If Hollywood operates under any sort of motto it might be, out with the old and in with the new. An actor or actress’ star rises to its zenith before slowly passing into memory and a new star makes an upward ascent. These young fresh new faces often burst into the spotlight through one or two breakout films and roles. Once they enter the limelight, it’s hard to keep them out of it. Suddenly, they are everywhere. The directors and writers and studios want these up and coming stars in their films, hoping that their appeal will earn the picture a good chunk of change. This list of the top 10 up and coming actors and actresses have all broken into the industry, be it in a TV series or a film, and have received accolades for their performances. These are the ones you want to keep your eye on because chances are you’ll be seeing them with increasing frequency as their notoriety increases.
10. Taylor Kitsch
The road to stardom is never easy. Kitsch, a Canadian-born actor, moved to New York at a young age to pursue modeling and ended up homeless for a time, before heading west to Lost Angeles where his prospects improved exponentially. For a time, Kitsch worked as a model until he landed his first big breakout role in the entertainment business. In 2006 Taylor was cast in NBC’s sports drama Friday Night Lights as Tim Riggins, a high school football player who struggles with alcoholism. The TV series was a hit and in 2010 Entertainment Weekly named his character in the top 100 best characters in the past 20 years. With this work behind him, Kitsch moved to the big screen, working alongside Hugh Jackman in X-Men Origins: Wolverine where he played everyone’s favorite card hustling, Creole-speaking mutant, Gambit. Despite staring in some flops since, like John Carter and Battleship, Kitsch continues to work and in 2012 was awarded the “Male Star of Tomorrow” from CinemaCon.
9. Dakota Johnson
Sometimes it helps to have a really impressive pedigree. Dakota Johnson is the daughter of Golden Globe winner Don Johnson and Oscar nominated actress Melanie Griffith. As one might imagine, she began her acting career young, taking parts as soon as she gradated high school. One of her first roles was in David Fincher’s smash hit The Social Network about the inception of Facebook. Soon after, in 2012, she appeared along side Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street. Her biggest break might still be to come, though. Last year, it was announced that Johnson will be taking the lead role of Anastasia Steele in the highly anticipated 50 Shades of Grey. The movie, based on the international best seller, is sure to be a hit.
8. Jaden Smith
Being the son of Will Smith comes with many perks. While Jaden’s first role was a cameo in Men in Black 2, it didn’t take long for this fifteen-year-old to land some major blockbusters alongside big Hollywood names. In 2006 he starred with his father in The Pursuit of Happyness, which won him a few awards in the category of breakout young actor. Two years later, he starred in The Day the Earth Stood Still with Keanu Reeves. This was followed by The Karate Kid and After Earth. While the latter was a box office flop, there can be no doubt that with his father backing and encouraging him, Jaden Smith won’t be fading from the spotlight soon.
7. Kiernan Shipka
It’s not often we get to watch a child actor grow up before our very eyes. She may be only 14, but the young Illinois native was cast as Jon Hamm’s youngest daughter, Sally, on Mad Men when she just eight. For such a young actress, she has managed to convey Sally’s confusion, heartbreak, and attempts at understanding the world of the 1960s. Critics agree that watching her act along side Jon Hamm over the years has been a delight. Now that she’s growing up and coming into her own, her scenes continue to draw audiences in. Earlier this year, Shipka stared in the adaptation of V.C. Andrew’s Flowers in the Attic alongside Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn.
6. Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt was discovered waiting tables in a shrimp restaurant. After staring in a low budget horror film, he went on to star in the TV series Everwood for four seasons. After its cancellation in 2006, he had a brief role in the movie Wanted with Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy. In 2009 he was cast in NBC’s TV series Parks and Recreation; his role as Andy Dwyer was such a hit that the show promoted him to series regular and he has appeared in that role since. Afraid of being typecast as young and immature, Pratt made the bold move to play a dejected father in Moneyball with Brad Pitt and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In 2013 it was announced that Pratt would tackle the world of superheroes and was cast as Peter Quill in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy and has singed a multi-film deal with Marvel Studios. Pratt will also star as the lead in the upcoming Jurassic World, due out in 2015.
