It seems, lately, more and more young actors are getting their chances to show their ability on the big screen and prove their worth. More often, you’re seeing them coming out and finally having their huge breakout roles as the younger generation starts making its mark on the film industry and Hollywood. In that spirit, today we choose our top 10 young actors. Those that will prove to be the most valuable to film in the coming years and prove to possibly be the next generation of stars in Hollywood.
10. Jesse Eisenberg
Most Notable Role: The Squid and the Whale
To me, Jesse Eisenberg has everything that makes Michael Cera good…then so much more. I first took notice of Eisenberg in comedies Adventureland and Zombieland. He plays that young, likable, awkward role so well (much like Cera). With nice comedic timing and the ability to provide a varying nuance to his “awkward young guy” roles, he manages to keep it fresh each time and brings a certain charm and appeal with him. He has all but locked down the king of lovably nerdy status. Even more so after turning in a possibly Oscar-worthy performance in The Social Network. And he manages to do this while still providing a charm and remaining endearing on screen. As a kid you just can’t help but like, I see a very successful future for Eisenberg. He could arguably be the one with the most hidden potential in this list, as Eisenberg reminds me of a young Tom Hanks.
9. Freddie Highmore
Most Notable Role: Finding Neverland
Freddie Highmore may not have the longest resume, but he definitely has some very good performances and big roles already under his belt at such a young age. Finding Neverland proved to be a breakout for him and he turned in a good performance. For me, however, his most shining moment came in August Rush as a musical prodigy trying to find his parents. This was such a mesmerizing and endearing performance that you couldn’t help but love the kid as an actor afterward. He has such a pure and innocent demeanor to him, that he instantly draws you in and elicits a sense of compassion from viewers. Again, he doesn’t have the longest of resumes, however I see huge things for this kid ahead. It should be quite a treat watching him mature as an actor over the coming years.
8. Paul Dano
Most Notable Role: There Will Be Blood
Paul Dano impressed me from the moment I saw him in Little Miss Sunshine. Showing such an outstanding performance without even talking most of the film he epitomized the phrase the silence can be golden. From his first major movie he has been receiving awards and nominations, as he turned in a very well received performance in L.I.E. Since then, he has time and time again been nominated and has received awards. He even received a BAFTA nomination for his work in There Will Be Blood. From his ability to play a likable nerd in The Girl Next Door to turning in a magnificent and eerie performance in There Will Be Blood. Not many actors can hold their ground against legendary Daniel Day-Lewis. However, Dano has proven he definitely can…twice. I see Dano having a very fruitful career ahead of him. Turning in performances that are mature beyond his years, he has all the skill to be one of the best. He may never (hopefully) become one of those Hollywood blockbuster actors. However, I feel he could be a real staple to the independent scene. He has the ability to undoubtedly become a solid, respectable thespian really shining in his work much like Day-Lewis himself.
7. Jamie Bell
Most Notable Role: Billy Elliot
Jamie Bell is one of the more consistent young actors around today. There’s a lot to be said for a guy who wins a BAFTA Best Actor Award in his very first movie (Billy Elliot). On top of that, he did it at the young age of 14. And he beat out Tom Hanks and Russell Crowe to do so. Since then he has remained a reliable actor, although doing mostly supporting work. However, even in this realm he continues to shine in his own way, even standing out stealing the scenes in Jumper for which Hayden Christensen was supposed to be the lead. In his short time, he has gained the respect of many big named directors. Having worked already with Peter Jackson (King Kong) and Clint Eastwood (Flags of Our Fathers). He is now set to take the lead role in Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. He’ll be working again with Daniel Craig in Tintin. He worked with Craig previously in Defiance: another film where he turned in a solid supporting role. While not stealing the show, he did still manage to hang in there with some very fine actors and kept from being completely upstaged. If he can manage to get out the shadow of support work, I think we could see some very good things from Bell, a la Billy Elliot.
6. Shia LaBeouf
Most Notable Role: Transformers
Shia Labeouf is probably the one that most disappoints me in this list. However, I don’t mean that as bad as it may sound (after all, he still does make my list). Shia has shown promise since the beginning. He seems to have it all to truly become a poster boy for Hollywood. Therein might lie his “flaw”. He’s always been able to turn in a charming performance and fits that role of down-to-earth/boy-next-door role so ideally. With great performances in both A Guide to Your Saints and The Greatest Game Ever Played, Shia has shown that he is indeed a very capable actor. Even in roles like I, Robot and Constantine he shows his knack for comedic timing, showing range with his skill. My only qualm with his career is Spielberg’s desire to turn him into that Hollywood poster boy. This has meant him taking many more blockbuster/action film parts. Roles that, unfortunately, don’t allow for him to really spread his wings as an actor or really challenge himself. The fear here is that he may become complacent in his craft. However, there is absolutely no doubt, he definitely has talent. And there’s still huge untapped potential in him, I think. Even in “cliche/safe” roles like his Transformers/Indiana Jones/Eagle Eye type parts, Shia still manages to have a charming and endearing presence about him.
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