“At first I was the enfant terrible, then the Bright Young Thing. Now, I’m the tradition,” said Noel Coward, the actor-writer-director chameleon and spiritual uncle to precocious talent everywhere. There are certainly shades of Coward’s story on display in this list of the six young actors poised to hit the big time, as they look forward to a very exciting new year
How many Oscars, Baftas, Golden Globes and Emmys can you see on the horizon from our list of the ones-to-be-watching? As many as they feel like winning, thanks very much. Soon, to pinch from Coward, these six won’t just be Bright Young Things — they’ll be the grand tradition.
Hero Fiennes-Tiffin: I would say remember the name, but you know it already, don’t you — or half of it, at least. The Fiennes family tree is decorated with more names of note that your average royal family There’s Mark, the photographer and illustrator; Jennifer, the novelist; Martha and Sophie, both directors; Magnus, the composer; and Joseph and Ralph, the actors. Now there’s Hero, 22-year-old scion of the dynasty and a brilliant actor in his own right.
You’ll likely recognise him from his role in After, a romantic drama with roots in the world of online fan fiction which earned him legions of ardent teen fans. The film was only released earlier this year, but production has already wrapped on a sequel, After We Collided. Watch out; Hero’s heading back to your screens.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
As names go Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is one that simultaneously hard to remember and utterly unforgettable. Luckily his acting talents err towards the latter and far outnumber the syllables of his distinctive moniker.
The 33-year-old may have only been professionally acting for three years, but he’s already faced off against superheroes, danced circles around Hugh Jackman and seen himself plugged into the Black Mirror matrix. After a recent role in Jordan Peele’s Us, the actor has landed the lead role in the horror director’s next project, a remake of cult classic Candyman.
Describing Damson Idris as ‘up and coming’ might seem a little short-sighted, since the 28 year-old has already cracked a much-coveted career across the pond as John Singleton in Snowfall. There are even three-storey billboards down on Sunset Boulevard with Damson’s face on them. But 2020 looks set to be the year that Idris’ stateside fame catches on in his hometown, too. The gulf stream is in his favour. And you simply can’t negotiate with gravity.
You will of course recognise Ncuti Gatwa as Eric, the best friend you didn’t know you needed in Netflix’s smash hit original series Sex Education. January will see the hotly-anticipated return of the series — and we cannot wait to see what Gatwa’s drag-loving, stereotype-busting character has in store for the second instalment.
Alongside this, filming has now wrapped on the film adaptation of Last Letter From Your Lover, the best-selling novel of the same name by Jojo Moyes. Gatwa stars, alongside Felicity Jones, Joe Alwyn and Shailene Woodley.
Another Sex Education alumni, Edward Bluemel is certainly no stranger to a bit of action. This year alone, he’s returned to his vampiric ways in Sky 1’s supernatural drama A Discovery of Witches, played at spies in Channel 4’s period drama Traitors and hunted assassins in the second series of the acclaimed Killing Eve.
Of his experience on the Killing Eve set, Bluemel says, “it can be intimidating to join a cast of people who already know each other. But I relish the intimidation. Because, if you see how comfortable older actors are, you can use that as inspiration. There’s nothing wrong with being intimidated. That’s how you learn.”
Want to see more great actors at work? These are the best films of 2019…