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25 Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2011

Emily Browning in Sucker Punch
Warner Bros.

There are only so many Will Smiths and Natalie Portmans to go around, and as much as Hollywood producers would love to cast them in everything (for reals, Portman's in like 100 movies this year) they have to eventually take a chance on some fresh faces. 

But which of those faces have the appropriate level of freshness? Our handy guide will let you know exactly which ponies to bet on (like "Sucker Punch" lead Emily Browning, left) as we scour through the wheat and the chaff to predict the most promising breakout success stories of the year to come. 

Hayley Atwell

Hayley Atwell in Captain America
Paramount

To Be Seen In: "Captain America: The First Avenger" (July 22) 

NextFactor: This stunning Brit brunette first caught our eye as the femme fatale in Woody Allen's dark drama "Cassandra's Dream," then continued to turn heads as a corset queen in "The Duchess." She won't be the only bombshell on screen when she plays Peggy Carter, the World War II gal-pal of Marvel's Star Spangled Avenger (Chris Evans). 

Emily Browning

Legendary Pictures

Starring In: "Sucker Punch" (March 25) 

NextFactor: "She's going to break a million hearts." That's what no less than Jim Carrey said of Browning when at age 16 she co-starred with ol' rubberface in "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events." This could be the year the prophecy comes true when the ethereal actress flashes those doe-eyes, a piece, and a samurai sword in Zack Snyder's berzerker action-fantasy hybrid, "Sucker Punch." 

Asa Butterfield

Getty Images

Starring In: "Hugo Cabret" (Dec. 9) 

Next Factor: After winning heaps of praise in 2008 for the lead role in Holocaust drama "The Boy in Striped Pyjamas," this lad of only 13 years has landed the second plum role of his career, the title character in Martin Scorsese's "Hugo Cabret." Based on the stellar young adult novel by Brian Selznick, the movie blends magic, mystery, and real-life cinema history, and will showcase Butterfield in 3-D. 

Jay Chou

Sony

Starring In: "The Green Hornet" (Jan. 14) 

Next Factor: This Taiwanese music superstar is so lauded in Asia that a special denotation ("Chou Style") was created for his brand of cross-genre pop. Now he is poised for international film superstardom playing Kato, the flashy sidekick to Seth Rogen's Green Hornet. Early indications suggest Chou's quiet-cool and martial-arts prowess steals the show, living up to the previous incarnation of Kato played by a little guy called BRUCE-FRICKIN'-LEE! Ka-Pow! 

Jamie Chung

Getty Images

Starring In: "Suckerpunch" (March 25), "The Hangover Part II" (May 26) 

Next Factor: Former resident of MTV's "Real World: San Diego," Miss Chung is going to double your pleasure, double your fun with two minty-fresh blockbusters in a row (but not a sorority row). First up we'll see her kicking all sorts of android/dragon/zombie/giant samurai butt alongside Emily Browning in "Sucker Punch," then she'll sleaze it up with the wolfpack as Stu's fiancé in "Hangover II." This superstar-to-be already has action-packed "Premium Rush" in 2012. 

Lily Collins

Getty Images

Starring In: "Priest" (May 13), "Abduction" (September 23) 

Next Factor: There's no jacket required to love the 21-year-old daughter of Genesis front man Phil Collins, who came into our line of scrimmage as Sandra Bullock's daughter in "The Blind Side." She'll pull double-duty opposite Paul Bettany's vampire slaying "Priest," and will be there when Taylor Lautner gets abducted (not by vampires). And there are even bigger things to come: She's also landed the lead character of Clara Fray in the 2012 "Mortal Instruments" book adaptation. 

Brooklyn Decker

Getty Images

Starring In: "Just Go With It" (Feb. 11) 

Next Factor: This Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girl and Esquire's 2010 "Sexiest Woman Alive" has been seeking to simultaneously conquer the worlds of both entertainment and hotness, and is doing a damn good job. After a few odd TV gigs, she's landed a key role in the Adam Sandler farce "Just Got With It," and then in 2012 she'll be screaming "You sunk my Battleship!" in theaters everywhere. 

