Who's on the Cusp

2012-29 FEA A-List Shailene Woodley P

Shailene Woodley demonstrated her acting chops in the Oscar-nominated "The Descendants" and is said to have caught the eye of "Fifty Shades of Grey" author E.L. James.

Got a franchise on the horizon? Check. Worked with Scorsese, Fincher or Burton? Done. Then you might be ready for a promotion.

After all, Jennifer Lawrence's path to eight-digit paychecks was paved with a savvy combination of auteur cred and commercial appeal. The actress's Oscar-nominated turn in the $2 million indie Winter's Bone helped her land a supporting role in X-Men: First Class and then the lead in The Hunger Games trilogy.

A dozen or so young actors with similar early career trajectories seem poised to join Lawrence on Hollywood's A-list, including Joel Kinnaman (MGM's RoboCop reboot), Jamie Campbell Bower (the male lead in Constantin/Screen Gems' The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the adaptation of the YA series) and Asa Butterfield (the young hero of Summit's franchise hopeful Ender's Game).

Before landing their meal-ticket roles, Kinnaman worked with David Fincher in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Butterfield played the titular character in Martin Scorsese's Hugo. British model-turned-rocker-turned-actor Campbell Bower acted and sang in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street before segueing to small roles in two of the biggest franchises of all time: Harry Potter and The Twilight Saga.

Ever since he glided onto the rock-slinging corners of Baltimore on HBO's The Wire, Idris Elba has been engineering his ascent. First, a stop at The Office. Then, an Emmy nom for BBC's Luther. Supporting roles in Thor and Prometheus followed; now he's got Guillermo del Toro's giant-robot action flick Pacific Rim and a starring role as Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom on the horizon.

Just as Jeremy Renner parlayed his Oscar-nominated performance in Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker into Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol, The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy -- and shiny new A-list status -- expectations are high for Jason Clarke, who's following a turn in Lawless with a breakout performance as the lead in Bigelow's hunt for Osama bin Laden movie Zero Dark Thirty. "When a director like Kathryn gives you the freedom to explore a character, you can create something indelible, something hard to ignore," says Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty producer Greg Shapiro. "Both [Renner] and Jason did that."

Kevin Hart has become one of the most in-demand comedic up-and-comers thanks to a quote well below the Ben Stiller-Vince Vaughn echelon and a perceived built-in African-American audience. He will star with Kevin James in Sony's Valet Guys and opposite Ice Cube in Universal's Ride Along and take on the James Belushi role in Screen Gems' About Last Night... remake.

On the actress front, Campbell Bower's Mortal Instruments co-star Lily Collins (daughter of Phil) hovers near the cusp of superstardom -- though choosing the wrong Snow White movie, Mirror Mirror, didn't do her any favors. Hailee Steinfeld, who earned an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in the Coen brothers' True Grit, has brushed off losing the Hunger Games lead to Lawrence and landed in Ender's Game, another sci-fi story about battle-ready minors.

Shailene Woodley demonstrated her acting chops in the Oscar-nominated The Descendants and is said to have caught the eye of Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James. "The next big stars are the actress who plays Anastasia Steele and the actor who plays Christian Grey," says Twilight producer Marty Bowen of the eventual Fifty Shades couple. "They will certainly have an invitation to the A-list table."