Hollywood's Rising Stars
Stardom is a tricky aspiration. So many seek it out, so few actually achieve it. That said, each year brings about a fresh crop of young actors from which to speculate, to predict whether some of them will make it and some of them are destined to toil away in straight-to-DVD releases. The ten actors we’ve selected below belong to the first camp, as well feel they have what it takes to become the next big thing in Hollywood.
The guidelines here are simple. First, the actor in question must be between 25 and 35, so worthy talents like Lucas Hedges (21) and Timothée Chalamet (22) will not be included. Second, the rankings here are in alphabetical order, so anyone who feels that one actor is better than the other needn’t worry about where they place.
If you think we left anyone out or disagree with the order, please comment below.
1. Tom Bateman
Reminiscent Of: Tom Hardy. Both are outwardly charming and internally intense, and like Hardy, Bateman is building up a strong resumé of supporting roles.
In Production: Hard Powder, Vanity Fair
Tom Bateman first turned heads in 2015, when he starred in the British series Jekyll and Hyde, playing both the meek doctor and his destructive alter ego. His commitment to the character(s) was impressive, and has since led to supporting roles in various high-profile films. He turned up as a villain in the Amy Schumer comedy Snatched, and served as a helpful ally for detective Hercule Poirot in the remake of Murder on the Orient Express. In the latter, he proved that he could hold his own opposite screen legends like Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Bateman’s dashing good looks make him easy to spot, even as he takes upon more devious roles, like the villain in the upcoming Liam Neeson thriller Hard Powder. While his rumored relationship with Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley may be his biggest claim to fame thus far, we believe this Oxford native has the chops to become a star in his own right.
2. Donald Glover
In Production: Solo: A Star Wars Story, The Lion King
Reminiscent Of: Spike Lee. Granted, Lee is known more as a filmmaker than an actor, but Glover has a similar knack for making content that's both thought-provoking and entertaining.
Donald Glover is a true renaissance man. After gaining attention for his standup comedy, and earning several Grammy nominations for his music (under the moniker Childish Gambino), Glover has set his sights on becoming the next big thing in Hollywood. Big surprise: he’s killing it so far. He made the most of brief roles in blockbusters like The Martian and Spider-Man: Homecoming, and is rumored to be the standout of the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story, where he plays young Lando Calrissian. He will also provide the voice of Simba in the live-action remake of The Lion King, set for release in July 2019.
As if that weren’t enough, you can currently watch Glover on Atlanta, the FX series for which he writes, directs, and stars in. The first season earned rave reviews and saw him take home Golden Globes for Best Television Series and Best Actor, further cementing him as a creative force in all mediums. This guy is going to be around for years to come.
3. Billy Howle
Reminiscent Of: Eddie Redmayne. Similarly quirky in his manner, Howle also bears a striking physical resemblance to the Oscar winner.
In Production: The Seagull, Outlaw King
Billy Howle has an old soul quality about him that supersedes his age. The thirty year-old actor made an indelible mark on British cinema in 2017, appearing in a trio of acclaimed period dramas. The first was The Sense of Everything, a London mystery where he played the younger version of Jim Broadbent’s character. The second, and most notable, was Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s WWII epic that was nominated for eight Oscars including Best Picture. In the film, Howle brings a sense of levity to a battle that seemed doomed from the start.
The third, and one that has yet to be released stateside, is On Chesil Beach, a sweeping romance that sees Howle star opposite fellow stalwart Saoirse Ronan. In each film, his refined decency shines, a quality that will likely keep him working for years to come.
4. Michael B. Jordan
Reminiscent Of: Denzel Washington. Like Washington, Jordan is compelling when he’s playing troubled, decent men, and deliciously wicked when he’s playing villains.
In Production: Fahrenheit 451, Wrong Answer
Make no mistake, Michael B. Jordan is going to be a superstar. He’s got the looks, he’s got the swagger, and most importantly, he’s got the acting chops to make it stick. He put forth candid imperfection as a real-life shooting victim in Fruitvale Station. He captured the determination of an athlete looking for guidance in Creed. And his latest performance, that of the villainous Killmonger in Marvel’s Black Panther, is rightfully being praised as one of the most charismatic and complex in the genre’s history.
All things considered, Black Panther may be the final boost that Jordan’s career needs. The films he has set for 2018/2019 sound tailor-made to deliver on his burgeoning stardom, from a gritty TV adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 and a remake of the heist classic The Thomas Crown Affair to Wrong Answer, a historical drama that’ll re-team Jordan with Panther director Ryan Coogler. Things are looking good, to say the least.
5. Daniel Kaluuya
In Production: Widows, Watership Down
Reminiscent Of: Forest Whitaker. Kaluuya shares Whitaker's talent for appearing passive and pleasant on the surface, only to reveal deeper, more complex characterizations underneath.
Daniel Kaluuya turned in strong performances in films like Sicario and shows like Black Mirror (“Fifteen Million Liters”), but it wasn’t until his starring role in the Jordan Peele horror flick Get Out that everything clicked. As the straight man to the darkly comical happenings around him, Kaluuya at last found a role suited to his expressive eyes and disarming body language, and promptly earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. At 29 years old, he is among the youngest men to ever receive such an honor.
