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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

who are the most interesting young actors (male and female) working today?

Saoirse Ronan Daniel Radcliffe

The Atlantic thinks that “Michael Cera Might Just Be the Most Interesting Actor of His Generation.” I’m pretty sure I don’t agree, but it got me wondering just whom I would bestow that honor upon.

Who are the most interesting young actors (male and female) working today? As a rough cutoff, let’s say under age 30.

On the guys’ side, I’m gonna pick Daniel Radcliffe. It might not be completely obvious at the moment, but wait until his latest film, Kill Your Darlings, opens in the autumn: he plays a young Allen Ginsberg, and he will astonish you. Others on my list: Zac Efron, Logan Lerman, Robert Pattinson, Emile Hirsch, Jesse Eisenberg, Anton Yelchin, and Chris Hemsworth (who won’t be 30 till next week).

Most interesting actress under 30? Gotta be Saoirse Ronan. She exudes a scary intensity that actors twice her age cannot manage… and eventually I’ll get around to reviewing her latest film, Byzantium, in which she makes you accept without question that she’s a two-hundred-year-old vampire. Others on my list: Dakota Fanning, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Keira Knightley, and Emma Watson.

Your turn…

(If you have a suggestion for a Question, feel free to email me.)

  • PJK

    Are we limiting this to Movies or can we also nominate TV actors?

    In that case I want to nominate Maisie Williams (Arya Stark in Game of Thrones) who really is doing a superb job and whom I suspect we will see doing great work in the future.

  • If they’re actors and working, they’re fair game.

  • RogerBW

    I’d add Allison Scagliotti, who took an underwritten character in Warehouse 13 and brought her to life. I would have said Carey Mulligan, but since she broke out into film I’ve mostly found her work pretty uninteresting (except for Shame).

  • Danielm80

    I would still include Carey Mulligan. I’d also include Tatiana Maslany and possibly Felicity Jones.

    Rebecca Hall, unfortunately, is 31, but she’s one of the most interesting actresses working today.

  • Emil Hyde

    In the international division, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard – who’s still 29. His layered, volatile turn as Christian VII in A ROYAL AFFAIR defied the tendency of films to reduce mentally ill people to bags of quirks. It was so good that I had to remind myself this was a person *acting*, not an actual psychologically disturbed individual just being himself on camera.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Chris Hemsworth isn’t even 30? Yikes. Doesn’t that make him the baby of the Avengers? Oh, no, you’ve got Scarlett Johansson’s clone on the women’s list, and I see that she’s only 28.

    Shia LaBeouf… wait, wait, hear me out… Shia LaBeouf has a pretty high ceiling in terms of talent. He got badly overexposed about 5 years ago, in some films and roles whose problems weren’t actually about him or his performance. i don’t want to get into yet another defense of “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, but Mutt Williams was a poorly developed character. The “Transformers” movies are all about Michael Bay’s fetishes. And I think he was just badly cast in “Wall Street 2”.

    I’d like to see more of Skander Keans, but I’m sure he wants to be seen more.

    Aaron Taylor-Johnson also has a lot of potential. Too bad the “Kick Ass” series hates humanity so much.

    I think Gemma Arterton is waiting for a breakout role in a movie that isn’t schlock. Sadly, she may be waiting a long time.

    I’d like to see more of the vibrant, engaging Emily Browning of “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, and less of the vacant, depressant-addled* Emily Browning of “Sucker Punch” and “Sleeping Beauty”.

    Mila Kunis, who also turns 30 in a week or so, impresses me whenever she can avoid slipping into her Jackie Burkhart schtick.

    * I don’t know that she’s actually on anything, I’m just trying to figure out where her personality went.

  • Emil Hyde

    He’ll probably rename himself Michael Folsgard if and when he breaks into the English-speaking market.

  • RogerBW

    Yes, Gemma Arterton was remarkably good in the first recent St Trinian’s film (which I still think was better than it had any right to be) but seems to have been in a lot of big-budget garbage ever since.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Massie Williams is good, but I kind of feel like she’s doing this precocious thing that I’m not entirely sure is acting. Emilie Clarke is much more impressive as an actress. (And, no, I don’t mean just because we see her boobs so often.)

  • Danielm80

    Have you seen Byzantium? It’s one of my favorite movies of the past year, although it seems to be a divisive film. Gemma Arterton’s performance is quite good, but there are a few scenes where she crosses over into full-on “No wire hangers!” melodrama.

  • RogerBW

    No; I’m looking forward to a DVD release. (I don’t do cinemas as a rule.)

  • Agreed on Rebecca Hall. Plus, she’s totally beautiful.

