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On The Rise: 15 Actresses We Expect Great Things From

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com December 2, 2010 at 7:36AM

So, yesterday, we ran down some of the names that keep cropping up on the endless wishlist stories that run at the moment -- the women who've been continually linked to the hot projects around town. Some of those actors we love, some we don't, but they're quantifiably the names that every director and executive wants to meet for their projects.
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So, yesterday, we ran down some of the names that keep cropping up on the endless wishlist stories that run at the moment -- the women who've been continually linked to the hot projects around town. Some of those actors we love, some we don't, but they're quantifiably the names that every director and executive wants to meet for their projects.

But if The Playlist ran Hollywood, you'd be seeing a lot more of the 15 names below. We reckon that out of this list -- five more established, five brand new, and five who only just missed out on yesterday's Go-To-Gals list -- are all going to be rising up the ranks in the next few years. They've all done great work in the past, and we're expecting great work in the future.

This is only the latest in our occasional On The Rise series; we've covered screenwriters, cinematographers and actors in the past, and we've got directors, composers and more coming up in the future. For now, check our list out below.

Hayley Atwell
When the casting rumors started to swirl earlier in the year on who would play the female lead in Marvel's "Captain America: The First Avenger," there were some big names batted around such as Keira Knightley and Emily Blunt. Even "She's Out Of My League" star Alice Eve, who nearly bagged the role, was more well-known than the actress eventually cast as Peggy Carter -- 28-year-old Anglo-American actress Hayley Atwell. But the role should easily see her hit the heights of Knightley and Blunt, as her early roles have shown that she's easily their match in terms of acting ability. She grabbed attention almost immediately back in 2005 as the bipolar daughter of a politician in the BBC adaptation of Alan Hollinghurst's novel, "The Line of Beauty," and instantly became a fixture on British TV in the likes of "The Ruby in the Smoke" and "Mansfield Park." Woody Allen was a fan, too, casting Atwell as Ewan McGregor's girlfriend in the idiotic thriller "Cassandra's Dream." The film is among Allen's worst, but Atwell was a highlight, and she followed it up with further big-screen roles as Julia Flyte in "Brideshead Revisited" and as Keira Knightley's love rival in "The Duchess." She's particularly good in the latter, more than holding her own against Knightley and Ralph Fiennes. Since then, she's returned to TV, appearing in the AMC miniseries version of "The Prisoner," and the megabudget Ridley Scott-produced "The Pillars of the Earth," and she's excellent in the currently-airing-in-the-UK "Any Human Heart." But it's 'Captain America' that should provide her greatest exposure to date, and it's got the advantage of being tied to a single film, rather than keeping her locked into Marvel movies for the next decade. She's not confirmed for anything afterwards, although she's attached alongside Dominic Cooper, to the drama "The Laureate," which doesn't currently have a start date. But if she can pull off the resistance fighter/love interest combo in the superhero flick, and we can't see why she wouldn't, she certainly won't be short of offers.

Lizzy Caplan
It’s fitting that Caplan’s character on the wonderful, now unfortunately canceled series, “Party Down,” got a part in a Judd Apatow movie, since she appeared in four episodes of “Freaks and Geeks” and made a single appearance in “Undeclared” early in her acting career. She’s wisely bounced between television and film, displaying a knack for playing smart, sexy, funny and cool. She has all the qualities of a future leading woman, albeit with her own spin; the girl who's your best friend, but who you secretly have a major crush on. She made noticeable appearances in “Mean Girls” and “Cloverfield,” where her character came to what appeared to be a nasty ending, and has also had small roles in “True Blood” and the terrible “American Dad.” But it’s “Party Down,” a show you should really check out if you haven’t seen it, where the 28-year-old’s talent for playing the really cool, really funny and really beautiful girl is on full display. She’s barely seen in “127 Hours” as Aron Ralston’s sister, but should see more screen time in the upcoming “High Road,” “Queens of Country” (her first lead role) and “Frankie Goes Boom.” Perhaps a new spin on the Diane Keaton type? We think so.

