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On The Rise 2012: 10 Actresses Poised For The Big Time

by Oliver Lyttelton
March 30, 2012 4:48 PM
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Alicia Vikander
Like Bella Heathcote, 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 Felicity Jones and Riley Keough). And like Heathcote, she 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 David Dencik. And while 'Huntsman' didn't pan out, her Hollywood debut isn't far away; she's playing Kitty in Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina," and has just gotten started on her first blockbuster lead, the supernatural period actioner "The Seventh Son," in a cast that also includes Jeff Bridges 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.

Ruth Wilson
Having given birth to the giant "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, one imagines that Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp get to cast who they want. Which helps to explain why the female lead of their 2013 blockbuster "The Lone Ranger" has gone to a rather unconventional choice: British actress Ruth Wilson. But anyone who's seen her performances, on television or on stage, won't be surprised that Verbinski and Depp were wowed by her talent. Wilson landed the title role in the BBC miniseries version of "Jane Eyre" shortly after leaving drama school, giving a stunning performance, and she hasn't looked back since. On stage, she played Stella to Rachel Weisz's Blanche in the Donmar Warehouse production of "A Streetcar Named Desire," and since starred as Karin in the stage version of Ingmar Bergman's "Through A Glass In Darkly" in London, and took the title role back at the Donmar, opposite Jude Law, in Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie" last summer. It's the latter, along with her scene-stealing performance as Alice Morgan, the murderer who aids and abets Idris Elba's detective in the cult hit "Luther," that have really upped her status, and presumably brought her to the attention of the Disney blockbuster, in which she'll play Rebecca Reid, the widow of the Lone Ranger's brother. Remarkably, at this point, she's never been seen on a cinema screen, but audiences will have a chance to get to know her before next summer; she's another member of the impressive ensemble of "Anna Karenina," playing Princess Betsy.

Honorable Mentions: Also poised to break out before the end of the year is Samantha Barks, who beat out the likes of Taylor Swift for the key role of Eponine in Tom Hooper's musical "Les Miserables." Also from across the pond, there's Alexandra Roach, who played the young Thatcher in "The Iron Lady" -- she'll also be seen in, yes "Anna Karenina," and Iain Softley's "Trap For Cinderella," which also stars Tuppence Middleton, who has a very good chance at making it big soon too. And keep an eye on Alice Lowe, the co-writer and star of Ben Wheatley's "Sightseers," and Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays the female lead in Bryan Singer's "Jack The Giant Killer."

Back in the U.S., 15-year-old Isabelle Fuhrmann went from a strong debut in "Orphan" to a villain in "The Hunger Games" -- she'll next appear with Will Smith in M. Night Shyamalan's "After Earth." Ambyr Childers is appearing in two of the most anticipated films of the year, Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and Ruben Fleischer's "The Gangster Squad," while Taissa Farmiga (the younger sister of Vera, who directed her in debut "Higher Ground") broke out in TV's "American Horror Story," and is currently filming Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring," a film that could provide breaks for a number of its cast, including Katie Chang, Israel Broussard and Claire Alys Julien.

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  • Jessica | December 8, 2012 12:27 AMReply

    There is a typo in this article. The film "Unicorns" (starring Julia Garner) was directed by Leah Meyerhoff (not Leyer Meyerhoff) Thanks.

  • Alva | May 20, 2012 12:08 PMReply

    Wow I was not expecting to see Alicia Vikander on the list. I'm from sweden myself and it's just so weird to see someone from here make it in other countries. Anyway, it's a great list but I think Juno Temple should be on it as well. She's a HARD WORKING, EXTREMELY TALENTED actress with like thirteen films coming up, most of whom I'm REALLY looking forward to see.

  • DG Brock | April 3, 2012 7:01 PMReply

    As a director, I can say that Alison is a dream to work with and a major talent. May she get many good roles. She deserves them and can handle them.

  • D | April 3, 2012 12:31 AMReply

    Brie Larson was fantastic as the lead's best friend on the fun yet short-lived series "The Middleman." She also had a brief role on a recent episode of "Southland."

  • anon | April 1, 2012 11:51 PMReply

    man...i thought that was milla jovovich up at the top...

