Lately Young Hollywood has been cropping out actors more interested in working on good projects than partying. (A novel idea, I know) While most of the actresses who spent their nights out at nightclubs have endured several rehab stints, psychiatric stays, and failed careers, this new group has continued to make fresh and intriguing choices in their film roles, and have given honest and authentic performances. Thus, granting them some longevity in a business that deems you only as good as your last project. It’s an old saying that in Hollywood, only the strong survive.
Qualifications for being on this list include being under 25, NOT working as a lead on the “Twilight” series (that is not acting), at least one indie film, and actually having a personality. Stars who are considered “vanilla” can go join Hilary Duff in the “actor out of work” category.
So, I give you ten actors and actresses that are making their mark on film by being themselves–a little flawed, a little quirky, and very, very cool.
Won’t you come inside?
Notable roles: Stephanie in “the Wackness”, Lila in “Snow Angels”, and Leah in “Juno”
Upcoming films: New York, I Love You, The Answer Man, What Goes Up
Why her: Olivia is a rare breed of an actress–she’s honest to a fault (once saying that acting is sort of a stupid profession that is no different than from when she was little and dancing around in a tutu), and she has an aura of hipness and quirkiness that comes through in all of her characters. Sure, “Juno” was the title character and everyone loved Ellen Page, but how many people completely fell in love with Leah? Olivia also appeared in “the Wackness” as the kind of chick almost any guy would be willing to get with and her sexiness is pretty undeniable. Here’s to more girls acting like they just don’t give a f-ck and breaking more hearts along the way.
Notable roles: Charlie Bartlett in “Charlie Bartlett”, Pavel Chekov in “Star Treck”, Zack in “Alpha Dog”, and Finn in “Fierce People”
Upcoming films: New York, I Love You and Diaries of a Teenage Amnesiac
Why him: As anyone who has seen “Alpha Dog” will know, Anton can act the hell out of a role. In his character’s final scene he rips the audience to pieces with his heartbreaking performance as he’s lead to the top of a hill to die. But Anton’s not just a dramatic actor–he also showed a flare for comedy in the cult hit “Charlie Bartlett” and summer smash “Star Trek” playing the iconic Pavel Chekov. Anton’s also Young Hollywood’s little Russian import, so for that reason alone he’s cooler than most actors his age.
Notable roles: Susan in “Charlie Bartlett”, Nora in “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist”, Marla in “the 40 Year Old Virgin”
Upcoming films: “End Zone”, “Defendor”, “The Answer Man”
Why her: If Rose McGowan had a little sister, it would be this girl. Dripping in sarcasm, Kat comes off as completely unaffected by Hollywood and more interested in being normal than going to the latest club opening. Usually very witty and funny in interviews, Kat has made a name for herself playing the more left of the middle, outsider characters. Think of Kat and you’ll instantly think of the girl who won you over in “Nick and Nora’s Infiintate Playlist” and made you forget the always one-dimensional actor Michael Cera was in it, or you’ll think of the girl who is going against what it means to be pretty and normal in Hollywood by being herself–that being sexy and flawed–and speaking her mind. And that’s why we love her.
EVAN RACHEL WOOD
Notable roles: Pretty much anything she’s ever done. Ever. Tracy in “Thirteen”, Stephanie in “the Wrestler”, Diana in “the Life Before Her Eyes”, Popeye in “the Upside of Anger”, Lucy in “Across the Universe”, and Tobe in “Down in the Valley”
Upcoming films: None at the moment as she’s gearing up for “Spiderman: the Musical” on Broadway. But you can catch her on “True Blood” this Sunday as Queen Sophie-Ann.
Why her: The question should be why WOULDN’T you pick her? Evan’s the queen of independent cinema and the forerunner of any actress or actor her age willing to do crazy, challenging roles. Beginning with Tracy in “Thirteen”, Evan terrified critics with her portrayal of the good girl gone bad. And after that, Evan’s assault in movies on the American public as the girl you would not want your kid to hang out with was relentless. Gaining noteriety as Manson’s girlfriend of two years, Evan got a little controversial and made some wonder how much she was actually acting in her movies. But then came the break-out smash “Across the Universe” which proved Evan could not only act circles around most girls her age, but also sing. After making a career out of playing trashy, Lolita type characters, Evan is now easing a nice transition into adult roles and will soon be starring on Broadway in the Spiderman musical. But she definitely hasn’t lost her edge.
Notable roles: Arthur in “Snow Angels”, Dylan in “One Last Thing”, Sid in “Lords of Dogtown”, Cole in “Black Irish”, and the young William in “Almost Famous”
Upcoming films: “Ceremony” and “Gentelmen Broncos”
Why him: Michael has an “every-guy” quality to him that makes him both instantly relatable and believable in almost every role he takes on. His role in “Snow Angels” is filled with sincerity and honesty, which made it one of the most memorable films of 2008 if you were lucky enough to see it. Michael has been acting since he was a child but is starting to slowly make the transition to more adult roles smoothly. And in interviews he doesn’t come off as the least bit pretentious or jaded. For that alone, he deserves a huge amount of success.
