There have been many articles lately about the lack of young leading men in Hollywood poised to eventually replace the George Clooneys, Brad Pitts, Ryan Goslings and Leonardo DiCaprios (hell, even Tom Cruises); ones who can make an entire press room buzz with nervous energy, have enough charisma to make fans swoon, and get people’s attention so quickly you can promote a film purely on their involvement. No wonder Batman Vs Superman decided on an older, world weary Batman in Ben Affleck.
Funnily enough there are no articles about the lack of young leading ladies: one, because there isn’t any shortage (hello Jennifer Lawrence, Chloe Grace Moretz, Carey Mulligan, Emma Stone, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Fanning sisters…), and secondly, perhaps there just aren’t as many cornerstone parts for women that need to be filled?
If this is the case, fear not Hollywood, cut the men from first billing, hire some people who can write interesting women, and take a look at the list below – talented actresses already poised and ready for the trials being a “movie star” brings.
She created a memorable role with little screen time as the female teenage sidekick in “Juno” and nailed the lead in the surprisingly enjoyable (and little seen) “Dredd”, but New York native Thirlby is just crying out for a more high profile role. With four films lined up for release over the next year, surely one will launch her to ongoing leading lady status.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Well known on the indie circuit and working steadily for years, the “Scott Pilgrim Vs the World” love interest has proven she can carry a film through festival darling “Smashed” as well as “The Thing” (granted a box office failure but she was the best thing about it) . Winstead is a pro and deserves far more recognition for her great body of work and natural likeability on screen.
Making her mark in Australian TV series “Love My Way” (one of the best series’ Australia has ever produced) and sadly underappreciated Australian film “Wasted On the Young”, Clemens, who looks like a cross between Michelle Williams and Carey Mulligan, and with the talent to match both, gained some exposure through the BBC miniseries “Parade’s End” but there’s plenty more material this 23 year old is no doubt eager to get her hands on.
A New Zealander on the rise, I first saw Rose’s work in another underappreciated Australian film “Blinder”. She transitioned between naïve teenager and more world weary adult with ease and was magnetic to watch. McIver has made the move to the US and is slowly breaking in with TV guest spots, but the right film role could be a career maker for the Kiwi.
Blasting onto the screen in a black wig and oozing sophistication with a cigarette holder, Melbourne based Debicki was an unknown when Baz Lurhman cast her in the iconic role of Jordan Baker in “The Great Gatsby”. With only one prior film credit on her resume and holding her own with proven leading actors Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, the 24 year old has since been cast in Guy Richie’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E”. While this is a great beginning to her career, the stars of this film are definitely of the chromosome with a capital Y, and it would be great to see Debicki move up the credit lines and get her own headliner.
It may have been Penn Badgley that drew my interest to “Greetings from Tim Buckley” (I do think he has the potential to rise up in this wasteland of young leading men), but British import Imogen Poots was a gorgeous and surprisingly charming addition to the film. With five films in post-production including Terrence Malick’s “Knight of Cups” and “That Awkward Moment” starring some more contenders for young leading men in Michael B. Jordan and Zac Efron, here’s hoping her roles expand to more than just ‘love interest’.
Emily Bett Rickards
A 22 year old Canadian newbie on the scene, Rickards turned a two scene guest spot in the third episode of “Arrow” into a full time gig (and arguably leading lady status). While she will no doubt be busy playing Arrow’s ‘girl Wednesday’ for a while, this actress is talent on legs – she’s gorgeous, funny, can sing, and like most Canadians, just seems really really nice.
Going even younger, the next generation should not worry about leading actresses. “Mad Men” fans already know her as the fierce Sally Draper, and the 13 year old will soon be hitting the big screen in “Flowers In the Attic”. With the way she’s handled her stardom to date, I’m excited to see where she goes from there.
Know any other female stars on the rise? Tweet me @mandygriffiths and we’ll give them a shout out.