10 Actors to Watch & Why 2012: Part One

#10.

Name: Christopher Chace Crawford

Born: July 18, 1985 in Lubbock, Texas, USA

Credits: Gossip Girl / Twelve / The Covenant.

Interest: Number ten is always a tough choice on these lists. Most of the time I try to pick an actor who is oozing with potential but seems to be stuck in the Hollywood saw mill. That is about 80% of the actors working on the CW.

Crawford has been kicking around since 2002. He made his debut alongside Gabrielle Anwar and Craig Sheffer in the TV movie Long Lost Son where he played a son who has been raised by kidnappers. Crawford was the best thing about this very C-rated feel good film. He then starred in the supernatural thriller The Covenant with another hunk on this list Taylor Kitsch. What is kind of funny is the last time I did this list Kitsch was my #10 choice.

I first noticed Crawford in The Covenant and then started following his career as he became a regular on Gossip Girl. I always liked Crawford because he was always so subtle, restrained and not trying to prove anything even though his character probably got the shaft the most of any male in the series. Sure there are the obvious choices from the series like Ed Westwick and Penn Badgley. I believe Westwick could be a good actor but has become lazy with his characters mannerisms and low voice tactics. Badgley I have never liked so smug and boring as sin and his brief appearances in movies proves my theory. If you watch the series Crawford is more reactionary until the whole mess with his father unraveled and then something awoke in the actor.

That awakening carried into Joel Schumacher’s very under-appreciated Twelve, where Crawford played a tormented drug dealer who faces many, many moral questions. This was a different Crawford that we had seen on Gossip Girl. And working with a veteran director like Schumacher proved he does have range.

Future projects: Crawford is in the twilight of his time on Gossip Girl. The show has become more of a joke than must see programming. But the question that remains for me with the show is can some of the pretty decent actors on it (who suffer through miserable scripts every week) continue on with it. Blake Lively seems to be making the jump after her critically acclaimed performance in The Town. Leighton Meester is branching out with movies like Country Strong and The Roommate. But the question is which of the male leads will make the jump. My money is on Crawford. He’s got the Sundance darling Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding with Jane Fonda and Elizabeth Olsen coming out. He’s got the future rom-com blockbuster What to Expect When You’re Expecting with Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez. And he just signed to star opposite Pierce Brosnan in The House Gun.

What he needs to succeed: Crawford needs to get serious about leaving Gossip Girl. Be the first to get a foothold in movies because that show is on its last legs and killing off his character before the finale could drum up his price in Hollywood. Other than that seek out risky projects with established directors.

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#9

Name: Idrissa Akuna Elba

Born: September 6, 1972 in Hackney, London, England, UK

Credits: Thor / The Losers / Rocknrolla / 28 Weeks Later / The Wire

Interest: Elba is starting to become known as the actor you call if you want a menacing presence on screen. But Elba is no thug. With each performance the man seems to keep getting more credibility.

I have to say I missed the boat when recognizing the brilliance of Idris Elba earlier. I first got familiar with him in Guy Ritchie’s Rocknrolla.

I wondered where he came from and what else he had done. I found that he had got his start in British TV and had an extensive career there. They he really impressed me in The Losers as part of a very underrated ensemble cast.

Thanks to the success of the Marvel Comics Thor, Elba should be popping up in a lot more movies very soon. But Hollywood don’t forget this actor has more going for him than his ungodly physique.

Future projects: What a lot of people don’t know is that Elba is quite a star in England. His series Luther, where he plays a hard-boiled British detective was a hit.

The series will debut it’s third season in 2012. Along with that he will star opposite Nicolas Cage in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in February.

Then he will star in two potential Hollywood blockbusters with Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, co-starring Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender as will as Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim with Ron Perlman. Not to mention it should be pretty soon that we hear Elba has signed on to Thor 2.

What he needs to succeed: Elba has to decide what side of the Atlantic he wants to make his playground. After Season 3 of Luther is that all? With him starring in four potential Hollywood blockbusters, he really has options. I really think he can do these blockbusters but just don’t let Hollywood forget you are a strong thespian too. I’d really love to see him get some more emotional characters as well as the popcorn movies.

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#8

Name: Anthony Mackie

Born: September 23, 1979 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Credits: The Adjustment Bureau / Hurt Locker / Half Nelson / Million Dollar Baby

Interest: Mackie has been working since 2002. But this guy seems to where greatness occurs but can never quite grasp it for himself. He is also a chameleon actor who can fade into the background and pounce with a memorable performance when needed.

