If There Were Any Justice In The World, These 8 Actors Would Already Be Household Names

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If There Were Any Justice In The World, These 8 Actors Would Already Be Household Names

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | August 28, 2013 | Comments ()


There’s a difference, you know, between you people who spend an inordinate amount of time on pop-culture websites and the rest of America. The term “household name” is the key here. YOU might know the following actors, but does your grandma? Would your postman? Your co-worker? And, of course, Household Name Status does not indicate quality, necessarily. Everyone and I mean everyone is talking about Miley Cyrus this week. But what if we lived in a more meritocratic world? What if being a household name were directly proportionate to how damn talented you are? Well if that were the case and I were in charge of the world and being a household name didn’t immediately mean you only made boring franchises and sequels, then I would elevate these 8 actors. They deserve it over so many starlets, hunks and tabloid fodder. They’ve got true talent and staying power and if they’re not recognized yet, I’m bound and determined that they will be.

Chiwetel Ejiofor: I’m starting here with the most recognizable face. The one you’re most likely to claim already is a household name. Go ahead and phone your Meemaw and ask her if she knows that guy from Love Actually and Serenity’s name. Go on. I’ll wait. No? What I’m saying is that Ejiofor is a goddamn genius leading man and deserves a place in line ahead of all the Bradley Coopers out there. For the record, his under-the-radar status might not be the case in the UK. Ejiofor’s name might roll trippingly off English tongues. I can’t say with any authority. What I can say is that I hope 2013’s 12 Years A Slave makes a difference.

Olivia Thirlby: We’ve been ringing this bell for quite awhile now and if you still haven’t seen Thirlby in The Wackness, well, I just don’t know what to do with you. And though many folks might remember her bubbly performance in Juno, she deserves more than sidekick status. She has a cool, mellow charm while also being a sly tsunami of sexual magnetism. I was sort of hoping Dredd would be a breakout for her in 2012 but despite being a fun shoot-em-up, it largely went unnoticed. From what I can tell, though, a lot of folks are discovering it Netflix Instant and Thirlby has a lot of fantastic future projects on her IMDB page. She could break out any second now.

Paddy Considine: I think, if we’re lucky, most people could identify three of the five leads in The World’s End by name. Pegg Frost and Freeman, yeah? Or, you know, “Scotty, Bilbo/Watson and that other guy.” But I have so much love for both Considine and the fifth drinking buddy, Eddie Marsan. This slot really belongs to both of them. But if I had to pick one, I guess I have to go with one of the Andies Considine for his In America performance alone. Not to mention his stunning directorial work on Tyrannosaur. I was delighted to see him take a lighter, more romantic role in The World’s End and could watch him make Spaniel eyes at Rosamund Pike all day long.

Brie Larson: As we’ve mentioned everywhere elsewhere, Short Term 12 is easily one of the best films of the year. It’s anchored by a striking performance from Larson (who was also fantastic in this year’s Don Jon and The Spectacular Now). Larson has been flirting around the edges of stardom for a couple years now and I’d love to see her break out in the way her Scott Pilgrim co-star Anna Kendrick has. She’s just as adorable and absolutely as deserving.

Jason Clarke: Because I never watched Clarke in “Chicago Code,” he first came to my attention as a slightly wilder-eyed Joel Edgerton-type in last year’s Zero Dark-Thirty. He then proceeded to blow my bob back in The Great Gatsby. In a slick film that had a lot of trouble communicating raw, genuine emotion, Clarke’s performance as the anguished Tom Wilson left Maguire, Mulligan and Edgerton in the dust. (I’m still an advocate for what DiCaprio did as Gatsby so we won’t try to compare Clarke to that titan yet.) So when it comes to Aussie exports, I’d take Clarke over Sam Worthington any day of the week.

Zoe Kazan: I’m not trying to rob Zooey Deschanel of any of her well-deserved attention. She has earned her America’s Sweetheart status. But when it comes to the uber Manic Pixie Dream Girl, I’m not sure the Zooey with a “y” is first on my list anymore. Zoe Kazan’s brilliant titular performance in Ruby Sparks (which she wrote, how cool is that?) basically obliterated all other MPDGs for me. She’s got a very intriguing project on the horizon co-starring Jake Johnson and Ron Livingston which could either be amazing or, you know, the second coming of “Ringer.” Let’s hope for the former.

