By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist August 14, 2014 at 3:39PM
In Hollywood, you can be on top of the world one minute, and then a public indiscretion, or a handful of box office disasters, or the simple fact of getting old, can each result in fewer and fewer calls (you can count on hearing from Millennium Entertainment no matter what). Bad news for the old guard, but good news for the many aspiring and talented performers looking to fight their way to billboards, bus shelters and the front few rows of the Academy Awards.
Every year brings an exciting influx of new talent, actors who come tearing out of nowhere and soon find themselves booked up the wazoo with work. As part of our ongoing On The Rise series (read about the cinematographers here and the composers here), we're going in front of the camera and looking at some of the male actors set to break out in the next twelve months or so (their female counterparts will follow in a separate piece next week). Who will be joining our previous picks like Jack Reynor, David Oyelowo, Dan Stevens, Tahar Rahim, Dane DeHaan, Domhnall Gleeson, Scoot McNairy and Joel Edgerton this time around? Check out our choices below and let us know who we should be paying attention to in the comments section. And here's last year's list in case you are curious.
Already getting a quick mention on last year’s list, there was some debate as to whether to include Jack O’Connell this time out, because for many of us he’s already loomed too large this past year for this list. Then we realized that his major showcase films haven’t been released yet, and there’s a possibility that many may at this point still find it hard to put a face to the name. So by next February, he’ll seem like an overnight sensation, but O’Connell’s been acting for a decade, starting out on U.K. TV show “The Bill” for a few episodes, before landing his first big-screen role as the fabulously named Pukey in Shane Meadows’ “This Is England.” Next up film-wise was a role again as a loutish youth in the Michael Fassbender-starring “Eden Lake.” He worked consistently in Brit movies thereafter, in films like “Harry Brown,” and playing football legend Bobby Charlton in “United,” but the real coup was scoring a role on U.K. TV phenomenon “Skins,” which appears to have been a breeding ground for 98% of new British talent. Aside from a small part in the “300” sequel earlier this year (of which he said to us in interview, “I was in front of a mirror for more time than in front of a camera”), the first opportunity you’ll get to really see him flex his muscles, literally and figuratively, will be with David Mackenzie’s astounding prison drama “Starred Up,” which comes out August 29th. Starring opposite Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend, O’Connell is a snarling force of nature in the film, which would have catapulted him to the top of our watchlist. However, he has two other projects coming down the pike, the first being lead role in Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” (trailer here), which will be released around Christmas, and for which we’re certain there will be an Oscar campaign. And then to capitalize on whatever heat that campaign brings, early next year you’ll get to see the woozy, brilliant Belfast-set “‘71” from director Yann Demange which blew us away at this year’s Berlinale. Beyond that, O’Connell will appear in the Tom Stoppard-scripted “Tulip Fever” alongside Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz and Dane DeHaan, and was attached to the buzzed script “Section 6,” a period spy film about the formation of MI6, even before it got a director—it’s now going to be helmed by Joe Cornish. There are few enough sure things in this industry, but if you can find a bookie who’ll give you odds, put the farm on Jack O’Connell.
Despite fierce competition from "22 Jump Street," we'd still argue that "Neighbors" was the best studio comedy of the summer. And that's in part to the depth of its comic ensemble: from familiar faces like Seth Rogen and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, to performers showing new aspects like Rose Byrne and Zac Efron, to newer faces like Hannibal Buress and Ike Barinholtz, pretty much everyone brought their A-game. But there was one actor with whom we were completely unfamiliar, and who despite relatively little screen time, made an enormous impression, and it turns out many think that he could be the next big thing in comedy. 26-year-old Jerrod Carmichael, a North Carolina narrative, moved to L.A. at the age of 18 to pursue a career in stand-up, and has been honing his act ever since, to the extent that he's pretty much top of the tree now: he's a remarkably assured and accomplished performer, with smart and progressive material and a low-key, entirely winning manner. His first proper non-stand-up gig was writing for Odd Future's sketch show "Loiter Squad," followed by a recurring role on short-lived sitcom "Goodwin Games," but it's "Neighbors" that really pushed him into the spotlight. Carmichael played Garf, one of the more prominent non-Efron members of the frat, and while we imagine there's plenty more on the cutting-room floor, what was left, particularly a killer scene between him and Hannibal Burress' cop character, really showed that he's clearly got a career in movies ahead of him. People have been paying attention: He's already taped an hour-long stand-up special for HBO, directed by none other than Spike Lee, which will air in the fall, and NBC, after coming close to picking up a pilot presentation showcasing him, have already fast-tracked another pilot written by and starring Carmichael. The Apatows and Stollers of the world are just as excited about him, from what we hear, so expect him to be inescapable within the next couple of years.
