from Lars Von Trier, in which the actor is exceptional in interpreting Jerome in both parts of film.

 

11. Sarah Gadon

Sarah Gadon

Canadian-born as was her mentor, David Cronenberg, Gadon had a long apprenticeship dating from her debut on the big screen in 2011 in A Dangerous Method. Despite the difficulties of being in a costume film and having to face an incredible cast composed of Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley, the young Sarah Gadon impresses with her personality and charisma, as well as her undeniable beauty.

Even more interesting, however, is her role in Cosmopolis, where she played the girlfriend of Robert Pattinson illustrating a relationship that was strange, almost magical and timeless. In her brief appearance in the film she proved to be a character who lives in the clouds, immersed in her own world, surrounded by a mysterious light.

In some ways this is much like her role in Maps To The Stars, where she portrayed the ghost, or rather the memory, of the aged actress Clarice Taggart. All of this makes her an actress to watch.

 

10. Anton Yelchin

Terminator Salvation

Born in Leningrad before moving to the US, Anton Yelchin began his acting career at a young age before his breakthrough role in the movie Along Came A Spider.

The film that made him known to the general public was Heart in Atlantis. He showed all his potential, starring alongside Anthony Hopkins in an interesting and multifaceted role which earned him critical acclaim, and a Young Artists Award in 2001.

Of his experiences in the following years, he had a small but significant role in the movie Alpha Dog by Nick Cassavettes. In many of his later films, Yelchin is confined to young boy roles, and only in recent years has he reached a certain maturity as an actor.

Worth a mention is his role in the film Terminator Salvation, one of the most interesting films of its genre from recent years, where the actor shows great versatility and excellent stage presence.

 

9. Emma Watson

Emma Watson

Acting in one of cinema’s most famous sagas has advantages and disadvantages, not least of which is the difficulty of shaking off a role such as Hermione Granger.

Of the trio of young leads the Harry Potter saga (along with Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe), Emma Watson is the one that has been most active in recent years, taking roles in such films as The Perks of Being A Wallflower and Bling Ring.

In the first film she played the part of Sam, a very peculiar and sensitive girl. Watson is very good at capturing nuances of character which did not emerge in the Harry Potter films. In Bling Ring she plays a very different character, a young criminal involved in a scheme that is larger than herself.

In 2014 she took part in the epic film Noah from Darren Aronofsky. However, she seems to be more at ease in independent films.

 

 

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  • Shia LaBeouf? That guy is a fucking asshole who has only done a few good performances yet is nowhere in the league as the rest of these individuals while Jennifer Lawrence is already becoming an overrated little bitch.

    • Nancy Hall

      You sound like kind of an insecure douchebag.

      • And yet, you defend some smug wannabe actor who recently beat up his own girlfriend?

        • He didn’t “beat [her] up”. Get your facts straight… He tried to leave the situation multiple times and she forced him to stay. He was well aware of his anger and his impulsiveness, so he wanted to leave. I am not saying hurting her was okay but the world is not black and white so you can’t say it is only his fault.

          • Yeah but he still comes across like a dick as he’s also quite full of himself. Plus, he didn’t try to start a fight with someone only to get his ass kicked?

  • marcel

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt is too old for this shit :))))))

  • Django

    Great list. But there are more talented actors out there waiting to be given the right role. What about Logan Lerman or Emma Roberts?

    • Neel Dutta

      Emma Roberts is truly amazing. Loved her in Adult World as an aspiring writer opposite John Cusack.

    • Ahmed

      Logan Lerman will show just give him time, his already passed Shia the douche for sure.

  • Eric Newman

    Erza Miller

    • Javiera

      Thank you !

    • He scares me so much! When I see him I see Kevin!

  • John W. Thackery

    “On the female side, actresses like Emma Stone, Rooney Mara and Jennifer Lawrence promise to become leading players on the Hollywood scene in the coming years.”

    –I’ll make sure to keep my eye on them, I promise! And oh, you forgot to mention up-and-comers Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant and Ernest Borgnine! Oh wait, they’ve been famous for many, many years and they’re dead!! In actuality, all 3 of them are probably laughing from the pits of Hell at this joke of a list! The general public have known about these “up-and-comers” for quite some time now, and several of them already have Oscar nominations! How about actually informing the public about talented young actors that are not yet household names? Maisie Williams, Brighton Sharbino, Mackenzie Foy, Kara Hayward, Michael B. Jordan, Dane DeHaan, Eve Hewson, Emily Kinney?? Seriously WTF

  • marcel

    Some actors were young when they performed some of their greatest roles. One of them I will always remember is
    Laurien Van den Broeck and the movie is Moonlight. Made in 2002.good luck watching it!

  • Neel Dutta

    The list is good not great. I guess the writer has a disliking for the British and Irish talents. How could anyone make this particular list without including that absolute gem of a talent called Carey Mulligan. She has already generated Oscar buzz for the Far from the Madding Crowd. One of the truly great younger actresses working on screen currently….much better than Jennifer Lawrence or Emma Stone.

