In a surprise move, and likely a reflection of this weak year for breakout film stars, THR’s annual Next Gen list for 2012 is dominated by television actors. Out of ten, only four are film actors: Elle Fanning, Rebel Wilson, Joel Kinnaman and Suraj Sharma.
The other six, though some may have dabbled on the big screen, are all new stars of new series on the small screen. Dakota Johnson impressed us with a brief turn in David Fincher’s “The Social Network”, but THR is recognizing her now for her role on new Fox comedy “Ben and Kate.” Andrew Rannells went directly from a Tony-nominated Broadway role in “The Book of Mormon” to being the star of NBC’s “The New Normal.” Stephen Amell has made a career out of guest-starring on various TV series before landing a big break starring on The CW’s “Arrow.” And while Taylor Kinney may have a role in Kathryn Bigelow’s upcoming “Zero Dark Thirty”, he’s more recognizable as the lead of “Chicago Fire.” Mamie Gummer is Meryl Streep’s daughter as well as the star of new CW series “Emily Owens, M.D.” while Zosia Mamet – daughter of David Mamet – is contributing her considerable comedic talents to HBO’s “Girls”, in which she plays scene-stealing Shoshana.
Talented as they may be, all these rising TV stars are, for the foreseeable future, committed to their respective shows and are unlikely to even have time or opportunity to star in any movies. So let’s turn our attention to the four budding movie stars who also squeezed their way onto THR’s list this year.
At the ripe old age of 15, she’s already a seasoned actress, but perhaps now Elle Fanning can finally step out from behind sister Dakota’s shadow and declare that she is a talent to be reckoned with in her own right. She’s always received high remarks for her performances, from “Phoebe in Wonderland” to Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” to JJ Abrams’ “Super 8”, but in Sally Potter’s “Ginger and Rosa”, the younger Fanning sister is earning nothing short of raves – and Oscar buzz – for her role as a young girl coming of age in the tumultuous 1960s. Her acting talent now confirmed, Fanning next turns to bigger productions, playing Sleeping Beauty opposite Angelina Jolie as “Maleficent” in Disney’s live-action fairy tale retelling.
Some are still asking themselves, “where did Rebel Wilson come from?” The Australian comedienne first garnered attention for a small but scene-stealing role opposite Kristen Wiig in last year’s massive hit “Bridesmaids”, and stealing scenes in female-centric comedies has become the bread and butter of Wilson’s repertoire. She did it in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, then again in “Bachelorette”, but perhaps none moreso than in “Pitch Perfect”, in which she made her character Fat Amy an instant pop culture icon. She’s got other comedies coming up, but Wilson is also keen to show off her talents behind the scenes, signing on to write, produce and star in an untitled comedy for Universal.
Joel Kinnaman already had a great career back in his native Sweden, but it was American TV series “The Killing” that put him on Hollywood’s radar. It didn’t hurt that Swedish thriller “Snabba Cash” became a crossover hit with English-speaking audiences as well, and soon Kinnaman began getting cast in big Hollywood movies. He starred in David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (with an expanded role if and when the sequels get rolling), and alongside Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in “Safe House.” He’s now filming what could be his biggest break to date, in Jose Padilha’s reboot of 80s sci-fi action classic “Robocop.”
India native Suraj Sharma had no acting experience to speak of when he beat out over 8,000 other young hopefuls to land the lead, titular role in Ang Lee’s glorious, epic adaptation of “Life of Pi.” Despite the stunning debut, the full time University student isn’t sure acting is his future: “I never really intended to become an actor. Even today, I don’t even know if I can act! All I am sure of is that I want to be a storyteller and make movies.”