20 Stars on the Verge of International Fame

4:00 AM 5/11/2016

by THR staff

Idris Elba, Ice Cube, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Gal Gadot are well-established U.S. box-office draws but fresh faces to many foreign distributors. (Sponsored by AG Capital)

idris elba, daisy ridley and michael pena split-Getty-H 2016
Idris Elba, Daisy Ridley, Michael Pena (Pictured) Credit: Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage; Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images; John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

The Hollywood Reporter and AG Capital partnered on this special report with the goal of opening opportunities for a rising generation of actors in an increasingly global and multicultural film market.

Who's poised to make a leap into the ranks of bankable stars? With the top tier of already established stars constantly in demand — and often busy with studio projects — independent producers who rely on foreign sales to help raise financing for their films are looking to snare the next generation of stars on the rise. With an eye toward highlighting underrepresented groups — especially women and diverse stars who are on the verge of breaking through — The Hollywood Reporter interviewed an array of sellers and buyers to identify some of the actors and actresses who are ready to make their mark on the international scene.

  • Riz Ahmed

    Nationality: British

    The English actor of Pakistani descent has had key supporting roles in critically acclaimed movies including Four Lions and Nightcrawler, but this summer he will make the jump from indie dramas to action blockbusters, appearing alongside Matt Damon in the new Jason Bourne as a CIA tech specialist. He will follow that up with a key role in the first Star Wars stand-alone, Rogue One, set to land in theaters in December.

    Reps: CAA, Gordon & French (U.K.)

  • Chadwick Boseman

    Nationality: American

    He has been building a respectable résumé42 (2013), Draft Day (2014), Get On Up (2014), Gods of Egypt (2016) — but his career is about to get supersized. He will debut as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War, opening May 6, then get his own spinoff, slated for 2018. He'll also play a superhero of a different sort — Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice on the Supreme Court — in Reginald Hudlin's Marshall.

    Reps: Greene & Associates, Management 360

  • Ice Cube

    Nationality: American

    He already has two franchises under his belt — 21 Jump Street (total worldwide gross: $532.9 million) and Ride Along ($277 million) — and now he can claim a PGA nomination as a producer on Straight Outta Compton. He'll next star opposite Christina Hendricks in the Warner Bros. comedy Fist Fight, and he's deciding on his next project from among Rocky Mountain High and Humbug at Universal and Vacation Friends at Fox.

    Reps: UTA, The Firm

  • Chiwetel Ejiofor

    Nationality: British

    The London-born son of a Nigerian doctor and pharmacist, he was welcomed warmly by the Hollywood elite for his Oscar-nominated role in 2013's 12 Years a Slave. After taking the requisite comic-book turn in Marvel's upcoming Doctor Strange (playing the title hero's rival sorcerer, Baron Mordo), he'll star in New Regency's true-life story Marching Powder as a drug dealer who ends up unofficially running the Bolivian jail in which he is imprisoned.

    Reps: CAA, Markham Froggatt (U.K.)

  • Idris Elba

    Nationality: British

    A native of London — his father is from Sierra Leone, his mother from Ghana — he worked both sides of the law on TV, as Stringer Bell on HBO's The Wire and the title detective on BBC America's Luther. His film résumé includes starring roles in 2013's Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and 2015's Beasts of No Nation. He'll next play the villain in Star Trek Beyond before segueing to the Stephen King adaptation The Dark Tower.

    Reps: WME, The Artists Partnership (U.K.), Headshell Management

  • Gal Gadot

    Nationality: Israeli

    She upstaged the guys, getting the best reviews of anyone connected with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and she'll again wear Wonder Woman's boots for her own spinoff in 2017 as well as in Justice League Part One (2017) and Part Two (2019). But the Israeli actress from the Fast & Furious franchise might show a funnier side as she stars opposite Jon Hamm and Zach Galifianakis in the suburban comedy Keeping Up With the Joneses.

    Reps: Untitled, WME, ADD (Israel)

  • Kevin Hart

    Nationality: American

    Stand-up isn't the fast track to movie stardom it once was, but he continues to chug along. He has a franchise (Ride Along, see Ice Cube) and a solid body of comedy work (Little Fockers in 2010, Let Me Explain in 2013, Get Hard in 2015) and soon will star opposite Dwayne Johnson in the international espionage comedy Central Intelligence. And he's not done telling jokes: He's working on a part stand-up, part narrative concert film titled What Now?

    Reps: UTA, 3 Arts

  • Oscar Isaac

    Nationality: American

    Since breaking out with Inside Llewyn Davis and A Most Violent Year, the Guatemala-born, Miami-raised actor has put together a busy upcoming slate that includes reteaming with his Ex Machina director Alex Garland for Annihilation, vying with Christian Bale over the same woman in period romance The Promise, playing the title villain in X-Men: Apocalypse and, of course, returning as dashing pilot Poe Dameron in 2017's Star Wars: Episode VIII.

    Reps: UTA, Inspire Entertainment

  • Michael B. Jordan

    Nationality: American

    His performance in the indie Fruitvale Station wowed Sundance in 2013, and when he stepped into the ring with Sylvester Stallone in Ryan Coogler's Creed he more than held his own. Now he's playing civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson in Just Mercy (directed by Short Term 12's Destin Daniel Cretton), and, because Hollywood sees him as a star, he has been paged for MGM's remake of The Thomas Crown Affair in the role originally played by Steve McQueen.