On the whole, "Boardwalk Empire" has been better at giving really meaty material to undersung character actors like Shea Whigham, Michael K. Williams and Bobby Cannavale than it has been at uncovering new faces. That said, it's helped to give younger actors like Jack Huston and Charlie Cox major boosts, and hot on their footsteps is Ben Rosenfield. The 22-year-old, raised in Montclair, New Jersey by actress Kate Redway Rosenfield and Stephen Rosenfield, founder of the American Comedy Institute, made his professional acting debut as Carey Mulligan's brother in the off-Broadway adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's "Through A Glass Darkly" in 2011, which certainly feels a bit like being thrown in at the deep end. But Rosenfield swam, and he soon made an impressive screen appearance in 2012 as the title character in undervalued biopic "Greetings From Tim Buckley," opposite Penn Badgley. It wasn't a huge part (the film focuses more on Buckley's son Jeff), but the actor nailed a tricky role, and when the part of Willie Thompson, Eli's son and Nuckie's nephew in "Boardwalk Empire," was recast, Rosenfield landed the gig. Moving to center stage in season four, Willie wanted to get involved in the family business but is pushed to go to college, with tragic consequences, and Rosenfield proved a hugely valuable addition to the ensemble. And this looks to be just the start, as he's returning for the fifth season, and the movies have come knocking again too. He starred alongside fellow bright young things Nicola Peltz and Gregg Sulkin in teen drama "Affluenza," and alongside Anne Hathaway in Sundance rom-com "Song One," but there's bigger and better on the way as well. This fall, he'll join Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain and Albert Brooks for J.C Chandor's much-anticipated "A Most Violent Year," and has also wrapped the lead, alongside Taissa Farmiga, in the untitled new picture from Hannah Fidell, writer-director of the acclaimed "A Teacher." You couldn't ask for a better slate than that, really...
The first time we really noticed Andrew Scott front-and-center in any project was as Moriarty in BBC’s “Sherlock” opposite Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. It was so atypical and so unexpected, it seems he attracted the right kind of attention, because he started to crop up all over the place. Scott had been around for a good while before that as a stage actor, and won small parts in “Saving Private Ryan” and “Longitude” back in the last millennium. He had a lead role in loopy but little-seen single-season BBC comedy “My Life in Film” and a substantial supporting role as Col. William Smith in the handsome and huge HBO miniseries “John Adams.” But rescuing him from eternal “that guy!” status was his casting in “Sherlock,” which has undoubtedly alerted many more people to his talents. Since that he’s become a staple on British screens big and small—appearing in the great period drama show “The Hour” alongside Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai and Dominic West, and the Christopher Eccleston-starring “Blackout,” and was strong in otherwise middling miniseries “The Town.” But it’s over the last couple of years that things have really taken off for him, as he snagged a lead role in surprisingly successful (and surprisingly decent) Irish comedy “The Stag” aka “The Bachelor Weekend” and was one of the voices in the Tom Hardy “vehicle” (haha because it’s all set in a car, see?) “Locke.” But what really has us tipping him for even bigger things in future are a pair of films from Cannes, the first being Ken Loach’s disappointingly dreary “Jimmy’s Hall” in which Scott was the best quality by about a hundred miles despite having only a few scenes. And the second is the joyous, terrific “Pride” from Matthew Warchus in which he takes a lead with Dominic West again, Bill Nighy and Paddy Considine. October 2015 will see him alongside Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy in “Frankenstein,” and we think it can only be a matter of time before he takes a sort of Michael Sheen-style position as an actor who can straddle TV, film and the Atlantic Ocean, with ease.