Sheer acting talent and international appeal. That's what matter the most in our top 50 young actors list. But being popular doesn't hurt either, so we have that covered too! While you might think being cast in a huge box hit will rank high, think again- we believe you need to be more than just a box office star to be considered an actor.
10. Gael Garcia Bernal:
If there is one actor we are absolutely certain to be a bonafide political and social activist, then it has to be Gael Garcia Bernal. His brand of political activism is not limited to attending benefit concerts or being photographed in a refugee camp, he goes beyond the cliché and takes it further to where the real action is.
Says Gael: “I think we're all political, in a way. What has happened recently in my case is that, fortunately, I've been able to get more in touch with the things I can change and do.”
Just like in real life, his choice of roles reflects his ideals and principles. He is perhaps best known as the young Che Guevarra in The Motorcycle Diaries, as the rebellious Elvis Valderez in The King and as Padre Amaro in the explosive drama El Crimen del padre Amaro. With no mainstream Hollywood film to his credit, Bernal still managed to reach a worldwide audience with his thoughtful and provocative portrayals of young, rebellious and often outsiders in society. Together with good friend Diego Luna, he is now actively pursuing film production and directing; thus giving him more opportunity to produce and star in movies that deal with the most pressing social issues of the day.
Why he's on the top 10: Bernal is not only an amazing actor, he is now also a producer and film director. Aside from the fact that the most amazing filmmakers want him on their movies!
Latest Movies: New movies lined up include El Pasado, Rudy y Cursi, Blindness and Mammoth.
9. Jake Gyllenhaal:
With a talent and instinct beyond his years, Jake Gyllenhaal proves an actor can be both a media celebrity and a critically acclaimed actor. Known for his antics on TV talk shows, Gyllenhaal has charmed his way into the hearts of American audiences. But the guy has international appeal and a following that could rival today’s biggest stars.
Famous Roles: His role as the disturbed teen Donnie Darko and as gulf war veteran Anthony Swofford in Sam Mendes’ Jarhead. But most famous for his role in Brokeback Mountain as the passionate and idealistic Jack Twist opposite Heath Ledger.
Why he’s on the top10: Movie lovers easily recognize Jake for his intensity and dedication to his roles. Not easily blinded by the glitz and glamour of being a celebrity, he remains true to his craft and continues to play challenging and interesting roles. Says Jake:
“Some movies you fall a step behind and some you stay in the same place, make the same choices. And then sometimes there are people who know more than you but show you, and that's the maximum you can hope for - doing that with someone who says, "I like you for what you are, and I want you to be in my picture." I didn't have to fake it or put on a mask - all the resources I had inside me were more than adequate. I don't want to pretend to be something ... I'm not pretending any more to fit somebody's mold. That's a long-winded statement but - why not do what you really think, even if it's a mistake?”
Coming up: Starring with Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire in the highly-anticipated feature called Brothers.
8. Ben Foster:
He's the star you love to hate. Ben Foster seems to prefer playing the bad guy that Hollywood has began to offer him just that- the evil villain! In his three recent films- 30 Days of Night, 3:10 to Yuma and Alpha Dog, Foster was relentless, vicious even, as he played three different characters with such power and conviction, you might run away from him if you happen to meet the guy in public!
As the cold-blooded killer Charlie Prince, Ben Wade's (Russell Crowe) sidekick in 3:10 to Yuma, Foster was perfect for the role. Boston Globe's critic Ty Burr described Foster performance as "mesmerizing."
Aside from the 3 recent movies mentioned, Ben is also known for his role as Ben Kurtzman in Barry Levinson's Liberty Heights. It's one of Foster's earliest roles. He also played Warren Worthington III / Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand.
Coming up: A lead role in Birds of America.
7. Gaspard Ulliel:
Representing the new wave of French leading men, Gaspard Ulliel has both the looks and the talent to make it big in the world stage. Nominated three times for Most Promising Male Newcomer at the César Awards, the former male model's acting career is just taking off.
