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.