Young Guns: Hollywood’s Up and Coming Heroes
Who will be Hollywood's next generation of male movie stars? This time last year we ran through the Top 20 actresses under 25. Perhaps surprisingly, many of them were significantly more established than their male counterparts: actresses like Keira Knightley, Kirsten Dunst and Scarlett Johansson have been top-lining a wide variety of big movies for some time now. Is that because the industry skews towards younger women, while younger men face tougher competition from above? Or maybe the fellas are just late bloomers?
While we found no shortage of talented young actors who might have what it takes over the long run, we've tinkered with the criteria a little bit for the blokes. We've pushed the age limit up a bit (the oldest on the list is James McAvoy, who scrapes in at 28) and decided to concentrate on just ten up-and-comers at the expense of spilling more ink on the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal (27), Heath Ledger (28) and Elijah Wood (26), who would otherwise occupy at least three of the top 5 slots.
Names we bandied about, but ultimately rejected either because (1) they haven't yet done enough to prove themselves, or (2) they don't have anything much lined up, or (3) we just don't get the whole Napoleon Dynamite thing, include Lucas Black (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift); Zac Efron and Elijah Kelley from Hairspray; Justin Long (Die Hard 4); Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog); Channing Tatum (A Guide to Recognising Your Saints) and Justin Timberlake - who seems to have fallen back on his day job for now. Oh, and Jon Heder, who turns 30 in October, and surely must have peaked by now?
If we compile a second take on this list next year, I'd bet Superbad stars Michael Cera and Jonah Hill might well factor. In the meantime, spare a thought for the original Young Guns: Emilio Estevez and his brother Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko, Lou Diamond Phillips and one Kiefer Sutherland. They're in their 40s now, and by and large you have to say, they've seen better days.
LOVEFiLM'S YOUNG GUNS
1. Shia Labeouf
11 June 1986
Credits: Transformers, Disturbia, Surf's Up, A Guide to Recognising Your Saints, Holes
Debits: Bobby, Dumb and Dumberer
Labeouf has had a great year - with a little help from his number one fan, Steven Spielberg, who is touting him as the next Tom Hanks. (We see more of Richard Dreyfuss in him, but anyway, you get the general idea.) Holes made him a teen star in the US back in 2003, but supporting roles in Constantine and I, Robot didn't find him making much progress. But he was on screen more than anyone at the head of an exceptional cast in the solid indie drama A Guide to Recognising Your Saints. Then Spielberg cast him in the surprisingly strong teen twist on Rear Window, Disturbia, a spring hit in the US that opens in the UK this week. And the producer recommended him to Michael Bay for Transformers (who wondered if he wasn't a little old at 21, but cast him anyways). Next up, a little item currently known as 'Fourth Installment of the Indiana Jones Adventures', directed by one S Spielberg.
2. Seth Rogen
15 April, 1982
Credits: Knocked Up, Superbad, The 40 Year Old Virgin
Debits: You, Me and Dupree
Seth Rogen has come out of nowhere to become a huge star in the States this Summer. First he headlined Knocked Up, a sleeper hit which proved that a chubby, sarcastic stoner could be romantic leading man material. Then he showed up as a party-hearty cop in Superbad, the funniest teen comedy in recent memory and another sure hit. What's more, he wrote it. With excellent buzz attached to next year's The Pineapple Express, a buddy thriller he also wrote and stars in with James Franco, and an offer to do The Green Hornet after that, Rogen can write his own ticket. Literally.
3. Ryan Gosling
12 November, 1980
Credits: Fracture, Half Nelson, The Notebook, The Believer
Debits: Stay, The United States of Leland
Gosling has already convincingly demonstrated he's the most gifted actor of his generation, and he has a Best Actor Oscar nomination to back that up. With his good looks, he's also not short of female fans. But with the partial exception of the romance The Notebook, he's yet to score a substantial box office hit. Despite the reviews and a compelling head to head with Anthony Hopkins, Fracture failed to break through. Then again, it can only be a matter of time. Next for Gosling, a comedy, Lars and the Real Girl, then, it's what sounds like a must-see, Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lovely Bones with Rachel Weisz. Meanwhile he's planning his own first feature as director, about the lost boys of Sudan.
