"Law & Order" alum Fred Thompson didn't just play a lawyer on television. The Republican character actor served as a lobbyist and assistant U.S. attorney (he even helped investigate the Watergate scandal) before playing himself in the 1985 film "Marie." Thompson took over Al Gore's vacated U.S. Senate seat in 1994 and held the job until 2003, filming scenes for "Law & Order" during the senate's 2002 summer recess.
The youngest student ever to attend the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, Brie Larson has been performing nearly her entire life, as a singer, on TV (“United States of Tara”) and in film (“21 Jump Street”). But her revelatory performance as a wounded foster-care supervisor in “Short Term 12” represented a big step forward, attracting fresh attention and respect for the actress, who credits the dynamic on Destin Daniel Cretton's production with buoying her.
(Brie Larson and several other thesps from this list will participate in a special "10 Actors to Watch" panel at the Hamptons Film Festival, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12.)
No sooner had Dane DeHaan started acting onscreen than the industry dubbed him “the next Leonardo DiCaprio.” Then, when he played Jesse, a complicated and deeply conflicted gay teen on HBO's “In Treatment,” the biz decided they'd figured him out: This was his “Basketball Diaries” — DiCaprio with edge.
Classically trained British stage actor David Oyelowo (pronounced “Oh-yellow-oh”) may be making slow but steady headway in Hollywood, he commanded serious respect from his peers as far back as 2001 when he played the title role in “Henry VI,” making him the first black actor to portray an English king for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Over the past several years, Jack Huston has portrayed a disfigured WWI vet, a Depression-era vampire, a Hemingway character, an Oscar Wilde character, a young Jack Kerouac and a 1960s rocker. In this fall's “American Hustle,” he'll appear among David O. Russell's cast of unsavory late-'70s con men and Feds, shortly before heading to London's West End to perform in “Strangers on a Train.”
Multi-faceted, sensual and raw, Lea Seydoux embodies the classic beauty and gravitas of a classic screen star. Like fellow French actress Marion Cotillard, the 28-year-old actress has been juggling the expansion of her career on multiple fronts: In Hollywood, she shared the screen with Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”; on the indie front, she left her mark on such pics as “Midnight in Paris” and “Inglourious Basterds”; and in France, she has become a go-to collaborator on an impressive roster of auteur projects.
The idea of acting has appealed to Lupita Nyong'o since before she can remember. Born in Mexico to Kenyan parents living in self-imposed political exile, Nyong'o and her family returned to Africa while she was still an infant.
“I'm trying to find moments that I can make memorable,” says Michael B. Jordan, who, at age 26, has already delivered several unforgettable examples. Acting since adolescence, Jordan fell in love with the craft while shooting a scene for “The Wire,” in which his character, an inner-city kid, starts sniffing cocaine. “That was the first time I let go and lost myself in a role,” he says.
Job security is an occupational hazard for actors, but it's going to be a long time before Tatiana Maslany has trouble finding new parts. Her role on BBC America's “Orphan Black” gave her seven different clones to play in the show's first season, with more to come as the cult cable hit begins production for enters season two.