LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Taylor Kitsch attends the UK premiere of ‘John Carter’ at BFI Southbank on March 1, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
Photo: Ben Pruchnie/2012 Getty Images
Last year, in our annual selection of nine up-and-coming actors to watch, we introduced you to Jessica Chastain (whose Oscar nomination was still ahead of her), touted Michael Fassbender, and predicted big things for a crop of mostly British talent. This time around, the U.K. isn’t quite so dominant, and our group of rising actors is an excitingly diverse collection. Which of these nine will be superstars, awards darlings, or casting director favorites by the end of the year? Let Vulture brief you on all the new actors you need to know.
Past projects: In Treatment, True Blood
Likely breakouts: Found-footage hit Chronicle, Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines, the lesbian werewolf movie Jack and Diane, and Wettest County
What you need to know: Often compared to Leonardo DiCaprio, the talented Dehaan has a knack for playing moody young men. He impressed a very select audience with his arc as a boundary-pushing gay teenager on In Treatment, and even before he had his first bona fide hit in Chronicle, he was already hotly pursued for roles in projects like Akira and The Host.
Future projects: In the beat poet origin story Kill Your Darlings, Dehaan has the juiciest role as the charismatic best friend (with benefits) to a young Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe).
Photo: VALERIE MACON/2010 AFP
Past projects: The Blind Side, Priest, Abduction
Likely breakouts: The Snow White fantasy Mirror Mirror (where she stars opposite Julia Roberts) and the Julianne Moore dramedy The English Teacher
What you need to know: Collins is already a staple of girly magazines like Teen Vogue (the rumored romance with Taylor Lautner didn’t hurt), but she’ll get her first significant starring role in Mirror Mirror, where she gets a chance to try on Snow White before Kristen Stewart takes the role in the fairy-tale rival Snow White and the Huntsman. The daughter of Phil Collins, Lily originally worked as a model and studied broadcast journalism at USC before turning to acting full-time.
Future projects: Collins is in talks for the Romeo and Juliet side-story Rosaline (under the direction of The Vow’s Michael Suscy) and just joined the starry ensemble cast of The Writers (with Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear, Kristen Bell, and many more).
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/2012 Getty Images
Past projects: Best known as Riggins on Friday Night Lights, Kitsch has lent support to films like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Bang Bang Club (as well as cheese-fests like Snakes on a Plane and The Covenant).
Likely breakouts: Kitsch is going for the saturation approach, toplining two huge tentpoles (John Carter and Battleship) as well as a commercial Oliver Stone thriller, Savages.
What you need to know: The little-seen but beloved Friday Night Lights helped launch the former male model, and since leaving the show, Kitsch has become a valuable and rare Hollywood commodity: a young, masculine leading man. (Even better: They only had to import him from Canada, so the accent’s not a problem.) John Carter may be a box-office misstep, but with two other high-profile projects this summer, Kitsch’s rise is inevitable.
Future projects: He’ll star opposite Mark Wahlberg in the Navy SEAL drama Lone Survivor.
Photo: Ben Pruchnie/2012 Getty Images
Past projects: Episodes of 90210 and Pretty Little Liars
Likely breakouts: He’s got the male lead in the star-packed hair metal musical Rock of Ages, where he and Julianne Hough star opposite Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
What you need to know: Already a singing star in his native Mexico, Boneta beat out a long list of wannabes for the Rock of Ages lead, where he’ll belt out several high-register numbers. Until recently, he’d been picked to play a nearly nude Adam in the big-budget Paradise Lost (which would have starred Bradley Cooper as Lucifer), but the project recently fell through. Still, promoting his big-screen debut in Rock of Ages this summer will keep Boneta busy.
Future projects: An English-language album and a Chile-set thriller from director Sebastian Silva (which also stars Michael Cera, Emily Browning, and Juno Temple)
Photo: Jason Merritt/2011 Getty Images
Past projects: Broadway’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, as well as supporting parts in Kinsey and Flags of Our Fathers
Likely breakouts: The unlikely title role in Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
What you need to know: Like Diego Boneta, Walker came out of virtually nowhere to land the lead in one of this summer’s biggest movies, the Tim Burton–produced genre mash-up Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Hollywood has been interested in him for a while, though: He was originally cast as Beast in last year’s X-Men: First Class, till producers decided they needed a less-imposing actor in Nicholas Hoult (so as not to swamp James McAvoy).
Future projects: In Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, he’s got this year’s Oscar winner Christopher Plummer by his side.
Photo: D Dipasupil/2011 Getty Images
Past projects: None. Wallis was a non-actor before she landed her starring role in …
Likely breakouts: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Sundance’s emotional, exceptional hit.
What you need to know: The 8-year-old Wallis was the umambiguous star of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It wasn’t simply that she carried the magical-realist Beasts, where she appeared in nearly every scene as the downtrodden but strong Hushpuppy; she’s also got a firecracker personality in real life, and when she was introduced after the first public screening, she told the audience, “I’m Quevenzhané Wallis and I like to party!”
Future projects: Whether she gets her own Disney Channel show or takes the Anna Paquin route, there’s one thing we know for sure: If you put this energetic girl on a talk show, she could charm America overnight.
Photo: Fred Hayes/2012 Getty Images
Past projects: The tragic Richard Harrow on Boardwalk Empire, as well as small roles in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Factory Girl
Likely breakouts: He leads a cast of up-and-comers in Not Fade Away, the new film from The Sopranos mastermind David Chase.
What you need to know: Yes, he’s from that Huston family, and he’s got handsome, old-school matinee idol charm to boot. With Michael Pitt off Boardwalk Empire, his fan-favorite actor is poised to become an even bigger presence in season three, and he’s got significant musical chops, too, which he shows off in Not Fade Away.
Future projects: He landed a plum role as Jack Kerouac opposite Dane Dehaan, Daniel Radcliffe, and Elizabeth Olsen in Kill Your Darlings.
Photo: Frazer Harrison/2012 Getty Images
Past projects: A U.K. theater actress, she had just finished a performance of Oliver! when she found out she had been cast in …
Likely breakouts: The big-screen transfer of Les Miserables (starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway), where she has the crucial role of Eponine.
What you need to know: Barks has experience in the part, and actually played Eponine for the show’s 25th anniversary concert. After beating out high-profile contenders like Taylor Swift, Lea Michele, and Scarlett Johansson for the sympathetic role of Eponine, can she turn this movie musical into the sort of breakout moment Jennifer Hudson got with Dreamgirls?
Future projects: None yet
Photo: Jon Furniss/2011 Jon Furniss
Past projects: U.K. comedies like The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd (where he co-starred with recent Bridesmaids breakout Chris O’Dowd)
Likely breakouts: The sci-fi summer comedy Neighborhood Watch, where he and Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill team up against aliens.
What you need to know: The quirky Ayoade is poised to break out in a big way in the U.S. thanks to Stiller, who (along with director Akiva Schaffer) gave him parity with a cast of comic A-listers in Neighborhood Watch. Like Stiller, he’s also a director, and he made last year’s well-regarded indie Submarine.
Future projects: A return behind the camera as the director of The Double, which will star Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in an adaptation of the Dostoyevsky novella.
Photo: Ian Gavan/2012 Getty Images