Who's Who in Young Hollywood

What's "young" in Hollywood? That's the question. For actors, it's way under 30. For writers, directors, agents, and producers, 30 is very young, but we cap it there anyway. But the real question is this: Is there anyone in this town over 18 who doesn't lie about their age? Here are lots of Hollywood comers who claim to be 30 or under.


Winona Ryder

If only, for her sake and ours, she'd stuck with The Godfather Part III in the role Sofia Coppola took over. Now she has to find another role to grow up in on screen and show some of whatever it was that drove Johnny Depp to have her name tattooed on his arm.

Penelope Ann Miller

One of the best-trained and busiest young actresses in town, she's such a chameleon it's hard to track her (Big Top Pee-wee, The Freshman, Kindergarten Cop, Awakenings). It would be nice if someone gave her something substantial to do for once, though Other People's Money with Danny DeVito is probably not it.

Uma Thurman

Towering starlet of arty bombs like The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Where the Heart Is, and Henry & June. Still awake? People tend to love her or hate her.

Julia Roberts

Sexy. Beautiful. Funny. Men love her. Women like her. The hot property of the moment. What more is there to say?

Bridget Fonda

This Fonda's a star, though it may take time. Until The Godfather Part III, she'd made only obscure films but was terrific in them (Shag, Scandal, Strapless). Too bad she got mostly cut from Godfather, because her pairing with Andy Garcia was visual poetry. Another obscure one on the way, Leather Jackets, then Cameron Crowe's Singles.

Samantha Mathis

Whether in the little-seen Pump Up the Volume or the slew of TV movies she's made, she always gets singled out for praise in reviews (she's next up in This Is Your Life, written and directed by Nora Ephron). She's a dark horse in need of a hit picture.

Jennifer Connelly

She's been gorgeous since she debuted as a child in Once Upon a Time in America, but can she act? No one's ever really asked and she's never really put herself out there. But Disney's got its money on her for its big-budget better-be-a-blockbuster for next summer, Rocketeer.

Nicole Kidman

Beautiful and gifted (see Dead Calm, forget Days of Thunder). She'll next be seen in Billy Bathgate, with Dustin Hoffman, but will then star again with now-husband Tom Cruise (in Ron Howard's The Irish Story), which has never done any actress any good.

Jennifer Jason Leigh

Last year was a big one for actresses playing whores. Leigh's long been memorable in the easy lay mode, but her turns in Last Exit to Brooklyn and Miami Blues won her genuine respect. Perhaps Ron Howard's Backdraft, or Rush, in which she plays a true-life narc-turned-junkie, will move her into the mainstream.

Sherilyn Fenn

Gorgeous, but was a TV movie with Mark Harmon the right follow-up to "Twin Peaks" and a Playboy layout? Time to return to the big screen in something just a little more substantial, but not too much more substantial, than Two Moon Junction.


River Phoenix

This over-serious young actor has been Oscar-nominated (Running on Empty), but, after his debut in Stand by Me, hasn't had a winner except for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But he gets credit for taking on the role of a narcoleptic gay hustler in Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho.

Patrick Dempsey

Even if Disney's Run doesn't, the young gangsters saga Mobsters (in which he plays Meyer Lansky) may put Dempsey where he belongs--in a hit. Enough with the younger-man lover boy bullshit.

Dermot Mulroney

This is the guy who's not Dylan McDermott, and is the guy in Young Guns. His performance in last year's ensemble piece Longtime Companion singled him out, and his starring role in the off-beat Bright Angel could further distinguish him.

Christian Slater

The camera loves him and he can play much smarter than he is. Look for a possible breakthrough as he co-stars as Kevin Costner's sideman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and stars as Lucky Luciano in Mobsters.

John Cusack

Finally done with high school roles he was way too old to play, he missed big in Fat Man and Little Boy and died respectably in The Grifters. Perhaps True Colors, in which he co-stars with James Spader, will give him a grown-up role in a hit.

Frank Whaley

This guy's always interesting (e.g. Born on the Fourth of July), and he's funnier off-screen than he's been allowed to be on-screen (e.g., as guitarist Robby Krieger in The Doors). We want more.

Johnny Depp

If Depp's Edward Scissorhands was such an easy role, as some have claimed, how hard was Hoffman's Rain Man? Just wondering. Anyway, on the basis of Cry-Baby and Scissorhands, there's no telling what's in store for Depp. He's moved beyond "21 Jump Street," but has he really escaped James Dean clone hell?

Richard Grieco

Another "Jump Street" grad, this one with the ethnic look. He's being given his chance on the big screen in Mobsters (he plays Bugsy Siegel) and If Looks Could Kill. Teen girls love him; Hollywood's showing confidence. Time will tell.

Ethan Hawke

The poetic kid from Dead Poets Society has (like some other actors) never been as good since leaving director Peter Weir's hands (e.g., in Dad or White Fang). Next up in Orion's Mystery Date, which doesn't ask much of him.

Keanu Reeves

Though he's yet to become a household word, he's got a real career going. While consistently playing endearing, callow youths, he somehow manages to be in an eclectic array of films, and his upcoming trio continues this trend: Surf thriller Point Break, Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho, and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure II.


