Fall 2012 looks incredibly promising, with film offerings ranging from guilty pleasures (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2) to Oscar bait (The Master) to shocking fun (Django Unchained). But while you’ve already read through the movie previews telling you which films to see in theaters and which to rent on Netflix six months from now, we wanted to do something slightly different. We’re highlighting seven actors who you may never have heard of, in indie and mainstream movies that are getting tons of buzz.
For one of these actors, it’s his first movie; one actress, you’ve seen in three different movies but probably didn’t realize all three roles were her. Here’s your guide to the young — and in one case, over-thirty — actors that everyone will be talking about this fall.
Caleb Landry Jones, Antiviral: Caleb has had some small parts in pretty big movies of the last few years — No Country for Old Men, The Social Network – and cut his teeth on TV shows like Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad. Most recently, he played the sweetly scared Banshee in last summer’s X-Men: First Class. But chances are you didn’t connect that shaggy-haired superhero-in-training with the chilling stalker he plays in Antiviral. In a near future where people can get injected with the diseases that their favorite celebrities suffer from, Caleb’s character Syd March makes the mistake of putting a virus in his bloodstream that ends up killing his dream actress. With the clock ticking, he has to figure out what killed her before he suffers the same fate. The trailer is utterly chilling, with Caleb a gaunt, obsessive figure delving through blood and cloned flesh meals. You almost don’t want him to smile, because you know exactly what’s behind it.
Photo: Rhombus Media
Samantha Barks, Les Miserables: Sure, everyone’s talking about Anne Hathaway chopping off her hair and losing all that weight for Les Mis, but let’s not forget the actress who has to actually carry the movie. Stage star Barks got her start after finishing third on the BBC talent show-themed series I’d Do Anything, performed in Oliver!, and then won the role of Eponine in the upcoming adaptation of the beloved musical. She beat out rumored stars Taylor Swift, Lea Michele, and Scarlett Johansson… and judging from the production photo, boy does she look the part.
Photo: Universal Pictures
Suraj Sharma, Life of Pi: Director Ang Lee wanted a crop of unknowns for his adaptation of the famous novel; he ended up cutting Tobey Maguire from the film because he simply didn’t fit as a supporting character. So it’s not surprising that instead of going with a Dev Patel type, he cast 17-year-old newcomer Suraj. He beat out 3,000 other young men who auditioned for the role of a young boy stranded in the ocean with a tiger following a massive shipwreck. That’s incredibly taxing for a first movie project, but Lee has nothing but praise for his star: “He gives an emotional performance in a movie that has the look of a family film, but it’s also a movie about big ideas. I hope people will spend weeks talking about it—that’s my idea of a family film.”
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Ben Whishaw, Cloud Atlas and Skyfall: Ben looks to be one of those late-career actors whose fame will come later than some others, but for deserving projects. Though he’s on the cusp of mainstream appeal, the 31-year-old actor has not dicked around with his past projects. Take, for instance, his starring role in 2006′s chilling drama Perfume: The Story of a Murderer—not many people saw it, but those who did rave at his sympathetic take on a troubled young man whose superhuman sense of smell compels him to murder women so he can bottle up their scent. He’s one of the few Cloud Atlas stars to play only one character, but he’s the one who composes the Cloud Atlas Sextet that unites so many characters later in the film. And he’ll be playing a surprisingly young Q opposite Daniel Craig in the latest Bond movie.
Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Smashed: Can Winstead still be termed a “rising” star? I would say so, if only because she takes such varied roles that it’s difficult to equate all of them. Because yes, the girl who was Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World also faced off against a shapeshifting alien in The Thing and also played a First Lady in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. She was often the best parts of these movies, so it’s exciting to see her really take the lead in the drama Smashed. She’s gotten rave reviews for playing a young teacher struggling to come to terms with her alcoholism even as her loving husband (Aaron Paul) won’t give up the sauce.
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics
Logan Lerman, The Perks of Being a Wallflower: If you’re a dedicated WB fan, you grew up watching Logan on Jack & Bobby as one of two brothers who grows up to become President of the United States. And yet, I feel like fewer people know Logan than should—maybe because his lookalike Aaron Johnson rose to fame faster, or because his franchise Percy Jackson and the Olympians has a very specific audience. However, he is clearly the heart and soul of the upcoming teen film Perks; I can already feel my chest tightening thinking of his unrequited love for Emma Watson‘s character. I’m hoping that after Perks comes out, audiences will go to Netflix and pull up some of Logan’s past great performances, like in the futuristic film Gamer opposite Gerard Butler.
Photo: Summit Entertainment
Amy Acker, Much Ado About Nothing: When you think of Joss Whedon‘s women, your mind is more likely to jump to his most famous female ass-kicker, Sarah Michelle Gellar, or at least the other fairly well-known types he’s nurtured to fame, like Felicia Day and Cobie Smulders. But Acker is one of those stars who’s been part of the Whedonverse much longer than most of these ladies. Every new role she pops up in, you’re psyched to see her, because you know that she’ll bring a mix of wry humor and surprising darkness. I loved her as the foil to the two male techs in Cabin in the Woods, and I can’t wait to see her Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. A Whedon take on Shakespeare’s most sarcastic lovers? Done.
Photo: Bellwether Pictures