Writer-director J.C. Chandor isn't traditional Verge material -- a 15-year veteran of commercials, documentaries and short films whose dramatic feature debut, Margin Call features a eye-popping ensemble cast of Oscar winners (Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons), seasoned pros (Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker) and next-generation standouts (Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley) taking on the tale of a New York City investment bank flirting with oblivion at the dawn of the ongoing financial crisis. And thanks to both the cast and his own formidable chops, Chandor pulls it off with impressive aplomb.
Utah native Riley Griffiths landed the opportunity of a lifetime when he scored a role in J.J. Abrams' Super 8. Discovered during a nationwide search for the mostly unknown young actors (including Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Gabriel Basso, and Elle Fanning), the 14-year-old makes his film debut as the ringleader of a group of amateur filmmakers who stumble upon a mysterious government conspiracy one night when a train crashes -- literally -- across their makeshift film set.
If J.J. Abrams' nostalgic summer sci-fi adventure Super 8 is intentionally evocative of producer (and Abrams mentor) Steven Spielberg's E.T. (1982), then 15-year-old newcomer Joel Courtney is its Elliott, the young, sensitive boy hero caught in the middle of an otherworldly mystery. It's a big role to hang on the shoulders of a newcomer -- one who won the part after visiting L.A. in hopes of landing a modest commercial gig -- but, as it turns out, the Idaho native now has bigger career goals in his sights.
In the four years since Canadian actor Reece Thompson starred in Jeffrey Blitz's crowd-pleasing Sundance entry Rocket Science, he's graduated from stuttering his way through a high school debate tourney to romancing Kat Dennings (in the forthcoming May indie Daydream Nation) and knocking up Hilary Duff (in the TBA indie Bloodworth). This April he joins forces with rising star Michael Angarano (Red State, Homework) to play Marshall, a straight-laced emotional cripple who accompanies best friend Sam (Angarano) on a weekend trip to win back the older woman of his dreams (Uma Thurman) in Max Winkler's offbeat feature debut, Ceremony.
Brit Marling studied economics at Georgetown and might have been an environmental activist or banker in another life if she hadn't answered the siren call of Los Angeles and moved west to risk it all as an actor. And what a payoff: having co-written, produced, and starred in two critically acclaimed films at Sundance (the sci-fi romance Another Earth and the wonderfully hard-to-define cult drama Sound of My Voice), Marling's smack dab in the middle of her well-deserved breakout moment. Movieline caught up with Marling at SXSW to discuss borderline illegal guerrilla filmmaking tricks, taking professional risks, and avoiding the "morally-corrupt swamp" that is Hollywood.
The most striking observation made during a recent chat with Shiloh Fernandez is that the 26-year-old is a gentle and thoughtful soul in person -- sincere, open, and regretful of comments he made recently about his run-in with Kristen Stewart years ago when reading for the role of Edward Cullen in Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight. Fernandez may not have been meant to play the famous sparkling vampire, but he got another shot at working with Hardwicke when she cast him as the village bad boy in Red Riding Hood, the first romantic lead role in his young career to date. (Plus, he's an avid Movieline reader. So, you know -- bonus points!)
Beneath the wanton, CG-aided destruction caused by invading alien hordes in this week's sci-fi actioner Battle: Los Angeles there lies a deeply human core: the bond among soldiers under siege, banding together in the face of certain extinction. And as the naive Pfc. Shaun Lenihan, 26-year-old Canadian actor Noel Fisher is the face of Battle: LA's humanity -- a too-young Marine thrown into the harrowing chaos of war, separated from his unit, with only his rifle to cling to as terror sets in.
When Ghostface starts picking off teens and townsfolk again in April's Scream 4, expect 22-year-old Chicago native Nico Tortorella to land somewhere near the top of your list of potential killers. Tortorella, who once compared his character Trevor to Skeet Ulrich in the original, played coy with his character's true nature with Movieline but was refreshingly candid when it came to addressing widespread rumors of behind-the-scenes drama, as well as his close ties to director Joel Schumacher and the appeal of dueling YA properties Mortal Instruments and The Hunger Games.
Taylor Handley has been acting for exactly half of his life, but thanks to supporting turns in Columbia Pictures' alien invasion pic Battle: Los Angeles and the Texas-set Sundance indie Skateland -- both opening weeks apart in March -- he's in for the biggest month of his career. And with his profile on the rise as he builds on an already-comprehensive filmography, as the 26-year-old Southern California native put it to Movieline, "the heat is on."
From where she's sitting -- literally, high above the rafters -- T.V. Carpio must finally feel like she's found her calling. The multitalented actress has taken a circuitous and almost accidental route to stardom, turning in stints as a would-be Olympian, a Law & Order guest star, and a professional dancer along the way, but currently she's poised to make her name in the biggest, riskiest manner imaginable: As the female lead in Julie Taymor's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.