10 Potential Breakout Actors Of The Fall Film Season

Features
by Oliver Lyttelton
September 11, 2012 12:05 PM
6 Comments
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Jesse Plemons

Despite their general excellence, the cast of beloved TV drama "Friday Night Lights" is yet to provide a breakout movie star. Hopes were high for Taylor Kitsch, but with two giant flops this year, it's unlikely to happen any time soon. The likes of Kyle Chandler, Minka Kelly and Michael B. Jordan keep getting new movie roles, but none have quite made it there. But could the one to keep an eye on be the show's secret weapon, Jesse Plemons? The 24-year-old Texan played Landry Clarke on the show, starting out as comic relief, but getting better and better material to play with as it went on (bar the much-lamented murder plot in season two). And even as the series was ongoing, he started racking up movie roles; small parts in comedies like "Paul" and "Observe & Report," and a nice little cameo opposite Kevin Spacey in the underseen "Shrink." But things have really been gearing up in 2012 now that "Friday Night Lights" is done. He reunited with Kitsch and the show's creator Peter Berg for "Battleship," proving one of the few bright spots in the film, and has been cropping up in another highly acclaimed TV series of late, playing Todd in season five of "Breaking Bad," a part that looks like it could be increasingly important as the series moves towards the endgame. Perhaps most importantly, the actor's playing Philip Seymour Hoffman's son in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," which is about to hit theaters. It's not a huge part, but Plemons acquits himself very well indeed in his brief screen time. The resemblance to a young Seymour Hoffman is strong, but it should also be noted that Plemons also played the young Matt Damon in "All The Pretty Horses" as a pre-teen, and he seems to land almost exactly between the two actors; not a bad place to be in at all. Aside from more "Breaking Bad," Plemons doesn't seem to have anything lined up immediately, but there could be plenty of knocks on his door before too long.

Kelly Reilly

Some might argue that an actress who's already had many high-profile roles on stage, TV and film, including playing the second female lead in two giant blockbusters, isn't quite qualified for this list. But while Kelly Reilly is a vaguely familiar face, she hardly got to show what she can do as Dr. Watson's love interest Mary in Guy Ritchie's two "Sherlock Holmes" films, whereas word on the grapevine is that she's poised to go on to bigger and better things as a result of her performance in one of the big fall movies. Reilly has credits going all the way back to 1995, when she starred alongside Helen Mirren in an episode of "Prime Suspect," and went on to a number of roles on stage, including playing Elaine in "The Graduate," and working with the great Karel Reisz. Meanwhile, the last decade has seen work steadily on film too, from early performances in "Last Orders" (where she played a young Mirren) and "L'Auberge Espanole" through supporting turns in "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and "Pride & Prejudice," to a lead alongside Michael Fassbender in hoodie horror flick "Eden Lake." It was after the latter that things really took off, however, thanks both to her presence in "Sherlock Holmes" and its sequel, as well as the success of TV show "Above Suspicion," a hugely popular cop show that's been running since 2009 in the U.K., in which Reilly stars alongside Ciarán Hinds. But regardless of all this success, eyebrows were raised a little when Reilly landed a part described as 'the female lead' in "Flight," Robert Zemeckis' return to live-action filmmaking since despite 'Holmes,' Reilly was far from a household name. But if rumors are to be believed, Reilly -- who plays a drug addict who befriends Denzel Washington's alcoholic hero pilot -- steals the show in the Zemeckis film, with a performance that some are tipping for awards success. There's more on the way afterwards as Reilly is starring alongside Sam Rockwell in "A Single Shot," and with Brendan Gleeson in "The Guard" follow-up "Calvary," so chances are by the time "Sherlock Holmes 3" comes around, she may even end up on the poster...

Matthias Schoenaerts

The list of famous Belgians, especially those involved in the film industry, is a short one: Jean-Claude Van Damme, and... Audrey Hepburn (who was born Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston in Brussels). But we may be about to have another major star from the nation, in the shape of Matthias Schoenaerts, who stars opposite Marion Cotillard in "Rust & Bone," the latest film from "A Prophet" director Jacques Audiard, which Sony Pictures Classics will open in November. The 35-year-old Belgian first appeared on screen in 1992's "Daens," a film about a Catholic priest, which won an Oscar nomination back in 1994. Once he left drama school, he worked steadily in supporting roles -- most notably as a resistance member in Paul Verhoeven's "Black Book" in 2006, but got a major boost two years later by starring in Erik Van Looy's "Loft," a thriller about five friends who share a flat to take their mistresses but who are torn apart when they find the body of a murdered woman there. The film proved to be the most successful Flemish-language film of all time, and launched Schoenaerts into local stardom. That acclaim spread even wider when he toplined the superb thriller "Bullhead," giving a stunning, bulked-up performance as a cattle farmer drawn into the organized crime world. The film was an instant hit when it premiered at Berlin last year, and went on to win an unlikely, but deserved, Oscar nomination. And any doubt that he was the real deal was dismissed when "Rust & Bone" unspooled on the Croisette back in May: Schoenaerts drew just as much praise as co-star Cotillard, with comparisons to Tom Hardy frequently drawn -- both actors share an undoubtedly masculine look, combined with a certain sensitivity. The praise has been matched by audiences in Telluride and TIFF, with whispers of awards attention starting to arrive of late. And Schoenaerts also seems to be actively looking to break into English-language films too: he's reprising his role in Van Looy's U.S.-set remake of "Loft" alongside Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller and Eric Stonestreet (still awaiting a release), and recently wrapped Guillaume Canet's "Blood Ties," which is co-written by James Gray and stars Cotillard, Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis and Zoe Saldana. Word is Ridley Scott is desperate to work with him. And lord knows he's got an eye for talent...

