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01.24.09

Breakout Stars of 2009

You haven’t heard of them…yet. But The Daily Beast predicts this promising crop of young actors will hit the big time this year. From Lenny Kravitz’ daughter to Michael Cera’s girlfriend, meet the class of 2009.

Channing Tatum
Yes, you’ve seen Channing before. He was in the teen dance-off Step Up, the Queens indie A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, and the Iraq soldier drama Stop-Loss. But 2009 is going to be the Year of Tatum. (You heard it here first.) He will star opposite Big Love’s Amanda Seyfried in Dear John, the latest adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel to transition to the big screen—basically, this year’s The Notebook. Then he appears in Michael Mann’s 1930s gangster noir, Public Enemies, with Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, and Billy Crudup. He will play an action figure in the fall’s big G.I. Joe film, and will star in Fighting, another indie about a New York scam artist who enters the world of underground street brawls. There will be a lot of Tatum without a shirt on in 2009. Happy New Year.

MORE: Channing Tatum Q&A

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Mark Mainz / AP Photo

Carey Mulligan
It’s not often that a young actress is called “the next Audrey Hepburn” with no sense of irony by critics, but that’s exactly what the chattering crowds at Sundance are calling this British phenom. The 23-year-old was in two of the hottest films at the fest— An Education (the new Nick Hornby film about a teenager in swinging London who sleeps with a 35-year-old man played by a saucy Peter Sarsgaard) and The Greatest (a drama about a pregnant teen—Mulligan—who must deal with the traumatic accidental death of her boyfriend). She will also appear in Brothers, which stars Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal—pretty much all of young Hollywood. And then Public Enemies with Christian Bale, Johnny Depp, and Billy Crudup. By 24, she will have worked with almost every A-lister.

MORE: Carey Mulligan in New York Magazine

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Matt Sayles / AP

Chris Pine
He has a familiar face— Princess Diaries 2, anyone, anyone?—but Chris Pine is going to venture where few others have gone before: William Shatner’s shoes. Pine’s playing the young Captain James T. Kirk in the highly anticipated J.J. Abrams remake of Star Trek, to be released this summer. We’ll be shocked if his face is not plastered all over the country by then.

MORE: Jump-starting a franchise

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Matt Carr / Getty Images

Charlyne Yi
While comedy film fans may recognize Charlyne as one of the stoner friends in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, after Paper Heart, the quirky love story she made with real-life boyfriend Michael Cera, drops later this year, her name will launch a thousand ships full of yearning hipsters. Heart is a documentary/comedy/improvisation that sends the 33-year-old Yi on a sweet and goofy trip around the US looking for the meaning of "love"—she starts out skeptical, but eventually ends up with (surprise!) the baby-faced Cera. As one half of the most darling, most sickeningly twee, and perhaps funniest power duo of the year, Charlyne need be known as a random pothead no more.

MORE: Charlyne’s Hilarious YouTube Channel

Editor's Note: Charlyne's age has been changed to 33.  It was previously listed as 23.

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Dziekan / Retna

Zoe Kravitz
Who knew the byproduct of Lenny Kravitz and little Denise Huxtable, aka Lisa Bonet, would be poised before a banner year? Their 20-year-old daughter debuted onscreen in the sugary-sweet No Reservations last year, and currently co-stars with another one-to-watch, Johnny Simmons, in The Greatest, which was picked up at Sundance and should arrive in theaters shortly. Don’t be surprised if a record deal is scored soon—she also guested on Will.i.am’s popular video “We Are the Ones” in support of Barack Obama.

MORE: Zoe in the LA Times

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Tammie Arroyo / AP Photo

Olivia Wilde
Fans of so-bad-it’s-good and actually good television will recognize Olivia Wilde from The O.C. and House, where her guest-starring appearances have always been…unique, to say the least. (The good doctor's nickname for her is Thirteen.) She's the funny female counterpart to Michael Cera and Jack Black in The Year One, released this summer, and will soon be filming TRON 2.0, the sequel to…well, you know.

MORE: Q&A with Olivia

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Bryan Bedder / Getty Images

Johnny Simmons
Every actor has his creative missteps (the upcoming cheesefest Hotel for Dogs...tsk, tsk) but at 22, little John-John is spry enough to execute a perfect rebound, and his role as the son of grieving parents Susan Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan in Sundance’s weeper The Greatest was a splendid start for 2009. In September, Simmons stars in the Diablo Cody-penned Jennifer’s Body, a comedy/horror (horredy?) flick about a possessed cheerleader who goes bananas and kills her classmates. Unfortunately his character’s name is Chip Dove, which is a smidge too cutesy to bode well for staying alive. Death by co-star Megan Fox? He could do worse.

MORE: Review of The Greatest

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Paul Smith, Featureflash / Retna

Melanie Lynskey
This New Zealand born actress is recognizable for her (non-titular) role stalking Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men, but she’s ditching living rooms and bit parts for big roles in 2009. She’s supporting in Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant, with Matt Damon as government informant Mark Whitacre, and also shares the screen with Edward Norton in the not-a-Walt-Whitman biopic Leaves of Grass. A part in Sam Mendes’ Away We Go this summer—a buzzy comedy written by Dave Eggers, starring John Krasinski of The Office, and chronicling a couple’s cross-country trip in search of a good place to raise a family—makes this year a trifecta for the actress.

