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On The Rise 2012: 10 Actors We're Tipping For Stardom In The Future

by Oliver Lyttelton
March 29, 2012 3:30 PM
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Rafe Spall
Sitting down to rewatch "Shaun of the Dead," one wouldn't necessarily pick out the chubby electronics store employee who taunts Simon Pegg as a potential leading man of the future, as funny as he was. But Spall returned to torment Pegg again three years later, lean, mean and just as hilarious as before, as one of the two Andys, alongside Paddy Considine, and the actor hasn't looked back since. The son of the great Timothy Spall, Rafe's been working consistently for a decade, across an impressive range of genres, tackling TV costume drama in "Wide Sargasso Sea" and "A Room With A View," and giving impressive dramatic turns in Playlist favorite "The Scouting Book For Boys" and "He Kills Coppers." But 2011 was a truly exceptional year for him: he played Anne Hathaway's hapless beau in "One Day," walked away with Roland Emmerich's "Anonymous" as William Shakespeare, and turned in a unpredictably terrifying terrier-like performance opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor and Christopher Eccelston in cult TV hit "The Shadow Line." He just wrapped up a hugely acclaimed run with Sally Hawkins in London stage hit "Constellations," and then next up is none other than Ridley Scott's "Prometheus," as bespectacled botanist Milburn, which should expose him to his widest audience yet. And following that, he gets a chance to play leading man, teaming up with "Bridesmaids" star Rose Byrne as a poorly-matched married couple in Working Title Films rom-com "I Give It A Year," directed by "Borat" writer Dan Mazer. Spall's got an unconventional delivery style that's not to everyone's taste, but we find him an enormously exciting actor to watch, and considering the range he's displayed to date, we think he's poised to go huge.

Sullivan Stapleton
Australian crime thriller "Animal Kingdom" was good for pretty much everyone involved: Guy Pearce has had a clear career boost from his small role, Joel Edgerton became a go-to leading man, Ben Mendelsohn has a major part in Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly," lead James Frecheville is featuring in U.S. flicks like "The First Time," and Jacki Weaver won an Oscar nomination and is now cropping up in films like "The Five-Year Engagement" and "Stoker." And, while it took a little longer than some of his co-stars, Sullivan Stapleton, who played volatile middle brother Craig Cody, is the latest to join them. The actor, who previously appeared alongside Daniel Radcliffe in "December Boys," followed "Animal Kingdom" by stepping in for Richard Armitage on British action series "Strike Back" when the latter left to make "The Hobbit." Thanks to airing on Cinemax, the show became a huge hit, bringing him further to the attention of U.S. casting directors, and he's another one cropping up in the impressive cast of "The Gangster Squad" as Ryan Gosling's childhood pal, a mob enforcer who also serves as a police officer. And that in turn led to him landing one of the most sought-after parts in Hollywood (and one that his "Animal Kingdom" co-star Joel Edgerton had been courted for beforehand): the lead, Themistocles, in "300: Battle of Artemesia," the sequel to Zack Snyder's 2007 stylized bloodbath. Given that "300" turned its lead, Gerard Butler, into a legitimate star, we can't see any reason that Stapleton, who's displayed impressive acting chops so far, can't be even bigger.

Honorable Mentions: The original helped give early exposure to Michael Fassbender, so it's possible that more than one star from "300: Battle of Artemesia" breaks out, and either Callan Mulvey, the Aussie actor who's also in Kathryn Bigelow's Osama Bin-Laden picture "Zero Dark Thirty," and Jamie Blackley, who'll first appear in "Snow White and the Huntsman" and the Bryan Singer-produced "uwantme2killhim" couldn't join Stapleton in getting a huge boost from the movie. Also from the swords-and-sorcery school are another Aussie, Jai Courteney, who's gone from Starz's "Spartacus" to playing John McClane's son in "A Good Day to Die Hard." And don't forget the cast of "Game of Thrones" -- Kit Harrington and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau have both booked high-profile roles since the series started (in "The Seventh Son" and "Oblivion" with Tom Cruise, respectively), and we'd expect the likes of Richard Madden (who was up for the part that Harrington got in the aborted "Arthur and Lancelot") and Gethin Anthony, who plays Renly Baratheon in the show, to join them soon.