4. James McAvoy
1 January, 1979
Credits: Atonement, The Last King Of Scotland, Starter for Ten, Becoming Jane
Glaswegian James McAvoy has forced himself into Hollywood's consciousness with a string of well-chosen projects, most notably, of course, the Oscar-winning The Last King of Scotland. If Atonement lives up to expectations, that too could attract Academy attention. Although he's one of the older actors on this list, McAvoy still has to prove he can carry a film on his back. But the forthcoming Wanted sounds like a step in that direction: his character finds out his father is an assassin, but then trains to follow in his footsteps to avenge the old man. Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp and Angelina Jolie lend a hand.
5. Ben Foster
29 October, 1980
Credits: X-Men: The Last Stand; Alpha Dog; Six Feet Under; Liberty Heights
Debits: Nothing too embarrassing yet.
Foster has been working steadily since landing a co-lead with Adrien Brody in Barry Levinson's Liberty Heights at age 19. He first revealed the intensity he's capable of in the Bruce Willis thriller, Hostage (2005). A stint on Six Feet Under didn't hurt his profile any (he was Russell Corwin), nor did playing Angel in X3. In Alpha Dog he really cut loose as the no-good brother of the kidnap victim (Anton Yelchin). Director Nick Cassavetes might have done better to tone down his histrionics at times, but it was a powerful audition piece all the same. Foster has three biggies on the immediate horizon: 3:10 to Yuma with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, 30 Days of Night, a vampire movie starring Josh Hartnett, and then The Laws of Motion, a comedy with Hilary Swank and Matthew Perry. It won't be long before Foster nabs a lead for himself.
6. Paul Dano
19 June 1984
Credits: Little Miss Sunshine, L.I.E., The Ballad of Jack and Rose
Debits: Fast Food Nation
The silent, broody teenager in Little Miss Sunshine, Dano has a major role in the can, opposite Daniel Day Lewis (again!) in Paul Thomas Anderson's Oscar hopeful, There Will Be Blood. He follows that with the eagerly-awaited collaboration between novelist Dave Eggers and director Spike Jonze, Where the Wild Things Are.
19 April, 1981
Credits: Star Wars Episodes I, II, III; Shattered Glass
Debits: Star Wars Episode I, II, III; Factory Girl; Life as a House
Christensen enjoys much greater name recognition than most of his peer group courtesy of Anakin Skywalker. But at the same time that association is something of a poison chalice; his performances were widely disparaged. Playing the fraudulent journalist Stephen Glass in Shattered Glass Christensen showed he was more than just a pretty face. But it was one step forward three steps back when he was caught up in the fiasco of being Not Bob Dylan in Factory Girl. Still, he has three leads stacked up, all promising: Awake; Virgin Territory and Jumper.
8. Jamie Bell
14 March, 1986
Credits: Billy Elliot, Dear Wendy, Hallam Foe, Flags Of Our Fathers, King Kong
Debits: The Chumscrubber
Only 21, Bell has already worked with Clint Eastwood, Peter Jackson, David Gordon Green, Thomas Vinterberg, Doug Liman, David Mackenzie and Stephen Daldry. If he's given a bad performance we haven't seen it (well, maybe Deathwatch). He's not box office, yet, outside the UK anyway, but chances are he'll show up Hayden Christensen in Liman's forthcoming sci-fi Jumper, then it's onwards and upwards, costarring with Daniel Craig in Ed Zwick's WWII drama Defiance. Still, it would be nice to see him get the chance to dance again, wouldn't it?
9. Emile Hirsch
13 March, 1985
Credits: Alpha Dog, The Girl Next Door, Lords of Dogtown; Imaginary Heroes; The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
Hirsch was the alpha dog - Johnny Truelove - in Nick Cassavetes' true crime drama, and skateboarding badass Jay Adams in Lords of Dogtown; showy roles he played up to the hilt. Now he's got himself noticed, he can enjoy the rewards: Sean Penn chose him to play Christopher McCandless in the eagerly-awaited Into the Wild, and the Wachowski brothers have entrusted him with the title role in Speed Racer, their first directing gig since wrapping The Matrix.
10. Daniel Radcliffe
23 July, 1989
Credits: Harry Potter
Radcliffe faces a similar challenge to Hayden Christensen, and of course, enjoys similar opportunities. Everyone will be interested in whatever Harry Potter does next. At least at first. It's up to Radcliffe to keep us hooked. Initially unimpressive, he has grown with the series (literally, from 11-17 so far), and now looks like a capable actor - at least in this role. He's signaled his readiness to move on with his theatrical experiment; then there's an Australian drama in the can (December Boys), and a TV drama, My Boy Jack, as Rudyard Kipling's son.
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