I first noticed him in the little seen but brilliant film Half Nelson where Mackie plays a drug dealer who is confronted by Ryan Gosling’s teacher. Gosling is brilliant in the film and Mackie is no slouch in his scenes. Gosling got an Oscar nod.

But it really wasn’t until 2008’s The Hurt Locker where I knew Mackie had landed. His performance rivaled Jeremy Renner’s except Renner got all the credit. Renner got an Oscar nod.

Mackie’s background but memorable performances wer in movies like Freedomland, We Are Marshall, Eagle Eye, Real Steel, Million Dollar Baby and the rap bio-pic Notorious where Mackie played troubled rap legend Tupac Shakur.

Future projects: Mackie will kick off 2012 with the thriller Man on Ledge with Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks. He is just wrapping up the supernatural thriller Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, based on the bestselling novel and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Dominic Cooper (two other entries on our list). Then he will star opposite Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Sean Penn in the mafia vs. cops film, Gangster Squad.

Extra Note: Is it just me or does Mackie look a little like Will Smith?

What he needs to succeed: I wanna see Mackie get more charismatic roles. Let’s see if he has what it takes to bring the Will Smith or young Eddie Murphy kind appeal to a role. Has he got that in him? It is interesting to speculate if he can step out of the background and deliver the appeal of a leading man.

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#7

Name: Joel Edgerton

Born: June 23, 1974 in Blacktown, New South Wales, Australia

Credits: The Thing / Warrior / Animal Kingdom / King Arthur / Ned Kelly / Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Interest: I am sad to say that I really never got up and cheered for this latest Aussie import until I saw the very, very underrated film, Warrior.

I was kind of surprised when I re-watched the Star Wars prequels and noticed that Joel Edgerton was actually played the adoptive father of baby Luke Skywalker.

Then I remembered him in Ned Kelly where he was overshadowed by Heath Ledger.

And King Arthur, does anyone remember that movie besides half-naked Keira Knightley running into battle?

For me Warrior was the birth of a new chapter in this actor’s life. His portrayal in the film was such for the every man like Rocky was back in 1970s.

With the economic crisis you could really relate to the guy and Edgerton’s look and presence really accented what we are all feeling. I even made it through The Thing remake and Edgerton along with Mary Elizabeth Winstead were the best parts of that movie.

What I really like about Edgerton is that he isn’t the Aussie thug persona like say a Russell Crowe or Tom Hardy. He’s not a showman like say Hugh Jackman or Mel Gibson. Edgerton reflects more the common man, someone an audience can relate to. And that is key for the longevity of his career.

Future projects: Edgerton really has some interesting projects coming up. First off is the Australian mystery thriller “We You Were Here” co-starring Teresa Palmer. Edgerton heads a group of vacationers who while on a Asian holiday something goes really wrong. Think less Hangover and more Very Bad Things. Then there is the Disney film The Odd Life of Timothy Green, about, well from the trailer, it looks like childless parents grow a cabbage patch kid in their garden. It could be one of the biggest head-scratchers of 2012. But Edgerton’s biggest project is the remake of “The Great Gatsby” with Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. Edgerton is going to play Tom Buchanan. Watch for this film to sweep Oscar nods.

What he needs to succeed: After Gatsby, we are gonna see Edgerton everywhere. This all-star cast and directed by Baz Luhrmann will surely spring-board Edgerton into the spotlight in 2012. He’ll have to choose his projects carefully afterwards but I think we will be seeing a lot of this actor in the future.

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#6

Name: Thomas William Hiddleston

Born: February 9, 1981 in Westminster, London, England, UK

Credits: War Horse / Midnight in Paris / Thor / Wallander

Interest: Like the rest of world outside of the UK, I didn’t notice Tom Hiddleston until his quite profound performance in last year’s mythical/superhero romp, Thor.

He was fondly remembered by director Kenneth Branagh after they worked together on the underrated TV movie, Conspiracy back in 2001. That film was only Hiddleston’s second feature.

Hiddleston has used Thor as a jumping stone into other high profile flicks with established directors like Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. He is quickly becoming one of the character actors to watch.

Future projects: Hiddleston’s Loki will be the core villain in May’s The Avengers where if the script follows the origin story of the superhero team. In that story Loki brainwashes The Hulk as a war machine against the Avengers.  Hiddleston is also signed on for Thor 2 which will be crafted by Alan Taylor, one of the brains behind bringing Games of Thrones to TV. But before that Hiddleston will be front in centre for an epic telling of Henry IV on BBC TV. The two-part extravaganza will star Jeremy Irons as Henry IV.

What he needs to succeed: 

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