Briefing

16 actors who could become big stars in 2023

Remember these faces and names!

Jenna Ortega, Emma D'Arcy, and Iman Vellani didn't start 2022 as household names, but were major stars by the time it ended. So who could be the equivalent breakouts this year? We've compiled some contenders — stars whose names you may not recognize now, but could be ubiquitous in 2023 and beyond: 

Lily Gladstone

You might know Lily Gladstone from Kelly Reichardt's films Certain Women and First Cow, or for her roles on Billions and Reservation Dogs. But she's set for her biggest year ever after starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, and Brendan Fraser in the new Martin Scorsese film Killers of the Flower Moon

The movie centers on an investigation into the murders of members of the Osage tribe, and Gladstone, who is descended from the Blackfeet and Nez Perce tribes, plays an Osage and wife of DiCaprio's character, according to Variety. Killers of the Flower Moon is expected to be a major Oscar contender, so assuming her role is prominent enough, don't be surprised to hear her name in the Best Supporting Actress conversation. A new Scorsese flick would be more than enough for one year, but Gladstone also stars in Fancy Dance, which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival, and she has joined the cast of the Hulu limited series Under the Bridge.

Tom Blyth

The Hunger Games franchise will be revived this November with the prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, and the cast includes major stars like Rachel Zegler, Peter Dinklage, and Viola Davis. But the leading role went to a lesser-known actor: Tom Blyth, who's playing the young version of Coriolanus Snow. 

Blyth currently has only 10 acting credits on IMDb, including 2022's Benediction, and fewer than 30,000 followers on Instagram compared to Zegler's 853,000. So could The Hunger Games set up a big career as a movie star for the 27-year-old — or are we looking at a Hayden Christensen situation?  

Cailee Spaeny

Last year's Elvis helped make Austin Butler far more of a household name, and he may even be set to win an Oscar for the role. Will another Elvis movie do the same for Cailee Spaeny? You may have seen the 24-year-old in films like Pacific Rim Uprising or shows like Mare of Easttown. But she's set to take on one of her first lead roles as Priscilla Presley in Priscilla, a biopic directed by Sofia Coppola. It pairs her with Jacob Elordi as Elvis. 

Priscilla hasn't been confirmed for a 2023 release, but assuming it comes out this year, it has the potential to put Spaeny in the 2024 Best Actress Oscar conversation like Butler before her. Spaeny also stars in the next Alex Garland film, Civil War, and she's reportedly in talks to lead a new Alien movie, so now's the time to figure out how to pronounce her last name. 

Devyn Nekoda and Liana Liberato

2022 was a big year for Jenna Ortega thanks not only to Wednesday, but also to her role in the Scream revival. Its sequel, Scream VI, is set for March, and considering the franchise has cultivated a passionate (and young) online following, we're keeping an eye on the new additions to potentially become future fan favorites. 

In particular, the sequel has added Devyn Nekoda, who starred in the Canadian series Backstage, and Liana Liberato, whose credits include the Hulu series Light as a Feather. If one or both are lucky enough to play Ghostface, or even just a particularly charismatic survivor, a killer performance could put them on the path toward horror icon status. But this is Scream we're talking about, so they could just as easily die in the first scene. 

Ariana Greenblatt

If we're trying to find the Jenna Ortega of 2023, though, why not look at one of Ortega's former co-stars? Ariana Greenblatt starred alongside Ortega on the Disney Channel show Stuck in the Middle, and the 15-year-old actress has since popped up in films like Love and Monsters, In the Heights, and Avengers: Infinity War, briefly playing a young Gamora in the latter. 

But as with Ortega, 2023 could be the year non-Disney Channel fans learn Greenblatt's name, especially if the movie 65 is successful. The sci-fi thriller stars Adam Driver as a pilot who finds himself stranded on Earth 65 million years in the past, and the only other survivor of his crash is a child named Koa, played by Greenblatt. It was directed by the writers of A Quiet Place, so it's well-positioned to be a hit — and Greenblatt will follow it up with a role in Greta Gerwig's Barbie, as well as Eli Roth's Borderlands movie. Make way for another famous Ariana G., Arianators. 

Eman Esfandi

One of the most beloved new Star Wars characters of recent years will be brought to live-action by an actor who is currently so unknown, he doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. 

Disney's new Star Wars series Ahsoka will bring the lead character of the animated series Star Wars Rebels, Ezra Bridger, to live-action. But after fans suggested actors like Mena Massoud and Rahul Kohli for the part, Disney opted to go with a lesser-known star: Eman Esfandi, who has fewer than 15 acting credits on IMDb, including roles in King Richard and The Inspection

The only potential stumbling block for Esfandi is if Ezra isn't in Ahsoka very much, as it appears the show will be about the quest to find the character. Even so, once you join the Star Wars universe, there tend to be many opportunities to pop back up in other projects for years to come. We will watch his career with great interest.  

