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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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.