Hollywood has a fickle temperament when it comes to stars, but then again, so does the public. With fame acting the fickle mistress, an artist’s career can implode overnight. By that same token, Hollywood can pluck a soul from total obscurity and make someone into a household name in an instant. Plenty of stars have positioned themselves to become the next big thing, however, only to flounder back into the ever-expanding number of also-rans.
As 2016 draws to a close, eyes look ahead to 2017, and to the treats tinsel town has in store for her audience. We here at Screen Rant, of course, have already begun discussion of next year’s movies (hey, it is our job) and who might emerge as a superstar both in front of and behind the camera. Some have already begun to emerge with brief roles in 2016 movies, while others remain unknown quantities in the build-up to their huge releases. Who will become the next big thing? Time will tell, but we’ve compiled a few names to watch. Check out our list of 15 Stars On The Rise In 2017!
15 Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Holland already made a splash in 2016 thanks to his cameo in Captain America: Civil War. The brief role hinted at the forthcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the new tone that the MCU would adopt for its integrated Spider-Man character. If nothing else, it also cemented Holland’s reputation as a fine and capable actor.
Spider-Man: Homecoming opens next July, and already the first trailer for the film has all of fandom buzzing. Oscar-nominee and Birdman Michael Keaton, himself no stranger to superheroics, becomes a new bird man in the film: the Vulture. Fans have opined for the villain ever since Sam Raimi’s cancelled Spider-Man 4, and with Homecoming introducing a host of other favorite characters, look for the film to take home an impressive box office haul.
All eyes though will fall to Holland. Much as Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield became household names thanks to their tenure in tights, Holland could land at the top of the showbiz heap. Marvel has also said that the studio intends to produce one Spider-Man film a year a-la the Harry Potter franchise, so expect Holland’s name to stay in print for some time to come.
14 Naomi Scott (Power Rangers)
Brit Naomi Scott started out her career as a Disney kid, appearing in television series for the House of Mouse on both sides of the Atlantic. She also earned some notice for her role on the acclaimed but short lived sci-fi series, Terra Nova. 2017 will see Scott achieve a new level of fame as she steps into the armor of the Pink Ranger in the forthcoming Power Rangers.
Much as G.I. Joe and Transformers proved sleeping giants when tapped by Hollywood, the new Power Rangers film has already built up high anticipation among fans of sci-fi, and of course die-hard lovers of the original series. The new film will afford Scott the chance to show of her acting chops as well as her physical prowess. With Scott one of the first actors cast in the project, and with early plot teases that indicate she’ll have a love interest, the actress has a great opportunity to walk away with the movie. Given the Power Rangers long tenure on television, sequels will likely follow, further making Scott into a star of tomorrow.
13 Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman/Justice League)
Gadot already made headlines in 2016 thanks to her brief but pivotal role in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Donning the iconic armor of Wonder Woman, Gadot had the awesome task of brining to life the iconic character in her first big-screen outing. While the movie suffered negative publicity in the lead up to release, Gadot’s casting won praise. Batman v. Superman might have earned mixed reviews when it debuted in theatres, but Gadot won wide acclaim for her work.
Wonder Woman will test Gadot again, this time as a full-blown star. The film will task Gadot with carrying the whole of a movie on her shoulders, thus testing her acting chops as never before. Moreover, the battle and action scenes of the film will demand physical gifts, testing Gadot’s stamina in a way few actress ever do. With Justice League following next summer, Gadot again will step into the spotlight, as the DCEU blasts into full swing—hopefully with a better reception than its 2016 outings received! Either way, Gadot has the chance to become an icon and a bonafide star.
12 Rian Johnson (Star wars Ep. VIII)
The Star Wars revival that kicked off in 2015 with The Force Awakens continued well into 2016 as Rogue One hit theatres to strong reviews, and as the yet-untitled Star Wars Episode VIII rolled into production. What fate awaits the beloved characters of the Skywalker saga? One man knows for sure: Rian Johnson, the writer/director of Episode VIII, and the man who’s story skills will carry over into writing Episode IX as well.
Johnson already proved his directorial skills with the acclaimed sci-fi movie Looper, a film which no doubt helped him land the job on Star Wars. Still, the galaxy long ago and far away is a much different animal than the time travel action of Looper, and it has a unique set of pitfalls. Should Episode VIII prove successful—and every live action Star Wars film to date has—Johnson will likely have his pick of projects, and earn an even larger following to his work.
11 Ezra Miller (Justice League)
Fans of The Flash on the TV network the CW grumbled when their favorite television speedster, Grant Gustin, didn’t secure the role in the big-screen adaptation. The role went to an actor with a bigger feature film resume, and one that had long earned rave reviews for his work. Ezra Miller, of course, will don the red armor of The Flash for the DCEU in Justice League.