Notable Roles: Evie in “Thirteen”, Mini in “Minni’s First Time”, and Kathy in “Lords of Dogtown”
Upcoming films: “Privileged”, “Last Day of Summer”, “Chain Letter”, “K-11”
Why her: Yes, she was in “Twilight” but that can be forgiven as it is not all that she’s known for. At thirteen Nikki co-wrote the script to “Thirteen”–a movie full of underage sex, drug-taking, drinking, and self-destruction that was very biographical to her life. Eight years later, Nikki has come out as one of the most normal, level-headed, and talented women in Hollywood. Snaps for that, Nikki.
Notable roles: Greg the Soccer Player in “Superbad” (because let’s be honest, who doesn’t remember that scene?) and Sam in “After Sex.” There’s also the epic Funny or Die videos which you can watch here.
Upcoming films: “The Shortcut”, “Greenburg”, “Walks”, “Bad Meat”
Why him: Dave, unlike most everyone else on this list, isn’t in this business for the prestigious films because as he says, his goal is to “create… a Judd Appatow mentality.” And that’s just what he’s doing. Along with co-writing a new movie with his brother James, that he describes as “Kind of like the Goonies–but more R-rated”, Dave has also been tapped to star in the new revamped version of “Scrubs” while still continuing to make awesome Funny or Die videos and not take himself too seriously. He’s a real guy, and it makes him that much funnier and appealing.
Notable roles: Sophie in “Mamma Mia”, Karen in “Mean Girls”, Sarah in “Big Love”, Julie in “Alpha Dog”
Upcoming films: “Jennifer’s Body”, “Chloe”, “A Woman of No Importance”, “Dear John”, “Marmaduke”
Why her: As the girl who pretty much, made“Mean Girls” so memorable and funny (“If you’re from Africa, why are you white?”), Amanda was probably never the girl you pictured to become the heavy hitting leading actress she is now. That title was supposed to go to Lindsay Lohan. But after years of hard work and dedication, Amanda is finally starting to get some credit where credit is due. After the smash success of “Mamma Mia” which proved that she could sing as well as act, Amanda has taken on some roles that are sure to challenge and diversify her as an actress while also giving her career some longevity. Plus, playing Meryl Streep’s daughter isn’t a bad start.
Notable roles: Matthew in “The Girl Next Door”, Jay in “Lords of Dogtown”, Johnny in “Alpha Dog”, Chris in “Into the Wild”, Cleve in “Milk”, and Billy in “Taking Woodstock”.
Upcoming films: “Hamlet”
Why him: Excluding “Speed Racer”, almost every film Emile’s been in since “The Girl Next Door” has gotten him critical acclaim–including Oscar buzz for “Into the Wild.” Not bad for an actor who’s only 24 years old. As someone who takes his craft very seriously, Emile is not afraid to go to the extremes for his roles and to make a performance believable. As a result, the viewer can get lost in his performance and completely forget it’s Emile Hirsch they’re watching. As a result, Emile has become one of the most talented and exciting actors of his generation.
Notable roles: Poppy in “Wild Child”, Adrianna in “Lymelife”
Upcoming films:“Twelve”, “Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac”, “Valentines Day”
Why her: It might seem odd for the girl who starred in Nickelodeon’s “Unfabulous” and a remake of “Nancy Drew” to be considered an actress to watch, but then you probably haven’t taken a look at her upcoming film credits or seen her in “Lymelife.” Displaying an alarming sense of pint-up sexuality and control, Emma won over critics with her role as Adrianna, the girl who seduces Rory McCulkin’s character. Opting for the road not taken by most teen actresses her age, Emma has chosen indie over mainstream lately and the results are starting to pay off. Next up is “Valentines Day”–a movie with her aunt Julia and Anne Hathaway, Anne being an actress who she’s said she’s always wanted to work with, and “Twelve”, a film about drug dealing gone wrong. So because she’s willing to take some risks, and still be one of the classiest girls her age, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more great things from Emma soon.
I actually completely forgot about him while I was writing this list, then I saw his cameo on “Entourage” and wondered why in the eff I left him off.
Notable Roles: Link in “Hairspray”, Mike in “17 Again”
Upcoming films: “Me and Orson Welles” and “the Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud”
Why him: Like Roberts, Zac might seem like a bit of an odd addition to this list but as anyone who has been following him this past year knows, the kid can act. To anyone who doesn’t believe me, I suggest you go watch “17 Again” and try not to be moved during the courtroom scene. Zac has proven over the past year that he’s game for changing up his career with a few challenging upcoming roles, and he has more charisma and charm than most young actors his age. I’ve been a fan of his since the HSM days and I’ve always said he can act (although no one believed me until recently), and even in those sometimes horrific movies, he’s proven he has some substance. Now after finally cutting his hair (thus making him look more like a man) and signing on for some more adult roles, Zac is gradually starting to get the respect he’s so deserved for the past three years. Plus, the fact that his latest movie “Me and Orson Welles”, due out in November, is already getting some seriously good buzz from critics doesn’t hurt.
Anyone else you think I’ve forgotten, TMB-ers? Anyone you completely disagree with?