Suraj Sharma
There's only one total newcomer to acting on this list, and they've perhaps got the most difficult job of all in their fall movie. Not that the others have it easy, but there's only one actor here who pretty much has to carry a film entirely on his own shoulders, working, for the most part, on a single set, with emotionally tough material, not in their native language, and with only invisible CGI creatures to share the screen with. But Suraj Sharma, who plays the title character in Ang Lee's "Life of Pi," did all of that, and did it before his 18th birthday. And given Lee's track record of discovering stars -- he's responsible at least in part for breakout roles from the likes of Tobey Maguire, Kate Winslet, Zhang Ziyi and Kate Mara, among others -- one has to assume that Sharma was able to pull it off. Sharma, the child of mathematician parents, was a 17-year-old high school student at the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya school in Dehli when Lee's casting team came calling, and beat out 3,000 other auditionees to win the part in a lengthy and extensive process. The big-budget, 3D film marks his screen debut, although he must have had a little idea of what to expect; his younger brother Sriharsh had a small role in Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited." Lee has already praised his young star, saying he gives "an emotional performance," and if the film lives up to 20th Century Fox's hopes, we could be seeing a lot more of him before too long.

Alicia Vikander

23-year-old Swedish actress Alicia Vikander first came to our attention when it was announced that she was in the running to play the title role in "Snow White and the Huntsman" (alongside Bella Heathcote, Felicity Jones and Riley Keough, though Kristen Stewart obviously got the role in the end.). The actress already has an impressive career back home: she trained at the Royal Swedish Ballet School as a dancer before going on to star in the popular series "Andra Avenyn." But it was her performance in 2010's addiction drama "Pure" that really brought her to Hollywood's notice, particularly after she won Best Actress at the Guldbagge Awards (the Swedish equivalent of the Oscars) for her performance, beating out Noomi Rapace and Pernilla August (Joel Kinnaman won the Best Actor equivalent, incidentally). And 2012 has been even better for her -- she had two films at the Berlinale, "The Crown Jewels" and "A Royal Affair," the latter of which co-stars Mads Mikkelsen and Berlin Best Actor winner Mikkel Følsgaard, and plays at TIFF before getting a full U.S. release in November. And while 'Huntsman' didn't pan out, her Hollywood debut isn't far away; she stepped in for Saoirse Ronan to play Kitty in Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina," and she stands out in a star-making turn even among a cast of exceptional actresses -- Keira Knightley, Kelly MacDonald, Emily Watson, Olivia Williams, Ruth Wilson, Michelle Dockery. She's about to reunite with "Pure" director Lisa Langseth back at home for drama "Hotel," and she's already wrapped her first blockbuster lead, the supernatural period actioner "The Seventh Son," in a cast that also includes Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes and Julianne Moore. Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures hope that'll turn into a franchise, but even if it doesn't, Vikander seems to be showing that she can pull off costume dramas, serious, gritty contemporary work, and effects-driven tentpoles. All she needs is a comedy and she's set for life.

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6 Comments

  • Alondra | September 23, 2012 6:34 PMReply

    And what about Domhnall Gleeson?

  • Chris | September 11, 2012 2:08 PMReply

    Terry Winter created Boardwalk Empire. Scorsese directed pilot, produced series. But agree, Huston was a standout in a cast of standouts.

  • Zack | September 11, 2012 2:21 PM

    I will only. Watch. "Not Fade Away". If he, hrmmmm, sings, like, Richard. Harrow. Hrrmmmmm.

  • DG | September 11, 2012 1:01 PMReply

    Agree about Matthias Schoenaert, dude was unbelievable in Bullhead. I watched it for the first time the other night and was totally blown away, easily the most interesting movie about masculinity I've ever seen and also one of the best revenge movies too. Interesting he's getting Tom Hardy comparisons, I was thinking the whole time too about what Dark Knight Rises would have been like if he had played Bane.

  • AS | September 11, 2012 12:51 PMReply

    I was immensely impressed with Matthias Schoenaerts performance in Bullhead, such a powerful role. So glad he turned down Robocop; he can garner much better roles. Looking forward to seeing him breakthrough stateside.

  • Zack | September 11, 2012 12:31 PMReply

    Can we keep referring to Plemons as "Meth Damon" even if he does hit it big?

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