  • Robert Gallegos | April 1, 2012 8:45 AMReply

    I am a big fan of movies and television series' however I am not familiar with any of these actresses. By looks alone, I see talent in Alison Brie and Jessica Brown-Findlay. I agree that women need to be more of a focal point of movies and television shows. I enjoy watching women act because of their beauty and emotion. I am excited because I think a lot of upcoming actresses are going to be successful, including Kaitlyn Dever and Haley Pullos. Well it was nice reading about this topic. Feel free to message me.

  • tomcmh | March 31, 2012 7:19 PMReply

    Good call on Alison Brie. Hopefully 'Five Year Engagement' does well. It could be a nice launching pad for her movie career.

  • JDT1971 | March 31, 2012 7:06 PMReply

    This list ought to have incorporated Holliday Grainger. I reckon she will be a seven figure sum actress by the end of 2012 and the start of 2013.

  • Alex S | March 31, 2012 4:12 PMReply

    Great list; however, has anyone heard of India Ennenga (Treme/Nobody Walks)
    She's pretty great

  • Mary L | April 10, 2012 10:10 PM

    Oh c'mon. That was probably the worst movie ever screened in Sundance this year (sorry to anyone involved). It was horrible.

  • B. Stokes | March 31, 2012 4:05 PMReply

    Would love to see some "on the rise" actresses who are older than 35. You can break out at any age yes?

  • Please | March 31, 2012 1:56 PMReply

    It's embarrassing that they chose that mess Kristen Stewart over those actresses for Snow White. The producers obviously didn't get the memo that Stewart isn't liked and all her non Twi-films have flopped.

  • Amy | March 31, 2012 12:13 PMReply

    Great to see a mention of Taissa Farmiga.

  • Taylor | March 31, 2012 11:08 AMReply

    Nice list. Excited about Ruth Wilson, Alison Brie and Jessica Brown-Findlay hitting it big, great work from all three on the small screen.

  • Mony | March 31, 2012 1:15 AMReply

    Interesting list, never heard of any of them. However it is refreshing to see a list with relatively newcomers, or those not yet "big time"

    Should be interesting to see how they do

  • j | March 31, 2012 1:06 AMReply

    Although Jane Levy has a signficant role, Victoria Justice is the lead in Fun Size.

  • Megan | March 31, 2012 12:46 AMReply

    Finally Hollywood is getting beautiful actresses with talent again. "No daughters or sisters of ___" These girls are here because of their talent, their unique beauty, and hard work. Then again, a little bit of good luck never hurt anyone. ;-)

  • Natalie | April 2, 2012 7:47 PM

    Its crazy how many "sons and daughters ofs" are acting now. Ridiculous. Good to see some of these girls got there on their own purely out of talent. Would've been better to see all of them get there on their own though.

  • Robert Gallegos | April 1, 2012 8:46 AM

    I like your post. Do you have a favorite actress?

  • Jezelle | March 31, 2012 12:57 PM

    What are you talking about, Megan? One is the little sister of Vera Farminga and the other one Alice Englert is the daughter of a famous director. The other girls on the other hand have no connections and got there on their own. That's not true. Finally there's a black girl on the list...about time!

  • Jim | March 30, 2012 8:38 PMReply

    I still don't know how Olivia Thirlby hasn't gotten big yet.

  • Cinematic_high | March 30, 2012 7:36 PMReply

    About fucking time Hollywood smartened up! Ruth Wilson is a beast on Luther, and now I'll have another reason to watch The Lone Ranger besides Arnie Hammer....

  • matt | March 30, 2012 6:58 PMReply

    good list. Not sure why"Pure" is described as an addiction drama, but them's minor grapes

  • kris | March 30, 2012 5:31 PMReply

    riley keough.

  • Amie | March 30, 2012 5:02 PMReply

    Sarah Gadon oughtta be somewhere on that list.

  • Amie | March 30, 2012 5:23 PM

    Stop being a supercilious ass. I love how you can just assume to know everything about me based on an eight-word comment. I've never seen the Twilight movies or read the books and I don't care either which way about the stars, not that I even need to defend myself.

  • Emma Q | March 30, 2012 5:18 PM

    Says the girl who never knew she existed until she was in a film with Robert Pattinson

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