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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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Bella Heathcote
After his tragic death in 2008, the family of the late Australian star Heath Ledger set up the Heath Ledger Scholarship, a fund intended to help his countrymen make it big in Hollywood. And boy, did it work in the case of Bella Heathcote, who won the prize in 2010. After a small role in Andrew Niccol's "In Time," Heathcote, who got her start like so many others on the Aussie soap "Neighbours," first came to the attention of many as a contender for the lead in "Snow White and the Huntsman." And while Kristen Stewart ended up with that part, Heathcote wasn't mourning too much as she was swiftly cast in key roles in both David Chase's '60s rock-and-roll tale "Not Fade Away" and in Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly." But first up is something potentially even bigger, playing the dual role of both Johnny Depp's long dead love, and of the governess of the Collins family in Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows." With her enormous eyes and porcelain beauty, she's like a Burton drawing made flesh, so she should fit right at home there, and the film will provide her widest exposure to date. She's been up for a number of high-profile roles since, including the leads in both "A Winter's Tale" (which fellow pick Jessica Brown-Findlay landed), and "Carrie," which Chloe Moretz got, but we're sure there's plenty more auditions where those came from.

Brie Larson
With a cast that included Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, among many others, Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" is looking increasingly like one of those films that provided first looks at an entire generation of young actors, but perhaps none have shown such an impressive range since that film as Brie Larson, who played Scott's ex Envy Adams, a smoky-voiced rock frontwoman. Despite being only 23, Larson has been acting for over a decade, with several sitcom appearances and parts in kids' flicks "Sleepover" and "Hoot," among others. As she moved into her twenties, she landed the part of Toni Colette's daughter in Diablo Cody's Showtime series "United States of Tara," which in turn led to the part in 'Scott Pilgrim.' But it's the past few months that have suggested that what we saw before was only scratching the surface of her talent. Firstly, she played Woody Harrelson's daughter in "Rampart," and turned in a hugely impressive performance, both wise beyond her years and somewhat naive about the true nature of her father: it's one of the things that has lingered most about the film for us. And only a few months later, she was the female lead in "21 Jump Street," an entirely charming performance with far more depth than your average love interest. She keeps making smart, diverse choices -- next up is "Relanxious," a quirky comedy alongside Olivia Wilde, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen -- and we're certain that she'll be carrying a movie herself before too long.

Jane Levy
One of the most pleasant surprises of this past TV season has been "Suburgatory," a smart, often hilarious sitcom from "Parks and Recreation" writer Emily Kapnek that plays out like a small-screen take on "Mean Girls." And it's no surprise that 23-year-old Jane Levy, who plays the lead character Tessa on the show, already looks to be making some major inroads into the movie world. Levy, a Stella Adler grad from Marin County, first appeared in a recurring role on Showtime's "Shameless" before bagging the lead in the ABC show, and she's displayed a sharp wit and impressive range across the season. And big-screen casting directors have clearly been paying attention, as she's got three movies due for release across the next year or so. First up is Ry Russo-Young's acclaimed Sundance pic "Nobody Walks" (co-written by Lena Dunham), in which she stars alongside Olivia Thirlby and John Krasinski, and October will see her play the lead in "Fun Size," the feature debut of "O.C." mastermind Josh Schwartz, in which she'll play a wayward, troubled teen who loses her brother on Halloween night; if Schwartz's previous work is anything to go by, this could turn out to be an "Easy A"-style sleeper hit. But an even bigger chance at stardom comes next April, as Levy bagged the lead role in the "Evil Dead" remake after Lily Collins dropped out. The part, a recovering addict taken to a cabin for an intervention (only for the undead to interene), seems to be very different from the usual scream-queen kind of roles, and it's clear from "Suburgatory" that Levy's got the chops to pull that off, and much more besides.

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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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