It's a pretty exciting time to watch the current crop of leading men emerge. Names like Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardy are some of the most interesting actors to follow these days, each them choose to work with great talent and take on fascinating roles. Their stars are still in ascendance, but they've certainly proved a breath of fresh air to the movies in the last few years.
But as is always the case, a new batch of performers are on their way up, as exciting a crop of actors & actresses as are currently at the top of the tree. And so, as we've done once or twice in the past (and as we've done with Cinematographers and Composers already so far this year), we're going to be highlighting some of them in the next week or two, starting today with our picks for Actors On The Rise (here's 2012's list for comparison). The ten actors below are all relatively early in their careers, but have impressed in the last year or so, and look set to convert those recent turns into more and more high profile work. Take a look at our picks below, and let us know who you're tipping for the top in the comments section below.
As the cult of Danish drama series becomes ever more popular, it's only a matter of time before an actor breaks out to join Scandinavian stars on the international scene like Stellan Skarsgard and Mads Mikkelsen, and we think that Johan Philip Asbaek (often credited as Pilou Asbaek) has as good a chance as any. The 31-year-old Dane got his first screen credit a decade ago, as a production assistant, on Lone Scherfig's underrated "Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself," but soon focused on acting, graduating from top Danish drama school Statens Teaterskole in 2008, and quickly grabbing a lead role in "Worlds Apart," from "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" director Niels Arden Oplev. A small part in the second season of the original version of "The Killing" followed, before he took the lead role in "R," a powerful prison drama from Tobias Lindholm. This was clearly the start of fruitful creative collaborations for the pair. Asbaek plays political spin doctor Kasper Juul in cult series "Borgen," for which Lindholm is a writer. It’s a complex part, one that adds a heartbreaking back story to a character who can turn any political position on its head. His character is perhaps the most chameleonic and clever in the series, and he’s a real treat to watch. And last year, gave a stunning performance, again with Lindholm at the helm, in Somali pirate hostage drama "A Hijacking," which proved to be a smash on the festival circuit, and will hit the U.S. later this year. Next up is Danish biopic "Spies & Gilstrup," but having taken a small role in "The Whistleblower" opposite Rachel Weisz few years back, he's presumably not adverse to English-language work (a language he dips into on “Borgen” with ease). It the cards fall where they should, we could soon see Asbæk filling the kind of roles Daniel Bruhl gets now.
For years best known as the man who put a bullet in the head of Leonardo DiCaprio at the end of "The Departed," James Badge Dale has been going from strength to strength in recent years, and is about to become genuinely omnipresent in the next few months, figuring in three of the summer's biggest blockbusters. The 34-year-old New Yorker had his first starring role at 12, as the ill-fated Simon in the 1990 film version of "Lord of the Flies." In adulthood, he first turned heads as Jack Bauer's sidekick Chase Edmunds on the third series of "24." This led to the role in "The Departed," before he returned to the small screen again as one of the leads in "The Pacific," and as the main character in the little-seen but very strong AMC drama "Rubicon." And since then, Dale's been almost inescapable in the movies. He played a friend of James McAvoy's attorney in "The Conspirator," played Michael Fassbender's sleazy boss in "Shame," was one of the first to be left to the wolves in "The Grey," and most memorably, gave the best performance in "Flight" in a single scene as a young cancer patient, shaving his head and losing weight to an almost skeletal degree. He's a diverse actor, capable of both leading roles and more character-based ones, and will be showing his range even further this summer. He'll be playing villain Eric Savin in "Iron Man 3," before taking on the title character's older brother in "The Lone Ranger," and as a soldier in "World War Z." Between that and JFK assassination drama "Parkland," it can't be long before Dale's headlining a blockbuster of his own (indeed, he was up for the part of John McClane's son in "A Good Day To Die Hard," and for a lead in "Jersey Boys.").
It feels cosmically unfair enough that someone as attractive as Douglas Booth exists, but that he's actually genuinely talented on top of that seems doubly difficult to accept. London born-and-bred, Booth (still not even 21) got his first screen role aged only 16 in "From Time To Time," a barely-released ghost story from a pre-"Downton Abbey" Julian Fellowes, alongside Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall and Dominic West. Just off the back of that, he really grabbed headlines, playing Boy George in "Worried About The Boy," a BBC TV biopic of the Culture Club frontman, which showcased a brave, chameleonic turn from an actor who wasn't even yet 18. It helped to get him further TV roles, in the Ridley Scott-produced "The Pillars of the Earth," and opposite Matt Smith in "Christopher and His Kind," but the start of 2012 brought him his most high-profile turn yet, as Pip in the excellent BBC TV version of "Great Expectations." The three-part series, co-starring Gillian Anderson, Ray Winstone and Vanessa Kirby, was infinitely superior to the subsequent Mike Newell film, and while Booth has cheekbones probably never envisioned by Dickens, he proved more than a match for the part. A minor blip followed, as he made his Hollywood debut as Miley Cyrus' love interest in the disastrous "LOL," but not enough people saw it to do any damage, and Booth has all kinds of high-profile projects on the way to make up for it. First, is Shakespeare's great lover in the new film version of "Romeo & Juliet," opposite Hailee Steinfeld (let's not forget that last time the play came to the screen, it helped make Leonardo DiCaprio a phenomenon). Then, he joins Logan Lerman as playing one of Russell Crowe's sons in Darren Aronofsky's Biblical epic "Noah." And after being linked to the part of Harry Osborne in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," eventually taken by Dane DeHaan, Booth signed on to join The Wachowskis sci-fi epic "Jupiter Ascending." Ascending indeed...