Michael Peña: This name on this list that’s been around the longest. It’s one thing to wish increased exposure on young up-and-comers like Kazan and Larson, and quite another to grab the world by the throat and scream WHY AREN’T YOU GIVING THIS GUY MORE LOVE?! I’ve been saying it for years and End Of Watch only confirms it. This cat deserves it all. Fingers crossed he’ll get it one day.

Ezra Miller: Speaking of up-and-comers, this kid is terrifyingly electric. He might be the most intriguing Young Thing going. I mean, he held his own against SWINTON in We Need To Talk About Kevin. What could be more impressive than that? He was also the best thing about Perks Of Being A Wallflower and is about to go straight for the cravat-wearing jugular in a high-profile literary adaptation, Madame Bovary. This kid? He’s coming to take it all.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • SottoVoce

    I enjoyed Jason Clarke in The Brotherhood, and Ezra Miller was chilling in We Need Talk about Kevin.

  • Sometimes I read Pajiba, and I'm all, "Am I the only one who hated The Wackness?"

  • AnthonyDidge

    That is all I have to say.

  • Naye.2 greatatforgettinglogins

    Michael Pena is the most deserved of all these next to Ejiofor. The man has been in everything and played everybody. He has really good range, and is always popping up in random movies to make me laugh my ass off, then in another one to make me cry. Really I love the heck out of him.

  • Steve

    You show some love for Paddy Considine, and you don't mention Dead Man's Shoes?

  • zeke_the_pig

    Paddy Considine is one of the strongest, most reliable charisma-force hurricanes around. No matter how small a role he has or what kind of a role it is he always manages to tear through the scenery and his co-actors like Gulliver's fart through a Lilliputian hamlet after a particularly heavy beans binge. If the Big Bad Wolf had been mates with Paddy Considine those smug pigs would've known a far more upmarket home than a house made of bricks by now: the Big Bad Wolf's stomach.

  • - Olivia Thirlby was really good in 'Dredd.' I thought she played off Karl Urban really well. I'd go see her in more things, as long as they were things I was already inclined to see. She's not at the point where I'd go and see something just because she's in it, like I would for Liam Neeson or Sean Bean.

    - Being the best thing about 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' is like being the smartest retard in the home.

  • Jennifer Schmennifer

    I helped cast Ezra Miller in a play when he was a kid. Seeing his work now makes me feel smart, as if I actually knew what I was doing back then. But not really. You'd just have to have been talent-blind to not realize he was going to go on to bigger things. So, yep, despite age, he's been a damn good actor for a long time.

  • LB

    When I read the phrase "all the Bradley Coopers out there," I immediately pictured a clone army of Bradley Coopers lying in wait to take over the world in button-ups with rolled up sleeves, lovely/creepy eyes, and terrible hair. THEN, I pictured a large closet full of Bradley Coopers that were powered down, waiting for their turn to step into the spotlight when the current Cooper wears down. And THEN, I thought of The Prestige and imagined hordes of *old spoiler alert* Hugh Jackman clones fighting various Jedi from the Star Wars prequels, who had teamed up Bradley Cooper clones. (n.b. I thought the Hugh Jackman army would win, because in my head they had Wolverine claws and super-healing powers.) - -

    And then, I read the rest of the list, and it was really good.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Have you recently ingested any hallucinogens?

  • zeke_the_pig

    Who needs hallucinogens?


  • LB

    Just the end of a long day spent acting like a grown up and suppressing my internal monologue.

  • Bethers

    Kinky Boots...that's all I'm a sayin'

  • PDamian

    Jason Clarke -- good Lord, YES. Zero Dark Thirty and Gatsby were both tour de force performances.

    I'd add Rebecca Hall to this list. She's beautiful, talented and FIERCE. For some reason, her costar in Parade's End, Benedict Cumberbatch, was nominated for an Emmy but she was not. And while he was terrific and deserving of awards, she pretty much made that occasionally slow miniseries worth watching.


  • Wigamer

    She was the reason I liked Parade's End. I love Benedict, but you couldn't take your eyes off her.

  • Guest

    Seconded. She is all those things and gorgeous (but i do prefer her as a brunette).

  • Pat Sponaugle

    I was delighted that you have Dredd's Thirlby on your list. As much as I love stoic humorless scowly grumpier-than-Dirty-Harry Dredd, Psi-Judge Anderson was who I was there to see.

  • Mz Black Widow

    Ezra Miller - this young man is going to be "the actor's actor" if there is any shred of justice in the world. His performance in Perks was so real, it was as if no one else was on screen. I have since watched We Need to Talk About Kevin and .. WOW.

