2011 Young Hollywood—Part 2: The Actors

(Re-posted from limitémagazine.com)

In this second and final installment of the “Young Hollywood” series, we explore some of film’s young actors under the age of 30.

Please feel free to add on to the conversation by posting a comment on others you feel should be added onto this list.

(Click here to check out Young Hollywood — Part 1: The Filmmakers.)

Elle Fanning

by Curtis John, with contributions by Daniel Quitério

Age: 13

From: Conyers, GA

Credits: Super 8 (2011), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

While JJ Abrams’s Super 8 wasn’t the blockbuster that many were expecting, the true success of it is that it put Elle Fanning squarely on the Hollywood map. It’s not as if she hasn’t appeared in other flicks or that we don’t look twice at her surname and realize that her sister Dakota has the coolest of movie credits to her name at only age 17.

It’s not that.

It’s that a look in her doe-like eyes tells us that there is still innocence and no (at least not yet) annoying precociousness that imbues many young Hollywood actresses.

In her still young career, Fanning has managed to step out of her older sister’s shadow, taking on some demanding parts and proving herself as a formidable actress, in her own right. Among them is the title role in 2008’s Phoebe in Wonderland, in which she starred opposite Patricia Clarkson, Felicity Huffman, and Bill Pullman as a troubled girl in a school play. Two years later, she starred in Sofia Coppola’s fourth feature, Somewhere (2010).

As she continues to build her career, let us enjoy the skill with which young Elle amuses us and treasure its pureness, and hope that she can be the star she’s destined to be as she appears next in Twixt with Val Kilmer and We Bought a Zoo with Matt Damon, both of which are slated to release later this year.

Andrew Garfield

by John Lee

Age: 27

From: Surrey, England

Credits: The Social Network (2010), Never Let Me Go (2010)

Andrew Garfield has ascended into one of Hollywood’s most sought after young actors in a relatively short time. Born in Los Angeles, his family left the starry hills when he was three and moved to the UK where he was raised in Surrey, England. Garfield started his acting career in small theater productions, quickly moving into UK television movies, where he garnered attention for his sensitive performance in 2007’s Boy A. That same year, he moved onto films with a part in Lions for Lambs, starring opposite Robert Redford, who also directed the film. From there, he went onto a supporting part in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (2009), which starred Heath Ledger in his last role.

Garfield’s next two performances defined him as one of Hollywood’s best young actors working today. In Mark Romanek’s film adaptation of author Kazuo Ishiguro’s best-selling novel Never Let Me Go, Garfield gave a wonderfully visceral performance as a student who learns the dire purpose of his existence. His next part, in David Fincher’s critically acclaimed film The Social Network, became his breakout role. In the film, Garfield portrayed Eduardo Saverin, who is the co-founder of Facebook and former best friend of Mark Zuckerberg’s. Garfield’s searing performance, which is the heart of the film, earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

With the announcement of his casting as Peter Parker in next year’s Mark Webb-directed The Amazing Spider-Man, the name and face of Andrew Garfield was catapulted into the mainstream. Whether we need a reboot so soon of such a successful trilogy is debatable. One thing you can be sure of, no matter how the film turns out, is that Garfield’s performance will be compelling.

Freddie Highmore

by Stephanie Dawson

Age: 19

From: London, England

Credits: The Art of Getting By (2011), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).

Freddie Highmore’s breakout role came at the age of 12 when he played Peter Llewelyn Davies, the inspiration for JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, in Finding Neverland (2004), opposite Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. Depp was so impressed by the young talent that he requested Highmore for the title role in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the next year. He continued to entertain with diverse roles in films like August Rush (2007), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), and Astro Boy (2009). In the latter three, he dropped his British accent for a neutral American accent without flaw.

Highmore started in television movies when he was 7. He may have been destined for acting because his father is actor Edward Highmore and his mother, Sue Latimore, is an agent whose clientele includes Daniel Radcliffe and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake). Highmore has such raw talent, particularly with drama, that it’s no wonder he has landed many accolades, including the Empire Award for Best Newcomer (2004), Broadcast Film Critics Award, Satellite Outstanding New Talent (2005), and a Saturn Award (2008). In addition to acting, Highmore is fluent in French, he plays the clarinet, and has enrolled in college to study French and Arabic.

Currently, the actor can be seen in the coming-of-age drama The Art of Getting By, and Toast, a BBC biopic of chef Nigel Slater. If Highmore’s past body of work is representative of what is to come, he’s going to bring some tremendous characters to the screen in the coming years.

