Wednesday, June 16, 2021
June 16, 2021

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Rising Hollywood stars of 2015

You might not know them ... but you will

The Columbian
Published:
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Alicia Vikander, who stars in "A Royal Affair," has acted with several Hollywood A-listers.
Alicia Vikander, who stars in "A Royal Affair," has acted with several Hollywood A-listers. Photo Gallery

Here are five other up-and-coming actors to watch and which movies to find them in:

Boyd Holbrook

What you’ve seen him in: Playing the small role of Jeff in “Gone Girl,” a recurring part on Showtime’s cancer dramedy “The Big C” and possibly in gossip magazines. (It’s OK to admit if you know him only as the fiancé of Elizabeth Olsen.)

What he’s in next: Terrence Malick’s upcoming “Knight of Cups”; alongside Liam Neeson in the action movie “Run All Night”; and “Narcos,” the buzzy upcoming Netflix series about Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

John Boyega

What you’ve seen him in: Battling aliens in “Attack the Block” and attempting to help revive Kiefer Sutherland’s career in Fox’s “24: Live Another Day.”

What he’s in next: You’ve already seen him in the trailer for “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens.”

Here are five other up-and-coming actors to watch and which movies to find them in:

Boyd Holbrook

What you've seen him in: Playing the small role of Jeff in "Gone Girl," a recurring part on Showtime's cancer dramedy "The Big C" and possibly in gossip magazines. (It's OK to admit if you know him only as the fiance of Elizabeth Olsen.)

What he's in next: Terrence Malick's upcoming "Knight of Cups"; alongside Liam Neeson in the action movie "Run All Night"; and "Narcos," the buzzy upcoming Netflix series about Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

John Boyega

What you've seen him in: Battling aliens in "Attack the Block" and attempting to help revive Kiefer Sutherland's career in Fox's "24: Live Another Day."

What he's in next: You've already seen him in the trailer for "Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens."

Margot Robbie

What you've seen her in: The short-lived ABC series "Pan Am" and as the wife of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) in "The Wolf of Wall Street."

What she's in next: The Sundance-approved post-apocalyptic drama "Z for Zachariah"; as Will Smith's criminal protege in "Focus"; and as Jane in David Yates's "Tarzan" adaptation.

Ezra Miller

What you've seen him in: Playing one of the misfit boys in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and as a very scary teenager in "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

What he's in next: "The Stanford Prison Experiment," which premieres at Sundance this month; the Judd Apatow-Amy Schumer collaboration "Trainwreck"; and the title role in "The Flash" -- but not until 2018.

Domhnall Gleeson

What you've seen him in: The sci-fi romantic comedy "About Time," eccentric indie "Frank" and the World War II drama "Unbroken."

What he's in next: As a yet-to-be-named character in "Star Wars: Episode VII"; in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "The Revenant"; and headlining the sci-fi thriller "Ex Machina."

Margot Robbie

What you’ve seen her in: The short-lived ABC series “Pan Am” and as the wife of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

What she’s in next: The Sundance-approved post-apocalyptic drama “Z for Zachariah”; as Will Smith’s criminal protege in “Focus”; and as Jane in David Yates’s “Tarzan” adaptation.

Ezra Miller

What you’ve seen him in: Playing one of the misfit boys in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and as a very scary teenager in “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”

What he’s in next: “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” which premieres at Sundance this month; the Judd Apatow-Amy Schumer collaboration “Trainwreck”; and the title role in “The Flash” — but not until 2018.

Domhnall Gleeson

What you’ve seen him in: The sci-fi romantic comedy “About Time,” eccentric indie “Frank” and the World War II drama “Unbroken.”

What he’s in next: As a yet-to-be-named character in “Star Wars: Episode VII”; in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “The Revenant”; and headlining the sci-fi thriller “Ex Machina.”

Meryl Streep. Amy Adams. Christoph Waltz. Reese Witherspoon.

Sound familiar? Might as well start engraving the Oscar statuettes for them now.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Alicia Vikander. Randall Park. Lily James.

Nothing? Just give them a few months.

A whole new slate of actors, including those promising talents, are moving into the spotlight, poised to unseat the Hollywood establishment and become household names in their own right.

From the next Cinderella to the latest addition to the comedic band of actors in Team Apatow, here are four up-and-comers to keep your eye on. And guaranteed, next awards season you will know their names.

LILY JAMES: A natural brunette, Lily James was happy to dye her hair blond when she landed the role of Lady Rose MacClare on the hit drama “Downton Abbey” — she just had no idea how much her makeover would change her life.

When James auditioned to play one of the stepsisters for Disney’s upcoming big-screen adaptation of “Cinderella,” the casting director noticed her new hair color and offered her a suggestion: “You should just read for Cinderella while you’re here.”

Surprised, James read a few lines, figuring her mostly unknown name had no shot at such a coveted leading role. Her agent advised her to have fun with it, just for the experience. Can you guess what happened?

If you don’t know, then you’re not one of the millions who have watched the YouTube trailers for “Cinderella” (opening in March) starring James, 25, as one of the most famous fairy-tale figures of all time. Cate Blanchett plays the Evil Stepmother, and Helena Bonham Carter is the Fairy Godmother.