  • Agreed on Saoirse Ronan. I even thought she was good in the not-that-good The Lovely Bones. Plus, those eyes of hers are mesmerizing.
    How is Kierra Knightley not 30? It feels likes he’s been around forEVER now. She IS consistently great.
    Too bad Emily Blunt is 30, or I’d add her as well. I just wish she would pick some better projects.
    I’m not sure about the men.I definitely don’t agree with Michael Cera, though. He’s very much one-note.

  • amanohyo

    George Alexander Louis and North West – bursting on to the scene as if they were born to perform in front of a camera, these two talented up and coming actors have dealt with the pressures and drama of a meteoric rise stardom with grace, humility, and a laid back attitude worthy of an industry veteran.
    Our roving reporter Jill Gillian recently spotted the hot couple dropping bottles and holding hands at the trendy Burpz club in London. “What did you see Jill?”
    “Hi Mandy. Well, they both met at the exclusive club last night and rented out a private highchair. There were two crazy topless women trying to get GL’s attention for hours, but he only had eyes for North…they’re both totally in love and couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Everyone knows that GL had a huge crush on North when they were zygotes, so the families are incredibly happy to see them finally make it official.”
    “Wow Jill, sounds like this new Hollywood power couple already knows how to work hard and play hard.”
    “Definitely Mandy…they also know how to suck hard and poop soft.”
    “Hahahahahahahahaha… thanks Jill, well stay with us we’ve got a lot more up to the minute news on your favorite stars after the break”

  • Matt Clayton

    I don’t know about Chris Hemsworth. The man has presence, but there hasn’t been a movie he’s done yet that really impressed me. Robert Pattinson has promise, but he needs more directors that can push him to stretch his range further.

    I do agree with you on all the female actors you’ve mentioned. Saoirse Ronan was the best thing about The Host, and she deserves a franchise that really shows off her acting skills. Emma Watson is also one to look out for, even after putting Hermione Granger aside.

  • Bluejay

    I second many of the names already mentioned — particularly Logan Lerman, Saoirse Ronan, Jennifer Lawrence, Maisie Williams. I’m about to start watching Orphan Black, and from what I’ve heard about it, I have a feeling I’ll agree with Danielm80 about Tatiana Maslany too.

    Although she’s done very little on film or TV (as far as I know), she *is* a working actor under 30: the world needs to know about Patina Miller. She recently won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as the Leading Player in Pippin. Suave, seductive, predatory, possessed of a gorgeous voice, and astonishingly athletic, she completely commands the stage and owns the role so completely you almost forget Ben Vereen ever existed. I wish more people, not just Broadway fans, could see what she can do. After seeing her in Pippin I’m convinced she can do anything.

  • I don’t know about Chris Hemsworth. The man has presence, but there hasn’t been a movie he’s done yet that really impressed me.

    Wait till you see *Rush*… :->

  • northernstar

    Jack O’Connell – an astoundingly talented young man who deserves to have a very bright future ahead of him.

  • I agree with everyone I’ve seen listed here. I’d add ALL the Game of Thrones kids, even the kid who plays Geoffrey. And I would never underrate Daniel Radcliffe. He developed so much over the years, has played some risky roles (even some of the later Potter was a little risky) and gives great interviews.

  • Wait, MaryAnn, you don’t think Michael Cera should be on this list? I do.

  • rurugby

    Would go Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone, with Jennifer Lawrence a definite close second. I can’t say I know Ms. Ronan’s work as well. And Michael Cera is an insane choice, he always plays the same character.

  • Danielm80

    I was going to suggest Matt Smith, just to be divisive, but he’s 31. And actually, he looks older, by almost a thousand years.

  • PJK

    Allison also had a nice small role in the episode 20 of season 2 of Person Of Interest called “In Extremis” (a really terrific show which everybody should watch).

    POI is my number 2 show at the moment, after Game Of Thrones.

  • Robert McCoy

    Agreed. Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner in particular.

  • judes

    I’m curious to know why Zac Efron is on your list?

  • *High School Musical 3,* *Me and Orson Welles,* *17 Again,* *Hairspray.* He is wonderfully charismatic in almost everything he’s been in. He hasn’t found the right adult roles yet, but someone will figure out what to do with him soon, I hope. (I haven’t seen *Paperboy* yet.)

  • No. I have not been overly impressed with him. I don’t dislike him, either, though. And I’m looking forward to *Crystal Fairy.*

  • Oh yes to Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Have you seen *Nowhere Boy*? Amazing movie, and he’s amazing in it.

  • Loved him in Juno, but when I later saw a few episodes of Arrested Development…yeah, he does tend to play the same character.

  • Anne

    I think Emilia Clarke needs more acting classes. She doesn’t know how to use her eyes in acting out a scene. She could learn a thing or two from Maisie. The girl knows how to use her face and eyes in delivering a scene

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