Elisabeth Moss
Moving from a popular and acclaimed cable show to a film career is not as easy as it might sound (just ask any of the the guys in “Entourage”). And while Elisabeth Moss has a longer resumé in both television (“The West Wing”) and film (“Girl, Interrupted”) than you might think, today she’s best known for playing Peggy Olson on AMC’s “Mad Men.” It’s a role that, as her character has grown and been shaded by complexity, allowed the actress to do the same. But trying to decipher the many moods of Don Draper aren’t Moss’ only strength. This summer she fared surprisingly well alongside the foul mouthed improvisation of both Russell Brand and Jonah Hill in “Get Him To The Greek” in a thankless role as the girlfriend that would have swallowed whole anyone else. With appearances coming up in films by Walter Salles (“On The Road”) and Lawrence Kasdan (“Darling Companion”), Moss is making smart choices and it’s only a matter of time before those Emmy nominations turn into Oscar recognition.

Andrea Riseborough
If you're an English actor looking for a guaranteed success route, you could do worse than to get into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. From Alan Bates and John Gielgud to Gemma Arterton and Tom Hiddleston, they've been turning out the best of the best for over a hundred years. 29-year-old actress Andrea Riseborough left the school in 2005, and she's been pretty much working steadily ever since. Almost immediately, she won the Ian Charleson Award for the best classical actor under 30, as previously won by the likes of Tom Hollander, David Oyelowo and Rebecca Hall, and started to crop up on screen in the likes of "Venus" and the TV show "Party Animals." But she really started to stand out in 2008 with a brief role in Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky," lining up alongside Sam Taylor-Wood's excellent short "Love You More," the English Civil War miniseries "The Devil's Whore," and the role of the young Margaret Thatcher in the BBC one-off drama "Long Walk To Finchley." Her supporting roles in this year's "Never Let Me Go" and "Made in Dagenham" were highlights of both films, and next year will see her show off her chameleonic skills even further with a lead in "Brighton Rock" (in which she replaced Carey Mulligan), as Wallis Simpson in Madonna's "W.E." (replacing Vera Farmiga), and alongside Michael Sheen in WWII drama "Resistance." She's never going to be playing the love interest in superhero movies, but she's all the better for it.

Lea Seydoux
There can't be many actresses in Hollywood who weren't linked to the role of Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" -- indeed, there's more than one on this list alone. French actress Lea Seydoux was one, and came down to the last few. We can't imagine she'll take the news too hard, however, as Seydoux is rapidly becoming a fixture in American film as well as in French movies. The 25-year-old comes from fine film stock, if you'll excuse the pun -- her grandfather is the chairman of Pathé, and her great uncle was the chairman of Gaumont, two of the giants of French film production. But any suggestion of nepotism in her career rise has been quickly dissipated by the sheer quality of her performances; a small cameo in Catherine Breillat's "The Last Mistress" turned into more significant roles in last year's top-class pair of "Lourdes" and "La belle personne." Seydoux was particularly good in the latter, rightly winning a César for Most Promising Actress. At the same time, she began to crop up in more international fare, with tiny roles in the opening scene of "Inglorious Basterds," and as Prince John's mistress in Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood." Next year should see her ascend to even greater heights: she'll turn up in both Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" alongside Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams, and as one of a trio of villains, alongside Anil Kapoor and Michael Nyqkvist, going up against Tom Cruise & co in "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol." Between this and work in her native language like Raoul Ruiz's "Mysteries of Lisbon" and Amos Gitai's "Roses à crédit," we'll be seeing plenty from the actress in 2011, and we're pretty happy about that.