Otherwise, names to watch from across the pond include Steve Oram, who's written and starred in Ben Wheatley's next, "Sightseers," and Olly Alexander, who followed "Enter the Void" with a co-starring role opposite Greta Gerwig in "The Dish and the Spoon." Australian actor Sam Reid is one to keep an eye on too: he had a major part in "Anonymous" and was due to be among the cast of "Paradise Lost." That film was scrapped, but things are still looking good -- he'll co-star with Kevin Costner in TV show "The Hatfields & The McCoys" and is joining Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in Susanna Bier's "Serena."

Finally, Suraj Sharma was picked from hundreds to topline Ang Lee's "Life Of Pi" -- if that film lands, expect him to be doing much more, while Emory Cohen ("Afterschool") pays Dane DeHann's adversary, the son of Bradley Cooper's character, in "The Place Beyond the Pines," and might well shine there. And while Josh Pence is famous for playing one of the Winklevi in "The Social Network," but even having his face replaced by Armie Hammer, he's not hurting for work, with appearances in three of the biggest movies of 2012, "Battleship," "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Gangster Squad" all lined up. And what about yourselves? Who do you tip for major stardom in the next couple of years?

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  • jl | August 24, 2012 12:59 AMReply

    Where is Tom Hardy that man its going to become a legend.

  • JD | April 12, 2012 3:45 AMReply

    Chadwick Boseman, Lance Gross, Michael B Jordan

  • Tishy | April 3, 2012 2:44 PMReply

    Benedict Cumberbatch. Between what he's done with Sherlock on the BBC and the new Star Trek movie, I hope he'll get more roles.

  • Gweninterrupted | April 3, 2012 1:17 AMReply

    Dane DeHaan is an amazing actor and I can't wait to see what kinds of roles he chooses to play in the future. A few of my other favorite actors on the rise over the last few years are Anton Yelchin, Kyle Gallner, and especially Ezra Miller. I've seen every movie that Ezra has been in starting with Afterschool when he was only 14, and I think he's one of the most interesting and intriguing actors to grace a screen in recent times.

  • Casper | April 3, 2012 12:26 AMReply

    No females? Well, at least you got the token black guy in there...

  • Oliver Lyttelton | April 3, 2012 4:19 AM

    Paragraph 3: "stay tuned for our look at the actresses tomorrow." And so we did - . I'm all for commenting, but please read the actual piece before you do so, otherwise you look like a jackass.

  • Michael | April 2, 2012 9:05 PMReply

    Seriously who gives a shit!Its far to much damn effort to remember all these actors names a majority of them aren't even worth mentioning and the causal movie watcher won't care who they are either even if some of them hit it big they won't go on to gain causal movie fan's heart.Its only obsessed online move buffs like ourselves that make a point to remember these type of people the causal movie watchers will just look at you funny if you tried mentioning all these actors to them in one conversion.Logan Marshall-Green and Dane DeHaan are two actors that I've seen in one movie or another that I liked the other ones on the list I could care a less about.

  • Gweninterrupted | April 3, 2012 12:58 AM

    If you don't give a sh*t, why in the world did you read the article?

  • Bruce | April 2, 2012 8:34 PMReply

    ever hear of Jim Parrack? You will.

  • Bobsnore | April 2, 2012 1:24 PMReply

    This is going to be the breakout year for JASON CLARKE. He has 3 major roles coming up this year that I think could lead to heaps of critical acclaim- he is the lead in Kathryn Bigelow's Osama Bin Laden movie; he plays THE pivotal role of 'George Wilson' in Baz Luhrman's "The Great Gatsby"; and he gives an incredibly powerful performance in the indie "Yelling to the Sky" opposite Zoe Kravitz.

