One-of-a-kind Actors and Actresses younger than 40

Ellen Page
Chloe Grace Moretz
Elizabeth Olsen (Just you wait and see… She’s gonna be something special)
Michael Fassbender (The guy’s picking up a lot of steam, and he’s only going to get better looking with age…)
Carey Mulligan (She’s got a very different appeal to her)
Evan Rachel Wood (mmmm pretty please :wink: )

No love for Daniel Radcliffe? And Lawrence Fox is making his way up the ranks.

Lotsa love for Daniel Radcliffe, I just don’t have any overwhelming conviction that in say ten years’ time he’s going to be a really distinctively individual actor or have a noticeably unique screen style, which seems to be what the OP is wondering about.

I mean, we all know instinctively that Daniel Radcliffe is Harry Potter and Tom Felton is Draco Malfoy. But twelve years from now, is it going to matter at all to a director whether he casts Radcliffe or Felton in a particular role, even if both of them are still very successful actors? (Unless maybe he’d rather have a brunet than a blond or vice versa?) I’m not claiming that it won’t matter, I just don’t feel convinced that it will.

Maybe it’s not really fair to expect younger actors to be identifiably both “one-of-a-kind” and future-star material. Individuality tends to develop with age.

Christian Bale has a shot.

When I think about actors/actresses under 40 who I think have good acting chops, it’s hard to also think of them as classic leading man/lady in the vein of the ones mentioned in the OP.

And I guess I agree with Kimstu that part of it is because an icon doesn’t become an icon until a certain point, at which point the characters they play become half-character, half-the icon.

I’ll second Michael Fassbender and Kelly MacDonald, plus Leonardo DiCaprio is a given (although I’m not sure he is ageing as well as we’d have thought he would).

One actor who may well get her deserved breakthrough is Olivia Colman, incredibly versatile and criminally overlooked for the best actress oscar in my opinion.

I agree that Colman is incredibly talented (especially as a comic actress) and also distinctively individual, but I think she’ll never be considered conventionally gorgeous/glamorous enough to become one of those Hollywood icons.

You both have my intention for the thread well-defined – to a point.

… and …

… are pretty much it, but that group in the OP also have/had a distinction of being versatile within “type” and especially in Streep’s case quite capable of stretching the notion of “type” to the breaking point. To coin a cliche’ (as somebody in politics said not long ago) they have “star power” and are competent actors to boot. Finding that combination in massive doses in today’s younger crowd (the under-40 crowd especially) requires much imagination and some hope.

Peter Dinklage is a hell of an actor, but he turns 43 next month.

Math is hard.

Radcliffe’s done other good stuff, both for TV and cinema. He’s past Harry Potter.

I think it’s only fair to say that the list in the OP with maybe one exception (or two) had not made their marks by age 40, at least not to the extent that their legacy is today after they had reached an advanced age.

I can remember Eastwood’s move into Star Status and his earlier work was not all that convincing. He made his mark late. The Spaghetti Westerns were his turning point.

I think Amanda Seyfried is an interesting young actress.

Yes, I know, but read the rest of my post. Is Radcliffe as an adult, innately, the kind of recognizably unique actor who will continue to stand out from the crowd of other well-respected film and TV performers even after he’s fully outgrown all the Harry Potter mystique? That’s what I’m saying I’m not sure about.

I was thinking about mentioning her. She’s generally done lightweight roles but I saw her in Chloe and she’s capable of serious acting.

I was going to add Denzel Washington to the list, but I just Googled him and found out he’s 57. Holy crap, I would never have guessed the guy is as old as I am!

Didn’t surprise me. I remember when he was doing St Elsewhere back in the eighties.

One that did surprise me was Natalie Portman. She’s been acting so many years I hadn’t realized she was only thirty.

I remember him in St. Elsewhere too, but I thought then that he was considerably younger than I was.

Natalie was cast for Phantom Menace when she was barely 13 or 14, I think. I was amazed to learn that too.

For my dollar, her best acting was in Leon: The Professional (1994) when she was 13 or so. One of my favorite movies!

Fair enough. I saw him as Kipling’s son and have read of his other works, and think rather more of him than you. I don’t think the perception of him has quite outgrown Harry Potter yet, but that’s simply a matter of the Potter books and films being too recent.

I’m sort of surprised to be the first to mention Reese Witherspoon. I’ll concede that over the past few years she’s made some fantastically bad movies, but she’s an excellent actress and IMO fills the criteria of “one-of-a-kind”. When you need Reese Witherspoon, you need Reese Witherspoon. Can’t think of a reasonable facsimile.