Jennifer Lawrence
If there is any justice in the film world -- and there might just be -- Jennifer Lawrence will get a Best Actress nod for her turn in Debra Granik’s gorgeously gothic “Winter’s Bone.” In nearly every single frame of the movie Lawrence is the heart and soul of Granik’s raw nerved film that on the surface is about a missing father, but between the lines, is about so much more. We can’t remember the last actress that (pretty much) emerged from nowhere to anchor a film front to back in the way that Lawrence lives and breathes Ree Dolly. Lawrence is young and undoubtedly, what she does over the next 12 to 24 months could change everything. She’s capitalizing on her indie accolades with a turn in the big budget “X-Men: First Class,” and if Lawrence can successfully navigate between pictures big and small (she's also got Drake Doremus' "Like Crazy" and Jodie Foster's "The Beaver" coming next year, at least if the latter finds its way out of the controversy of star Mel Gibson), she’ll soon find herself vaulted to a very enviable and rarefied category of A-list women under 30.

Sophie Lowe
What’s in the water down under? Something that creates amazingly talented actors and actresses. Some newer ones include Mia Wasikowska, Sam Worthington, Abbie Cornish, Joel Edgerton, Chris Hemsworth, Emily Browning, Emilie de Ravin, and Teresa Palmer, and more established names include Naomi Watts, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe. 20-year-old Australian actress Sophie Lowe went from a complete unknown -- at least in the U.S. -- to one of the four mostly unrecognizable faces vying for the lead in David Fincher’s Americanized take on “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” While she’s done lots of small Australian movies (horror film “Road Kill”) and TV (popular Oz medical drama, “All Saints”), we suspect her audition tape to Fincher’s camp was simply a copy of the 2010 Aussie thriller “Blame” from newcomer director Michael Henry. Her turn as the quietly calculating Natalie in the drama about a group of teenagers who seek revenge on a teacher because of a sexual betrayal of one of their now-deceased friends is icy, chilling and striking. In truth, her turn in the dark drama, “Beautiful Kate” alongside another breaking-star Ben Mendelsohn is also an integral part of what has gotten her noticed. “Beautiful Kate” held the title of the largest opening weekend for a homegrown Australian film for 2009, and earned Lowe an Australian Film Institute Best Lead Actress nomination (she signed to CAA not long afterwards). She would have made an excellent Lisbeth Salander (and her ease with nudity in ‘Kate,’ probably only helped her case), but she surely still has a big career ahead of her. While the only thing on the docket right now appears to be the Aussie WWII picture, “One of Us,” impressing Fincher is no small feat and it’s surely just a matter of time before she’s landing some plum supporting parts in the U.S. that will likely lead to bigger and better things.


Teresa Palmer
Another Aussie on this list arguably has glamour/looks wattage, but talent power remains up in the air as we’ve seen little of her performances. But she’s definitely on the rise as she’s racking up a number of roles, and part of that is because admittedly, she’s tres belle. She’s been making small inroads ever since her 2005 breakout appearance in the dexterous Aussie horror "Wolf Creek.” That turn was followed by “The Grudge 2” (2006) and “Bedtime Stories” with Adam Sandler (2008). And she must have something working for her that’s shining through in auditions as she was initially cast as the female lead in Doug Liman’s “Jumper"(2008), but the script changed and skewed older and she lost the gig to Rachel Bilson (arguably she dodged a bullet with that film). In 2007, Palmer was cast as the villain, Talia al Ghul, in George Miller’s “Justice League of America” which was almost rushed into production because of the late 2007/2008 writer’s strike, but then cooler heads prevailed and realized a teenage (or slightly older) Justice League film starring folks like Adam Brody and Common was a baaaad idea. Miller seems to be taken by her talents and has tried to cast her in “Mad Max: Fury Road..” That picture’s been delayed so many times she arguably has a shot at finding her way back into the frame. Her next major role will be in "I Am Number Four" and earlier this year she essayed a minor performance in '"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" alongside Nicolas Cage, bringing genuine warmth and presence to a role that more or less required that she only looked surprised as "magical" special effects whizzed by.

