Every year, there are a few actors who break out in a big way. (Think: Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids.) The actress immediately turned her supporting role into several big hits at the box office. And then there are actors like Isla Fisher, who made a big splash in Wedding Crashers, but failed to become a stand out on her own. We love her, we support her, but we want more for her. She and the nine other names on this list are those break out stars that we wish had bigger careers.
1. Orlando Bloom
Breakout Role: Legolas, Lord Of The Rings (2001)
After LOTR came out, Bloom inspired numerous elfin fantasies and quickly jumped aboard another franchise, Pirates Of The Caribbean (co-starring Keira Knightley who is also on this list). In between his first and last Pirates film, Bloom starred in a few ho-hum films, which included Troy (long winded), Kingdom Of Heaven (a misfire), and New York, I Love You (blink and hopefully missed). By the time he finished with the two franchises, Bloom’s star had fallen. Sadly, the actor failed to live up to the charisma of his franchise series.
What’s Next? An attempt to rekindle the love for Legolas in the final two Hobbit films. Hopefully the actor can use Peter Jackson’s franchise to launch himself into one where he doesn’t play second fiddle to a ring or Johnny Depp. If not, he may go the way of his Black Hawk Down co-star, Josh Hartnett.
2. Anna Faris
Breakout Role: Cindy Campbell, Scary Movie (2000)
Following the Scary Movie franchise, Faris starred in two seriously funny (if not big) films, Waiting… and Just Friends. Her transition into mainstream was the lead role in the sorority comedy, The House Bunny. While a minor box office success, it failed to catapult into bigger roles beyond “hot, funny girl” (Observe & Report, Take Me Home Tonight). Faris deserves much more than she’s received. Both Bunny and What’s Your Number have showcased her bubbly personality and her ability to produce smart, female-driven comedies.
What’s Next? Faris is starring in the new sitcom, Mom, with Alison Janney on CBS. The show, which has potential, is a smart move for the actress who once played herself on Entourage. CBS has turned into a network for boosting stalled careers (Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J and Julianna Margulies). Her and her husband, Chris Pratt, should also take a few notes from Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman and work together in a few indies to maintain buzz.
3. Isla Fisher
Breakout Role: Gloria Cleary, Wedding Crashers (2005)
nearly stole Wedding Crashers from Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as a stage 5 clinger. For such a standout performance, the actress hasn’t been able to strike with hit after hit like Melissa McCarthy did following Bridesmaids. In the years since, the actress showcased her range with The Lookout, Definitely, Maybe and Confessions Of A Shopaholic. Yet, nothing has really popped like it should have. Last year, she returned to her firecracker roots with The Bachelorette. And this year she had a promising summer with Arrested Development and Now You See Me. But are both enough?
What’s Next? Fisher should be able to catapult this summer’s success into more hits. She’ll next be seen in Life Of Crime, an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel starring Jennifer Aniston and Will Forte. Leonard novels have been the source material of several hit and cult films, such as 3:10 To Yuma, Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Out Of Sight. Honestly, she should focus on funny and pair up with the likes of Kristen Wiig or make her stamp in the Judd Apatow world of R-rated comedies.
4. Ginnifer Goodwin
Breakout Role: Margene Heffman, Big Love (2006)
Goodwin quickly the most likeable character as the youngest of three wives on Big Love. But since then the actress bounced around in Rom Com purgatory (He’s Just Not Into You, Something Borrowed, Take Me Home Tonight). It was sad to see Goodwin border on Kate Hudson territory.
What’s Next? In 2011, Goodwin landed the lead role in the surprise hit ABC show, Once Upon A Time. If the show continues to grow, she’ll be marquee name for the network. Now she just needs to splash with smarter film choices during the off season.
5. Judy Greer
Breakout Role: Kitty Sanchez, Arrested Development (2003)
Even though Greer made her mark on the teen genre with Jawbreaker it wasn’t until Arrested Development that audiences got to see how crazy funny the actress was. Despite that, it was as if she was cursed to play the best friend in everything since (13 Going On 30, The Village, 27 Dresses). Even she has to be board with playing that part. On the TV side, she has starred in several canceled series. Luckily she has made her mark as the voice of Cheryl on Archer and started getting the attention she deserves for The Descendants.
