Elle Fanning as Ginger in Ginger & Rosa (Courtesy of Touchwood)
Picture yourself at the age of 13: you're likely obnoxious in a non-specific, unmalicious way, you're probably harbouring a heavy, full-on crush on either a schoolmate, out-of-reach celeb or platonic friend and your life revolves around not getting in trouble with your parents, avoiding being grounded, staying out of your older sibling's way and doing well at school. Elle Fanning would like a word with you.
The younger Fanning sister, Dakota is 19, filmed the Sally Potter (Yes, Orlando) drama Ginger & Rosa a year ago and at 13, manages to portray the angst of 17-year-old Ginger with an authenticity and ferociousness that seems absolutely at odds with the limited amount of time she's spent on this planet. And yet. Like a young Meryl, she is somehow able to access SO MANY swirling feelings that are integral to the teenage girl experience that she herself is only on the cusp of.
With ease, she emerges as the best thing about the movie - sorry Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivolo, Annette Bening and yes even Oliver Platt - and seems to have a sturdy grip on a story that takes place in '60s London as the Cuban Missile Crisis looms and her friendship, more like sisterhood, with Rosa (Alice Englert, Beautiful Creatures) experiences its first very real and possibly detrimental growing pains.
With a coming-of-age tale that outlines the all-important and often cataclysmic leap from child to young adult, Fanning is superb and made us appreciate that a young lady can have such command of her craft at an early age (See: Super 8, Somewhere, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). We decided to take a closer look at her peers and choose the best under-20 actors working today.
Check out our picks of young actors with talent well beyond their years and catch Ginger & Rosa at select Cineplex theatres March 29.
|#5 JADEN SMITH, 14
The progeny of actor parents Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jaden has been on red carpets for most of his life, attending his folks' lavish movie premieres, popping up at awards shows and basically making him home within the Hollywood bubble, but he struck out on his own (ish) with a TV series ("All of Us"), making his feature film debut alongside pops Will in 2006's The Pursuit of Happyness and starring in two fairly successful, high-profile remakes (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Karate Kid). Now with some experience under his belt, he'll co-headline After Earth, again with dad, as father-son survivors in the futuristic M. Night Shyamalan flick and continue to see his star rise.
|#4 ASA BUTTERFIELD, 15
This young Brit has been acting for almost half his life, starting at the ripe age of eight, and scoring his first lead role at 10 with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. With saucer-round blue eyes, sweetly cartoonish features and reserved nature, he was a revelation as the titular orphan in Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning Hugo, alongside the actress occupying our second spot, and next he'll put his slightly filled-out frame, including helpful growth spurt, to good use in the adaptation of Ender's Game where he plays the futuristic boy soldier of Orson Scott Card's beloved book series.
|#3 HAILEE STEINFELD, 16
After showing up in TV movies and short films, Hailee Steinfeld went up against Jeff Bridges in True Grit as Mattie Ross, a young girl determined to find her father's killer who wasn't going to let anyone or anything stand in her way. Not every 13-year-old could pull off such pugnacity and single-mindedness but Steinfeld proved herself more than able, scoring an Oscar nomination and solidifying herself as a young actress to watch. She hasn't been in a movie since then, but with no less than seven projects on the go, including Ender's Game, Can A Song Save Your Life?, Hateship, Loveship and Romeo and Juliet, expect to be increasingly dazzled by this young talent in the next year.
|#2 CHLOE GRACE MORETZ, 16
She's been a ruthless killer who knows her way around lethal weapons and possessed of a serious potty mouth (Hit Girl in Kick-Ass), a young foil for Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) on NBC's "30 Rock," a moody vampire in Let Me In and the star of a Drew Barrymore-directed music video and she's barely old enough to have her licence. Chloe Grace Moretz is a Jill of All Trades and she's gearing up to kick ass again for, appropriately, Kick-Ass 2, will be drenched in blood for the Kimberly Pierce remake of Carrie and has at least five other projects on the go, balancing a schedule that is jam-packed for anyone, let alone a teenager.
|#1 SAOIRSE RONAN, 18
The other-worldly looking Irish miss is someone who is able to completely lose herself in the role, whether it's a physical transformation (Hanna), seamlessly adopting an accent (The Way Back) or disappearing in a manner that makes her a big-screen chameleon. Saoirse Ronan is an actress who has flitted between genres and won rave reviews in all, especially her very accomplished, Oscar-nominated work in Joe Wright's compelling drama Atonement. She next stars in the adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's The Host as a woman fighting forces from within, just finished with Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel and booked Ryan Gosling's directorial debut How to Catch a Monster and continues to defy expectations and enthrall audiences with her mature handle on the acting game.
What young actors are doing some mighty fine work on the big screen? Add your picks below!