When people talk about the Hollywood “A-list,” they often mention actors like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. Although these are some of the best-known and most respected actors right now in Hollywood, there are several new performers working their way up through the ranks.
Although it can be tough to predict who will have lasting star power, there are several young actors who have started making a name for themselves that could be likely candidates for Hollywood’s future “A-list.” Here are a few up and coming actors I think have the potential to make a lasting impression on the silver screen.
1. Michael Fassbender
As a fan of superhero movies in general, I was excited for last summer’s premiere of “X-Men: First Class,” a prequel to the previous X-Men film trilogy. I loved the movie, and there were a number of factors that made it great — the characters, the music, the special effects, the story. But after my friends and I walked out of the theater after watching the movie, one factor in particular dominated our conversation: Michael Fassbender.
With the help of his equally talented co-star, James McAvoy, Fassbender elevates “First Class” from a good superhero movie to a great one. His intense, conflicted performance as Magneto absolutely blew me away. It’s easy for a villain to become one-dimensional, but Fassbender never lets that happen. Even when we as the audience know Magneto’s ideas are wrong, because of his complicated, painful past, we never lose our sense of sympathy for him.
No matter what film he’s in, Fassbender makes the audience take notice, and his persona dominates every scene he’s in. Although he plays more of a secondary role in this summer’s dark sci-fi epic “Prometheus,” his character, the android “David,” is likely the character you’ll remember most. In my opinion, Fassbender is one of the most promising and intriguing actors today. He has a driving intensity but also a wry sense of humor, and he’s equally at home in blockbusters and indies. It’s a shame it took Hollywood so long to “discover” Michael Fassbender, but I have a feeling he’s going to have a long and very productive career.
2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been hovering on the edge of stardom for a while. He got his start as a child actor on various TV shows, including “Dark Shadows,” and he’s gained fame through two recent Christopher Nolan-directed blockbusters, “Inception” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” Both those films had high-caliber ensemble casts, so it says something about Gordon-Levitt’s acting ability that he’s able to make his characters stand out. I thought his character in “The Dark Knight Rises,” a young police officer named John Blake, was a strong addition to Nolan’s “Batman” saga, and Blake’s dogged idealism brought a sense of energy and heart to the film.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt also recently starred in “Looper” opposite Bruce Willis, and I think more leading roles are soon to come his way (there’s even rumors he might take over as “Batman” in an upcoming “Justice League” film). Like Fassbender, he seems to be equally comfortable in blockbusters and indies, and his sense of easy charisma and dedication to helping his characters come to life make him a good choice for a variety of roles.
3. Emma Stone
She gained fame last year through her performances in the civil rights drama “The Help” and opposite Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling in the romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
And while this summer’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” was a little polarizing among comic book fans (some loved it, some didn’t), her performance as Gwen Stacy (and her chemistry with Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker) are part of what made the film fun to watch.
She’ll be busy in the near future, with roles in the upcoming film “Gangster Squad” (2013) and “The Amazing Spider-Man” sequel (2014).
4. Chris Hemsworth
American audiences’ first introduction to Australian actor Chris Hemsworth likely was in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 “Star Trek” reboot. He had a brief but memorable role in the film (he only had about 10 minutes of screen time as Captain Kirk’s father), and then later took the lead in one of Marvel’s Avengers lead-in films, “Thor.”
The superhero film was a hit, and Hemsworth is now becoming one of Hollywood’s go-to actors for action/adventure films. He has the ability to pull off “tough” and “noble” at the same time, which made him the perfect choice to play the character “Thor.” With the “Avengers” mash-up’s very impressive box office run this summer, Hemsworth probably won’t have much trouble finding acting jobs in the near future.
Acting success also seems to run in the Hemsworth family. Chris’ younger brother Liam Hemsworth — who won a lead role in the “Hunger Games” franchise — is another up and coming actor to watch.
5. Jennifer Lawrence
When fans of “The Hunger Games” first heard Jennifer Lawrence had been cast as Katniss Everdeen in the film adaptation of the novels, some of them complained she was “too old” and “too blonde” to play Katniss.
But the film makers’ casting decision couldn’t have been more spot-on, and I can’t think of an actress who could have better portrayed the “Hunger Games” heroine.
Lawrence excels at playing tough survivors, people who haven’t been dealt the best hand in life but aren’t willing to go down without a fight. She tackles each role she’s given with confidence and conviction.
Even though she’s only 22, she’s already been nominated for an Oscar, and I can see her perhaps becoming her generation’s Meryl Streep.
So, who are some of the actors you think will inherit positions on Hollywood’s future “A-list”? Which do you think show the most promise?