Nicholas Hoult

by Janice Perez

Age: 21

From: Berkshire, England

Credits: X-Men: First Class (2011), A Single Man (2009)

Nicholas Hoult first captured the hearts of audiences worldwide with his endearing role as  Marcus in Paul and Chris Weitz’s About a Boy (2002). Playing the role of a fatherless 13-year-old dealing with several adolescent issues, Hoult was a perfect match to Hugh Grant’s carousing, indifferent character. The duo’s on-screen chemistry as a pseudo father-and-son pair made the film successful globally, and much accolade was given to the young Hoult as a formidable talent on the rise.

Fast forward to seven years later, and much to audience’s surprise, Hoult captivated hearts again, this time playing a very different and more mature role — as Colin Firth’s potential love interest in Tom Ford’s breakout film A Single Man. Capturing the same intensity he exuded in About a Boy, Hoult’s character in A Single Man explores controversial territory dealing with homosexuality and identity, but the actor pulled it off so well to the extent that producer Robert Salerno once said in an interview that “the most compelling reason why the film worked, apart from Colin, is all because of Nick.”

It’s been a very productive time for Hoult post A Single Man, with such films as Clash of the Titans (2010) and X-Men: First Class under his belt. At present, he is exploring a variety of roles that, in foresight, will allow him to prove his range as an actor, namely with Jack the Giant Killer (as Jack) and Mad Max: Fury Road (as Nux).

Zoë Kravitz

by John Lee

Age: 22

From: Brooklyn, NY

Credits: X-Men: First Class (2011), The Brave One (2007)

Being the daughter of two famous parents — actress Lisa Bonet (TV’s The Cosby Show) and musician Lenny Kravitz — you could say it was inevitable that Zoë Kravitz was pre-destined for show business.

Born in Venice Beach, California, Kravitz lived with her mother after her parents divorced in 1993 until she was 11. She then lived with her father and attended school in Manhattan. Her first acting role came while she was still in high school, in 2007’s No Reservations, which starred Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. That same year, she also starred with Jodie Foster and Terrance Howard as a teenage prostitute in The Brave One.

A few years later, Kravitz went on to star in Ryan Fleck’s and Anna Boden’s independent feature It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010). She then transitioned to television, where she started a multi-episode arc on the Showtime series Californication, playing Pearl, a free-spirited musician in an all-girl band.

Her most notable and critically acclaimed work has been in this year’s independent film Yelling to the Sky. Playing the main character of Sweetness O’Hara, her gritty, realistic performance was compelling and truthful. Her profile was also boosted into the mainstream by her appearance in this summer’s blockbuster X-Men: First Class, playing the insect-winged mutant Angel Salvadore.

Kravitz’s career will continue to grow, as she was recently cast in the now delayed George Miller reboot of his Mad Max series, entitled Fury Road, which will star Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.

Bailee Madison

by Stephanie Dawson

Age: 11

From: Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Credits: Just Go with It (2011), Brothers (2009)

Actress Bailee Madison got her start in an Office Depot commercial when she was only two weeks old, but most may remember her as May Belle in Bridge to Terabithia (2007). She received Young Artists Awards for Performances by Actors Under 10 Years Old for Terabithia, her guest appearance on TV’s House, and the TV movie The Last Day of Summer (2007). Her complex role of Isabelle Cahill in 2009’s Brothers opposite Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire, and Jake Gyllenhaal, garnered Madison both Critics Choice and Saturn award nominations for performances by a young actor.

Now, at 11, she is routinely getting roles as “the cute child of … ” (i.e., Jennifer Aniston’s daughter in Just Go with It or Felicity Huffman’s daughter in Phoebe in Wonderland [2008]). Madison is also guest starring on coveted children’s shows like Disney’s Emmy-winning Wizards of Waverly Place. But she has already shown a strong range of talent that transcends age. The young actress can be the adorable kid, but she can also be tortured as she was in Brothers, or fragile as she was in Conviction (2010). She has been referred to as an “old soul” and many credit her for being very mature and composed, as well as a fun-loving kid.

Audiences will next see Madison in the leading role of Sally Hirst in the much-anticipated horror fantasy Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, from producer/screenwriter Guillermo del Toro. Madison’s versatility is quite advanced for her young age, making her one to watch for the future.

Rooney Mara

by Morgan Goldin

Age: 26

From: Bedford, NY

Credits: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), The Social Network (2010)

Serving as the “rosebud” to Mark Zuckerberg’s Citizen Kane, Rooney Mara makes an indelible impression in the 2010 film The Social Network. With only a couple of scenes in the film, her character casts a pall over the film, as the story implies it’s the character’s break-up with Zuckerberg that inspires the creation of the multi-billion dollar Internet empire, Facebook. David Fincher, the film’s director, believed enough in her acting chops to cast her as the goth cyber-punk princess Lisbeth Salander in his American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, based on the Swedish Millennium book trilogy by late author Stieg Larsson.

