Actors Poised to Be the Breakout Stars of 2018

Some of the biggest TV shows and movies of 2018 will be led by Oprah Winfrey, Robert Downey Jr., Emma Stone, Chris Pratt, Tom Cruise, and other stars that everyone knows. Every year, though, there are always some actors who aren’t major names in January, but they are by December. In 2017, a few of those breakout stars were Get Out‘s Daniel Kaluuya, Dunkirk‘s Fionn Whitehead, Logan‘s Dafne Keen, and It‘s Bill Skarsgård.

Looking ahead to 2018, these are the actors who have potential to take center stage in that same way.

1. Alden Ehrenreich

Alden Ehrenreich

Alden Ehrenreich | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

You may already recognize Alden Ehrenreich from his role in the 2016 film Hail, Caesar!. But he’s not exactly a household name — at least, not yet. That will change in 2018.

Ehrenreich stars in Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is guaranteed to be one of the highest-grossing movies of the summer. He has the impossible task of replacing Harrison Ford as Han Solo in this prequel, which is set before the events of the original Star Wars.

Whether the movie succeeds remains to be seen, especially considering its behind-the-scenes issues. But if Ehrenreich is able to nail his role, this could be the beginning of a Chris Pratt-style launch into leading man territory.

Next: This young actress is the star of a multi-million dollar Disney blockbuster. 

2. Storm Reid

Storm Reid in A Wrinkle in Time

Storm Reid in A Wrinkle in Time | Disney

At just 14 years old, Storm Reid leads a Disney tentpole film that cost over $100 million. Reid plays the lead character, Meg, in A Wrinkle in Time. Sure, the real draws are Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Chris Pine. But the film will live or die on whether the audience believes and sympathizes with its child protagonist. 

This is not Reid’s first rodeo. She has previously had small acting roles in films like 12 Years a Slave and shows like NCIS: Los Angeles. But this is by far her biggest project to date, and it will put her on the map for an audience of millions.

Next: This actor will be the star of an upcoming superhero TV show based on a beloved character’s mythology. 

3. Cameron Cuffe

Cameron Cuff in Krypton

Cameron Cuff in Krypton | Syfy

Looking over to TV, Cameron Cuffe is poised to break out with his role in the superhero show Krypton. Airing on SyFy, the David S. Goyer series takes place on Superman’s home planet and follows Superman’s grandfather, Seg-El, who fights to redeem the honor of his family.

Cuffe will play Seg-El in the show. He has had few acting credits to date, and the ones he has have been fairly insignificant. But now, he’ll be the face of a show about the mythology of one of the world’s most beloved superheroes. In the same way that Ben McKenzie has become famous off of Gotham and Grant Gustin has become famous off of The Flash, Cuffe is looking to join that same class of actors.

Next: This actress will star in three blockbuster films in 2018. 

4. Letitia Wright

Shuri holds up her panther-shaped glove weapons in Black Panther

Letitia Wright as Princess Shuri in Black Panther | Marvel

Most actors are lucky to star in one blockbuster in a year. But in 2018, Letitia Wright will star in three of them. She is a member of the Black Panther cast, playing Shuri. That’s a fairly crucial role, as she’s the titular character’s half-sister. In the comics, she becomes a superhero in her own right.

Wright debuted that character to rave reviews in Black Panther and is set to reprise the role in Avengers: Infinity War, the latter of which is likely to be the top-grossing movie of 2018. But that’s not all. Wright will also be playing Reb in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. There’s no character by that name in the book, but her role is described as “key” by Variety. As if that weren’t enough, she was also in The Commuter with Liam Neeson.

Either way, for four out of the first five months of 2018, Wright will star in a major theatrical release — not bad at all for a 24-year-old actress.

Next: This actor is already somewhat famous, but he’ll be a much bigger star in a few months. 

5. Tye Sheridan

Tye Sheridan in Ready Player One

Tye Sheridan in Ready Player One | Warner Bros. Pictures

Tye Sheridan isn’t exactly an unknown, but 2018 should be the year that elevates his career even further. Right now, he’s mainly known for playing Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse and Ellis in Mud. 

