Breaking down THR’s “New A-List” list

November 15, 2010 | Posted By and In Features, Lists | 2526 Views

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The new issue of The Hollywood Reporter features Chris Pine on the cover and a list of young male actors who are “pushing – or being pushed” into taking over Hollywood as the new “A-List”. With most established movie stars all well into their 40s, it does seem high time to start forecasting their successors. But how on target is THR’s list? Are the nine young men the studios putting their money and tentpoles on talented, likable and versatile enough to take over for the likes of Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Johnny Depp? We take a look at the star-power potential of Chris Pine, Taylor Lautner, Bradley Cooper, Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Renner, Shia Labeouf, Taylor Kitsch and Sam Worthington.

Chris Pine
Biggest Hit: “Star Trek”
Upcoming Potential: “Star Trek II”
Our take: Pine proves he has some versatility starting out in young-skewing romantic comedies opposite Lindsay Lohan (“Just My Luck”) and Anne Hathaway (“The Princess Diaries 2”) and made the sometimes difficult transition into not only serious adult roles, but serious action roles with ease. After helping make “Star Trek” a hit, he went on to do more action alongside Denzel Washington in the current release “Faster”, but he remains versatile, also headlining romantic comedy meets actioner “This Means War” opposite Reese Witherspoon. Pine probably has a better shot at most others on this list at emulating the careers of current A-Listers like Matt Damon juggling drama with action and comedy with ease.

Taylor Lautner
Biggest Hit: “The Twilight Saga”
Upcoming Potential: “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”, “Stretch Armstrong”
Our take: Lautner hasn’t proved much of anything about himself as an actor yet. Whoever was cast as Jacob in the “Twilight” saga could be in his shoes right now, and without any box office reports to go on post “Twilight”, it’s just way too soon to tell whether he has any appeal for a non-“Twilight” audience. After all, his arguably more popular co-stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have failed to translate their “Twilight” fame into box office gold. Lautner has actioner “Abduction” down the line, but we have serious doubts that “the shirtless kid from Twilight” could be taken seriously as an action hero by the general movie going public.

Ryan Reynolds
Biggest Hit: “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”
Upcoming Potential: “Green Lantern”, “Deadpool”
Our take: The inclusion of Reynolds on this list baffles us, since it could easily be argued that he has already arrived at the point the other men on the list are still striving for. Reynolds has proven that he appeals to both men and women, can bring in an audience on a romantic comedy (“The Proposal”) or an action flick (“Wolverine”) and seemingly has his pick of upcoming studio pictures. Isn’t Ryan Reynolds an A-Lister already? We say yes.

Jeremy Renner
Biggest Hit: “The Hurt Locker”
Upcoming Potential: “Mission Impossible 4”, “The Avengers”
Our take: “The Hurt Locker” didn’t make any money, but it sure did win a lot of Oscars! In addition to taking home Best Picture, it earned Renner a nod for Lead Actor, and he’s been riding high on the wave ever since. He was hand-picked by Tom Cruise to co-headline “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and will play Hawkeye in “The Avengers”. It’s good to see Renner lend his tremendous dramatic talents to bigger budget action movies, as his inclusion in a cast seems to elevate projects and give them more gravitas. Will big-budget action movies benefit him in return?

Shia LaBeouf
Biggest Hit: “Transformers”
Upcoming Potential: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Our Take: It seems as if people in the media have been predicting LaBeouf as “The Next Big Thing” for years. When “Disturbia” became a sleeper hit, he seemed poised for stardom. When “Transformers” predictably conquered the box office, he made the lists again. He’s also made a habit of playing “the next generation” to iconic characters like Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones and Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gecko, but LaBeouf still has yet to truly prove himself a movie star. Can he stand on his own and headline a successful movie without the help of giant robots or Indiana Jones?