Shiloh Fernandez

Getty Images

Starring In: "Red Riding Hood" (March 11), "Skateland" (Jan. 25) 

Next Factor: One of the original contenders to play Edward Cullen, Fernandez will get a second shot to recreate gothic folklore with "Twilight" helmer Catherine Hardwicke as the male love interest to Amanda Seyfried in "Red Riding Hood." The model-turned-actor will also get to spread his indie wings as a Texan riding the disaffected teenage confusion train in "Skateland." 

Claire Foy

Season of the Witch
Relativity Media

Starring In: "Season of the Witch" (Jan. 7) 

Next Factor: Though the movie itself is pure camp silliness, Miss Foy emerges from "Season"'s B-movie forest unscathed, bringing far more intrigue and nuance than her seasoned co-stars, or Nicolas Cage's hairpiece. She almost comes across as a sweeter British Kristen Stewart, so when the time comes for the inevitable reboot ("Twilight Begins") we'll know who to turn to. Read Foy's NextFactor Q&A 

Dave Franco

Getty Images

Starring In: "Fright Night" (Aug. 19) 

Next Factor: If his famous bro James is the modern-day James Dean, then Dave has inherited the looks of Montgomery Clift. What was going on in that womb? Dave has had notable bit parts in "Milk" and "Greenberg" but may step out of his brother's shadow in the remake of "Fright Night" opposite Colin Farrell. As scary as it may be, it can't be any scarier than these acting tutorials

Greta Gerwig

Magnolia Pictures

Starring In: "No Strings Attached" (Jan. 21), "Arthur" (April 8th) 

Next Factor: This former darling of the low-budget mumblecore scene blipped onto the radar last year for her sweet turn opposite Ben Stiller in "Greenberg." Now she'll parlay that easy charm into studio big-time as the token best friend in "No Strings Attached" and Liza Minnelli's role in the "Arthur" remake with badboy Russell Brand. If she follows in Minnelli's footsteps with a one-woman-show called "Greta!" then we'll start to worry. 

Chris Hemsworth

Paramount

Starring In: "Thor" (May 6), "Red Dawn" (TBA) 

Next Factor: This slab of Melbourne beefcake appeared briefly as the poppa of James T. Kirk during the opening of 2009's "Star Trek." Now he'll embody The God of Thunder himself as the eponymous "Thor," dishing out justice with his mighty hammer Mjöllnir, and continue Thor's reign of superhumanness into Marvel's 2012 "The Avengers." Somewhere in there he managed to shoot both "Cabin in the Woods" and the "Red Dawn" remake for ailing MGM, which has yet to set release dates for either. Boo. 

Nicholas Hoult

Getty Images

Starring In: "X-Men: First Class" (June 3) 

Next Factor: We still remember him from "About a Boy" as the precocious 12-year-old opposite caddish Hugh Grant (is there any other kind of Hugh Grant?), yet Hoult is growing up fast and winning raves in films like "A Single Man." Now he'll get to flex his furry blue muscles as Beast in the latest "X-Men" spin-off. Our sympathies to Kelsey Grammer. 

Julianne Hough

Sony Pictures

Starring In: "Footloose" (Oct. 14) 

Next Factor: Any country music star who appears in a Snoop Dogg video, a Juicy Fruit commercial, and dates Ryan Seacrest is just asking for trouble, but since appearing in "Burlesque" last year Hough is looking to champion all media. The first high-profile role on her dance card is Craig Brewer's remake of "Footloose," so if all else fails she'll at least be one degree closer to Kevin Bacon. 

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

 

Getty Images

Starring In: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (July 1) 

Next Factor: Ooh la la! Rosie will put the color back in anyone's cheeks. When Michael Bay needed to prove how replaceable Megan Fox was to the "Transformers" franchise, he nabbed this lingerie model with no acting experience to play Shia's love object… er, interest in the battlebot threequel. She must have had a very impressive audition to win the role, but only Victoria knows her secret. (*wink*) 

Jeremy Irvine

DreamWorks

Starring In: "War Horse" (Dec. 28) 

Next Factor: Irvine came out of nowhere (well, a UK Disney Channel show) to take the reins of Steven Spielberg's "War Horse," a World War I adventure tale in which he plays the lead of a young boy who enlists in order to find his pal Joey, the title horse. Aside from noted Brit thesps (Emily Watson, David Thewlis), Irvine is carrying a flick from the biggest director in the world; someone has some major faith in this kid. 