5. Maisie Williams
At age 14, Maisie Williams landed her first role as Arya Stark on HBO’s Game of Thrones, one of the highest rated and most acclaimed shows on television at the moment. Her role as Arya has led to several awards such as the Portal Award for Best Actress. As Arya Stark, Maisie has had to sword fight, live through kidnapping and battles, and even murder a few people who get in her way. If you watched the season four finale of Game of Thrones, then it’s obvious that Maisie is quite the talented actress, able to communicate loathing and contempt just through her eyes, never uttering a word. Wherever her character, Arya ends up in future seasons, we can’t wait to see what Maisie brings to the table.
4. Nicholas Hoult
British actor Nicholas Hoult made his debut in the industry at age seven, working mainly in television until he was cast as Marcus in the film About a Boy with Hugh Grant and Toni Collette. From there, Hoult went back to TV for two years to play Tony on the hit British show Skins where he was nominated for a few awards. In 2009, Hoult stared with Colin Firth and Julianne Moore in The Single Man ; a year later he was nominated for a BAFTA Rising Star Award. Hoult’s big screen break came when he was cast as The Beast in X-Men: First Class for which he was named a breakout start to watch. From this blockbuster hit, Hoult went on to star in Jack the Giant Slayer and teen cult hit Warm Bodies, for which he was nominated for several Teen Choice Awards, winning the Breakout Award. Hoult will continue his role as the Beast in future X-Men movies. He is also dating Hollywood It-Girl Jennifer Lawrence, which can’t hurt his own rising star.
3. Emma Stone
Emma Stone had a rough go of it at first, finding work in television series that never took off. In 2007 she moved over to feature films, staring in Superbad and The Rocker. Stone’s breakthrough came in 2009 with Ghosts of Girlfriends Past with Matthew McConaughey and then in Zombieland. From there she starred in other films such as Paper Man and Marmaduke. In 2010 she landed the role of Olivia in Easy A and was nominated for an Oscar and there has been no stopping her since. After her Oscar-nominated role, she took the lead in the critically acclaimed adaption of the novel The Help, earning still more awards and recognition. Like so many actors and actresses, Emma Stone signed up for a superhero flick, staring with Andrew Garfield in the rebooted Spiderman franchise.
2. Shailene Woodley
Shailene Woodley has had quite an impressive few years. After doing some minor work in TV, Shailene got the lead in ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager for five seasons. In 2011, Woodley landed her first feature film The Descendents, opposite Hollywood megastar George Clooney. Woodley was nominated for a Golden Globe for the film. Following this, Woodley starred in the film The Spectacular Now, a highly acclaimed movie. In 2012 it was announced that she would be taking up the role of Mary Jane Watson in the Spiderman franchise. Adding to her already busy schedule, Woodley starred as Tris Prior in the Divergent movie, an adaptation of the highly successful book series, and will continue that role for the next 4 movies. Not afraid to be bold and daring, Woodley recently starred in The Fault in our Stars, a movie based on the New York Times Bestseller by John Green. Woodley loved the book so much that she and Green corresponded long before the film rights were bought. The film also required her to chop off several inches of her hair, which she did proudly, donating it cancer victims.
1. Josh Hutcherson
Like many on this list, Josh began his career slowly, climbing his way up through the ranks, movie by movie. His first real big hit came in 2007, playing the lead role in Bridge to Terabithia. But it has to be his 2012 role as Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games franchise that got everyone’s attention. As a sweet bread maker and love interest to Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen, Josh was launched into stardom as fans of the book series everywhere flocked to theaters. Josh apprised the role of Peeta again in 2013 for the sequel, and again later this year and in 2015 for the two part conclusion. With his all-American good looks and impressive acting ability, we have no doubt that Josh’s star will continue to rise for years to come.
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