Sunday, 25 May 2008

Growing On The Tree: 2008's Hot New Showbiz Talents

This is to be the first yearly edition of my pick of the best of the new talents emerging in the world of showbusiness. I can only hope that my forecasts for their futures turn out to be correct.

Actors & Actresses

Ben Whishaw - Although I have yet to see this young man in action on screen, the buzz is that he will be a major leading man quite soon. Helping him to this status is the 2008 film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's most famous novel "Brideshead Revisited". The other prominent role in his career so far was as the killer with an amazing sense of smell in the British-German co-production "Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer. However, his latest role will be a completely British one, as he is playing Sebastian, who has a torturous relationship with Charles Ryder, one that lies somewhere inbetween friendship and love, at a time when homosexuality was the type of thing that you had to keep buried and never speak of. If the critics are kind to this adaptation of the book, Whishaw could certainly look forward to more career-building parts in the not too distant future.

JJ Feild - You wouldn't have thought that someone born in Colorado, USA could receive critical plaudits for parts such as Frederick Garland in the TV adaptations of Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart book series or even as the unassuming romantic hero in the ITV adaptation of Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey", Henry Tilney. Yet, he slipped into both roles with ease. The line of his acting career can be traced back to the end of the Nineties, when he was just a jobbing actor, testing the thespian waters by appearing in an episode of the ultra-cosy Sunday evening drama "Heartbeat". Real exposure came with his portrayal of Simon Doyle in 'Death On The Nile', alongside another up-and-coming star, Emily Blunt. With three movies currently in the works in 2008, it is fair to assume that major stardom can only be a film role away.

Shia LaBouf - If you can put aside that he was in the exceptionally lame US teenage comedy "Even Stevens", Shia manages to make entertainment insiders believe that he has a future in films. Having seen "Transformers", I too believe that, in spite of some people seeing the film as little more than a cinematic advertisement from toys that hail from the Eighties. Starring in the fourth Indiana Jones movie is definitely an advantageous career opportunity, whether the film goes down a storm or like a lead balloon. Let's hope that LaBouf gets more opportunities of that sort.

Holly Grainger - Her body of work, extensive though it is, has mainly been in TV, but the movie version of Kevin Holden's novel about teenage life and football hooliganism looks set to move Holly into cinema, an area of visual entertainment she had previously not entered. One of a long list of former child performers, the Lancashire-born daughter of celebrated character actor Gawn Grainger, has successfully navigated her way through adolescence with a string of roles that show her the good and bad aspects of growing up into a young woman. It is yet to be established whether the first film she has been cast in will be her only film. Still, the optimist within me would love to see Miss Grainger make more movies in the future.

Linzey Cocker - Like Holly, Linzey hails from Lancashire, but the difference is that Miss Cocker has two films in the pipeline, not one. The one that has the highest profile of the two is 'Wild Child', which will see her screen time with Julia Roberts niece, Emma, one of the current crop of new A-List teen movie stars in Hollywood. Television viewers are bound to know her, though, as Jade, the jealous twin sister of Ashley, the geeky girl who became a fashion princess. The leap into film came as something of a surprise. As brilliant as her performance was, I did feel that she was going to do some more TV parts, before auditioning for movie roles, something that very few British actresses of her age group succeed at. Nor did I think for a second she'd be one of the female leads in an American teen comedy, but the corners you do walk round can still hold surprises for you.

Ellen Page - After starting her career as a little-known Canadian actress and passing through walls in the first couple of 'X-Men' movies, Ellen flexed her film acting muscles, when she turned the tables on a pervert in 'Hard Candy', in a way that will make any man wince. This grisly tale led to her securing the lead in 'Juno', a film about teenage pregnancy, which in turn led her to receive an Academy Award nomination the Best Actress category, a welcome, or unwelcome, development for any actress, depending on how much ground they have already gained. Not all lesser known female actors can get something from such an acolade. Fortunately, she has been lucky enough to have three new movie projects come her way, and I feel doubly sure that there will be plenty more where they came from.

Talulah Riley - Thank god for Nylon Magazine! For a while, it was looking like Talulah wasn't going to get mentioned in these articles that spotlight new and talented British actresses. It is strange, therefore, that an American magazine, rather than a UK one, had done just that. The adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel "Five Little Pigs" had provided her with her first professional acting role. Appearing as a teenage Angela Warren in various flashback scenes gave Talulah her first taste of work as an up-and-coming actress. Although things were quiet for her for a few months afterwards, she soon got a steady stream of work, beginning with "Pride & Prejudice" in 2005, and culminating with the deliciously dark-humoured revamping of the "St Trinians" movie franchise. 2008 looks set to be the year that Miss Riley is lifted out of the supporting character category and into the potential leading lady one.


Amy MacDonald - She may have been launched as a hot new singer-songwriter in the music scene last year, but, as far as I'm concerned, the Scottish songstress is not quite at the stage where she is definitely a household name. The singles "This Is The Life" and "Poison Prince" are prime examples of just how capable a composer she is, but still there isn't a great deal to suggesr she is as big a star as I'd like her to be. This was signified by the fact I was able to buy a copy of her debut CD with the minimum of expense. Such talent shouldn't be cheapened in this way, and I am crossing my fingers that I'll be able to buy her follow up album for about sixteeen quid.

Paloma Faith - Coming back to "St Trinians" briefly, a Google search for the actress who played Andrea, the head of the Emo clique, revealed that she is also a singer-songwriter, and a darn good one at that. So much so, that I posted a thread on her IMDB message board, saying that I was keen to see a record label sign her up, and I was pleased to discover I wasn't alone in my belief that the big music moguls should take note of her talent, which is marvellously divided between composing tunes and acting. Versatility is always a good attribute to possess, and Miss Faith has plenty of that.

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