"The only child of a stylist father and a runway-show producer mother, the French-born Ulliel grew up around the Parisian fashion world but did not give much thought to his own creative pursuits until age 11, when a family friend provided his entree into film. "She was opening an agency for young actors and asked me to join," Ulliel explains. Small parts in several French TV movies quickly followed, but it was his role last year as a World War II-era drifter in Strayed that made critics take notice. "
Famous roles: Aside from Strayed where he played the mysterious teen Jean Delgas (Yvan), he was also noted for his role as Manech, the long lost lover of Audrey Tautou in A Very Long Engagement. But American audiences will remember him for his role as the young Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal Rising.
Why he's on the top10: Not only does he bring an international flavor to the list, he is also tMF's most requested and most popular actor.
6. Michael Cera:
Comedy as they say is not for everyone. You need to be an extremely talented actor to make viewers laugh. But Michael Cera certainly can and it seems comedy is his forte. He is so good at it; he’s been cast in a number of upcoming high-profile comedic roles.
From playing George Michael Bluth in the offbeat Fox comedy Arrested Development to his more recent roles in Superbad and Juno (as Ellen Page’s partner, Paulie Bleeker), Cera is looking forward to more comedy, and fame of course.
Cera, along with Clark Duke, wrote and starred in a series of short videos released on their website. In 2007, they signed a deal with CBS Television to write, produce, direct, and act in a short-form comedy series entitled Clark and Michael. Cera is also currently in a band called The Long Goodbye with Clark Duke and Christian Buenaventura.
Why he's on the top 10: Definitely a future star in comedy films, Cera is comedy's star of the future.
5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt:
After a hustling gig that turned violent, we see Neil (Gordon-Levitt) silently licking his wounds as he stared at his bruises and cuts, silently he cries – he must have realized he’s all alone and that there’s no one to help him or even listen to him…
Such was the performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Greg Arakki’s Mysterious Skin, that almost all critics agreed- Levitt is the young actor to watch! Of course, Levitt is no ‘one-movie wonder’, as Brick from director Rian Johnson proves.
"Most scripts are bad. I read a lot of them. "Brick" was a good script just to read. It was like, 'Oh my God, these words feel so good in my mouth.' A lot of movies try to set up a world with cool sets, costumes, camera work. In "Brick," the world is born from the words."
After graduating from some formulaic coming of age roles, Levitt first started to establish his reputation as a young actor in the TV hit 3rd Rock from the Sun. While it made him famous, Levitt decided to leave the show even though it commands a high approval rating among TV audiences. He went to college but decided that acting is the right career for him. Film buffs seem to agree.
Famous Roles: Aside from playing Neil in Mysterious Skin, he is best know as Brendan Frye in the teen noir Brick and as Chris Pratt in The Lookout.
Why he’s on the top10: We would not be surpised if he plays Spidey or even do a romantic comedy or perhaps play a murderous psychopathic looking for his next victim. Levitt can all do that and that’s why he’s on the top 10.
Coming Up: 4 new features- Stop Loss, Uncertainty, The Frog King and GI Joe.
Coming Up: 4 new productions for 2008, including an important role in Nikki Caro's The Vintner's Luck, together with Jeremie Renier.
4. Emile Hirsch:
He is everybody’s dreamboy- young, gorgeous and handsome. As Sedgewick Bell in The Emperor’s Club he charmed his way into our hearts. But as Duncan in The Mudge Boy he brought in a certain vulnerability into his character that we’re utterly convinced he’s no ordinary young actor. Hirsch continues to amaze and at this moment, he is Hollywood’s most promising young lead actor.
Famous Roles: Aside from the roles already mentioned, Hirsch is also known as Jay in Lords of Dogtown, and as Christopher McCandless in Sean Penn’s latest feature Into the Wild, the one role that’s giving the young actor Oscar buzz.
Why he’s on the top10: He is the most exciting young Hollywood talent this very minute.
Coming Up: Two upcoming high-profile movies- Milk now in pre-production where he plays Cleve Jones and Speed Racer in the title role.
3: James McAvoy:
First ever winner of the Orange Rising star award, James McAvoy is already a big name in British cinema before he received acclaim for his role in The Last King of Scotland, opposite eventual Oscar winner, Forest Whitaker. Playing lead roles in not just 1 but 3 featured films this year- Starter for Ten, Becoming Jane, and Atonement- McAvoy is the star on the rise.
Famous Roles: His role as Steve, a nice guy and prosperous car salesman in the BBC series Shameless and as Nicholas Garrigan, a Scottish doctor who arrives in Uganda in the early 1970s to serve as dictator Idi Amin's personal physician in The Last King of Scotland.