James, a British actress who began her career in theater, is feeling the pressure of updating Cinderella sensibilities for yet another version of the famous story — she spent hours talking with director Kenneth Branagh about the character.

There also were more practical challenges: using CGI for the glass slipper (“No maiden in the land fits into that shoe”) and Cinderella’s signature sweeping blue gown.

“The dress that costume designer Sandy Powell created — I mean, I think she’s a genius and I’m grateful for that dress — but it was like torture,” James said, joking, estimating it took about 45 minutes to get in and out of the 12-layer garment. “It was so tight and delicate … so it did feel quite magical every time I put it on.”

By coincidence, James’s next upcoming starring role is also playing an iconic character — with a twist. She stars as Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” based on the novel that infused sci-fi into the classic Jane Austen love story.

RANDALL PARK: What do you do when your breakout acting role becomes embroiled in one of the biggest nightmares in entertainment-industry history — and an international incident leading to terrorist threats?

Randall Park, 40, an actor who spent the past decade in small parts in commercials and TV comedies (“The Mindy Project,” “Veep”), couldn’t believe his good fortune when he landed the biggest role of his career: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Sony’s “The Interview.” Starring alongside Seth Rogen and James Franco in a film scheduled for Christmas? Sign him up.

We saw how that turned out. Angered that the movie revolved around Kim’s assassination, a hacker group — that U.S. officials say was working for North Korea — threatened an attack against anyone who saw the film. Sony canceled the movie’s release. But days later, company executives changed their minds again, making the movie available in a limited number of theaters and online.

Where does all of this uproar leave Park? We interviewed him for this story weeks before the threats started; his representatives did not return multiple requests for his updated thoughts. At the time, he sounded predictably thrilled that his career was on the upswing.

Park, born and raised in Los Angeles, said acting was initially not his plan. Although he loved performing in plays during his college years at UCLA, his parents hoped he would be a doctor or a lawyer. But he could never shake the feeling that acting might be what he was meant to do. In his late 20s, after a series of random jobs, he finally decided to try it full time.

After gaining steam in sitcoms, commercials, film shorts, Web series and everything in between, a director recommended him to Rogen for the part of Kim. He got the role almost immediately.

Park acknowledged that such a controversial part was “a big risk,” but after reading the script, he had faith it would be a great movie. The only other obstacle were his parents, who are from South Korea — he was nervous about their reaction. The verdict: They thought the idea was hilarious.

ALICIA VIKANDER: Alicia Vikander’s list of co-stars in her upcoming movies reads like a who’s who of Hollywood’s hottest young actors and the industry’s most revered stars.

The Swedish actress, 26, might be vaguely recognizable in the United States for a small part in “Anna Karenina” or for her role in the historical romance “A Royal Affair,” both of which were released in 2012. Soon, Vikander will star alongside Michael Fassbender in “The Light Between Oceans,” based on the best-selling book about a couple who find an abandoned baby at sea. Vikander also plays a hybrid witch-human in the sci-fi epic “Seventh Son,” co-starring Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges and Djimon Hounsou. She headlines the 17th-century drama “Tulip Fever” with Christoph Waltz and Judi Dench, not to mention the spy movie “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” with Henry Cavill, aka Superman.

Soft-spoken, humble and relishing relative anonymity for now, she’s bracing for what’s to come with multiple chances for breakout roles.

Acting has always been in her blood; she was inspired by her mother, stage actress Maria Fahl Vikander. After training for years as a dancer, Vikander started the tough process of breaking into the already-tiny Swedish film community.

She gained attention for the drama “Pure,” winning Swedish acting prizes for playing a young woman who is inspired by classical music. The film hit the festival circuit, and suddenly American film agents started calling.

Vikander was grateful during filming one of her first English-speaking roles — in “Seventh Son” she plays a girl torn between her human and witch heritage — that Moore took her under her wing.

“She was not only a fantastic actress and a woman that I admired, but she still saw me as a young woman and wanted to make sure people took good care of me,” Vikander said.

GUGU MBATHA-RAW: The energetic Gugu Mbatha-Raw sounds thrilled to be in Pittsburgh. Following a breakout year, in which the 31-year-old British actress dazzled in the lead roles of two somewhat under-the-radar movies, she is starring opposite Will Smith as his wife in a still-untitled movie about the doctor who discovered the effects of concussions on professional football players.

Mbatha-Raw graduated from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art a decade ago and has been working mainly in British television and onstage. A pivotal professional moment was securing the role of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the woman born in 1761 to an enslaved African mother and a white father in the British Navy. Mbatha-Raw took home the best-actress trophy for her work in “Belle,” at the British Independent Film Awards earlier this month. She also starred in the little-seen “Beyond the Lights.”

But if you missed those two movies, you’ll have plenty of other opportunities to see Mbatha-Raw.

First up in 2015, she has a role in “Jupiter Ascending,” the Wachowski siblings’ intergalactic adventure starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum. After two smaller-scale movies, it gave her a taste of what it’s like to work on a blockbuster.

“It was fascinating after being a big part of an independent movie to then become a very small part of a big studio film,” she said.

Following “Jupiter Ascending,” Mbatha-Raw will appear on-screen alongside Keanu Reeves and Renée Zellweger in “The Whole Truth,” a legal thriller.

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