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Meet the New A-List: The 10 Young Movie Stars Taking Hollywood by Storm

Are Timothée, Sydney, and Glen the new Leo, Scarlett, and Tom? Studio execs are certainly hoping they are. Hollywood is betting on stars like Paul Mescal and Jenna Ortega to carry slates and save the box office. Instead of being pulled up to the A-list by Marvel or DC, today’s top talents were anointed by auteur directors. Austin Butler was tapped by Baz Luhrmann for Elvis, while Denis Villeneuve gave nearly a third of this list their first franchise movie with his Dune features.

Today’s young stars are less formulaic than their predecessors, moving easily among studio filmmaking, indie efforts, and television. Unlike past eras, there’s also not a single “type” dominating the group. “Are we going to find ourselves going after the same roles? Absolutely,” says new A-Lister Glen Powell. “But are we ever in competition? No. We do different things.”

The Golden Boy: Austin Butler

Austin Butler has been blessed by big-name directors. Since his Oscar nomination for Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic, Jeff Nichols and Darren Aronofsky have tapped him for lead roles. Despite meme-able moments about his Elvis accent and his hairless look in Dune: Part Two, Butler has cultivated a rare movie-star mystique. With his classic Hollywood leading man looks and onscreen presence, insiders wonder if he could follow in the footsteps of Brad Pitt.

The Sure Thing: Timothée Chalamet

No other actor can boast leading two live-action films that were box office successes in the past year. Timothée Chalamet’s December tentpole Wonka brought in $632.3 million, and March’s Dune: Part Two crossed $700 million. Drawing industry comparisons to Leonardo DiCaprio, Chalamet has a reputation for focusing intensely on a single project. With a Bob Dylan biopic and exploratory talks about Wonka 2 underway, Chalamet is the most proven of the new A-list.

The Shy Heartthrob: Jacob Elordi

Jacob Elordi parlayed his breakout as the love interest in Netflix’s hit YA franchise The Kissing Booth into a career focused on filmmakers over box office. He is currently filming Guillermo del Toro’s Frankenstein and made his Cannes competition debut in Paul Schrader’s Oh, Canada. While he doesn’t engage much with Hollywood, his movie-star potential was solidified with Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn.

The Art House Prince: Paul Mescal

Paul Mescal’s star power will be tested with the release of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sequel. Despite constant media attention, the film will mark the Irish actor’s first full-fledged studio lead. Mescal has shied away from traditional Hollywood ventures, opting instead for festival fodder. His choices have netted him an Oscar nomination for Aftersun. With Gladiator II on the horizon, audience perceptions are likely to change.

The Gen Z Obsession: Jenna Ortega

Jenna Ortega The New A List
Jenna Ortega The New A List

Netflix’s Wednesday, its most-watched English-language series ever, made a quick star out of Jenna Ortega. Her popularity has had a partial trial run at the multiplex with two rebooted Scream films. Ortega parlayed Wednesday into a lead role in Beetlejuice Beetlejuice. With upcoming roles in Sony’s Klara and the Sun and A24’s dark comedy Death of a Unicorn, Ortega is seeking seven-figure paydays on future projects.

The Megawatt Smile: Glen Powell

Glen Powell put his time in, slowly climbing Hollywood’s ladder. After smaller parts in Hidden Figures and Expendables 3, Powell won over audiences with Netflix’s Set It Up. Top Gun: Maverick and war drama Devotion signaled his ambitions. The one-two punch of Hit Man and Anyone But You thrust him onto the A-list. Powell is fielding a dizzying number of offers and is co-creating a TV series and penning a Broadway musical.

The Chameleon: Florence Pugh

Florence Pugh’s breakout came in the indie Lady Macbeth in 2016. With an Oscar nomination for Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and the A24 horror hit Midsommar, Pugh proved both her critical and commercial appeal. While Don’t Worry Darling had a rough landing, she held her own in ensembles like Oppenheimer and Dune: Part Two. The New A-List Pugh is making a full-court press with Marvel, earning an eight-figure payday for two films.

The Hustler: Sydney Sweeney

Sydney Sweeney’s work ethic is undeniable. With over 50 professional credits, Sweeney has drawn comparisons to Scarlett Johansson. After garnering buzz for Euphoria and The White Lotus, she catapulted to star status and launched her production banner, Fifty-Fifty. Immaculate, her first top-billed solo theatrical release and first as a producer, is one of the highest grossers for specialty distributor Neon.

The Genre Queen: Anya Taylor-Joy

Anya Taylor-Joy has a big proving-ground moment on the horizon with Mad Max: Fury Road prequel Furiosa. She established herself as a sharp actress since breaking out in Robert Eggers’ The Witch. General audiences know her from The Queen’s Gambit, but she has since turned down big TV projects in favor of a theatrical career. Her work in Furiosa shows she can do action, with upcoming projects including The Gorge and Sacrifice.

The Unicorn: Zendaya

Zendaya The New A List
Zendaya The New A-List

If there is a one-word answer to who is the new A-List and can open a movie and draw audiences, it’s Zendaya. The award-winning actress achieved her status with few film credits. Spider-Man: Homecoming launched her at the box office, followed by The Greatest Showman. Euphoria set her up for her current rise. While three Spider-Man films kept her in theaters, Zendaya landed Dune. She has yet to announce other studio films but doesn’t need paycheck projects with lucrative endorsement deals.

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