  • Lee | April 2, 2012 9:49 AMReply

    I almost thought I missed something about Tom Hardy joining Prometheus. woah.

    I wish Kieran Culkin could be in this list. That guy is awesome.

  • LR | April 2, 2012 3:54 AMReply

    Wow... just skimmed the bold words after you kinda ruined the ending to "Place Beyond the Pines." Hopefully I'll just forget that down the road

  • Leonardo | April 2, 2012 4:58 AM

    How does he know the ending of thee movie, did he saw a preliminary cut?

  • Mimi | March 30, 2012 5:46 PMReply

    After seeing Nowhere Boy with Aaron Johnson as John Lennon, I immediately knew he was headed places and sure enough he is picking up starring roles right and left. He is doing Savages and the next adaption of Anna Karenina as Count Vronsky and he is only 21. He played Lennon when he was 19 and his performance was magnetic; I couldn't take my eyes of of him as he showed the emotional roller coaster Lennon was on in his teens. I am looking forward to seeing much more of him in the future and think he may do well. Glad he is choosing his projects wisely now, though the lure of LA LA Land may be too great and he may end up in the next super hero movie. Hope not, he is great doing what he is right now, just not as much money in it.

  • idealj | March 30, 2012 9:58 AMReply

    "He's got all the talent (if not more so) than his brother"

    Since 21 Jump Street, the media and blogsphere seem to take glee in bashing the older Franco by setting up a comparison between the two.

    But I can't help but take issue on the statement. Except for 21 Jump street, all of Dave's parts were basically a cameo(His screen time in them were less than 5 mins each. His part in Scrubs was just a sketch comedy). He simply has not shown enough to prove anything, much less to prove whether he is as talented as his brother. Are you saying that whatever talent Dave has shown in one movie is equivalent or better than what James has shown in all of James’ work? James, whose work spans more than a decade ranging from James Dean, Milk, 127 hours, Howl to Pineapple Express?

    I am sure Dave has the potential to be a leading man. James may never become a leading man/movie star in the traditional Hollywood mold by his own choice. But do not subtly suggest James is not talented (or overrated) actor by matching his bro who has given exactly one good performance.

  • maja | March 30, 2012 4:21 AMReply

    I think I'll stick with Will Smith and Tom Cruise.

  • jingmei | March 30, 2012 2:59 AMReply

    Kind of a fresh list, except people who are like Dave Franco. Scoot McNairy is awesome, this dude already appeared in something like Art School Confidential. Meanwhile this list gave names supposed to appear in current blockbusters, and they usually played sidekick roles, now time is for becoming big stars. But how about those always pretty low profile real stars, such as one of my favorite Sam Riley.

  • Juliana25 | March 30, 2012 1:12 AMReply

    I agree that Dave Franco has a promising future but I certainly wouldn't write off bro James. He is already a movie star who isn't afraid to try other things and be in movies that wouldn't be considered "mainstream". He can do both comedy (Pineapple Express) and drama (127 Hours, James Dean) equally well. The "weirdness" factor is perpetuated by the gossip mags. Hes just a smart guy doing what he wants and loves. If only we all were so lucky.
    Also, the press seems bent on Trying to set up a competition between these brothers as evidenced by several articles since 21 Jump Street came out. Luckily there's room enough for them both.

  • NHK | March 29, 2012 11:21 PMReply

    Come on. There is never a lack of leading men, at least not white leading men. Maybe more accurate...there is never a lack of effort on Hollywood's part to create an endless selection of leading white men. Given those numerous opportunities it should not be any surprise that there are plentiful of talented leading white men getting loads of filmwork. What the writer should have probably stated instead was that there is a dearth of true male movie stars. That may be true. Interesting enough using Tom Cruise and Will Smith as examples simply points out that one doesn't necessarily have to be great actors to achieve great box office success.

