As "Boardwalk Empire" continues to improve season-on-season, the cast grows ever more impressive (with Jeffrey Wright and Brian Geraghty among the new additions for the coming series), but the show's yet to have a true breakout movie star emerge from an ensemble that was already pretty familiar with the silver screen, although Jack Huston, who plays Richard Harrow on the show, is certainly heading that way. But if anyone truly made an impression across the series' third season, it was Wrenn Schmidt, who plays Harrow's love interest, Julia Sagorsky. The actress is an NYC theater veteran who first made her name alongside Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin in a production of "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf," and her stage credits also include "Come Back Little Sheba," "Katie Roche," with "The Master Builder" with John Turturro on the way. She had smallish TV roles in the likes of "Body of Proof" and "Blue Bloods," and on the big-screen in "Our Idiot Brother" and gave an excellent performance in Alex Gibney's "Client 9," but it's 'Boardwalk' that really provided a showcase. There’s nothing showy about Sagorsky or Schmidt’s portrayal of her, but there’s a striking little spark of fire when the character has to draw a line in the sand, and Schmidt makes perhaps a token, underwritten character someone we want to root for and whose story we’ll always be invested in. While she hasn’t overly impressed in any major roles beyond that, there seems to be something crackling underneath the surface that suggests bigger things are on the horizon once more casting directors take notice.
In case you've been ignoring it after its insufferable adorkable launch campaign, and rocky first half-dozen episodes, "New Girl" has steadily been marking out its ground as one of the best sitcoms on TV. It's been a genuine pleasure to watch the supporting cast of Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris grow into their own, and Hannah Simone, who plays the best friend of lead Jess (Zooey Deschanel) has been right there with them. The London-born, Canadian-based actress started out as a presenter on Canadian TV, though she managed to mix that with a few small roles on Vancouver-shot TV shows like "Kevin Hill" and the "Kojak" remake. But she moved to LA in the late 2000s, and after a few quiet years, landed the part on "New Girl." Like the show itself, Simone got off to a slowish start, but when the writers figured out she was more than just a pretty face, and as comedically and dramatically adept as the rest of the cast, she started to excel, and her plotline in season two, which sees her flirting with the idea of an arranged marriage, has provided a strong emotional backbone. She squeezed in the Bryan Singer-produced web series "H+" in between seasons, but is soon to crack the big screen for the first time, with a role in Spike Lee's remake of "Oldboy." The first of many movie roles, we'd reckon.
We happen to think that "Jack The Giant Slayer" has gotten a rough ride. It's hardly a hall of fame film, or anything more than a pleasant way to pass an afternoon, but it's well made, well acted, and much better than this month's other $200 million fairytale flick, "Oz The Great & Powerful." So, as such, we hope that the film's underperformance doesn't hurt the continuing career of female lead Eleanor Tomlinson too much, and we're sure that it won't. The 20-year-old Tomlinson first cropped up in the movies aged only 14, playing the younger version of Jessica Biel (opposite a similarly-youthful Aaron Johnson, as the younger Edward Norton) in "The Illusionist." Some other small roles followed, with Johnson again, in the teen comedy "Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging," and as the title character's rival Fiona in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," before beating out other rising stars Juno Temple, Lily Collins and Adelaide Kane to the part of Princess Isabella in Bryan Singer's fairytale epic. It's a potentially rote role, but Tomlinson impresses not just with her luminous screen presence, but with the texture she gives the part that doesn't have all that much on the page. Going forward, she's got an interesting choice of roles, with foreign-language fare "Educazione siberiana" and "Styria" in the can, along with BBC historical epic "The White Queen" alongside Max Irons, Rebecca Ferguson and Aneurin Barnard. So all things considered, she should bounce back nicely from the beanstalk.
Honorable Mentions: There are a few actresses who look set for great things, building up a lot of buzz and new roles, but whose work we haven't yet been able to catch firsthand. They include Elizabeth Debicki, who plays Jordan in Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," Gabriella Wilde, who's in the upcoming "Carrie" remake, Margot Robbie and Cristin Milioti who are both co-starring in "Wolf of Wall Street," Lindsay Burdge, who got strong reviews at Sundance for "A Teacher," and Jessica Mauboy who is by most accounts a stand-out in "The Sapphires."
Also worth keeping an eye on: "Downton Abbey" and "Game Of Thrones" star Rose Leslie (who we've covered before), Alona Tal from "Broken City," Ashley Benson, the most impressive of the central quartet in "Spring Breakers," Sting's daughter Mickey Sumner who stars in Noah Baumbach's "Frances Ha," and Emily VanCamp, who's going from the star of "Revenge" to the lead in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Anyone else you think we've missed? Let us know in the comments section below.