Imogen Poots
It’s easy to look at 21-year-old English actress Imogen Poots and mistake her for a young Kate Winslet, as she has similar beauty and also possesses what appears to be similar talents. Her breakout role was as the young girl trying to take care of her infected little brother in “28 Weeks Later,” and while she might not have caught everyone’s attention yet, she has been particularly striking to us every time we’ve seen her onscreen. She had small part in “V For Vendetta” and “Me and Orson Welles,” but she was dazzling good as the lead in Jordan Scott’s (Ridley’s daughter) schoolgirl drama “Cracks” alongside Eva Green and Juno Temple, and evinced firecracker charms (and acting fireworks) opposite Michael Douglas in Brian Koppelman and David Levien's underrated “Solitary Man” earlier this year. But folks have noticed, and she’s signed to CAA (who have Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett among their ranks). Poots was the best thing about the otherwise drab and empty-headed Roman-era actioner, “Centurion,” and has roles set in the upcoming “Jane Eyre” film by Cary Fukunaga and the “Fright Night” remake starring Colin Farrell. It’s rare that talent jumps out at you when inundated by watching actors and actresses night after night, but Poots has that je ne sais quoi that has major budding talent written all over her. Expect big things to come.

Juno Temple
Like Lea Seydoux, 21-year-old English actress Juno Temple comes from a family affiliated with film -- her father is Julien Temple, the director of classic rock documentaries like "The Great Rock & Roll Swindle" and "Glastonbury," as well as the legendary musical disaster "Absolute Beginners." Temple Jr. cropped up as a child in her father's films, "Vigo: Passion for Life" and "Pandaemonium," before branching out on her own with key supporting roles in Richard Eyre's "Notes on a Scandal" and Joe Wright's "Atonement" -- she's particularly strong in a tough role in the latter. She's mixed those films with lighter fare like "St. Trinian's" and the Emma Roberts vehicle "Wild Child," as well as the unintentional comedy "The Other Boleyn Girl," proving equally adept at comic performances. While her big Hollywood break as Michael Cera's love interest in "Year One" flopped (although Temple acquitted herself reasonably well), she's turned in a series of very strong performances since. Last year saw her stand out in Jordan Scott's "Cracked," while this year gave a strong cameo in Noah Baumbach's "Greenberg," and was easily the best thing in Gregg Araki's otherwise underwhelming "Kaboom." We didn't see the raunchy comedy "Dirty Girl," but it was picked up early in the Toronto festival for a princely sum by The Weinstein Company, who is hoping it'll be a breakout hit next year. In fact, 2011 will show her displaying a number of facets; she'll be a runaway teen in the indie drama "Little Birds," which is in competition at Sundance, she's playing Emile Hirsch's sister in William Friedkin's extremely promising "Killer Joe," she replaced Ellen Page in the lesbian-werewolf drama "Jack and Diane," AND she'll make her first real foray into the big budget world in Paul W.S. Anderson's "The Three Musketeers." It's a pretty strong line-up (excluding the latter), and we're sure 2012 will be even better for the rising star.

By Popular Demand
Some of you don't quite get it, but that's OK. Yesterday's piece essentially says "these are the girls getting offered key female roles" and like the "Alien" prequel or "The Great Gatsby" or "Gravity," almost all those girls mentioned were up for those parts. So whether you like them or not, they're getting the buzzed-about roles and or they're always in contention.

Five girls not on our lists included two younger, equally talented stars who aren't getting offered these parts because they're simply too young right now. That would be Emma Stone and Amanda Seyfried. Arguably, Stone IS the go-to girl of her age bracket, but obviously we were dealing with another batch of ladies (and all of you bitch and don't actually READ the entire thing either). Those two, plus three other actors, occupy a kind of middle ground between yesterday’s piece and today’s -- too big to be on the rise, but not quite in that top tier of actresses being offered everything going. But we’ve included them in a section below, because otherwise you’ll moan in the comments section again.