Fans have already had two brief glimpses of Miller in costume, in Batman v. Superman and in Suicide Squad. That may not offer much insight into his take on Barry Allen/Flash, though his filmography certainly testifies to his ability. He gave a sensational performance in We Need to Talk about Kevin opposite Tilda Swinton, matched only by his brilliant turn in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The latter allowed Miller to show off his talents at comedy, and given the criticism the DCEU has suffered for a lack of levity, Miller stepping into the role of the wise-cracking Flash promises some more humor, and gives the actor the potential to become a breakout star.
10 Taron Edgerton (Kingsman: The Golden Circle)
Edgerton has long sat on the edge (pardon the phrase) of stardom, not least of all because of his winning performance in the first Kingsman: The Secret Service. As directed by Matthew Vaughn, the comic book adaptation smashed the familiar tropes of so-called comic book movies with crazy violence and cheeky humor. Edgerton’s performance in the film earned strong critical notice. The actor’s name became on of the most mentioned for two roles in 2016, that of the MCU’s Spider-Man, and for the role of young Han Solo in a forthcoming Star Wars anthology film.
Edgerton might have lost out on both roles, but even contending for the parts earned Edgerton a new following. 2017 will see him return to his role in the Kingsman sequel The Golden Circle, giving the actor a chance to remind audiences of his strengths as a performer. Given the cult following earned by the first Kingsman, Golden Circle looks to become an even bigger hit, and to make Edgerton an even bigger star.
9 Priyanka Chopra (Baywatch)
Bollywood beauty and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra, despite an impressive filmography, still remains a relative unknown in American films. That may change in 2017.
That American audiences don’t know Chopra’s work is a bit ironic. Her long tenure as a Bollywood star has made her an international superstar of film and an acclaimed singer as well. With her voluptuous, exotic looks and considerable acting range, Chopra has long earned positive notice for her performances. She scored a major win in 2015 when she won the lead on the ABC television series Quantico, at last earning notice in the United States. Her work on the show invited strong critical praise, and helped her secure her biggest Hollywood role to date: that of the villainess in the 2017 action comedy Baywatch. Chopra will star opposite audience favorites Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson in the would-be blockbuster, giving her an opportunity to reach a bigger American audience than ever before. Given that she’ll don a skimpy swimsuit for the role as well, Chopra should gain significant attention in 2017.
8 Idris Elba (The Dark Tower)
The much-anticipated adaptation of Steven King’s lauded Dark Tower series has long attracted an impressive litany of acting talent. Both Johnny Depp and Oscar-winner Javier Bardem’s names have circled the film’s lead, only to see the production fall back into Development Hell. In 2017, The Dark Tower will hit screens at long last in a megaproduction from Sony Pictures. Sony shocked Hollywood by announcing an unexpected choice for the lead—Idris Elba.
Elba, of course, is no stranger to blockbusters, having starred in the first two Thor films in a supporting role, and in the sci-fi shocker Prometheus. To date though, The Dark Tower will mark Elba’s first leading-man role in a major series, as the actor takes on the role of gunfighter Roland Deschian. With sequels and a subsequent TV series already announced to follow, Sony has a lot riding on the success of the movie, and so does Elba. Long praised for his work, The Dark Tower affords Elba the opportunity to become a full-fledged superstar.
7 Dane DeHaan (Cure for Wellness/Valerian)
Dane DeHann, as an actor, has long circled Hollywood stardom courtesy of a string of acclaimed performances in indie and art house films. DeHaan first attracted attention for his leading role in Josh Trank’s sci-fi indie film Chronicle. He followed up with a pair of indie hits, Kill Your Darlings and The Place Beyond the Pines, both of which earned him critical accolades. What seemed a sure-fire chance for stardom—the plumb role of Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2—backfired, thanks to too much studio meddling and an inept script.
2017 offers DeHaan the chance for redemption, and bonafide stardom with a pair of genre pictures—A Cure for Wellness and Valerian. The former pairs DeHaan with acclaimed director Gore Verbinski, while the latter allows him to work with Luc Besson. Both films have already generated a good deal of positive buzz, and should even one of them hit big, watch for DeHaan to step into the spotlight.
6 Elyse Hollander (Blond Ambition)
Who, you might ask? Hollander hasn’t earned much notice to date, and for good reason: she’s a relative newcomer. Despite several short films and a stint as a director’s assistant on Birdman, Hollander has remained an unknown quantity in Hollywood. 2016 first earned her some buzz, as she penned one of the year’s most talked about spec scripts, Blond Ambition. A biography of pop diva Madonna, Blond Ambition won a spot on the 2016 Blacklist, a sort of expose of unproduced scripts.
Blond Ambition traces the rise of Madonna in 1980s New York as she struggled to make a career as a musician. The script focuses on the political climate of the time, and the sexism a headstrong woman like Madonna encountered at the time. No doubt Hollander shares some of Madonna’s titular ambition, having attracted producers Michael DeLuca and Brett Ratner to the script. Should the script go before the cameras in 2017, Hollander could become one of Hollywood’s hottest new writers.
