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The Breakout Stars of 2007

Category: 300 News
Article Date: December 20, 2007 | Publication: Hollywood.com/New York Post | Author: Scott Huver
Source: Hollywood.com/New York Post

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One day you're just another headshot in the pile on a casting agent's desk, the next you're one of most Googled people on the planet. That's how the Breakout game works in Hollywood, and thankfully 2007 provided a slew of potential superstars-in-the-making to get the Wiki-writers working overtime on new entries.

Breakout Star(s) of the Year

Typically Hollywood.com hones in on the one fresh face that stood out above all the rest, and this year we were tempted to select Knocked Up's delightful daddy-o Seth Rogen as the 2007 poster boy for overnight success, and he certainly would've fit the bill. Playing the carefree slacker-stoner forced to grow up when he carelessly plants his seed with out-of-his-hotness-league Katherine Heigl, he somehow made us all fall for him as hard as she ultimately does. Once one of writer-director Judd Apatow's deep bench of comic players specializing in slovenly smartasses, he suddenly emerged as a Bill Murray for his generation: scruffy and not always self-motivated, sure, but still sharper than everyone else in the room.

But it was a second bong hit of Rogen's that left us truly, giddly baked: just a few months after his surprise star turn he handed us Superbad, the funniest comedy of the year AND he co-wrote it. That film's success was truly a team effort, with each member of its ensemble contributing to the comic frission that made it soar: Jonah Hill's antic, expletive-filled anxiety, Michael Cera's straight-faced sweetness, Christopher Mintz-Plasse's confidence in the face of uber-nerdiness, Emma Stone's grounded girl-next-door appeal and Bill Hader's unedited police officer worked in perfect harmony with Rogen's cop who's just trying to be cool. Thus our Breakout Star of the Year is the cast of Superbad, who were, frankly, super-great.

Film's Freshest Faces

Shia Labeouf had already established himself as a winning young actor with a solid fan base, but this year he transformed into a bona fide movie star with faster than Bumblebee converted into a sporty Camero, thanks to the one-two punch of hits Transformers and Disturbia, along with a much anticipated turn in next year's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Meanwhile, audiences also admired the chic chassis of his co-star Megan Fox.

More hardbodies were on display in 300, but it was more than the sculpted Grecian muscle tone of Gerard Butler and Lena Headey than made them into action film icons their Spartan intensity elevated director Zack Snyder's already eye-popping comic book opus.

The kids were more than all right, too: 13-year-old Saoirse Ronan was as mature and arresting as any of her adult co-stars in the tragic historical romance Atonement; 12-year-old Shelan O'Keefe filled up the screen as elder daughter who suspects her family may be facing a horrible loss in Grace Is Gone; and 19-year-old Nikki Blonsky, a true unknown turned into an overnight success, danced her way into audiences' hearts with her adorable turn in Hairspray.

Though their roles couldn't have been further apart, two women made moviegoers sit up and take notice: Amy Ryan created a complicated portrait of a carousing Boston mother who nonetheless agonizes over the disappearance of her young daughter in newly minted A-list director Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone, while sexy, fresh-faced Malin Akerman became the latest Farrelly Brothers "It Girl" by putting her body in positions that would make even Cameron Diaz blush in The Heartbreak Kid.

And just when you thought familiar actors James Marsden and Josh Brolin were simply nice-looking performers based on their lesser roles in major films, both men surprised with dazzling turns in 2007: Marsden turned on the charm as Corny Collins in Hairspray and absolutely channeled the confident callowness of every cookie-cutter Prince Charming in Enchanted, losing the girl with more panache than he ever got to show in X-Men and The Notebook. Meanwhile Brolin revealed previously unexplored depths with villainous role in Grindhouse and American Gangster and a knockout role as the Coen brothers' anti-hero in No Country For Old Men.

Tuned In to TV

On the small screen everything was coming up roses for Pushing Daisies stars Lee Pace and Anna Friel nothing, not even Ned the piemaker's post mortem touch could kill their characters' off-kilter chemistry.

It takes talent for a newcomer to stand out against co-stars like Peter Krause, Jill Clayburgh and Donald Sutherland, but Natalie Zea put the "sexy" into Dirty Sexy Money with her turn as Karen, the indulged, much-married daughter of the Darling clan. And it wasn't a tough sell for audiences to fully buy into Jon Hamm's skillfull portrayal of 1960s ad exec who literally reinvented himself on AMC's Mad Men.

Who says they don't make teen idols like the used to? Blake Lively fit the buzz-worthy bill as Gossip Girl's Serena, whose perfect exterior and legion of male admirers belies her quest for meaningful romance, while Zac Efron had all the right moves and hit all the right notes in Hairspray to evolve even beyond his status as High School Musical's resident high-stepping heartthrob.

In fact, there were no shortage of TV Zachs for remote weilders to flip over: Chuck's Zachary Levi showed comic flair as the geek next door who just happens to house all of the government's espionage secrets in his brain had fans hoping this Nerd Herd rep would tend to their personal tech needs, while Zachary Quinto got into our heads as Heroes' homicidal Sylar and was an eminently logical choice to play Mr. Spock in the retro-reinvention of the classic Star Trek franchise.

And finally, some of the year's Breakout talents blew us away just by being themselves. Dancing With the Stars' hottie hoofer Julianne Hough sashayed into the public consciousness at an extremely high velocity it's no wonder she was able to turn an Olympic speed skater and an Indy 500 driver into dance champs with back-to-back victories in her first year on the show. And celebutante du jour Kim Kardashian proved she had more than just junk in her trunk a leaked sex video, a reality series and a Playboy layout showed off her ample assests, and her male fans can't wait to see what's at the back end of her next 15 minutes of fame.

 


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