THR Presents the Clooney Award: TV Stars Who Can Make the Leap

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From Kit Harrington to Anna Torv, 10 fresh faces from the small screen capable of crossing over.

This story first appeared in the August 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

There have been plenty of actors who began their careers on the small screen and made the successful jump to the big one -- Bruce Willis, Jennifer Aniston and Sally Field, for example -- but a rare few have done it with the grace and impact of George Clooney. Yes, some of the actors who we think have that potential might very well find themselves in a crappy superhero movie (like Clooney's Batman & Robin) or an ill-advised adaptation of a popular book (The Perfect Storm) or a thoroughly lightweight romantic comedy (One Fine Day). But if these 10 can keep the faith and choose wisely, glory -- and the ability to control one's destiny -- might be within reach.

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You can't be all things to all people, as they say, but Brie comes pretty close: She can swing for the comedic fences (on NBC's Community), plumb the dramatic depths (on AMC's Mad Men) and, when necessary, turn up the heat. Could be the next … Holly Hunter.


It's hard work making a character who's so aggressively self-centered so compulsively likable. But on Fox's New Girl, Greenfield is deftly modulating what could be a caricature into a character bravely hiding massive insecurities. Could be the next … Vince Vaughn.


It's the lips, really. He can make them convey rage, vulnerability, pain, resolve. One of the reasons viewers are willing to accept some of the dumber decisions his Game of Thrones character makes is because he sells them so well. Harington was lined up for Warners' Arthur & Lancelot until it got nixed for budgetary reasons. Too bad: People like to watch him swing swords. Could be the next … Liam Neeson.


There's a ruthless intelligence behind his eyes that TV viewers first saw when he played the lead in HBO's Band of Brothers -- and that same spark, mixed with pathos, is what makes him so magnetic in Showtime's Homeland. Could be the next … Steve McQueen.

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It's been a long time since there's been an actor who could slip into the role that Eddie Murphy both defined and left vacant: A handsome comedian who could be a romantic lead and play to both white and black audiences. But on ABC's Happy Endings, Wayans is killing it, week in, week out. Could be the next … Will Smith.


VanCamp brings a glittering intensity to ABC's hit nighttime soap Revenge, reveling in the show's glossy-pulp trappings and making every step of her character's quest for sweet justice something to relish. Could be the next … Sharon Stone.


After pinging around Modern Family, Numb3rs and Californication (and with supporting gigs in movies 21 and Love and Other Drugs), Gad scored with his Tony-nominated role in Book of Mormon. Once he's wrapped NBC's White House sitcom 1600 Penn, he's primed and ready for awkward love-interest duty. Could be the next … John Belushi.


Her Olivia Dunham could've been another genre-TV mannequin: point your gun, look pretty, lean on the hunky leading man. But in Fringe's four years on the air, the Aussie added layer after layer of depth, of longing, proving her both essential and irresistible. Could be the next … Jodie Foster.


Joss Whedon once described the former Firefly star as a solid man's man who's able to deliver the drama, be funny, do the action and sell the romance. He gets to do some of that on ABC's Castle, but one gets the sense he can do a lot more. And being beloved by the vocal Geek Nation never hurts. Could be the next … Harrison Ford.

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Even though creator-star Lena Dunham is getting most of the press, Williams is the actress who seems most likely to emerge from HBO's Girls as a leading lady. She's beautiful, sure, but there's also a sure-footed confidence about her that could position her as a perfect romantic comedy star. Could be the next … Meg Ryan.