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On The Rise '12: 10 TV Stars Who Should Break Through To The Big Screen Soon

by Oliver Lyttelton
June 12, 2012 12:40 PM
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With cinematic releases at the moment mostly involving the not-particularly inspiring likes of "That's My Boy" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," it's hard not to look to television for a little nourishment. The trouble is that the TV season has wrapped up for the year. While a few shows (namely "Girls") are still wrapping up, and others get underway shortly ("The Newsroom," "Breaking Bad," "Louie"), it's pretty quiet on the box, with cast and creatives focusing on making a hiatus movie, campaigning for Emmy, or just getting some sleep for once.

Still, with the 2011/2012 TV season done, we thought we'd shine a light on the small screen this week. Tomorrow, we're going to run down our ten favorite TV series of the last 12 months, but today, we wanted to pick a few stars of these shows that we think are set to break out as movie stars before too long, and you'll find that list below. Agree? Disagree? Got your own television favorites you think are set for bigger things? Let us know in the comments section below.

Adam Driver
It may seem counter-intuitive to highlight the sole male regular of a show called "Girls," and we certainly don't want to diminish the performances of Lena Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet and Allison Williams, who've been doing consistently stirling work on the HBO show (indeed, Mamet might have made this list if she's had a little more screen time -- she's been a little wasted on the show to date). But Adam, the fuckbuddy-turned-boyfriend of Dunham's character Hannah, is one of the show's most original and perplexing characters, and 28-year-old Adam Driver has been consistently knocking it out of the park week by week. And if you think you have him pegged as another boho Williamsburg type, think again: Driver's actually an ex-Marine, who joined the Corp after 9/11 as an 18-year-old. After being forced to leave due to injury in 2004, Driver went to study theater at Julliard, and on graduating in 2009, became an Off-Broadway mainstay, most notably by replacing "Star Trek" star Zachary Quinto in the 2010 revival of "Angels In America." That led to small roles in Barry Levinson's "You Don't Know Jack" and Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" before taking the part in "Girls." It looked to begin with as if Adam would be a one-joke character who'd be swiftly written out, a self-absorbed, sexually experimental  poseur, but as is the show's metier, he's become richer and more complex as the show's gone on, Dunham gradually revealing that we've been seeing him through her character's POV, and Driver's played every note he's been given to a tee. We're not sure if he'll return for season two -- we imagine it'll become clearer in next week's season finale. But either way, it looks to be only the start of some really big things for the actor -- he's wrapped indie "Bluebird" with fellow TV stand-outs John Slattery and Margo Martindale. And after that, he's gone on to two of the most anticipated films of 2012, playing Samuel Beckwith, a subordinate of Ulysses S. Grant (Jared Harris) in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," and just finished a substantial role in the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis." It's hard to imagine the Adam of "Girls" in those parts, but it should be a hint that there's much, much more that he can do.

Walton Goggins
Unlike most of the names on this list, Walton Goggins is something of a veteran; he's got credits going back to "Forever Young" and "The Next Karate Kid," and has already starred in one TV classic. The 40-year-old actor even has an Academy Award, for producing the 2001 Live Action Short winner "The Accountant," directed by his friend, "Deadwood" actor Ray McKinnon. But in the last few years, things have really stepped up a gear for Goggins, and look to be going ever starwards. Goggins worked steadily throughout 1990s and 2000s, before playing tragic cop Detective Shane Vendrell in acclaimed police drama "The Shield" for seven series. Once that wrapped up, he had a couple of big-screen turns, in Spike Lee's "Miracle At St. Anna" and Nimrod Antal's "Predators," proving one of the few bright spots of the latter, but it was a TV series in 2010 that's really given him boost. Goggins was cast in the pilot of the Elmore Leonard-inspired FX series "Justified" as Boyd Crowder, the redneck antagonist of Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant). It was only ever meant to be a guest appearance, with Crowder intended to be killed by the pilot's end, but creator Graham Yost was so blown away by his performance that he decided to spare him. His commitment to "Predators" meant that he could only be used in the first season sparingly, but Goggins has gone on to become virtually the co-lead in the two that have followed, taking Crowder from racist gang leader to born-again Christian to community leader to power broker, building up his criminal empire all the while. It's a firecracker turn, and it's no surprise that it's seen him become an increasingly hot property. He was seen last year in "Straw Dogs" and "Cowboys & Aliens," and on the way, he's got a small role in the troubled "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," as well a more substantial part, as congressman Wells Hutchins, a key ally of the title character, in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" -- a job that should let him make a break from the thugs and villains he usually plays. But most important of all is "Django Unchained." Quentin Tarantino cast him in the relatively minor part of Billy Crash, but after Kurt Russell, who was to have played the right-hand-man of villain Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), walked off the set, Tarantino, blown away by Goggins' work on the film, incorporated Russell's character into Crash, rather than recasting. It's a roaring endorsement, and another sign that Goggins should be omnipresent before too long.