    I think Logan Lehman deserves mention also. I had never heard of either actor pre-Perks but he played the much less flamboyant but extremely difficult role of Charlie with the natural gift and gravitas of someone years older.

  • e jerry powell

    See? Now you've gone and given me the sadz about US of Tara again.

  • chanohack

    I know I'm late to this party but I'm surprised no one else mentioned this show. Is USoT not a Pajiba thing? I are confused.

  • e jerry powell

    I'm inclined to think that, given the general context of the post, perhaps USoT is not deemed the worthiest representation of Brie Larson's true talent level.

  • Helo

    Thirlby. Can we make an adjective out of this? The Full Thirlby?

    Also, Ezra Miller is crazy good, and a genuinely nice guy by all accounts.

  • amylu

    "Paddy Considine: I was delighted to see him take a lighter, more romantic role in The World’s End and could watch him make Spaniel eyes at Rosamund Pike all day long."

    Well, crap. I didn't intend to watch The World's End until its DVD release because I didn't care for Hot Fuzz (SORRY), and I hated Paul (I know, I know -- different director, but Simon Pegg co-wrote both). But you make a very compelling argument. I can think of few things I'd rather do at this moment than watch Considine making spaniel eyes at impossibly pretty Rosamund Pike.

  • John W

    I'm not familiar with Jason Clarke and Zoe Kazan's work but yes on the rest. Especially Paddy Considine and Michael Pena who always seen to pop up in good movies.

    Ezra Miller was awesome in We Need To Talk About Kevin.

    Check out Dead Man's Shoes with Paddy Considine. He is terrifying in it.

  • Dennis Albert Ramirez

    "a sly tsunami of sexual magnetism" yes yes and YES

  • kyle

    I agree with most of the list. Paddy Considine is a force of nature and Pena was brilliant in End of watch and his role in Observe and Report is one of my favorite comedic performances ever. Michael Shannon, although is getting more recognition for roles in Superman and boardwalk empire, deserve credit as one of the best male actors out there. Just watch shotgun stories or Bug and it's easy to see how incredible this man is. Revolutionary roads two main big leads Winslet and Dicaprio got completely overshadowed by Shannons character. That's all

  • Kirstini

    Yep, Paddy Considine is a household name over here.
    Eddie Marsan, though. In my head, and no disrespect to Timothy Spall (although he just wasn't right for it), he should have been Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter films. Was sort of playing that role in The World's End, anyway.

  • mairimba

    Or maybe these people just need better agents.

  • $65530708

    Huge +1s for Brie and Olivia.

    One Addition: Michael Cudlitz

    *Brie has been mentioned as a contender for Rodham and I can't think of a better actress for the role. It would also be a great way for her to finally get some mainstream recognition.

  • $65530708

    I have to add this guy too: Garret Dillahunt.

    An amazingly actor (especially in Deadwood and Raising Hope) but just hasn't had a break out role.

    **Both Dillahunt and Cudlitz are almost 50! WTF!

  • Idle Primate

    If you star in a network tv show, haven't you broken out? John q public doesn't really pay attention to very many names. Ask regular people who played superman most recently and many probably can't tell you. There's probably loads of fans of breaking bad that can't name any of the cast. Household name is kind of the thin upper crust like depp or jolie. Dillahunt seems to have been enjoying a successful busy career.

  • $65530708

    True, point Idle.

  • Kala

    Yes! He's incredible! I was so excited to see him in Looper, even if it was for all of ten seconds. The guy has been in everything, but the role just hasn't happened yet.

  • el_mediocre

    "I'm drawing a complete..... blank"

  • $65530708

    Holy frak, I totally forgot about Bob Destepello.

    "When I feel... quiet... when... I feel... blue..."

  • JoannaRobinson


  • Deidra

    Is it bad that I don't like Michael Pena because he's a devout scientologist? Because I don't like Michael Pena because he's a devout scientologist.

  • Jakesalterego

    He's also a raging rightwing dickbag who thinks that people on food stamps are greedy. So I'm glad he had the shittiest role in the shitty Gangster Squad.

  • AvaLehra

    Oh, boo. I was just about to come on here and toot Michael Peña's horn (wait a minute...that sounds dirty!) and then I read he's a Scientologist. Boo, I say!

    As a total aside, how is that even possible? I imagine his mami giving him chanclasos saying, "¡Vete a la fregada con tu Scientology!" Mexican peeps, am I right or what?