David Lonner/ICM

Perhaps the hottest literary agent in town: his screenplay deals for Jeffrey Abrams on Regarding Henry and The Rest of Daniel, and Pete Dexter on Rush, have captured the attention of Tinseltown.

Jay Moloney/CAA

At 26, he's the fastest rising star in the business. Mike Ovitz's personal protege, Moloney reps Martin Scorsese, Ray Liotta, Sean Young, Uma Thurman, Sean Connery, and Jennifer Lynch, for starters.

Bryan Lourd/CAA

He came up through the William Morris ranks, made the jump to CAA three years ago, and is as talked about for his handling of Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, Richard Grieco, Robert Downey, Jr., Tom Hulce, and Teri Garr, as he is for his real-life romance with Carrie Fisher.

Beth Swofford/William Morris

She reps screenwriters Henry (Internal Affairs) Bean, Martha (Sibling Rivalry) Goldhirsh, Pen (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) Densham, and directors Gillian Armstrong and Mary Lambert. Inherited her sizable power base when mentor Judy Scott-Fox moved to the London office.

Todd Harris/Triad

His book and movie deals for writer clients like Warren (The War of the Roses) Adler and Glen (White Palace) Savin keep him at the forefront of the bidding wars so important in today's Hollywood. Also reps Margaret (The Handmaid's Tale) Atwood.

Hylda Queally/Triad

She reps Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Emily Lloyd, and Rachel Ward, among others. The word on her is that she's beautiful enough to become an actress herself, but don't expect her to defect to the silver screen--expect her to defect to an even hotter agency.

George Freeman/ICM

His background as a publicist at PMK has made him a natural crossover, and after only two years of agenting he's already repping Nicolas Cage, Oscar-winner Denzel Washington, Anne Archer, and Dana Delaney.

Tom Strickler/lnterTalent

After two years at CAA, he's been here for two more. Reps Isabella Rossellini, John Lone, Bill Pullman, and writers Ernest (On Golden Pond) Thompson and Larry (The Hunt for Red October) Ferguson, among others.

Nick Stevens/Harris & Goldberg

He started in the mailroom at William Morris, has been with Harris & Goldberg since it formed. Handles Lou Diamond Phillips, Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham Carter, for openers.

Donna Chavous/CAA

Her unique positioning as a black female agent gives her an inside track on repping up-and-coming black filmmakers, and she's said to have a good eye for promising comics, too. Reps Gregory Hines, Lou Gossett Jr., Kevin Meaney, among others.

Cynthia Shelton/Bauer Benedek

She was signed on to jazz up the agency's young acting talent area (e.g., Jon Cryer) but made a name for herself with her $1 million deal for the writing team of Tom Parker and Jim Jennewein on Stay Tuned, the kids-running-amok-inside-a-TV-set fantasy that looks to be one of Morgan Creek's big 1991 flicks.


Laurie Parker

The driving force behind Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy, she's currently producing his My Own Private Idaho; just wrapped The Rapture (as executive producer). Also producing Before She Met Me with her Drug-Store Cowboy co-producer Nick Wechsler, and exec-producing Mark Peploe's feature directorial debut, Afraid of the Dark.

Robert Simonds

This Yale philosophy major sold his first feature, Problem Child, to Universal on the strength of a one-sentence pitch. It was a major hit, and now he's making his pet project, Shake It Up, optimistically described as Dead Poets Society crossed with Footloose. Not surprisingly, he has Problem Child II in development.

Nancy Tenenbaum

Instrumental in developing sex, lies, and videotape, she just finished co-producing The Rapture. In development: Mac, written, directed by, and starring John Turturro, and Craig Lucas's Reckless.

Paul Collchman

Miles Copeland's partner at IRS Media, where he wants to "be to movies what the IRS record label was to music," i.e., on the edge. He's produced or exec-produced ten movies for IRS Media in three years, including The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, and nine others you probably haven't heard of; half of them haven't yet been released.

David Heyman

Former exec at Warner's and UA, he's now independently producing Juice, an urban drama about four young black kids to be directed by Ernest Dickerson, Spike Lee's cinematographer.

Brad Wyman

After getting kicked out of NYU for peddling student films to HBO, he teamed up with Cassian Elwes to produce Donald (Performance) Cammell's White of the Eye. Currently producing The Dark Backward, a comedy about a guy who grows an arm out of the middle of his back, which teams Judd Nelson and Wayne Newton.

Loretha Jones

Went from being Spike Lee's attorney to co-producing School Daze. Has jumped ship to produce The Five Heartbeats, Robert Townsend's new movie.

Jonathan Furie

In one move, went from manager to producer when he persuaded Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick to star in Pyrates, a romantic comedy (written and directed by his client Noah Stern) about a young couple whose love-making literally starts fires.

Melissa Goddard and Peter Morgan

Friends since junior high, Goddard and Morgan went from a first-look deal with Dick Clark to producing Step Kids, a comedy/drama directed by Joan Micklin Silver, inspired by Goddard's experiences as the child of multiple divorces.