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  • 1974 | June 23, 2012 7:25 PMReply

    Rose Leslie all the way! I like how Playlist loves talented redheads, Rose and Jessica- we all know Jessica who, in particular

  • rob | June 18, 2012 12:56 PMReply

    under the "Adam Driver" heading Alison Williams is listed twice while Jemima is not at all. Alison is certainly double the pleasure but Jemima wants to be included too

  • Monica | June 17, 2012 3:56 PMReply

    Great list and very enjoyable to read too. I agree that Maisie Williams is the S2 stand out performance amongst the younger cast of Game of Thrones, but still, it has to be said they are ALL remarkably good. Jack Gleeson is just delightfully wicked as Joffrey and Sophie Turner has done very strong work as well, even if her part is not as flashy.

  • Whodatninja | June 14, 2012 2:10 PMReply

    Good list. Jacobs is the whole package, Chris Pratt is a gifted comedic actor, Pare is stunning and should have been a bigger name after her starring role years ago in Stardom, Wayans is truly funny and stands on his own outside his famous family and Goggins caught my attention way back in the surprisingly amusing Major League 3 (yes, I can admit that the movie is strangely likable) and he was magnetic in Justified. Killam I didn't know of before Community, but he was freaking hilarious during his guest stint. One thing though. Aaron Paul is indeed a good actor, but the idea of the small framed actor playing McClane's son kind of makes me chuckle, despite how menacing he is capable of being onscreen.

  • dizzylucy | June 13, 2012 6:54 AMReply

    I'd say that Walton Goggins (genius) and Chris Pratt, who are on my favorite drama and comedy shows, have already broken through.
    Everyone else on the list is deserving too, and I think most of them will get there.

  • Mike | June 12, 2012 9:28 PMReply

    Goggins has masterfully created (obviously credit to the writers as well) the most complex & heartbreaking character currently on television. I somehow missed his casting in Lincoln amongst the barrage of star names, but as a huge Justified & Spielberg fan that makes me really excited.

  • loudrockmusic | June 12, 2012 9:21 PMReply

    Adam Pally!
    Also, I love Chris Pratt as much as you guys do, but does he get any points for being married to Anna Faris?

  • Zoe | June 12, 2012 5:55 PMReply

    Glad to see Gillian Jacobs included in this list and recognized for her brilliant work on Community season 3! Very much poised to be a movie star, and definitely has the looks.

  • Liz | June 12, 2012 5:48 PMReply

    Walton Goggins' hair deserves to be a star.

    The rest of him is pretty good too.

  • please | June 12, 2012 4:28 PMReply

    What is Playlist's fascination with Chris Pratt ? He is usually annoying and cloying. The poor guy tries too hard. I always feel he is acting-it never feels natural.

    Yes, I agree with Aaron Paul ( but he is not a leading man and he has no strong physical presence ) & Killam is as good as SNL's Bill Hader.

  • Jeremy D | June 12, 2012 5:02 PM

    I'm pretty sure you're the same person that posts this every time Chris Pratt is mentioned. You sure seem have a problem with him. You're very much in the minority, I suspect.

  • DG | June 12, 2012 1:08 PMReply

    Definitely agree about Killam and Aaron Paul

  • nik | June 12, 2012 1:00 PMReply

    Good set.

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