MORE: Melanie at IMDB

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Michael Schwartz, WireImage / Getty Images

Aziz Ansari
Let’s judge others by the company they keep. Looking at Aziz Ansari’s upcoming schedule, he seems, well, funny or something. We don’t want to say this 25-year-old Indian-American actor is a Seth Rogen protégé, but he's treading that path. After cutting his teeth with sketch comedy at MTV—executive producing and writing sketch comedy show Human Giant—Ansari had recent stints on HBO’s Flight of the Conchords and Scrubs and stars in Seth Rogen’s Observe and Report, and alongside Paul Rudd and Jason Segel in I Love You, Man. Oh, and guess who’s starring with Amy Poehler in the local politics-centered never-gonna-get-a-title spinoff of The Office, premiering in April? Two thumbs directed at this guy.

MORE: Q&A with the funnyman

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Michael Tran, FilmMagic / Getty Images

Danielle Panabaker
To date, this siren 20-year-old's largest role was a series of Disney Channel movies and playing the daughter of James Woods on the courtroom TV drama Shark, but she’ll have a chance to break out—or at least die onscreen—in a remake of Friday the 13th, releasing not-so-romantically the night before Valentine’s Day. Also in her future is Renaissance Girl with Jennifer Tilly, a comedy about a college-age girl who must work at—you guessed it (or probably didn’t)—a Renaissance fair to pay her tuition.

MORE: Her official site

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Matt Carr / Getty Images

Jon Foster
24-year-old Jon has been working steadily in Hollywood for almost ten years—following in the footsteps of his brother Ben ( Six Feet Under, 3:10 to Yuma)—but 2009 is set to be the year the actor graduates into the major leagues. Though some may recall him from his 2004 turn alongside Kim Basinger and Jeff Bridges in The Door in the Floor, it is his role in the upcoming multinarrative LA-in-the-'80s drama The Informers (again with Basinger, and also starring Mickey Rourke, Rhys Ifans, Billy Bob Thornton, and Winona Ryder) that makes him one to keep an eye on this year. With a drug and sex-filled script by Bret Easton Ellis, The Informers is going to be big—and so is Foster.

MORE: A review of The Informers

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Rick Odell / Getty Images

Rachael Taylor
The Aussie actress (and, by default, Nicole Kidman-esque ingénue) burst onto the scene in Transformers with Shia LeBeouf, but turned down the sequel for starring roles in the comedy Splinterheads and the upcoming HBO series Washingtonienne, based on the Washington blog-turned-novel by Jessica Cutler and produced by Sarah Jessica Parker. So young and yet so wise.

MORE: Q&A with Interview magazine

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Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Cam Gigandet
Some teen-TV fans may remember Cam as the guest character on The O.C. responsible for killing off Mischa Barton, but he’s going to be known for much more than Marissa-cide after this year. Cam has a whopping seven movies in production for 2009—and those are just the ones that have been officially announced. After his breakout role as a pale vampire in last fall’s Twilight, Cam will appear in Pandorum (a thriller about a spaceship with Dennis Quaid), Five Star Day (a coming of age story with Jena Malone), and Kid Cannabis (the true story of a 19-year-old millionaire pot dealer), among others.

MORE: Cam in Vanity Fair

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Michael Buckner / Getty Images for AFI

Mia Wasikowska
Imagine if Tim Burton decided to make a film of Alice in Wonderland, with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Anne Hathaway as the Queen, and Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar. Well, dream no more. It’s on. And blond Aussie newcomer Mia Wasikowska landed the role every girl dreams of—Alice. Though that film won’t drop until 2010, Mia will also earn buzz this year for her role in Amelia, Mira Nair’s Amelia Earhart biopic starring Hilary Swank and Ewan McGregor. For a 19-year-old, Mia is in pretty impressive company.

MORE: Alice in Wonderland

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Nathan Strange / AP Photo

Saoirse Ronan
She played the snitchy little girl in Atonement, but 14-year-old Saoirse Ronan is far from a child actress—she has a resume that actresses twice her age would kill for. This year, she will star in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the best-selling sobby book The Lovely Bones (she plays a teen speaking from the beyond after having been murdered—try to resist THAT). She is also rumored to be in Nottingham, Ridley Scott’s take on the Robin Hood story, and has signed on for The Way Back, a Peter Weir epic about soldiers who escaped from a Siberian gulag in 1940. Young girl…heavy track record.

MORE: Q&A with the actress

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Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Taylor Lautner
After originating the role of Jacob Black in the original crazy successful teen-vampires-stare-and-brood Twilight, there was talk Taylor Lautner wouldn’t be cast in the sequel. Fortunately, the director was convinced and Lautner is bulking up to play the older role in the follow-up New Moon, which will be rushed into theaters this November. Robert Pattinson, watch your back. Teen girls, get your screaming pipes ready.

MORE: His official site