Kaluuya hasn’t lost a step heading into 2018. If anything, he looks to be getting better. He appeared in the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther, playing a close friend of the titular hero, and is set to appear in Widows, a star-studded crime drama directed by Oscar winner Steve McQueen. Later in the year, Kaluuya will provide a voice for the animated miniseries Watership Down.
6. Thomas Mann
Reminiscent Of: Shia LaBeouf. Mann’s eccentricities would no doubt have put him in competition with LaBeouf, if it not for the latter’s public breakdown over the past few years.
In Production: The Land of Steady Habits, The Highwaymen
Thomas Mann has an eccentricity that makes him endearing to audiences. Neither dorky nor cool, he embodies a middle ground that many can relate to, especially in teen comedies like Project X and Fun Size. His breakthrough came with the 2015 indie drama Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, where he played a cinema-obsessed loner who befriends a girl diagnosed with leukemia. The film honed Mann’s penchant for awkwardness, while tapping into a more sensitive side that proved a hit with critics and audiences alike.
Since then, Mann has edged his way into franchises like Kong: Skull Island and Amityville: The Awakening, while continuing to appear in dramatic fare like the upcoming Netflix film The Highwaymen, co-starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson. Time will be the deciding factor in whether Mann becomes a star or not, but he’s certainly got all the tools to do so.
7. Tyler Posey
Reminiscent Of: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Another TV veteran, Gordon-Levitt established the sensitive yet cool persona that Posey is quickly making his own.
In Production: Truth or Dare, Decoy
For many, Tyler Posey will be recognizable as the titular character on MTV’s Teen Wolf reboot. There, Posey proved himself a worthy leading man, capable of both easygoing charm and an intensity that surfaced during the show’s many action scenes. He’s also continued to be a familiar face on TV following Teen Wolf’s finale, with extended guest roles on Jane the Virgin and Scream. For the latter, Posey added an air of unpredictability to his repertoire, playing a high school dropout and a manic drug dealer.
On film, he’s yet to make much of an impression, but we’re optimistic that the success he’s had on the small screen will translate. He has a starring role in the upcoming horror flick Truth or Dare, as well as the action thriller Decoy, where he will act alongside grizzled veterans like Frank Grillo and Andy García. He could, realistically, become the steady presence that Taylor Lautner never could.
8. Glen Powell
Reminiscent Of: Ryan Reynolds. From the good looks to the chatty attitude, Powell harkens back to Reynolds before he put on the Deadpool mask.
In Production: Set It Up, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mocking and charming in equal measure, Glen Powell has a persona that calls back to the great comedy actors. Powell broke out on the FX series Scream Queens, where his matinee looks were given ample room to shine, but it was a supporting role in the college comedy Everybody Wants Some!! where he really excelled. As Finnegan, the fast-talking jock, he ran circles around his fellow teammates, alternating between pseudo-intellectual nonsense and genuinely clever observations. It was a star-making turn in a film that went criminally unseen.
Powell upped his dramatic profile by playing astronaut John Glenn in the Oscar-nominated biopic Hidden Figures, but his real calling remains his caddish humor, which we’ll likely see more of in the upcoming comedy Set It Up. He could easily take up the rom-com mantle that's been left by guys like Ryan Reynolds and fellow Texan Matthew McConaughey.
9. Wyatt Russell
Reminiscent Of: Kurt Russell. Both have a surplus of charm, and the ability to command a scene without taking themselves too seriously.
In Production: Blaze, Cloverfield: Overlord
Wyatt Russell was destined to be a big deal. His parents, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, were two of the biggest stars of the ‘70s and ‘80s, respectively, and he seems to have inherited their thousand-watt genes. He hit the ground running with a standout role in 22 Jump Street, before applying his talents in everything from the chilling Cold of July and the Black Mirror episode “Playtest” to the raucous Everybody Wants Some!! In the latter, Russell steals the show as the hippie pitcher Willoughby, espousing zen mantras and waxing poetic about The Twilight Zone.
With his easygoing charisma, Russell is, in many ways, a successor to his father, who was able to hold his own in action films and lightweight comedies alike. Russell’s next films look to achieve a similar balance, with the country biopic Blaze and the sci-fi thriller Cloverfield: Overload slated for 2018. Expect both of them to fare well with audiences.
10. Harry Shum, Jr.
Reminiscent Of: John Cho. Like the Harold and Kumar actor, Shum, Jr. can be both easygoing and intense.
In Production: Crazy Rich Asians, Escape Plan 3
Harry Shum, Jr. is a triple threat performer, in that he is an actor, a singer, and a choreographer. He first gained attention playing Mike Chang on Glee, and parlayed the exposure into a starring role on the supernatural series Shadowhunters, where he played the flamboyant warlock Magnus Bane. Being of Chinese descent, Shum, Jr. has also proven popular with international audiences, appearing in the martial arts sequel Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny in 2016.
Another aspect that distinguishes Shum, Jr. from the rest of the actors on this list in his embrace of the web series. He has starred in several over the course of his career, including Mortal Kombat: Legacy and Single by 30, a romantic comedy series that speaks to his impressive range. Next, he will be seen helping Sylvester Stallone and Dave Bautista stage a prison break in Escape Plan 3.