Phill Joanou

Once best-known as Spielberg's protégé, he's managed to make Three O'clock High, U2: Rattle & Hum and last year's State of Grace without making anyone any money. Now he's doing the U.S. version of Michael Apted's documentary 28-Up, with Apted producing.

Steve Kloves

Years passed between his screenplay for Racing With the Moon and his directing debut The Fabulous Baker Boys. Now he's "writing a piece he'll direct for Fox," says his agent. Hope we don't have to wait six more years.

Michael Fields

Fresh out of the gate with the strange and sensitive Bright Angel, he's shown skill with actors and elliptical story lines. Now he needs to luck into a good mainstream project.

Steven Soderbergh

The pressure was on for a follow-up to sex, lies, and videotape, so he did the obvious and chose for his next film a story about...Franz Kafka! Not only that, Kafka's reportedly a thriller.

Reginald Hudlin

After debuting with the raucous House Party, he's signed up to direct (with brother Warrington producing) a pop musical for Tri-Star, no title yet.

Jodie Foster

She's smart, she's professional, she's been around the business forever (how could she be so far under 30?), and she's no weak sister, so it's little surprise she's decided to direct. Little Man Tate is her debut, and she stars in it as well, which means everything is doubly difficult.

Keith Gordon

After nice notices on his independent film The Chocolate War, this actor (Dressed to Kill)/director is beginning production on Midnight Clear, with a script he adopted from William Wharton's WWII pacifist tale of young geniuses with guns.

Charles Finch

This son of Peter Finch "cried for four months" over his Italian-financed first film, but so far so good on mystery thriller Where Sleeping Dogs Lie (starring Dylan McDermott and Sharon Stone), written with mom Yolande Turner.

John Singleton

This 23-year-old USC grad has been called "an unknown genius who will be the real Spike Lee." First foray for this Frank Price protégé is Boyz N the Hood (rolls right off the tongue) for Columbia.

David Fincher

A maestro of videos (Madonna's "Vogue," Paula Abdul's "Straight Up," Don Henley's "End of the Innocence"), he's hotly touted these days--so much so that he's directing Sigourney Weaver in Aliens III. And he's never made a movie before.

Gordon Eriksen/John O'Brien

Harvard grads both, they got attention for their no-budget, independent comedy The Big Dis. Eriksen's now readying Peg, an HBO theatrical feature. O'Brien's just done another obscure one, Vermont is for Lovers.


Shane Black

The granddaddy of the high-paid, under-30, buddy/violence screenwriting crowd, Black follows Lethal Weapon and The Monster Squad with the slick slam-bang The Last Boy Scout, which will star Bruce Willis, if that gives you any hint what it's like.

Daniel Waters

After the brilliantly outré Heathers, he has headed for the big time. His The Adventures of Ford Fairlane got slammed, and now he's banking on Hudson Hawk with Heathers pal Michael Lehmann directing. It stars Bruce Willis, if that gives you any idea what it's like. Rolling off his pen right now is Batman II for Heathers producer Denise Di Novi, with Tim Burton directing.

Neal Jimenez

Following his script for River's Edge way back in 1987, he wrote the semi-autobiographical The Water Dance, which he is now directing. His next project: Bette Midler's For the Boys.

Ed Solomon

He struck paydirt with the immensely popular, lunatic Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and he's gone on to do the sequel. He's also scripted Ed (Glory) Zwick's next one, Leaving Normal.

Scott Frank

He wrote the script for Kenneth Branagh's Hollywood directorial debut, Dead Again, which stars Brannagh, wife Emma Thompson, and Andy Garcia. He also wrote Jodie Foster's directorial debut Little Man Tate.

David Mickey Evans

After a short spate of post-film-school low-budget script doctoring, he sold Radio Flyer for big bucks and was even set to direct. Richard Donner took over, but Evans may get his chance with one of the projects he's writing now.

Jeffrey Abrams

Abrams has teamed successfully with Jill Mazursky on Taking Care of Business and three films now in development (Adam and Eve on a Raft, Under the Gun, and Two Thumbs Up) but he does especially well on his own. Warner Bros. paid him $1.5 million for the cry¬ogenics romantic fantasy The Rest of Daniel, which will star Mel Gibson. And he'd already been paid $500,000 for Harrison Ford's next one, Regarding Henry, directed by Mike Nichols.

Jill Mazursky

Mazursky (her father is director Paul) has turned her writing partnership with Jeffrey Abrams into a full-time job. Their first produced film was last summer's Taking Care of Business, and the hot duo currently has three projects in development: Adam and Eve on a Raft at Disney, Under the Gun at Paramount, and Two Thumbs Up at Fox.

Peter Filardi

The guy who went from 0 to 90 in 60 seconds with the script he wrote on spec, Flatliners, is writing alone on spec again right now.

Kathy McWorter

Right out of <Cal State Northridge she sold her script The Cheese Stands Alone to Paramount where it's now in development, and two more of her scripts have been optioned (Bats at Warner Bros., and The Boy Who Eats Rocks at Tri-Star).