Xolo Maridueña

You might recognize Xolo Maridueña for his roles as Miguel Diaz on Cobra Kai or Victor on Parenthood, but you'd be forgiven for not knowing his name. In 2023, that may change after he headlines Blue Beetle, the first DC film about a Latino superhero. Could the movie propel Maridueña's career to the next level, the same way DC roles helped turn Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot into major stars? 

One issue with this is that the way things are looking, Blue Beetle could be one of the last films in the current DC Extended Universe before the new bosses potentially wipe the slate clean. Then again, if the film is well-received and not very connected to the rest of the DC universe, it's possible Maridueña, unlike Henry Cavill, could be invited to stick around. 

Sasha Calle 

On a similar note, it's hard not to feel sorry for Sasha Calle, who looked poised to deliver a breakout performance in 2023's DC film The Flash. She plays Supergirl in the movie, but unfortunately, The Flash has been embroiled in controversy due to star Ezra Miller's repeated arrests, and a planned standalone Supergirl movie starring Calle reportedly isn't likely to move forward. Still, she's stepping into such an iconic character that it wouldn't be surprising if The Flash helps her snag bigger and better opportunities, even if her time with DC is cut short. 

Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King

Halle Bailey is already a star in the music world, as she performs with her sister in the R&B duo Chloe x Halle. But in terms of acting, she's set to make a big splash — pun intended — by starring as Ariel in Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid. She'll continue her big 2023 a few months later with a role in the new The Color Purple, so this could be the year she firmly establishes herself as a movie star in addition to a singer — and becomes so well-known, everyone officially stops misreading her name as Halle Berry.

The Little Mermaid could also launch another career: that of Jonah Hauer-King, who's been cast as Prince Eric. He's had a number of credits going back to 2014, including as Laurie in a 2017 adaptation of Little Women. But after playing a Disney prince, let's just say we don't expect him to have under 100,000 followers on Instagram for much longer, especially because the director has said one of his goals with this remake was to better flesh out Eric. 

Archie Madekwe

This one could go either way depending on the quality of the film. But in August, Sony is releasing a Gran Turismo movie based on the popular racing games, and starring in it alongside David Harbour is Archie Madekwe, who had a role in Midsommar and stars on the Apple TV+ show See

Even if Gran Turismo comes and goes without fanfare, though, Madekwe could have a solid year another way. He's also in the Netflix spy thriller Heart of Stone with Gal Gadot, as well as Saltburn, Emerald Fennell's follow-up to Promising Young Woman, which could come out in 2023. So we may soon be seeing the See star a lot more. 

Kathryn Newton

Kathryn Newton has certainly been doing well for herself over the past decade, including with roles in Blockers, Freaky, and Pokémon Detective Pikachu. But she looks set to go to the next level in terms of stardom in 2023. 

Newton is taking over the role of Cassie Lang, Scott Lang's daughter, in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which is likely to be one of the year's biggest hits. Beyond that one film, though, Cassie becomes a superhero in her own right in the Marvel comics, setting up Newton to be a crucial player in the MCU for years and likely a member of an eventual Young Avengers roster. 

It's a tough break for Abby Ryder Fortson, who played Scott's daughter in the first two Ant-Man films but was recast when the character was aged up. But the good news is she has the possibility for a big year, too, thanks to her lead role in the new Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

Geraldine Viswanathan

Newton may not be the only Blockers actress who has a strong 2023. Geraldine Viswanathan, who was the breakout star of the 2018 sex comedy, also has at least two, and possibly three, significant projects lined up for this year. 

The first is Cat Person, which pairs her with Emilia Jones and Nicholas Braun for a film based on the infamous New Yorker article. Viswanathan will then star in The Beanie Bubble, a dramedy about the Beanie Baby craze, alongside Elizabeth Banks, Zach Galifianakis, and Sarah Snook. Plus she's been paired with Margaret Qualley in the new film from Ethan Coen of the Coen brothers. 

Bella Ramsey

You'll likely recognize her as Lyanna Mormont on Game of Thrones. But Bella Ramsey is about to achieve a new level of fame by taking on an iconic video game character, playing the co-lead of Ellie in HBO's highly anticipated The Last of Us adaptation and starring alongside Pedro Pascal. 

The actress has admitted she almost didn't take the role, knowing it would catapult her into the public eye. "I seriously considered that maybe I don't want to be famous so I'm not going to do this show because it's going propel me to a place I don't want to go to in terms of being seen and being known," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "I like to blend in and hide."

The show looks likely to be a big hit for HBO, so think of Ramsey as the potential Maisie Williams of 2023. 

Kali Reis

Kali Reis is decently well-known as a professional boxer, but she just made her acting debut in 2021 with the thriller Catch the Fair One — and her second credit will be a big one. She's set to headline the new season of True Detective alongside Jodie Foster, so could Reis go full The Rock with a successful transition from sports to acting? Keep your eyes peeled for her to change the hierarchy of power in the DC universe in about 10 years' time.

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