What’s Next? Cheryl is a raunchy character that is wildly different from Greer’s typical roles. But she’s hidden from view. Her next major role is Miss Desjardin in Carrie but the success of that film hinges on fans’ appetite for a horror remake. She needs to find a film role that will let her be as raunchy as Cheryl or just usurp the Indie Queen throne from Parker Posey and own that circuit. Not mainstream, but steady work.
6. Keira Knightley
Breakout Role: Jules Paxton, Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Knightley turned her surprise hit into a one, two (three) punch with starring roles in Pirates Of The Caribbean, Love Actually and King Arthur. Following the blockbusters, Knightley turned her attention to more serious roles with Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. Both were award-bait films that showcased the actress’ acting chops. But that was in 2007. Since then, she hasn’t ignited the award chatter and mostly starred in independent mellow dramas. (Sadly Never Let Me Go got the attention it deserved.)
What’s Next? Knightley’s will next be seen in the romantic, music drama, Can A Song Save Your Life. The film marks Adam Levine’s film debut, which could prove to be a sink or swim situation for the movie. But she’s also slated to appear in Jack Ryan, a reboot of the Tom Clancy franchise starring Chris Pine. If all goes well, the film will firmly secure her A-List status and earn her a chance to star in a true Oscar-bait film.
7. Zachary Quinto
Breakout Role: Sylar, Heroes (2006)
Things seemed to be looking up for Quinto after he landed a role on the NBC hit series. He landed the role of Spock on the reboot of Star Trek and became the subject on Internet fandom everywhere. Following the end of Heroes, it felt like Quinto all but disappeared. He re-emerged on Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story and landed a larger part in the second season. The second Star Trek did more for the series than its stars but it was a huge hit none the less.
What’s Next? Quinto is reprising his role in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams this fall. But the Broadway production will hardly get the mainstream attention that Star Trek gets. It would be great to see the actor land a role on a dark HBO series or follow in the footsteps of Jake Gyllenhaal by working with enough prominent leading men that he graduates into one of his own.
8. Jeremy Renner
Breakout Role: Sergeant First Class William James, The Hurt Locker (2008)
Even though the actor has been working steadily since 2003 when he was a villain in S.W.A.T. Following his Oscar-nominated role in Locker, Renner found himself in three franchise films, Mission: Impossible, Thor/The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy. It felt like he was being groomed by Tom Cruise to take over the throne of America’s favorite action hero. However, the actor has been relegated to supporting actor in almost all those films. Granted he did score his second Oscar nomination for a supporting role in The Town.
What’s Next? Considering he has two Oscar noms, the actor is not going away anytime soon. He’ll next be seen in American Hustle, which will likely garner him more Oscar buzz. But he has yet to do anything to make him standout from his fellow Avengers. A true test of star power would be to give Hawkeye his own film and let Renner own the show.
9. Ryan Reynolds
Breakout Role: Van Wilder, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (2002)
Unlike his co-star, Tara Reid, Reynolds had a promising career after Wilder. He landed a few more comedies (see: Anna Faris) before turning his attention to action (Smokin’ Aces, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). The actor quickly proved himself to be a viable everyman in ensemble films. But snarky role as Deadpool combined with the Sandra Bullock Rom Com (The Proposal) pushed him closer to the A-List. Suddenly, everyone was buzzing about Reynolds and was his turn at a franchise superhero film but sadly, instead, of spinning off Deadpool, he opted for Green Lantern. The film flopped and so did the actor’s star power.
What’s Next? With two flops this summer, Reynolds is in desperate need of a career makeover. He has two thrillers on the docket but his success has been sharp comedy, which he showcased in cameo roles in Adventureland and Ted. If he can find a smart, ensemble Rom Com (Love Actually not New Year’s Eve) or align himself with Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Young Adult), he may still be able to mature into a leading man.
10. Sam Worthington
Breakout Role: Jake Sully, Avatar (2009)
Worthington seemingly came out of nowhere in 2009 when he landed coveted roles in Terminator Salvation and Avatar. Unfortunately, Salvation ended up being a bust and he was lost beneath all the CGI in Avatar. He jumped aboard the Clash Of The Titans, which spawned a sequel despite it’s mediocre success. Since then, Worthington has been taking on low-budget dramas and kind of disappeared from view.
What’s Next? The actor has three films slated for next year but the true test will be Avatar in 2016. If the actor can truly stand out in that film, he may be able to push himself out of Sci-Fi territory and into something more mainstream. That or just fully own the genre like Sigourney Weaver did in the early ’90s.