Marion Cotillard
This wonderful French actress with bewitching bedroom eyes has a solid career in French films -- "Pretty Things," "A Very Long Engagement," “Taxi,” to name just a few -- but let's face it, the 35-year-old’s career basically begins with her incredibly turn as Gallic musical icon Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose," which proved she was more that just a pretty face and earned her a little thing called a Best Female Academy Award statuette. She basically cemented her status in Hollywood with her first major lead and it even wasn't an American film (she was in virtually every scene and carried the entire picture). But Hollywood was slowly taken note, and before that she had a small role in Tim Burton’s “Big Fish,” plus the female interest in Ridley Scott’s “A Good Year.” But “La Vie En Rose” led to “Public Enemies,” “Nine” and then the lead female role in Christopher Nolan's "Inception," but it arguably didn't display the full potential of her abilities. She was quietly testing for Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity" earlier this year before Scarjo and Blake Lively turned the role into the hot potato gig everyone wanted, but her accent is thick enough right now that again, she's simply not going to be up parts that call for a tried-and-true American actress. Next for her is the French dramedy "Little White Lies," Woody Allen's "Midnight In Paris," and Steven Soderbergh's "Contagion." They’re all strong roles, but she plays a French woman in all of them.

Greta Gerwig
If there was one actor that really benefited from the over-praise of mumblecore movies (someone owes SXSW a Garfield Thank You card), it would be the charming Miss Gerwig. Starting off in Joe Swanberg's sophomore effort "LOL," she wasted no time in moving from supporting to principal in films "Hannah Takes the Stairs" and "Yeast." Among the heap of naturalistic/stilted "acting," this wonder woman stood out from the pack with her honest portrayal and thoughtful character traits, evoking her inner troubles visually rather than vocally. It's no wonder she quickly climbed out of that ghetto, scoring the Noah Baumbach gig “Greenberg” alongside Ben Stiller. This turn, which further proved her acting ability even to the worst naysayers, opened the door to Hollywood with a co-starring part in the remake of “Arthur” with Russell Brand and the ‘best friend role’ in the Portman/Kutcher “No Strings Attached.” While not the meatiest roles, her pleasant demeanor and personality should give some life into what could be throwaway parts fit for Kristen Bell or Christina Applegate. She'll throw a bone for the mediocre looking micro-indies "Art House" and "Northern Comfort" in 2011, but what we're really looking forward to is "Damsels in Distress" by Whit Stillman, a director she was practically bred to work with. Her supporting parts are likely to impress (even if the films don't) and you can bet that she'll be heading her own romantic comedies in due time. Mark our words, don’t be surprised if she's in a future Garry Marshall ensemble picture. While it’s good exposure and nice to see a likable, smart woman in those movies rather than someone with the personality of plastic, hopefully there’s more Baumbach/Stillman-esque collaborations in the future.

Rooney Mara
When it was announced that Rooney Mara, the younger sister of Kate Mara (another actress who could arguably make one of these lists, having turned in some terrific performances over the years), had won out over far bigger names for the most-sought after female roles in years -- Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" -- plenty of eyebrows were raised. The girl from the "Nightmare on Elm Street" remake? Really? But of course, Fincher had worked with the 25-year-old actress on "The Social Network," and once we all caught up with her excellent performance in that film, people were a little more understanding. She's been good in other, smaller roles before as well -- decent in the Sam Rockwell basketball drama "The Winning Season," and winning big laughs speaking mostly French in "Youth in Revolt." She's got a tough act to live up to, competing with Noomi Rapace's performance in "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," but she's actually a better fit, age and looks wise, for the part. Fincher seems convinced, saying that "She's smart and capable and works really hard. She is ridiculously photogenic in a very interesting way -- she can be plain, or she can be exquisite in a matter of moments -- and she's a great listener. Lisbeth is a very tough role to cast -- the audience needs to project into a mystery, so we needed a mystery for them to fill." We'll find out if he's right next Christmas.

