It’s time to celebrate the actors and actresses who caused a stir in the past year. The rising stars on this list experienced the largest increase in their best weekly STARmeter ranking in 2015 as compared to 2014.
First coming to the public’s attention as a model in Australia in the early 2000s, Rose introduced herself to television viewers all over the world when she joined the Season 3 cast of “Orange Is the New Black.” She plays new inmate Stella Carlin, the latest love interest for Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling). It’s a role that accentuates her appeal to a wide range of fans. In 2015, Rose also starred in “Dark Matter” as Wendy the Android, and this past October she hosted the 2015 MTV Europe Music Awards with Ed Sheeran. Recently, she’s been cast to star in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and John Wick 2.
Recent memory tells us that playing opposite Tom Cruise in one of his blockbuster adventure movies usually catapults you into the pop cultural consciousness. Such was the case for Ferguson, who co-starred in the latest edition of Mission Impossible on the big screen, where she plays Syndicate operative and disavowed MI6 agent Ilsa Faust. The Swedish actress should be familiar to TV audiences. In 2013, she starred as Elizabeth Woodville in Starz’s The White Queen in a performance that landed her a Golden Globe nomination. Expect big things in the coming year. She’ll co-star with the likes of Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant in a movie about singer Florence Foster Jenkins.
O’Shea Jackson Jr.
In 2015, Straight Outta Compton surpassed Walk the Line to become the highest-grossing music biopic of all time. Part of the reason for the movie’s success was this actor’s screen debut performance as his father Ice Cube. It was a role that helped to connect generations of hip-hop fans in a movie that further signified the evolution of rap music into mainstream culture. O’Shea prepared two years for the role, not wanting to be open to criticism that he’d been given the part out of sheer nepotism. Once he nabbed the part, he committed himself wholly: Certain scenes required that he lose 15 pounds in three weeks’ time.
One of the first transgender actresses to achieve widespread recognition, Clayton achieved early professional acclaim for her work on HBO’s “Hung,” where she played the recurring role of Kyla in Season 3. This year, she’s returned to TV series acting with Netflix’s “Sense8,” which follows the story of eight strangers who find themselves growing mentally and emotionally connected. Clayton plays Nomi Marks, a transgender blogger and hacker from San Francisco. In 2016, she is set to star in The Neon Demon, her first full-length feature film.
Few actresses were as prolific in as many critical hits as Vikander was in 2015. The Swedish actress starred in eight films during the course of the year, with strong acting performances all around. A particularly noteworthy role was as Ava in the critical and popular hit Ex Machina, where she plays a beautiful humanoid robot with artificial intelligence. It’s a role that has garnered her award notice. Her acting performance in The Danish Girl is attracting critical acclaim, as well. In it, she plays real-life artist Gerda Wegener opposite Eddie Redmayne.
Former British model Delevingne enjoyed a breakout year largely on the success of her work in Paper Towns, where she portrayed the enigmatic and inescapable Margo Roth Spiegelman opposite Nat Wolff. It was a busy year on the big screen overall for the young actress; in addition to Paper Towns, her movie work this past year included roles in Pan and the upcoming films Kids in Love, Tulip Fever, and London Fields. Of course, this is all in addition to her stylish turn in Taylor Swift’s popular music video for “Bad Blood.”
Prior to this year, the Welsh actor was best known to British television audiences as a rookie firefighter on “The Smoke.” In 2015, Egerton amassed a global following based on his work on the big screen. He achieved breakout star status in the critically successful and popular Kingsman: The Secret Service, where he played Gary “Eggsy” Unwin. He had other film projects of note: In World War I film Testament of Youth, he starred opposite Alicia Vikander as Edward Brittain. And he closed the year with a featured role in Legend as Mad Teddy Smith. Expect to see more of Egerton in 2016: In Eddie the Eagle, he’ll portray beloved British sporting figure Eddie Edwards, the first ski jumper from Great Britain to compete in the Olympics.
Veteran actor Wagner Moura has enjoyed a successful acting career in his native Brazil but broke through with audiences all across North America this year as the star of Netflix’s “Narcos,” which chronicles the infamous exploits of Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the Medellin cartel. Moura plays Escobar himself, a role for which the Brazilian actor had to learn Spanish. Interestingly, it’s not his first project that focused on the conflict between law enforcement and drug lords. In 2007’s Elite Squad, he portrayed the other side of law as the head of a special drug enforcement unit in Rio de Janeiro.
Alycia is the second cast member of “Fear the Walking Dead” to land on our list, underscoring the AMC’s spin-off series’ impact on television viewers this past year. In fact, the show’s premiere in August was the biggest in cable TV history both in total viewers and among adults 18 to 49. In the series, set in Los Angeles right at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse on the West Coast, Alycia plays Alicia Clark, the teenaged daughter of high-school guidance counselor Madison Clark. In addition to her work on this series, she continues in her role as Commander Lexa in the CW’s “The 100.” In 2016, fans can watch her in German thriller Friend Request.
Before this year, film fans knew Dillane best for his portrayal of a teenaged Tom Riddle in 2009’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. But in 2015, he cultivated a television following as a series regular on AMC’s enormously popular “Fear the Walking Dead,” the spin-off and prequel to “The Walking Dead.” Dillane plays Nick Clark, a 19-year-old erstwhile community college student whose favorite hobbies include injecting drugs into his body and lying to the people he loves. It wasn’t his only TV role of note, however, as he also appeared in three episodes of Netflix’s “Sense8” as Shugs. Nevertheless, his film career remains busy. Dillane stars in Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea in addition to appearing in the upcoming films Astral and Viena and the Fantomes
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