    Reps: WME, MGMT

  • Byung-Hun Lee

    Nationality: South Korean

    A star in his native country, where his films often top the local box office, he has been building up his international cred, appearing opposite Dwayne Johnson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Morgan Freeman in big action films such as G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Terminator Genisys and Red 2. Next up, he will be part of an all-star ensemble that includes Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington in Antoine Fuqua's Western remake The Magnificent Seven.

    Reps: CAA, BH Entertainment (Korea)

  • Anthony Mackie

    Nationality: American

    After making his fourth appearance (including an end-credit Ant-Man cameo) as the superhero Falcon in Marvel's Captain America: Civil War, the Hurt Locker alum will portray Martin Luther King Jr. in HBO's adaptation of the Lyndon B. Johnson play All the Way then team with Dear White People director Justin Simien for the Paramount comedy Make a Wish, in which he'll play a football star who fields an unusual request from a dying teen.

    Reps: UTA, Inspire

  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw

    Nationality: British

    The Oxford-born actress quietly earned critical acclaim for roles as a mixed-race aristocrat in Belle and a troubled pop star in Beyond the Lights before her profile rose from playing Will Smith's wife in Concussion. She'll demonstrate versatility with Free State of Jones (as Matthew McConaughey's wife, a former slave), Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast (as the feather duster Plumette) and Bad Robot's sci-fi thriller God Particle.

    Reps: CAA, Curtis Brown (U.K.), Authentic

  • David Oyelowo

    Nationality: British

    Born in Oxford to Nigerian parents, he has been busy since his acclaimed performance as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. He's producing A United Kingdom, in which he stars alongside Rosamund Pike as Botswana's royal couple, and will appear opposite Lupita Nyong'o in Queen of Katwe and Americanah. He also has the indie drama Five Nights in Maine, an untitled dark comedy from Nash Edgerton and the sci-fi thriller God Particle. Reps: CAA, Hamilton Hodell (U.K.), Inphenate

  • Nate Parker

    Nationality: American

    He has been acting for years in such films as Non-Stop and The Secret Life of Bees, but now he's center stage. The toast of this year's Sundance, he wrote, directed and starred in The Birth of a Nation, which won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize and sold to Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million, the largest deal ever made at the fest. His next project: a film for Walden Media about ESPN producer Lisa Fenn and her rela­tionship with two disabled wrestlers.

    Reps: CAA, Anonymous Content

  • Michael Pena

    Nationality: American

    The son of Mexican immigrants, the Chicago-born actor is equally at home in tough dramas like End of Watch, humor-inflected action movies like Marvel's Ant-Man and sci-fi suspense like The Martian. Next up, he is set for roles in projects ranging from the Will Smith drama Collateral Beauty to a film remake of the quintessential 1970s TV cop show CHiPS in the role of Frank "Ponch" Poncherello that made Erik Estrada famous.

    Reps: CAA, Management 360

  • Edgar Ramirez

    Nationality: Venezuelan

    Ramirez has had supporting turns in The Bourne Ultimatum, Zero Dark Thirty and 2015's Joy (he played Jennifer Lawrence's likable ex), but soon will he headline the boxing biopic Hands of Stone, playing Roberto Duran, alongside Robert De Niro. He's then got two star-studded thrillers: the action drama Gold, where he will star opposite Matthew McConaughey and Bryce Dallas Howard, and the highly anticipated adaptation of The Girl on the Train.

    Reps: CAA, Impression

  • Daisy Ridley

    Nationality: British

    Granted, she has only one film credit on her résumé — but it's the starring role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which has grossed more than $2 billion worldwide. She'll bring Rey back in Star Wars: Episode VIII (due in 2017) and recently signed for a starring role in Kolma, a romantic thriller produced by Star Wars director J.J. Abrams. She's even dabbling in producing, making an English-language version of Sundance doc­umentary The Eagle Huntress.

    Reps: CAA

  • Margot Robbie

    Nationality: Australian

    The young actress' breakout came as Leonardo DiCaprio's wife in The Wolf of Wall Street, a role she followed with the Will Smith starrer Focus then the festival entry Z for Zachariah. This summer, she will appear in two big tentpoles for Warner Bros. — first as Jane Porter in The Legend of Tarzan then, in a potentially scene-stealing role, as Harley Quinn in David Ayer's Suicide Squad.

    Reps: CAA, Management 360, Aran Michael (Australia)

  • Ruby Rose

    Nationality: Australian

    A popular TV host in her native Australia, she hit the American mainstream playing the love interest and fellow inmate of protagon­ist Piper on Netflix's breakout series Orange Is the New Black. She since has positioned herself as a go-to action star: She's filming Vin Diesel's xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, which she will follow with John Wick 2 and the next film in the Resident Evil franchise, The Final Chapter.

    Reps: WME, Art2perform

  • Zendaya

    Nationality: American

    Born in Oakland, Calif., she's already a favorite among teens and tweens for her starring roles on Disney Channel's Shake It Up! and the new K.C. Undercover, and her profile is set to explode as the female lead in Spider-Man: Homecoming — talk about a live-action feature debut! The style darling has huge buzz in Hollywood: She's a finalist to star in Fox's adaptation of the Japanese manga Battle Angel Alita.

    Reps: CAA, Monster