by Leslie Gornstein
photographs by Hedi Slimane
Nine newbies ready to break out—and win hearts—as Hollywood leading men.
Duck into any scenester depot between Sunset and 3rd, and you’ll spot them: aspiring matinee idols, pretty lads sanguine in their skinny denims and studied slouching. If only that elusive Hollywood fifth element, aka star quality, were the mere sum of blessed bone structure and an adorably terminal case of bedhead. Alas, breaking out of the pack as the next alpha dog—read, Brando/Newman/DiCaprio—demands traits that are difficult to quantify. True stars are born, not groomed, and this year promises an embarrassment of riches. They hail from the four points of the English-speaking world
From striking redhead Eddie Redmayne—who’ll squire Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn—to Henry Hopper, barely out of his teens and already a leading man in Gus Van Sant’s tragic romance Restless, the It factor is strong in these guys. And speaking of romance: If you haven’t heard of them yet, the starlets surely have. Collectively, the gossip mags have linked this bunch to beauties ranging from Leighton Meester to Carey Mulligan. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of America falls for them, too.
Yes, he’s one of those Hustons—though having an aunt named Anjelica and a late granddad named John doesn’t necessarily provide the insta-career one might expect. Sure, Huston has been upgraded to a regular on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and he’s been tapped by Al Pacino to costar in a fresh take on Oscar Wilde’s Salome. But recently, the 28-year-old Brit almost opted out. “This time last year, I was sitting in London, thinking, I don’t know if I want to act anymore,” he recalls. “I sort of felt like I could easily disappoint people, and I was very keen on going to South America and getting a hut on the beach and eating rice. I told my manager, ‘You’ve got two weeks, and then I’ll head off.’ And then I got Boardwalk Empire.”
The eyes! The hair! Once you’ve seen Redmayne—and if you spotted his red mane in the hotly followed miniseries Pillars of the Earth, you know exactly what we mean—forgetting him doesn’t come easily. This year, the 29-year-old Londoner officially graduates to big-screen stardom in My Week with Marilyn, playing a starstruck production assistant who helps a living legend escape her demons. As for his own inner boogeymen, Redmayne prefers to keep them close. “I like to scare myself,” he says. “I’m doing Richard II on the London stage at the end of the year—a terrifying prospect. It’s sort of a healthy emotion to live with for an actor—that slight anxiety. It seeps into us and keeps us on our toes.”
The role of That Guy in the Club doesn’t usually garner much respect in the movie business...unless That Guy is stuck between That Crazy Ballerina and Her Pill-Popping Frenemy. Alas, this Brighton, England, boy— who isn’t of the famed Hemingways but whose parents have indeed penned books—didn’t get either girl in Black Swan, but he appears to have recovered with aplomb. The 27-year-old blond with the heartbreaker face has scored a featured role in the screamer Playback, followed by the sci-fi spectacle Now, due out in October and featuring a who’s who of Young Hollywood. “I have no backup plan,” he says. “I don’t have anxiety about acting. I have anxiety about everything else in life but not acting.”
It’s a little too early in his career for Wakefield to be mobbed by the paps—though given his turn in James Cameron’s thriller Sanctum, it won’t be long before this Australia native must bid hooroo to his privacy. Still, success has come at a more immediate cost for the 22-year-old: shut-eye. “There is actually behind-the-scenes footage of me, between scenes in Sanctum, perched with a rebreather on my back, completely nodding off,” he says with a mesmerizing smile. “You get remarkably good at blocking things out when you need sleep. And the world clock on your iPhone becomes your best friend. I said in an interview the other day that I was in Melbourne—but I was in L.A. It’s really the strangest thing.”
With guileless green eyes and penchant for newsboy caps, the 24-year-old British import could pass for a modern-day Oliver Twist. But the world has other plans for the chap, starting with a tsunami of a big-screen debut—a key role as a gallant missionary in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The film bows in May, leaving Claflin barely enough time to prepare for the inevitable fangirl onslaught. “I come from the bottom of the ladder,” he says. “I’m from Norwich—not many people seem to know about it. It’s that sticky-outy bit over there–you know, in the east.” Luckily, Claflin has picked up a mentor: “Johnny Depp gave me the best advice. He said, ‘Stay grounded. Remember where you came from.’”
At 24, the Florida-born Teller already has the makings of a new-millennium Tom Hanks: the lanky six-foot build, the sardonic delivery. (“You can read that?” he marvels after peeking at this reporter’s notes. “That looks like something from A Beautiful Mind.”) And also like Hanks, he has the proven range of a nascent box-office champ. Bunny-hopping from his tragicomic feature debut in Rabbit Hole, Teller next appears as the hardly fleet-of-foot Willard in a remake of Footloose, before delivering some laughs in the much buzzed about but hush-hush Todd Phillips–produced Project X. “I don’t want to be just a personality,” Teller insists. “I want people to walk into a theater and not know what to expect.”
All right, folks, might as well get it out of the way: Yes, Irons is the 25-year-old son of Jeremy, one of the greatest British actors still breathing. You’d think such an august surname would translate into quite the fall-at-your-feet acting life, especially for a chap who qualifies as irrefutably gorgeous. Alas, that’s not always the case. This month, Irons breaks big as Henry, Amanda Seyfried’s suitor in Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood. But getting the role was no stroll through the woods. “I had four auditions and two screen tests,” says Irons, stage-trained like his dad. “I’d be lying if I said there aren’t casting agents more inclined to see you. But if you go into an audition and do a mediocre job, they’ll never forget.”
Henry Hopper is a hard 20-year-old to track down. After weeks of back and forth, he emerged, contrite (“I am really very shy...I disappear and reappear in various places”) and rather sweet. That Hopper prefers, as he puts it, “to remain a mystery” may seem incompatible with his chosen profession. He stars opposite Mia Wasikowska in Gus Van Sant’s upcoming romantic drama Restless—and, well, Hollywood usually likes its celebrities where it can see them. But to Hopper—who also works as an artist, like his late father, show-biz legend Dennis—movies are expressive pieces first, not star vehicles. “I see myself as a creative being,” he says. “My only fear is compromising my integrity. I guess that’s a constant struggle.”
Not yet 30 and already crowned by GQ as the next Paul Newman? Not bad. Like Newman, the blue-eyed Romanian certainly has an angel face and quite the talent for channeling naughty boys. (Just ask any rabid fan of Gossip Girl, on which Stan guested as Carter Baizen, arch-nemesis of über-cad Chuck Bass.) Like fellow comer Toby Hemingway, Stan held his own as a would-be suitor in Black Swan. And this summer, he leaps into a comic-book classic, playing Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The First Avenger. “It does feel like the work I’ve done in the past five or six years is finally paying off,” he muses. “But I don’t like thinking those sort of thoughts. I like to stick to the present.”
what is going on with Henry's facial hair?