  • $65530708

    YUP. Scientology is the same reason I have a love / hate relationship with Elisabeth Moss.

  • Deidra

    She was never good enough for Dulé Hill anyway.

  • neonseattle

    that disappoints me greatly

  • RigbyReardon

    He's a devout Scientologist? Oh hell. Scientology: killing actor boners since 2010 or so.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I think Eddie Marsan deserves to have a pic on this list (I know you do too, but constraints, we've all got em). Thanks for mentioning him. He doesn't get dick for screentime in Ray Donovan. He deserves so much more.

    Oh wait, power to the people!

    for those that don't know: Eddie Marsan


  • Gill R

    So pleased to see Eddie Marsan mentioned here - I've never seen a bad performance from him, even in not very good films. Pajibans should treat themselves to a viewing of Pierrepoint (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt04... and enjoy Marsan in company with Timothy Spall and Juliet Stevenson.

  • Idle Primate

    He's a masterful actor and a chameleon

  • Fabius_Maximus

    True. Along with his lookalike Johnny Harris.

  • Legally Insignificant

    Chiwetel's performance was haunting in Red Belt. I saw it in theatres and he had me in tears. F*ck Tim Allen!

  • Benjamin Rennells

    Seriously, if you haven't seen this flick yet, put it at the top of your Netflix queue right this instant.

  • Nadine

    In the UK, Paddy Considine IS a househould name. Half of us have probably met him, or are related. The UK is like that.

    I would nominate Jacob Pitts. Because he isn't just a verygood actor he is a very interesting actual IRL person also who has noble causes and is adorably obsessed with and knowledgeable about music.

  • axis2clusterB

    YES, to Jacob Pitts.

  • JoannaRobinson


  • Nadine

    I try to keep people guessing, you know? I like to be unpredictable.

  • Sara_Tonin00



    But seriously, Serenity wasn't going to make anyone a household name.

    Call me crazy, but after those Baldwin pap shots, I bet most of these people are happy being good actors who get great roles and make a really good living, and don't have to deal with the trappings of stardom.

  • sjfromsj

    See, whenever I catch Clarke's visage, I think of Brotherhood, the short-lived TV show also starring Jason Issacs and Annabeth Gish. Irish mobsters and corrupt politicians in New England, mmmmm.

  • Repo

    I thought Lawless was going to break him out as well, but not so much. I'm in the middle of Chicago Code now (I think Dustin recommended it in a post with Terriers earlier this summer). Decent show, but Clarke is great in it.

  • RilesSD

    Yes! After seeing Chicago Code I was seeking out other Clarke projects and found Brotherhood (it's on Amazon Prime too, btw). Great show, although not completely through it. He is an awesome actor.

  • sunset&camden

    I noticed Brotherhood on Netflix last night and considered it since I loved Chicago Code, and Isaacs as Jackson Brodie was awesome - do I go for it?

  • Threenineteen

    There is also Ethan Embry, if that does anything for you.

  • sjfromsj

    Yes. Yes you do.

  • Catagisreading

    God Jason Clarke, oooohhhh my. There are things.... things you'd have to go to confession twice for... and you still might go to hell.. oh my..

  • DominaNefret

    Paddy Considine looks so much like a British Ed Helms; I kept forgetting that it wasn't Helms speaking in a British accent. And I know Considine!

  • Rob

    Great list! Especially Ejiofor, Thirlby, and Considine. I first saw Considine in Dead Man's Shoes and have wondered how he isn't more well known since then!

  • slc717

    I loathe Zoe Kazan

  • kirivinokur

    Because her grandfather named names?

  • Any particular reason? Or just 'cause?

  • Buellie413

    PENA! I love that man.

    And Ezra Miller was so disturbing in We Need to Talk About Kevin that he basically stopped my reproductive system from ever functioning again.

  • IngridToday

    When I saw Michael Pena my first thought was "it's the crazy drug dealer from My Name is Earl"! He was fantastic as circus.

  • mb

    I was about to make the same comment. When Tilda walked in on him chocking the chicken and he kept on going, that LOOK he gave her essentially ripped out my ovaries and tossed them in acid.

  • koralroget7yq

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    She was the reason I liked Parade's End. I love Benedict, but you couldn't take your eyes off her.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    Bit difficult to make a case for Chiwetel EJIOFOR when you repeatedly spell his name wrong, JoRob.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Yikes I spelled it every which way but right.

  • Ballymena Bob

    Chewie Ewokfur? I really hope they cast him in the new Star Wars movie.

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