Early in her career, Mara found work in television, taking parts on shows like Law & Order: SVU, Women’s Murder Club, and The Cleaner. She was inspired to pursue acting by her older sister, Kate Mara (127 Hours [2010], Brokeback Mountain [2005]). Aside from acting, Mara manages the charity Faces of Kibera, an organization that provides shelter care and medical necessities to orphans in Kibera, a slum located inKenya.

After signing on for a three-picture deal for the lead in the enormously popular The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, expect Rooney Mara’s profile to significantly rise.

Freida Pinto

by Curtis John

Age: 26

From: Bombay, India

Credits: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010), Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

It’s difficult to maintain journalistic integrity while fighting the urge to comment on Freida Pinto’s beauty. To be frank, it’s downright painful. So let’s get it out of the way — Freida Pinto is hands down in the top five (hey, this is my list) of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood. And dare I say, the world?

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about her work.

While we haven’t seen her much since her Slumdog debut, Pinto is coming back in a major way this summer co-starring with James Franco in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a present day origin story of the sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes franchise. And from all appearances it’s not a race-specific role, which should allow her to flex her acting muscles for the world to see. But wait, there’s more!

Slated to release later this year is Immortals, a stylistic 300-like film in which Pinto appears as the visionary priestess Phaedra alongside Henry Cavill (the next Superman) and Mickey Rourke. Next is Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna, a modern take on Thomas Hardy’s tragic book Tess of the d’Ubervilles, but set inIndia instead of Victorian England. We’ll see whether that’s a good or bad thing, but either way, audiences will be happy to see her.

Saoirse Ronan

by Daniel Quitério

Age: 17

From: County Carlow, Ireland

Credits: Hanna (2011), The Lovely Bones (2009)

“And the Oscar goes to … ”

Mark these words and remember them, because Saoirse Ronan (pronounced seer-sha, or sur-sha [as she prefers]) will be standing on that stage one day. We got just a little taste in 2008 when, at the age of 13, she became one of the youngest actors to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her head-turning performance in Joe Wright’s Atonement. In the film, she played the snobbish Briony Tallis, the younger sister of Keira Knightley’s character, who accuses Knightley’s boyfriend (James McAvoy) of a crime he didn’t commit. Although Knightley was most often cited as the “lead” in the film, it was Ronan’s character who acted as the catalyst for the film’s narrative, and it was Ronan, herself, who commanded the screen.

The Irish actor went on to star in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, based on the best-selling novel by Alice Sebold. Although the film received mixed reviews, Ronan was praised for her performance and the film earned veteran actor Stanley Tucci an Oscar nomination for his supporting role.

Ronan continued to work with some more of Hollywood’s heavyweight filmmakers with performances in Peter Weir’s The Way Back (2010) and a return to director Joe Wright in this year’s Hanna, in which she played a teenage assassin. Ronan’s varied roles have showcased her unbelievable versatility as an actor and have solidified her as a new force to be reckoned with on the silver screen. The actor has several more movies currently in the works, including Neil Jordan’s Byzantium and Andrew Niccol’s much-anticipated The Host, which is based on the best-selling sci-fi novel by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer.

Jaden Smith

by Morgan Goldin

Age: 13

From: Malibu, California

Credits: The Karate Kid (2010), The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Practically Hollywood royalty, the son of Jada Pinkett Smith and reigning box-office draw Will Smith, Jaden (along with his little sister Willow) seems poised to dominate the entertainment landscape. According to his Wikipedia page, Smith is an actor, a rapper, a songwriter, and a dancer — not too bad for the son of the “Fresh Prince.”

Smith made his acting debut opposite his father in the 2006 drama The Pursuit of Happyness. Watching this real-life father-son duo enact such harrowing scenes of poverty and hardship lent the film a certain gravity. Smith and his father pulled out such tremendous performances from each other, so much so that the younger Smith was awarded Best Breakthrough Performance at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. The young actor’s next project was the science-fiction remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008). But it was his next film, a remake of the beloved ’80s film The Karate Kid, that really upped his star power. Acting opposite Jackie Chan, the film was a surprise summer blockbuster hit, and showed that Smith had audience drawing power of his own.

Whether he devotes his career to acting or spends more time on the music side, pop culture will surely feel Smith’s presence one way or another. Hollywood is almost his own personal playground. If his career is even half as prosperous as his father’s, expect Jaden Smith to be entertaining audiences for decades to come.

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