Next Gen 2011: Hollywood's Fastest-Rising Stars
Before Irvine, 21, was cast as the equestrian World War I soldier in Spielberg's War Horse, he was just a kid from tiny Gamlingay, England (pop. 3,535) who trained at the National Youth Theatre and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He won limited fame for an MTV commercial, a British Disney Channel show and a role in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Dunsinane, "literally playing a tree," as he puts it. Good thing he fell into the hands of Steven Spielberg, who has launched little-known actors to fame before -- Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun and Liam Neeson in Schindler's List. "I virtually went from having no lines in a theater show to playing the lead in a Spielberg film," says Irvine. Never a horse lover, he had to act alongside 130 of them, including one that stepped on his foot during a shot. He has just finished Now Is Good with Dakota Fanning and is filming Mike Newell's Great Expectations with Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter, due in theaters next year.