Taylor Kitsch
Biggest Hit: “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”
Upcoming Potential: “Battleship”, “John Carter of Mars”
Our Take: Best known for his role in Emmy-nominated TV show “Friday Night Lights”, Kitsch began his transition from small screen to big screen with the action-packed “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and will continue this trend with the upcoming “John Carter of Mars”, where Kitsch will finally take a central role. However, Kitsch has yet to prove he has A List potential: Can he carry a romantic comedy? How about serious dramas? His matinee-idol good looks had girls swooning on the small screen, but many TV actors will tell you that doesn’t always guarantee a successful movie career. Until he makes his next move after “Battleship”, even if it turns out to be a commercial success, we can’t see him redefining Hollywood just yet. He will have to show more range in his movie roles before we dub him as part of the New A-List.

Sam Worthington
Biggest Hit: “Avatar”
Upcoming Potential: “Clash of the Titans 2”
Our Take: There is no actor more in demand to star in action movies than Sam Worthington at the moment. Starring in the biggest film of all time, “Avatar”, has made his star soar, and he followed it up with the commercially successful but critically panned “Clash of the Titans”. Worthington has a reputation for not showing much emotion or range in his acting, which doesn’t hinder his action star status but might prove problematic if he wants to move beyond typecasting.

Chris Hemsworth
Biggest hit: “Star Trek”
Upcoming Potential: “Thor”, “The Avengers”
Our Take: We’ll just come out and say it: Chris Hemsworth stole our hearts in his five minutes of screen time in the opening scenes of “Star Trek”. We’re not sure if it was that same performance that made director Kenneth Branagh cast him as the title role in “Thor” but superhero is where he’s headed next, in both “Thor” and “The Avengers”. “Thor” will have to do huge box office to rev up anticipation for “The Avengers”, and then Hemsworth has to show he can hold his own opposite the likes of Robert Downey Jr and Samuel L Jackson. Beyond being Thor, whether Hemsworth has what it takes to become a household name in his own right remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure: he’s got the charisma and screen presence to easily become an A-Lister, if he makes the right choices.

Bradley Cooper
Biggest hit: “The Hangover”
Upcoming Potential: “The Hangover II”
Our Take: Taking what could arguably be the lead role in the smash-hit comedy of 2009 “The Hangover” and headlining “The A-Team” this summer, Cooper has all the makings of an A List Hollywood star. However, his only romantic comedy, “All About Steve”, failed to light up the box office. Granted, “All About Steve” was complete garbage (it has the Razzies to prove it), but headlining a romantic comedy opposite queen-of-romantic-comedy herself Sandra Bullock should have been a cake walk, at least on opening weekend. He’s also starred in more successul ensemble female-friendly vehicles “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Valentine’s Day”, but in supporting and frankly forgettable roles. If Cooper continues to take on both guy and girl friendly films and turn them into bigger box office draws, he could easily be a member of the new A-List.

So what have we garnered from THR’s “New A-List” list? Action stars are the ones who have the best shot of becoming A-Listers, or is that just an assumption based on the fact that their movies have higher budgets and bigger expected box office? Can playing one superhero make someone an A-Lister? There is some A-List potential on this list, sure, but we are betting more than a couple of them will disappear into their action movie character and not emerge on the other side with their star power in tact. Personally, we see more A-List potential in some names conspicuously left off of THR’s list. Andrew Garfield, the new Spider-Man, for one. “Tron” star Garrett Hedlund also seems to be making smart choices. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s star is rising undeniably fast too. And what about the girls? Emma Stone, Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried and more are all making waves of their own. Stay tuned to Up and Comers as we will bring you a new weekly feature where we spotlight a rising actor or actress who we feel has great potential to be a future A-Lister.

Whoever ends up being on the new A-List, we can’t wait to follow their careers and brag about how we knew them when they were just an unknown name on a list!


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Linda is currently a Film Reporter at TheWrap. She studied Film & Digital Media at the University of California. She likes David Fincher, New York City, and cats. She founded Up&Comers in 2010. You can find more of her random ramblings, 140 characters at a time, on Twitter @lindazge.