Amanda Seyfried
We're not sure this gorgeous 24-year-old will grow up to be a serious Carey Mulligan-like actress, but it looks like she's bound for megastardom as she seems to have a facility with breezy comedic roles. Seyfried was spotted by most as the saucer-eyed, dumb-as-nails ingenue in "Mean Girls" (which also gave us Rachel McAdams and Lindsay Lohan's one and only great performance). She then started amassing a notable collection of roles, most notably the bronzer-tanned lead in the super successful "Mamma Mia!" Abba musical which gave her tons of Hollywood/box-office cred even though you didn't see it. Teen roles kept coming at her after that, including the co-lead in Diablo Cody's "Jennifer's Body" alongside A-lister Megan Fox and a more serious turn opposite real actors like Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore in Atom Egoyan's unfortunately awful, tone-challenged "Chloe." "Dear John" proved she could man a career full of Nicholas Sparks weepies and upcoming roles in Catherine Hardwicke's "Red Riding Hood" and the sci-fi "Now" flick with Justin Timberlake suggest she's ready for more and more lead parts. What might be preventing her from true greatness is her choice of roles. Most of the films we've mentioned that have been released have not actually been good (and a few were terrible). "Red Riding Hood" looks like "Twilight"-meets-fairy tales and only "Now" looks decent. However, make note, she could continue to star in crap, but will likely become a big star regardless. But unlike, say, some of the actresses on the go-to-list, we're not sure we'll ever see an Academy Award in her future. Hey, that's OK, but we're trying to show the distinction.

Emma Stone
This 20-year-old firecracker came out of nowhere and basically charmed the pants off everyone (actors and audiences alike) in Greg Mottola's "Superbad," one of the more enjoyable teen comedies of the last decade. While her husky deep voice and smoky good looks were fine enough in "Zombieland," the picture underused her, didn't show off her range and it wasn't the best female part ever; but perhaps more importantly, like "Superbad," it was a major hit. If she was endearing before, well she proved just how damn charming and irresistible she was in Will Gluck's terrific teen comedy, "Easy A" -- not the best film of the year, but arguably the most enjoyable. The picture didn't light up the box-office like her previous efforts, but it did very well for a female-lead teen comedy ($50 million domestically) and more importantly, studio execs all took notice on how she took like a duck to water as her first leading lady role. Stone was quickly cast as the female lead in "Spider-Man" (Sony, who did "Zombieland" and "Easy A," knew exactly what they had on their hands and snatched her up quick) and she's basically on the A-list of the young 20-something field, but it will take a bit of aging before she's up for say "Gravity," or parts like a rumored "Lara Croft" reboot or "Red Sonja." On deck for her is "The Help," a role in the comedy "Friends With Benefits," a voice role in DreamWorks Animation's "The Croods" and "Crazy. Stupid. Love," a dramedy that features an all-star cast (Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, many more). She’ll also eventually re-team with her “Easy A” director Will Gluck on another, as-of-now-untitled project.

Honorable Mentions: Gina Carano is the MMA-fighter-turned-star of Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire," and providing she can act, could prove to be a major name in action cinema in the next few years. Olivia Thirlby's turned in great performances in the likes of "Juno" and "The Wackness," and she's also about to venture into the action world starring alongside Karl Urban in comic book adaptation "Dredd." Kristen Wiig, Ellie Kemper and Lucy Punch both look like they could burst out of the comedy world in the next year or so, while Paula Patton's been on the verge of breaking for a few years and could see it finally happen in "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol."

Deborah Ann Woll, one of the stars of "True Blood," has been linked to a variety of projects, including Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," and is clearly one to keep an eye on. Kaya Scodelario could break out with the lead role in Andrea Arnold's "Wuthering Heights," while fellow Brit Ophelia Lovibond will appear in Ivan Reitman's "No Strings Attached" and was linked to the role of Gwen Stacy in "Spider-Man." Ellen Wong stole virtually every scene she was in "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," while Whitney Able turns in an excellent performance in "Monsters." Finally, Josie Ho could convert the acclaim for her performance in horror "Dream House" into something longer lasting with a small role in Soderbergh's "Contagion."

This article is related to: Actresses, Amanda Seyfried, Emma Stone, Imogen Poots, Jennifer Lawrence, Juno Temple, Lizzy Caplan, Andrea Riseborough, Teresa Palmer


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