A Guide to Hollywood’s Next Generation of Male Stars-in-the-Making

By  · Published on October 16th, 2013

While some potential moviegoers only needed to hear the word “Jurassic” to get excited for Colin Trevorrow’s upcoming Jurassic World, some of us needed something else – like a great cast. The news that the feature will center on a successful (and presumably safe) Jurassic World theme park that’s upended by some wild, wily dinosaurs (with a grudge? Just a hunger? Pure instinct? Who knows!) also came with the reveal that the film will find its character focus in a tourist family tossed into the middle of the dino-madness. Fair enough – after all, the first Jurassic Park included a pair of great kid actors – but the fear of a fun movie being overshadowed by bad child acting is a very real one (perhaps even more terrifying than the promise of marauding dinosaurs themselves).

Fortunately, there’s little to fear here (at least as it applies to the under-eighteen set), because Jurassic World has reportedly cast two of the most exciting young actors in Hollywood – Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson – to form the child-half of the poor, beleaguered tourist family. At this point, we don’t even care about their potential parents (though rumors that they could be Jake Johnson and Bryce Dallas Howard are awesome in their own way), because we’re sold on a Simpkins and Robinson-centric picture in a big, big way. Still better? They are just two actors in a very encouraging new generation of emerging stars-in-the-making, a new class we’re lucky to have.

Ty Simpkins

What else could you possibly want from a chubby-cherub-faced mop-topped charmer like Simpkins other than his adorableness? Oh, perhaps comedic timing that’s already proven to be an exceptionally amusing match for a superstar like Robert Downey, Jr. in a blockbuster like Iron Man 3? An ability to keep his wits about him while filming the Insidious films? A resume that includes working with directors like Spielberg, Field, and Mendes? At just twelve-years-old, Simpkins has already racked up a resume more varied and impressive than some peers twice his age – though it certainly didn’t hurt that he got into the acting game at just three weeks old. We’ll next see him in Jurassic World, and we can only hope that no one eats him (seems a safe bet).

Nick Robinson

The recently announced second kid star of Jurassic World, Robinson already wowed with this year’s festival charmer The Kings of Summer. Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ film was a winner at Sundance (when it was called Toy’s House), and that goodwill carried over to the film’s wide release this past summer. Tasked with leading a film about boys gone wild, the mainly television-based actor (he stars on Melissa & Joey) excelled in creating a character that was believable both as a messy, confused teen boy and a big-time dreamer willing (and able) to build his own house in the woods (and invite his pals along for the ride). Expect to see him cracking wise as the Jurassic baddies come after him.

Tye Sheridan

The intensity that the young Sheridan is able to bring to his roles is staggering – and even more impressive when you realize who he is managing to look intense acting against. Consider Joe, his latest from director David Gordon Greenwho else could hold their own against Nicolas Cage of all people, and make it look totally effortless in the process? Well, Sheridan can – and he did last year, too, when he faced off against Matthew McConaughey in Jeff NicholsMud. The pair’s characters come to a strangely warm and respectful relationship, with Sheridan’s Ellis coming of age in a emotional, often scary way, and the young star never backs down from a big scene with a big actor. That shouldn’t surprise, really, considering Sheridan’s first role was in The Tree of Life, alongside names like Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain.

Jacob Lofland

Sheridan and McConaughey may appear to be the grounding center of Mud, but the film is very much a three-hander, with Ellis’ best pal Neckbone, played by Lofland, bringing in a fresh take to their criminal chemistry. Even more impressive? The film marked Lofland’s feature debut, yet he’s able to look totally at ease while acting with one of Hollywood’s brightest stars and one of the acting world’s most stunning new talents. Mud would not worked half as well without Lofland’s performance added into the mix, and we can’t wait to see him in many more films. He’ll next co-star in Little Accidents, alongside other talents like Elizabeth Banks, Chloe Sevigny, and Josh Lucas.

Gabriel Basso

We’re just pillaging from Kings of Summer right now. While Robinson’s star power was sort of the main event of Kings, a second watch reveals that Basso’s performance is just a strong and interesting as his co-star. What could have been a straight sidekick role comes with its own emotional maturation (and not just thanks to Basso’s character, Patrick, getting himself a lady during the course of the film). Basso is also damn funny to watch – his facial expressions and reactions alone to his wacky parents are just aces. He’s already worked with J.J. Abrams (Super 8), and he’s a got a solid mix of television under his belt, so here’s hoping for more Basso, and soon. Perhaps Robinson’s Jurassic character needs a friend? Those two are magic together.

Moises Arias

Yeah, yeah, Robinson and Basso did the heavy lifting in Kings, but no one got as many laughs as Arias as the utterly bizarre and strangely relatable Biaggio, perhaps one of the weirdest supporting characters to pop up in a teen-centric film in some time. Or, at least, one of the weirdest supporting characters to pop up in a teen-centric film that also gets his respect and his own character arc. Arias already has quite the resume – he’s done plenty of voicework and television – but we’ll next see him in a very different role. Arias won’t be doing any rubber-limbed moves in Ender’s Game, where he’ll be playing the baddie Bonzo.