Zoë Kravitz

Getty Images

Starring In: "X-Men: First Class" (June 3) 

Next Factor: The multi-talented progeny of Lenny Kravitz & Lisa Bonet (She can siiiiiiiiiing! She can aaaaaaaact!) has been making big moves in the indie world since bursting onto the scene in 2007. Now she's letting her freak-flag fly as acid-spitting winged insectoid mutant Angel Salvadore for the much-anticipated "X-Men" prequel. If all goes well she'll hop right into shooting the delayed "Mad Max: Fury Road." 

Rooney Mara

Getty Images

Starring In: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (Dec. 21) 

Next Factor: This sharp 25-year-old beat out some of the top names in Hollywood for what might seriously be the most sought-after female role since Scarlett O'Hara: Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's English-language remake of "Dragon Tattoo." It helped that she dominates every scene she had as straight-talking Erica Albright in Fincher's "Social Network," and we look forward to seeing her ride motorcycles, hack computers and solve crimes, i.e. "livin' the dream." 

Elsa Pataky

Getty Images

Starring In: "Fast Five" (April 29) 

Next Factor: Having just married Chris Hemsworth, does that make this Spanish actress a goddess by default? Elsa doesn't actually need any assist from Thor to fit that bill, as her beauty has been scorching international audiences for over a decade, and now her career will get a Diesel injection when she co-stars in the latest "Fast and Furious." Still too early to tell if she'll be around when they get to "Fast Fifteen" in 2025. 

Alex Pettyfer

DreamWorks

Starring In: "I Am Number Four" (Feb. 18), "Beastly" (March 18), "Now" (Sept. 30) 

Next Factor: Pulling triple-duty this year is blonde teen-idol in-the-making Pettyfer, whose lead role in the Spielberg-produced sci-fi action-adventure "I Am Number Four" could make this chiseled actor/model number one with the ladies. He'll also learn to be pretty on the inside with Vanessa Hudgeons in "Beastly," and then stops aging completely for the sci-fi thriller "Now." 

Noomi Rapace

Getty Images

Starring In: "Sherlock Holmes 2" (Dec. 16) 

Next Factor: Rooney Mara may get to play Salander in English, but this Swedish babe has already made that dragon tattoo her own in the original versions seen round-the-world. Rapace will run from many-an-explosion as a French Gypsy in the second of Robert Downey Jr.'s adrenaline-injected turns as Holmes, her first foray into Hollywood. If her continental English accent is as sexy as she is, we're in for a treat. 

BooBoo Stewart

Getty Images

Starring In: "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1" (Nov. 18) 

Next Factor: Although he only had a minor role in "Eclipse," Stewart's character Seth Clearwater becomes integral in the two-part "Twilight Saga" finale "Breaking Dawn" as both Jacob's second-in-command and an unlikely werewolf ally to Bella and Edward. That's good news for the 16-year-old actor/wrestler/singer/dancer/model. Team Clearwater, anyone? 

Aimee Teegarden

Getty Images

Starring In: "Scream 4" (April 15), "Prom" (April 29) 

Next Factor: Best known as Julie on "Friday Night Lights," Teegarden will be stalked and slashed by Ghostface in Wes Craven's 4th trip into post-modern meta-horror. She'll then take a (hopefully) more bloodless trip to Disney's "Prom" where she will no doubt learn life lessons about love, maturity, and limo rentals. 

Gemma Ward

Getty Images

Starring In: "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (May 20) 

Next Factor: Part of the wave of elfin, baby-doll featured models to hit runways in recent years, she was last seen as one of the three masked weirdos in "The Strangers," appropriately named "Dollface." She'll mince it up with Captain Jack in his latest pirate jaunt, playing a mermaid named Tamara. Whatever gets her closer to playing a Gelfling in a "Dark Crystal" sequel is fine by us. 

Kenny Wormald

Paramount

Starring In: "Footloose" (Oct. 14) 

Next Factor: "Wormald" definitely wins the "least likely superstar name" award. You have to wonder if his agents ever encouraged him to change it… But we digress. Wormald will step out into the lead in "Footloose," which he won after both Zac Efron and Chace Crawford bowed out. This professional dancer is gonna bring some pizzazz to a Tennessee town that don't like dancin', but don't forget, Kenny… JAZZHANDS!

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