    • Nancy Hall

      Also for the black and Hispanic talents. It’s a very whitebread list. I agree that Cary Mulligan is great, but she is not under 30. She had just turned 30 when this list was posted.

  • John W. Thackery

    “On the female side, actresses like Emma Stone, Rooney Mara and Jennifer Lawrence promise to become leading players on the Hollywood scene in the coming years.”

    –I’ll make sure to keep my eye on them, I promise! And oh, you forgot to mention up-and-comers Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant and Ernest Borgnine! Oh wait, they’ve been famous for many, many years and they’re dead!! In actuality, all 3 of them are probably laughing from the pits of Hell at this joke of a list! The general public have known about these actors for quite some time now, and several of them already have Oscar nominations! How about actually informing the public about young talented newcomers that are not yet household names? Maisie Williams, Brighton Sharbino, Mackenzie Foy, Kara Hayward, Michael B. Jordan, Dane DeHaan, Eve Hewson, Emily Kinney?? Seriously WT-actual-F

  • lisasheran

    Where’s Adèle Exarchopoulos? She has a Palme d’Or for her lead role in La Vie d’Adèle (Blue is the warmest color). When she won she had only 19.

  • lisasheran

    Where’s Adèle Exarchopoulos? She has a Palme d’Or for her lead role in La Vie d’Adèle (Blue is the warmest color). When she won she had only 18.

    • Afrikoka

      She hasn’t really proven anything though. when you see her other movies it’s easy to doubt on her talent. The movie seems to be named Adele’s life for a reason.

  • Douglas Taylor

    Paul Dano is not under 30.

  • Aaron T. Starks

    Shouldn’t this be titled “15 Talented White Under-30 Actors You Should Keep An Eye On”.

    What an incredibly predictable and narrow-minded list.

  • JohnB

    Not sure why Rooney Mara is at the top of this list, she’s a decent actress but you listed better ones before her. Also, I’d Add Chloe Grace Moretz to this list.

  • Bintang Lestada

    Easy Girl? Really? Where are Emma Roberts, Michael B. Jordan, or Gugu Mbatha-Raw? She starred in Belle when she was 29

    • Afrikoka

      Gugu Mbatha-Raw isn’t under 30 anymore though.

  • Ahmed

    As for the women it’s easier than the men, the ones who’s careers are still getting better:
    Emma Stone
    Rooney Mara
    Lea Seydoux
    Emma Watson
    Jennifer Lawrence (already made it but I don’t think she’ll hold up much longer).

    Others I would consider but have a long way to go: Shailene Woodley, Adèle Exarchopoulos,

    As for the men, to become another DiCaprio or Bale is something we won’t see in a long time but Shea LaBeouf is clearly not one of them. Most men start to show prominence in their 30’s or after.

    • Nancy Hall

      You don’t think Jennifer Lawrence is going to hold up much longer? She doesn’t seem to be falling down the rabbit hole of drugs and excessive clubbing, so what do you expect to happen to her?

  • lelya troncoso

    Elle Fanning

  • Tex Arcane

    I’d add Saoirse Ronan the list.

  • Indira Iman

    A pretty weak list i think. Where’s Alicia Vikander? Emilia Clarke? Saoirse Ronan? Adele Haenel? Dev Patel? Michael B. Jordan? Nicholas Hoult? Would’ve add Carey Mulligan but she’s 30. Also international cinema such as french, irani has tons of young talents with actual acting capability.

  • Bobby Calloway

    Sarah Gadon is very underrated indeed. More people should see her in A Royal Night Out

  • Gaétan

    I found that the role of Emma Stone ruined Birdman for a bit, it looked all cheap and melodramatic when she showed up, there she proved to be one of the most replaceable actor of the moment.

  • KM

    Robert “I always look like my belly aches” Pattinson? Please… Every generation has the Keanu it deserves…

  • Evan Peters. The dumber American Horror Story gets the more evident his talent becomes. It’s like watching Ryan Gosling in Murder by Numbers or Heath Ledger in The Patriot.

  • Василъ Пановъ

    Emile Hirsch

    • noobatmovies

      already with the 30 but good call

  • Lawrence Thompson

    No Saoirse Ronan!?!? Nominated for Best Actress in “Brooklyn” Saoirse Ronan? Really?

  • this bear is tops blooby

    Emma Stone is so good she can play an Asian chick, lol

  • Guido Von M

    I think Paul Dano should be No.1. He is a great actor!

    • Mattia

      i think he is over 30 actually

      • Guido Von M

        You’re right but as long as he is part of the list i think you should have been No.1

  • Rock Brenner

    Tye Sheridan.

  • Linnea Kari Tess Gulldén

    Maybe she’s not mainstream enough, but Brie Larson should be on the list.

    Also Abigail Breslin, Lily Collins, Sarah Snook. Tatiana Maslany at the limit.

  • Mattia

    i’d add Saorsie Ronan, Dane DeHaan, Ezra Miller and Chloe Grace Moretz

  • Mattia

    Mackanzie Adams