Predicting the rise of transcendent movie stars is harder than it seems it should be. For instance, I can recall more than a few publications singling out Armie Hammer as the “next big thing” after he burst onto the scene playing the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network, and yet his most noteworthy project in the five years since then was The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. Droves of film fans were certain for years that Abigail Breslin was the next big name among actresses, and yet the former child star has been more interested in living an ordinary young adult life than on chasing major films (and good for her, because she has plenty of time). Even Tom Hardy—arguably the biggest up-and-comer of the last five years—doesn’t quite qualify, as he seems to utterly refuse to embrace his celebrity in a way typical of people we think of as “movie stars.”
Really, it’s a rare combination of talents and attributes that makes for such a figure. There has to be talent, individuality, and a certain outgoing nature in one regard or another. A movie star typically thrives on his or her celebrity without looking like a fool doing so. There just aren’t too many people who check all the boxes.
But who might the next genuine movie stars in line be? Who is the George Clooney or Leonardo DiCaprio of a new generation? What young actress out there has Jennifer Lawrence-like potential? Let’s take a look at some candidates, just for fun.
Michael B. Jordan
It’s hard to imagine a bigger up-and-coming name than that of Michael B. Jordan after he successfully injected new life into the Rocky franchise in 2015. Jordan was already popular with plenty of fans, some of whom will always associate him with The Wire and others with Friday Night Lights. Some still recall his childhood role in Hardball and some thought he had a bit of a coming out party as a serious performer in Fruitvale Station. Whatever you knew him for before 2015, however, his performance as the son of Apollo Creed in Creed was the sort of work a long and successful career can be built on. Only 27 years old, Jordan has an incredible body of work ahead of him.
Look past the fact that she’s gorgeous and starred in two well regarded films (Ex Machina and The Danish Girl) in 2015. Also forget about how she gets comparisons to Natalie Portman on a regular basis, or that she showed up to the Oscars looking like Belle (and according to this report did so knowingly!). Vikander is about to explode with her upcoming roles. She’s taking over as Lara Croft in a future Tomb Raider film, she’s the female lead in this summer’s Jason Bourne, and she’s headlining the adaptation of the popular novel The Light Between Oceans as well. She’s got all the ingredients to be a movie star for life.
It’s not all about superhero films, but it’s hard to believe Tom Holland won’t become a major star now that he’s Marvel Studios’ first Peter Parker/Spider-Man. A successful debut in Captain America: Civil War was just the beginning, and while he was endearing, he didn’t really flash the depth of his talents. His turn in The Impossible, however, left little doubt that he’s capable of big things. What remains to be seen is if he has the personality or lifestyle to embrace the spotlight.
It’s hard to think of a young actress who’s charmed film fans more than Lupita Nyong’o in the last few years. After breaking through with an Oscar nominated performance in 12 Years A Slave she secured roles in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book, immediately translating her talent to box office appeal. Granted, those two roles were a motion capture performance and a voice acting role, respectively, but Nyong’o is only just getting started, with further action in Star Wars planned as well as a role in the upcoming Black Panther film. There’s also a certain refreshing element to Nyong’o that could make her a unique star. Her unmatched humility and (as IMDB calls it) “trademark” short hair communicate that she’s not overcome by her own celebrity or traditional Hollywood imagery, and that can go a long way with modern fans.
James Dean is among the most revered actors in Hollywood history. In fact, he’s still so popular that just recently he popped up as the subject of a new slot machine game here, where TV shows and films, but not typically single actors, are used often to enhance casino games. The James Dean game claims to “capture his good looks and essence” that have lingered long after his untimely death. And Dane DeHaan captured the very same when he portrayed a young Dean in the 2015 biopic Life. Oddly enough, DeHaan also gets comparisons to a young Leonardo DiCaprio, so suffice it to say he’s got the visual part of movie stardom down pat. In much the same way Brad Pitt was once hailed as Robert Redford reincarnate, one or two breakout roles could send DeHaan on his way to being called the next Dean or DiCaprio.
Chloe Grace Moretz
Having taken the torch from Abigail Breslin to some extent, Moretz is many people’s pick as the best teenage actress working. To this point she’s excelled mostly through comedy, but she’s shown a deft touch for humor on screen even at a very young age. Like Ezra Miller, she’s considered good looking but in a somewhat unconventional (and thus memorable) way. It remains to be seen if Moretz can deliver in a major dramatic role, but odds are she’ll get a few chances to do just that in the coming years.
Naturally many more could make the list. John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Saoirse Ronan, and Gal Gadot are just a few more who come to mind. But for their combination of acting chops and other unique factors, the actors and actresses above seem like contenders to become genuine movie stars.