  • John | April 2, 2012 9:08 PM

    Stop talking.

  • Sneha | April 2, 2012 5:54 PM

    leading and flopping are what is common in hollywood. Bankability is key. As for your last comment, I don't know about Smith but you are WRONG about Cruise. He is extremely talented and charismatic. Check out his filmography and actually watch movies like Magnolia, A Few Good Men, Collatearl and then define what a great actor is.

  • Lucy | March 29, 2012 10:22 PMReply

    Logan Marshall- Green is Tom Hardy and Tom Hardy is Logan Marshall-Green. lol Woah twins indeed. I hope he gets more roles. I saw him on stage and he really pulls you in. I like this list!

  • Chase L. | March 29, 2012 5:26 PMReply

    How about Josh Hutcherson? He's a great actor, and he's very charismatic.

  • Lee | April 2, 2012 9:44 AM

    not bad, but he played in too many family-friendly movies. Need more daring roles.

  • had2besaid | March 29, 2012 4:55 PMReply

    James Franco is one of the best versatile actors working today and I would but him ahead of guys like Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy, Benjamin Walker, Joel Kinnaman and any other younger actors from his age group. Infact, I find it insulting that he keeps being left out his No. 1 in my humble opinion.

    I know there was a hate campaign against him last year, but however weird he might be or not at times, again he's the best of the best and the one to follow.

    You have got to be kidding me re but the jury is still out on whether it'll work out? WTH, you mean the guy who nailed following performances James Dean (I repeat James Dean), 127 Hours, Milk, Howl, Pineapple Express and yes HELPED ensure Rise of the Planet of the Apes WAS (but just gave enough emotional edge to his peformance that didn't take anything away from Andy Serkis brilliant performance) a hit too, plus the best thing about Date Night and The Green Hornet (seriously, check out that performance) still has the jury out on him? Don't know how to explain this again he played James Dean, he wins period.

    Oh, by the way, if you can also find me an actor that looks like the following people James Dean, Adam Ant, Paul Newman, Jeff Buckley, Tim Buckley, Robert Mapplethorne, Che and at this very moment K-Fed/Riff Raff (don't ask), then I would say you are correct in your assessment.

    James Franco is the No. 1 person to go to for bio movies for his age group and I see him developing into Johnny Depp/Daniel Day Lewis/Robert De Niro kind of actor as he grows.

    Anyway, Dave Franco is a Franco so obviously going to succeed as an leading actor (his brother is not his competition also but other actors) as well as Dane DeHann just again my opinion.

