Most aspiring actors and actresses dream of one thing: getting a career-making performance. These performances can catapult an actor or actress into the spotlight and establish them as major talents in the film industry. These performances can help open up new opportunities, leading to high-profile roles and working with established players. These types of career-changing opportunities are usually ones where actors can showcase their talent and range, leaving a lasting impression on audiences and critics.
While some actors and actresses may have prior work and recognition, a career-making performance can be the turning point that sets them on the path to becoming a household name. Think about it: there are instances where audiences see an actor in a particular movie, and then suddenly, this actor is everywhere? They most likely had a career-making performance that put them on the map.
10 Taron Egerton in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ (2015)
Taron Egerton previously acted in stage plays and only had one supporting role credit in one movie before being cast in the lead in Kingsman: The Secret Service. Director Matthew Vaughn cast him in the role, which paid off, as his performance was acclaimed and helped launch his career in Hollywood.
After the surprise hit film, Egerton went on to play icons in Eddie the Eagle, Rocketman,and Robin Hood. He also voiced a leading role in the animated film series Singwhich showcased his singing skills. With his newfound fame, he now balanced his mainstream fare with dramas such as the Apple TV series Black Bird and the upcoming real-life drama Tetris.
9 Henry Golding in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (2018)
As a TV host and travel presenter, Henry Golding had no previous acting experience when he caught the attention of director Jon M. Chu, who was helming Crazy Rich Asians. His natural charisma and charm made the role of Nick Young come to life on screen. He easily held his own against veteran performers like Constance Wu and Michelle Yeoh.
His well-received performance and the success of the movie helped to establish Golding as a major talent. While the sequel has not been greenlit, Golding has been keeping busy starring in films such as A Simple Favor, The Gentlemen, period drama Persuasion and was even entrusted to lead a studio tentpole film Snake Eyes.He has several high-profile projects, including The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare and the sequel to The Old Guard.
8 Rami Malek in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (2018)
Rami Malek has already worked as an actor for quite some time. He was a memorable supporting character in the Night at the Museum films and was best known for his lead role in the TV series Mr. Robot. But the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody Bohemian Rhapsody that launched him into the big leagues.
Malek’s performance as the Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was highly praised and garnered him an Oscar for Best Actor. He then starred as the final baddie in Daniel Craig‘s James Bond film, No Time to Die, and was one of the pivotal characters in David O. Russell‘s star-studded Amsterdam. He will be next seen in Christopher Nolan‘s highly anticipated Oppenheimer.
7 Anya Taylor-Joy in ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ (2020)
Anya Taylor-Joy was already on the rise in Hollywood with performances in movies like The Witch and Split when she was cast as the lead role in the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit. Taylor-Joy’s performance as a brilliant chess prodigy was widely praised, and the show became a massive hit during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when everyone was confined to their homes.
The show’s success has helped to establish Taylor-Joy as a major talent in Hollywood. She has since gone on to star in other Last Night in Soho and last year’s sleeper hit The Menu. Her trajectory will only rise as she will be heard in The Super Mario Bros. Movieand is the titular character in George Miller‘s Mad Maxprequel Furiosa.
6 Daniel Kaluuya in ‘Get Out’ (2017)
Daniel Kaluuya has been putting out consistent work in his native England, from a guest role in Doctor Who and as a lead in one of Black Mirror episodes. He hit the mainstream when he was cast in the lead role in Jordan Peele‘s directorial debut, Get Out. Kaluuya’s performance even earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
After Get Out, Kaluuya has since starred in movies such as Marvel’s Black Panther and Widows.He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the biopic Judas and the Black Messiah. He recently reunited with Peele for a mysterious sci-fi film, Nope, and will be next heard voicing Spider-Punk in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
5 Millie Bobby Brown in ‘Stranger Things’ (2015-)
Millie Bobby Brown was only 11 years old when she was cast in the breakout role of Eleven in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. With no previous acting experience, but her raw talent made the show’s creators entrust the role to her. Audiences and critics were impressed by Brown‘s performance, and it contributed to the show becoming a cultural phenomenon.
Stranger Things helped launch Brown’s career, and before she turned 20, she was an ally to Godzilla in Godzilla: King of the Monstersand even led her franchise as the titular Enola Holmes. She will be seen in the final season of Stranger Things and Damsel, in which she acted as executive producer and star.
4 Florence Pugh in ‘Midsommar’ (2019)
Florence Pugh had previously starred in smaller indie films before starring in Ari Aster‘s horror film Midsommar. It showcased her talents in playing a complex character and marked her first major breakthrough role in a mainstream production. Her career-making performance was amplified by the number of projects she had that year, including a supporting role in Little Women that earned her an Oscar nomination.
Pugh went on to star opposite Scarlett Johansson in Black Widowand is poised to star in several projects for Marvel, including Thunderbolts. She has been keeping busy with a leading role in the thriller Don’t Worry Darlingand a voice role in the surprise hit Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.Her latest, A Good Person released on March 24, but she still has two films this year, Oppenheimer and Dune: Part Two.
3 Zendaya in ‘Euphoria’ (2019-)
Zendaya was already a well-known name in the entertainment industry thanks to her work on Disney Channel, but it was her role in HBO’s drama series Euphoria that truly catapulted her for the wider audience. The complex, raw, and emotionally charged character was perfect for shedding her Disney Channel persona and exposing her to more dramatic roles.
It was further amplified by her Emmy win for the role, which made her the youngest actress to win the award. Afterward, her role in the Spider-Manfranchise was expanded, and she booked meatier roles in Malcolm & Marieand the sci-fi adaptation Dune. This year she will be seen in Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers and the sequel to Dune.
2 Timothée Chalamet in ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (2017)
Timothée Chalamet can be seen in small roles in big projects such as Interstellar and the hit series Homeland before being cast in the lead role in Luca Guadagnino‘s coming-of-age drama Call Me By Your Name. He was still studying at NYU’s Tisch when he auditioned for the role that earned him critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
He followed the film’s success with diverse projects such as Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, period piece The King,and even a cannibal love story, Bones and All. He now leads the sci-fi film series Dune which has a sequel coming out this year. He can also be seen next in Wonka,a film about Roald Dahl‘s chocolatier directed by Paddington’s Paul King.
1 Ana de Armas in ‘Blade Runner 2049’ (2017)
Ana de Armas had been acting for several years in Spanish and English-language projects before landing her breakout role in Blade Runner 2049. The Cuban-born actress’ character as a holographic companion was one of the highlights of the highly-acclaimed film.
The film raised de Armas’s profile and led to more high-profile roles such as a starring turn in the hit whodunit film Knives Out, a brief but highly impressionable supporting role in No Time to Die, Netflix’ big budget The Gray Man, and her recent Academy Award-nominated performance as Marilyn Monroe in the pseudo-biopic Blonde.De Armas will soon be seen opposite Chris Evans in the action-romance Ghostedand will be leading a John Wick spin-off, Ballerina.
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