But in 2018, he will headline the Steven Spielberg science fiction film, Ready Player One, though it remains to be seen if audiences will leave the theater talking about Sheridan’s performance or if it will be mainly about the special effects and references.

Later in the year, Sheridan will play Cyclops again in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. 

Next: This actor is joining one of the biggest movie franchises ever in this new sequel. 

6. Justice Smith

Justice Smith in The Get Down

Justice Smith in The Get Down | Netflix

The Jurassic Park franchise has always relied on young actors. Most recently, in Jurassic World, Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson were the beating heart of the film. They’re not returning for the sequel, Fallen Kingdom, but instead, we have Justice Smith. 

Smith is a 22-year-old actor who is playing a scientist and a member of the Dinosaur Protection Group. This is the group founded by Bryce Dallas Howard’s character in hopes of saving the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar.

Smith isn’t a total unknown, having starred on Netflix’s The Get Down. But never before has he had such an important part to play in a multi-million dollar franchise, and his performance could either be a stand-out of the film or it could really drag it down. No pressure, kid.

Next: This actress is playing an established comic book character in this highly-anticipated sequel. 

7. Zazie Beetz 

Zazie Beetz as Domino

Zazie Beetz in Deadpool 2 | Fox

Any time an actor joins a comic book franchise these days, that tends to be great for their career, if only because they’re often signing on for multiple films and might be on screen consistently for the next few years. That’s the case with Zazie Beetz, who has joined the Deadpool franchise with the upcoming sequel. 

Most of the cast of Deadpool 2 is the same as the first one, but Beetz is a new addition. She’s playing Domino, who in the comics is a mercenary and member of the X-Force. The advertising for the film is already featuring her character prominently. Beetz has only been acting for a few years now, but some might recognize her as playing Van on Atlanta. She also had a role in the recent box-office bomb Geostorm, though hopefully, Deadpool 2 will be better than that disaster.

Next: This actor is also playing an established comic book character in this new DC film.  

8. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Baywatch

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Baywatch | Paramount Pictures

Speaking of little-known actors who are joining comic book franchises, there’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who has landed a role in DC’s Aquaman. He’ll be playing Black Manta, a villainous treasure hunter.

Black Manta is the best-known of Aquaman’s villains, though it’s not clear if the main antagonist of the upcoming film is him or Patrick Wilson’s Ocean Master. Regardless, he’s a character of great significance who will likely have a lot of screen time in the movie or, if not, definitely in future movies. 

Abdul-Mateen has appeared in 2017’s Baywatch and The Greatest Showmanand he starred on Netflix’s The Get Down. 

Next: You may have seen this actress in 2017, but you’ll see a lot more of her next year.

9. Elizabeth Debicki

Ayesha sitting and staring ahead

Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Marvel

Chances are, you’ve seen Elizabeth Debicki in a movie before. Just last year, she played Ayesha in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, though she was covered in gold makeup. She also had roles in Valerian and the City of a Thousand PlanetsEverest, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 

But 2018 is looking to be her year. She already starred in The Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix. But she also plays one of the main characters in Steve McQueen’s Widows, which follows four widows who finish the work of their recently-deceased robber husbands. Then, Debicki will play Virginia Woolf in Vita and Virginia.

Next: This actress is taking center stage in this new action/sci-fi sequel. 

10. Cailee Spaeny

Cailee Spaeny in Pacific Rim Uprising

Cailee Spaeny in Pacific Rim Uprising | Legendary Pictures

Cailee Spaeny barely has 1,000 followers on Twitter. But that will not be the case for much longer, as she’s about to perform in the $150 million blockbuster Pacific Rim Uprising. Spaeny is the main female lead in the film, starring opposite Star Wars‘ John Boyega. 

This is obviously a big break for the 20-year-old, who just started acting in 2016. So far, the only project of hers that has actually been released is one short film that nobody has really seen.

Outside of UprisingSpaeny will be in a few other movies in 2018, including the Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer film On the Basis of Sex. Plus, she’ll play a young version of Lynne Cheney in Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic Backseat, which stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Steve Carell. 