Why he’s on the top10: There was this scene in Atonement when Robbie Turner (McAvoy) encountered a group of massacred adolescent school girls; it was the look on his face captured on screen that kept reminding audiences why he was chosen for the role. As tears flow from his face, he showed emotions that alternate from horror to disgust to despair. It was a short scene but the message was clear, the impact precise.
Just like fellow actor Ryan Gosling, he value his privacy yet entertains the media with their inquiries:
“I'm 5 foot 7, and I've got pasty white skin. I don't think I'm ugly, don't get me wrong, but I'm not your classic lead man, Brad Pitt guy.”
Coming up: One of the busiest actors today, he will be seen next with Angelina Jolie in Wanted and opposite Christina Ricci in Penelope.
2. Daniel Bruehl:
A driving force in European cinema, talented German actor Daniel Bruehl can speak fluent Spanish and English too! Perhaps even better than some of his British and American counterparts. Sought-after as a juror in prestigious film festivals, the 29 year old enjoys the advantage of being born in Barcelona and raised in Germany. Mainstream audiences would be surprised to know that Bruehl, who only got a supporting role in The Bourne Ultimatum, is already an award-winning actor, even more applauded than the movie’s lead.
Daniel’s most famous roles include the young disillusioned East German Alex Kerner in Wolfgang Becker’s award winning Goodbye Lenin! As Jan, the young political activist in The Edukators, as Paul Krantz in Love in Thoughts, as the stranded youth Andrea in Ladies in Lavender (together with Maggie Smith and Judi Dench) and as Salvador Puig Antich in Salvador.
Why he's on the top10: Daniel is the biggest mover in the rankings, from #11 to #2 courtesy of his supporters who made waves and put him into the top 10. Way to go Daniel fans! That goes without saying that Herr Bruehl is a talented actor and truly deserves his top ranking.
Latest Movies: Bruhl will play one of the leads in Julie Delphy’s period drama, The Countess. He is also in the cast of one big German production entitled Krabat.
1. Ryan Gosling:
He is the actor that even his peers talk about. He likes to play dark, disturbed characters, but he can also play romantic leads or be an innocent guy who fell in love with a life-size doll. Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling has come a long way from his Disney stint as one of its mousekeeters. Noted for his role in Lars and the real Girl, Gosling is once again making the list as one of the year’s best actors.
Famous Roles: As Noah Calhoun in the romantic-drama "The Notebook," opposite former flame Rachel McAdams and as the young Jewish Nazi Danny Balint in The Believer. But perhaps he is best remembered for his portrayal of drug addict/history teacher Dan Dunn in the acclaimed film Half-Nelson.
Why he’s numero uno: A risk-taker who care little about building an image, Gosling prefers to choose the characters he like to play, and work with the most acclaimed directors without having to deal with hype- in fact he doesn’t need it. While he has the tendency to ‘hide’ and concentrate on his craft, media can’t seem to get enough of him. Says Gosling:
“I hear about actors who become the role and I think 'I wonder what that feels like'. Because for me, they're all me. I relate to these characters because aspects of their personality are like me. And I just turn up the parts of myself that are them and turn down the parts that aren't.”
Coming up: After leaving the cast of The Lovely Bones, Gosling is being eyed to play Kurt Cobain in Courtney Love’s production about her former husband, the fallen Nirvana lead singer. Gosling & Kirsten Dunst are also set to star in new film "All Good Things", a period love story/murder mystery. He is also being eyed to play a younger version of Jack Ryan, the CIA agent made famous by such actors as Harisson Ford and Alec Baldwin.
Just a brief respite from the endless stream of TDK/Bale posts. I'm actually quite pleased with this list, since I happen to have an enormous crush on nearly everyone mentioned-- though as far as talent goes, I'd probably replace Gaspard with Casey Affleck. And I'm still waiting for that remake of Strangers on a Train with Emile Hirsch and James McAvoy, one that should ideally be even more homoerotic than the first. So, ONTD -- who's missing from this list? And who would you kick off?
And is it some kind of unwritten rule that up-and-coming actors of a certain age have to sport ratty-looking facial hair to be taken seriously as an actor? Just wondering.