5 Riz Ahmed (Rogue One)
British-Packistani actor/musician Ahmed first attracted notice working in British television in series like Britz and Dead Set. His work as a hip-hop artist also brought him acclaim, and soon enough, Hollywood came calling. Ahmed scored strong critical attention for his work in Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, playing an assistant to Jake Gyllenhaal’s obsessed cameraman. He nabbed another role in a high profile film with 2016’s Jason Bourne, though his biggest title didn’t release until the end of the year: Star Wars Rogue One.
In Rogue One, Ahmed plays Bodhi Rook, a defecting Imperial pilot that joins up with the Rebel Alliance. Given the pivotal nature of his role, and that Rogue One will become the first Star Wars anthology feature, Ahmed should reap a good deal of critical and audience attention from his role. Should the movie have even a fraction of the legs that its predecessor, The Force Awakens, had, Ahmed should become a familiar face to millions of viewers, and make stardom a strong possibility for the actor in 2017.
4 Mahershala Ali (Luke Cage, Moonlight)
A character actor with an ever-expanding resume, Mahershala Ali has already earned critical praise for supporting roles in movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Predators and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. 2016 offered pair of great parts to Ali, first with the Marvel TV series Luke Cage. As Cottonmouth Stokes, Ali got to strut his stuff as a flamboyant, and at times, heroic, villain in the new hit series. Ali then won wide acclaim for his turn as a fatherly drug dealer in the indie drama Moonlight, which already has netted him considerable Oscar buzz.
Ali’s dual plumb roles position him to become a rising star in both film and television—a rare feat. Should he snag the much discussed Oscar nomination for his work in Moonlight, Ali could make the transition to big-screen superstar. Even if he does not, Luke Cage will afford Ali the chance to earn a loyal fanbase as well as critical acclaim for his nuanced work. For Mahershala Ali, 2017 might prove the sky’s the limit.
3 Finn Jones (Iron Fist)
Speaking of Marvel television, Iron Fist looks to continue the tradition of Netflix hits Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Much as those series made stars out of Charlie Cox, Krystin Ritter and Mike Colter, Iron Fist offers a star-making opportunity to the show’s lead, British born actor Finn Jones.
Jones has already enjoyed a successful career in genre TV, with roles on Game of Thrones and Doctor Who. Iron Fist will mark Jones’ first lead role on a major American series, and given the show’s connection to the rest of the Marvel Universe, will afford him almost instant celebrity. The studio has already announced the much-anticipated crossover series The Defenders, which will unite Jones with Cox, Ritter and Colter in a mega-crossover, much like the comics which inspired their shows. With both Iron Fist and The Defenders set to debut in 2017, Jones will enjoy a great deal of exposure, and offer the chance for major stardom.
2 Ricky Whittle (American Gods)
British hunk Ricky Whittle first began his career as an amateur footballer in the UK before an injury ended his hopes of becoming a sports star. Whittle’s ambition didn’t suffer, however, as he acquiesced to work as an actor. His good looks an athletic build helped Whittle gain work as a model, which he then parlayed into a successful television career. After appearing in a number of British shows, he scored a recurring role on the sci-fi series The 100.
2017 will see Whittle getting the chance of a lifetime, as the actor steps into the lead role in the much-anticipated series American Gods. Based upon the popular novel by acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman, American Gods follows the adventures of the mysterious Shadow (played by Whittle) as he uncovers a coming war between the fabled Norse gods. With a cast that boasts Cloris Leachman, Gillian Anderson, Crispin Glover, Ian McShane and Peter Stormare, Whittle will have to prove he can hold his own amid impressive and experienced talent. Should he succeed, Ricky Whittle might become one of the biggest new stars of 2017.
1 The cast of Star Trek Discovery
With the rebooted, big-screen Star Trek winding down (a fourth film in development will likely cap off the action), the staple of sci-fi looks to make a much-anticipated return to television with Star Trek: Discovery. With a creative team that boasts Bryan Fuller, Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer and designs by famed Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie, network CBS looks to repeat the success of the long-running Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Discovery will debut in May 2017, and already casting announcements have excited Trek fans and casual viewers alike. Actress Sonequa Martin-Green will become the first female, African American lead on a Trek series. Noted film actors Michelle Yeoh and Doug Jones will also have recurring roles on the series, as will acclaimed stage actor Anthony Rapp. Set ten years before the events of the original Trek TV series, Discovery will, according to rumor, address the long-discussed Romulan War, and adopt the same kind of serialized format popularized by shows like Battlestar Galactica.
There’s an old proverb that links prostitutes, buildings and politicians—if any of them are around long enough, they become respectable. The same is true for actors on Star Trek, thus Martin-Green, Rapp, Jones and Yeoh look to achieve a new level of fame in 2017.
Think someone will hit it big in 2017? Tell us in the comments!