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.
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.