Next: This actor is joining an impressive cast in this new comic book film. 

11. Henry Zaga

Henry Zaga in Teen Wolf

Henry Zaga in Teen Wolf | MTV

20th Century Fox’s The New Mutants could be an unexpected box office hit in the same way that Logan was in 2017. This X-Men film takes a totally different approach to the superhero genre, tackling it more from a horror perspective.

In the lead roles are well-known actors like Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, and Charlie Heaton. But also joining them will be Henry Zaga, who plays Sunspot, a superhero who in the comics can absorb power from the sun. This character was in the previous X-Men films, but The New Mutants is the first time Henry Zaga steps into the role.

Unfortunately, though, now that Disney has purchased Fox, Zaga’s role will likely end up being a one-time thing.

Update: Since the original publication of this article, Fox ended up pushing The New Mutants into 2019, so we’ll have to wait a bit longer for Zaga’s potential breakout.

Next: This young actor will be playing an iconic character who we saw on screen fairly recently. 

12. Rohan Chand

Rohan Chand in Bad Words

Rohan Chand in Bad Words | Focus Features

Disney just released their live-action The Jungle Book in 2016, but in 2018, Warner Bros. is coming out with their own version. Mowgli stars Andy Serkis as Baloo, and Serkis also serves as director.

In the lead role of Mowgli will be Rohan Chand. This young actor has only performed a few times so far, in small roles like on Homeland and in Jack and Jill. With the Disney version of The Jungle Book, Neel Sethi’s performance was generally considered to be good but not great.

So there’s room for improvement, and Rohan Chand could set this one apart by giving a truly standout performance as the character.

Next: You probably haven’t heard of this actress, but she’s about to lead a $200 million action film.  

13. Rosa Salazar

Rosa Salazar in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Rosa Salazar in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials | 20th Century Fox

Directed by Robert Rodriguez, the James Cameron-produced Alita: Battle Angel follows a cyborg woman in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s based on the manga series Battle Angel Alita, and it’s a serious investment on 20th Century Fox’s part, reportedly costing close to $200 million. Obviously, the studio is hoping this will be one of the top-grossing films of the Christmas season, when it’s being released.

Starring in the lead role is Rosa Salazar. She’s not a total newbie, and you might recognize her for playing Brenda in the Maze Runner seriesBut this will be the first big blockbuster that she actually carries.

Next: This actress has potential to find herself at the 2019 Academy Awards. 

14. Anna Pniowsky

Anna Pniowsky attends Variety Power of Young Hollywood at TAO Hollywood on August 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Anna Pniowsky | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Casey Affleck recently won the Oscar for Best Actor, and in 2018, he’ll write, direct, and star in a movie which could be a serious awards contender. Light of My Life follows a father and a daughter struggling to survive in the woods after a virus breaks out. Affleck will be playing the father, but the daughter will be played by Anna Pniowsky.

Pniowsky has barely ever acted before, but she could be the Jacob Tremblay of 2018. The movie also sounds a bit like The Road, which helped launched the career of its young lead, Kodi Smit-McPhee. It remains to be seen, though, how this film might be affected by the past allegations of sexual harassment against Affleck, which Hollywood may no longer be able to overlook in a post-Weinstein world.

Next: This newcomer is the male lead in this 2018 summer comedy. 

15. Henry Golding

Henry Golding

Henry Golding | Discovery Channel

In 2018, Jon Chu will direct a rare American film whose cast consists entirely of Asian actors. Based on the popular book, Crazy Rich Asians is a comedy about a young woman who accompanies her boyfriend to a wedding, not being prepared for the fact that the groom’s family is extremely wealthy. Constance Wu, known for ABC’s Fresh off the Boat, is playing that woman.

But total novice Henry Golding will play the boyfriend character. Crazy Rich Asians will be the first movie that Golding ever appears in. In fact, it’s his first acting role of any kind, only having previously worked as a TV travel host.

Opening near the end of summer, Crazy Rich Asians could be a hit the same way Girls Trip was in 2017, which would make it a pretty great debut role for Golding.

Read more: The Most Anticipated Movie Sequels Coming in 2018

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