It’s an exciting moment for any young actor or actress – the time where they go from being a sort-of-known to one of Hollywood’s most sought-after stars. Every year, it happens to a handful of performers – they nail a role in a high-profile movie or television series, or they’re recognized for a particularly stellar performance after years of hard work.
This year’s crop of breakthrough performers all hit their stride in different ways. Some built on momentum from previous years’ buzz – others came seemingly out of nowhere to take the film industry by storm. But they all share one thing in common – they’re enormously talented, and it’s likely that we’ll be hearing about them for years to come. Here are Hollywood’s 5 breakout stars from 2015.
1. Amy Schumer
It’s rare that a comedic actress can dominate both on TV and on the big screen simultaneously. But this year, 34-year-old Amy Schumer did just that. She’s steadily built a reputation as someone who’s unafraid to push boundaries. This year, she did just that – and proved herself as a force to be reckoned with. She created pointed political commentary about everything from gun control to birth control on her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer.
Then she subverted the traditional Hollywood narrative and wrote and starred in the hit film Trainwreck, in which she plays a woman with some serious commitment issues. Schumer hasn’t just gained fans along the way – she’s racked up some serious accolades, including an Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series and a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Trainwreck.
Schumer’s brand of humor isn’t for everyone – she’s been criticized for vulgarity and racial insensitivity. But with a combination of unconventional charm and a willingness to speak her mind, she’s emerged as one of the most talked about comedians in Hollywood.
2. Eddie Redmayne
This spring, he won an Oscar for his riveting performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. And since then, Eddie Redmayne’s star has only grown brighter. The 33-year-old Brit has had a banner year, solidifying his reputation as an actor who’s unafraid to take risks. While his mid-year turn in Jupiter Ascending wasn’t exactly lauded, he’s already earning Oscar buzz for his equally acclaimed performance as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl. If that weren’t enough to make him a bonafide star, he’s also the star of the next installment of the Harry Potter franchise, next year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
3. Alicia Vikander
This time last year, this 27-year-old Swedish starlet’s name wasn’t quite as well known. But with roles in three of the most talked about films of 2015, Alicia Vikander has positioned herself as one of the most versatile and savvy actresses in Hollywood. She first gained attention as the eerily serene AI, Ava, in Alex Garland’s sleeper hit, Ex Machina. This summer, she stole scenes as Gaby Teller in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. And she’s ended the year by dazzling critics and film fans alike with her performance as Gerda Wegener, an artist who helps her lover transition from a man to a woman, in The Danish Girl. Vikander’s performances in Ex Machina and The Danish Girl have earned her two Golden Globe nominations. But whether she wins or loses next month, it’s clear we haven’t heard the last from her.
4. Michael B. Jordan
Michael B. Jordan has had a fascinating career trajectory. He’s had scene-stealing supporting roles in several critically acclaimed TV series, like The Wire, Friday Night Lights, and Parenthood. And the 28-year-old Californian starred in one of the most well-received films of 2013, Fruitvale Station. But it wasn’t until 2015 that he really emerged as a preeminent star in Hollywood. He started the year off on a less-than-stellar note with a starring role in the much-maligned Fantastic Four reboot. But that one misstep didn’t set his career back – he handled the backlash gracefully. And now he’s finally getting the attention he deserves with his electrifying performance Adonis, son of Rocky Balboa’s notorious opponent Apollo, in the box office hit, Creed. Now that he’s solidified himself as a leading man, it will be exciting to see what Jordan does next.
5. Brie Larson
Brie Larson has worked steadily over the past several years, appearing in films like 13 Going on 30 and on TV series like The United States of Tara. But the 26-year-old Sacramento native had a career breakthrough in 2015. It began with her co-starring appearance in Trainwreck. Then she truly revolutionized her career with a groundbreaking performance as Ma, the resilient captive of an unstable man in the thriller Room. Her performance has been so critically acclaimed that her name is being uttered in the same breath as Hollywood A-listers like Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence. It seems inevitable that we’ll be hearing even more about Larson in 2016, especially once award season hits full swing.