  • HAD2BESAID | April 2, 2012 10:57 PM

    The truth is out there for all to see and hope this further statement is not deleted. James Franco IS A MOVIE STAR and much much more with his additional side projects. 1. Sergei Polunin the James Dean of the ballet world quoted the following: Putrov chooses to remain mysterious about the duet – “come and see it”. But the solo is Polunin’s tribute to James Dean, the perennial outsider whom he discovered through a film starring James Franco. “It is amazing acting in that film, one of my favourites. After that I did the tattoo on my shoulder of James Dean’s name without seeing the actual James Dean movie. Since then I bought lots of T-shirts of his and I watched the movies and I just liked his spiritual mood. That is what the solo is going to be about, what he is feeling inside.” He was also fantastic in Tristan and Isolde - underrated 2. James Franco has had songs written about him by Hoodie Allen - "James Franco" and by Childish Gambino - Hold You Down with lyrics Iwon't stop until they say, "James Franco is the white Donald Glover" THAT'S A VERY IMPORTANT STATEMENT. 3. James Franco got Oscar nom for 127, which in my opinion he should have had further nods for Pineapple Express, Milk and Howl plus if James Dean wasn't a TV movie he would have gotten a nod there too for an Oscar but did WIN a Golden Globe . 4. Not sure how many people watched City By The Sea with Robert De Niro but a great movie very underrated (Chlotrudis Award Best Supporting Actor nom to James Franco nothing for De Niro but for James). 5. Howl note following awards COFCA Award Actor of the Year, nominated GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Film - Limited Release, Won Freedom of Expression Award. 6. Milk - Won Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Male. 7. Pineapple Express - nominated Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy. 8. THIS LIST COULD GO ON. The point is James Franco is not average actor (let's not forget his TV work on Freaks and Geeks, one of the best guests on 30 Rock - Kimiko and SNL). I see what the media is trying to do, twist things to upgrade another actor in favour of James (shouldn't the another actor's work speak for themselves??), and NOW using his brother to try and bring him down. If he wasn't a brilliant actor and No.1, they wouldn't bother. 9. Again, YOU don't get all the above by being just average person and I'm just stating FACTS, people can watch all his movies and see for themselves. 10. Lastly, regarding the quote by the author of this article re but without the restlessness, which seems like a formula for success to us, maybe he would like to address this further. Do you mean that because James CAN think outside the box (not a Hollywood robot) and is involved with various outside projects, because of this it makes him not be a good actor? If so, that's pretty stupid point (HIS BROTHER SHOULD FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE IN TERMS OF ACTING BUT IN HIS OWN STYLE), James HAS already proven himself as a movie star who will last/remembered as an amazing actor for a VERY long time. SORRY, I HAD TO GIVE HATERS REMINDERS WHY James Franco is UNIQUE. I love many actors/actresses not just Franco but I hate what's happening regarding him and the media and feel strongly to express my opinion. Hope more people tweet this article.

  • Danny | April 2, 2012 9:09 PM

    Ha ha no James Franco is an average actor at best you moronic fool..get off Franco's dick!

  • sp | March 29, 2012 4:40 PMReply

    Mark my words, Sullivan Stapleton is another Aussie that will take over Hollyweird. He has the X-factor, has loads of charm, very masculine , he is very watchable, and he can believably portray a bad guy.

  • Oogle monster | March 29, 2012 4:34 PMReply

    As much as I like (looking) at Dave Franco, I think you guys are being a little tough on his bro. James can dink around with side projects because he IS a movie star. He's an Oscar nominated actor who has done work in big blockbusters (Spiderman, Apes), comedy (Date Night, Pineapple Express, Knocked Up) and has shown his range in smaller fare (Milk, the James Dean biopic, and arguably his best performance to date 127 Hours). If that doesn't make him a movie star.... well, I give up then.

  • L. | March 29, 2012 4:27 PMReply

    Are you going to do a follow-up with up-and-coming actresses? Would be much appreciated!

  • R | March 29, 2012 4:11 PMReply

    Joel Kinnaman!

  • The Playlist | March 29, 2012 5:05 PM

    He's noted in the intro as one of the on the rise actors that has arguably *just* peaked past this list now that he's gonna be "RoboCop." We *almost* included him here, but he seems like he's on his way.

  • Zack | March 29, 2012 4:03 PMReply

    Dear God, please don't ever say "noughties" as though it's a thing again.

  • Michael | April 2, 2012 9:11 PM

    I agree it made the writer look like a damn idiot!

  • sasha | March 29, 2012 3:57 PMReply

    lol Dave Franco

  • KT | March 29, 2012 3:45 PMReply

    Logan Marshall-Green =/= Tom Hardy

    Therefore he's probably fucked.

  • M | March 29, 2012 3:36 PMReply

    Hopefully a couple of these men do turn out good, because there has been a lack of male stars. The younger male generation is lacking in the acting ability.

    Damn Logan looks so much like Tom Hardy, my word. They could be twins. Although Logan already has a twin

  • viola | March 30, 2012 9:30 AM

    Dave Franco looks like the joker in the pack. Famous actors who have that quirky little brother like John Travolta's bro Joey. Could somebody please get Tom Hardy and Logan M-G into the same room. The suspense of comparing them is killing me.

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