12 Actors You're Probably About To See Everywhere

Get to know these stars now, people.

The 2017 Toronto International Film Festival was full of breakout performances. Here are some of the names and faces you'll want to remember.

1. McKenna Grace (I, Tonya)

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Margot Robbie is already getting well-deserved awards season buzz for her portrayal of Tonya Harding, but I, Tonya belongs to Allison Janney, who plays Harding’s chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, abusive, fur coat–clad mother, LaVona Golden. Some of Janney’s most harrowing and insidiously funny scenes are opposite 11-year-old actor McKenna Grace, who plays a young Tonya.

From getting kicked out of a chair to being beaten with a brush in an ice rink bathroom, Grace holds her own opposite Janney’s scene-steamrolling. She imbues young Tonya with an emotional steeliness that lends even further depth to Robbie’s interpretation of the skater in her later years — and she was a complete pro on set. “McKenna was so sweet and fun with me,” Janney told BuzzFeed News after the film premiered in Toronto. “She would call me ‘Miss Alison.’ She would say, ‘Miss Alison, I know this is not who you really are. I know this is your character, and I have a pad in my shoulder, so you can hit me harder. It’s OK.’” —Keely Flaherty

2. Natalie Morales (Battle of the Sexes)

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Battle of the Sexes left a lot to be desired — it was a challenge to buy Emma Stone as Billie Jean King, to see a very extra Steve Carell in sideburns as Bobby Riggs and not Anchorman's Brick Tamland, and to keep my eyes from rolling at the very glossed-over portrayal of King's lesbianism.

But then there was Natalie Morales. The actor — not the Today show host — first popped on my radar on Parks and Rec and won my heart on the gone-far-too-soon ABC comedy Trophy Wife. She's had arcs on some very other successful TV series, like White Collar, The Newsroom, and Girls, but she hasn't been given a film platform like Battle of the Sexes and seriously, she runs with it.

Her performance as the sarcastic but genuine Rosie Casals, a fellow tennis pro of King's, quietly steals the movie. She nails the nuances of Rosie's clearly coded gayness — Morales herself identifies as queer — and her hilariously dry commentary in the broadcast booth during King and Riggs' big match makes the film's climactic moments all the better. Let this be the role that allows Morales to take the lead. —Jaimie Eitkin

3. Daniela Vega (A Fantastic Woman)

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We hear Vega before we see her, as her character Marina croons a deceptively upbeat song about a wayward lover while her current one, a much older man named Orlando (Francisco Reyes), watches her with rapt attention. She sings with panache and wit, but when Marina steps offstage, her demeanor grows quiet, almost shy. When Orlando suddenly dies of an aneurysm, we begin to understand why: Marina is trans (as is Vega), and we watch her struggle to grieve her beloved's death as the police treat her with suspicion and Orlando's family treats her with contempt (and worse). Co-writer-director Sebastián Lelio rarely takes his camera off of Vega's face, and Vega's subtle, emotionally intricate performance commands our attention and fills our hearts. —Adam B. Vary

4. Calum Worthy (Bodied)

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Calum Worthy is not exactly an obvious pick to play a battle rapper. Worthy is a reedy Canadian 26-year-old who, prior to his starring role in Joseph Kahn's Bodied, was best known as a Disney Channel alum, having played one of the non-titular stars of Austin & Ally. But in Kahn's button-pushing comedy, Worthy gets placed front and center as a Berkeley grad student named Adam who goes from writing a dissertation on the battle rap scene to becoming a part of it, making the transition from gawky white academic observer to gawky white participant an improbably good conversion.

The believability of his unlikely transformation is what holds the film together as it walks a provocative line between argument on behalf of free speech and exploration about the power words have to inflict wounds. Adam comes to revel in the everything's-on-the-table liberty of the battle rap arena without understanding that what's said inside it can still have consequences. He's half scrappy underdog, half rising troll, and it's a mesmerizing combo. —Alison Willmore

5. Mamoudou Athie (Unicorn Store)

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Brie Larson’s original plan for her charming, whimsical directorial debut was to cast an unknown actor in the lead role of Kit. Though Larson ended up playing the role herself, she’s been vocal about her desire to showcase new and diverse talent in her future work — and casting Mamoudou Athie as her love interest, Virgil, in Unicorn Store is certainly a solid step in an exciting direction.

Soft-spoken and quietly magnetic, Athie — who was named a 2017 TIFF Rising Star and whose past work includes roles in The Get Down and Patti Cake$ —plays Virgil with charming cynicism. He’s outwardly prickly but secretly empathetic, grounding Kit’s willful eccentricity and optimism. Yes, he thinks you’re insane for thinking you’re about to adopt a real unicorn, but ugh, fine, he’ll help you build a stable for it. —Keely Flaherty

6. Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird)

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Chalamet turned in fantastic performances in not one but two TIFF standout films — Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name and Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. Already the darling of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Guadagnino’s film about the beauty and heartache of first love continues to gain steam on its way to awards season — and it’s thanks in no small part to the film’s beating heart, 17-year-old Elio, played by 21-year-old Chalamet.

Chalamet perfectly captures Elio’s incisive intelligence and insecurity. Opposite Armie Hammer, who plays his 24-year-old love interest, Oliver, Elio gives next-level looks of longing as he watches his crush get handsy with a girl on the dance floor. He broodily strums a guitar poolside, trying to get Oliver to glance his way just for a second. And then, of course, there’s the erotic peach scene. I won’t ruin it for you, but trust me: Chalamet nails it.

In Lady Bird, Chalamet visits the opposite end of the emotional spectrum as Kyle, an emotionally aloof high school musician who refuses to get a cell phone. Impossibly cool and with a book perpetually in hand, Kyle hasn’t given someone a longing look in his life. That's precisely what makes him irresistible to Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan). Chalamet is admittedly much more winning as Elio, but it’s impressive that he can pull off equally convincing performances as both a lovesick teen and a teenage dirtbag within the same film festival. —Keely Flaherty

7. Brooklynn Prince and Valeria Cotto (The Florida Project)

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It'd be cruel to have to pick between these young stars, who carry the heartbreaking The Florida Project from jaw-dropping start to heartbreaking finish. Director Sean Baker told BuzzFeed News that he wanted his film about hidden homelessness to first and foremost be entertaining, to be a kids' summer adventure from the top. With Prince as foul-mouthed Moonee and Cotto as the new girl Jancey, we see the sticky-fingered expanses of their dire housing situation. They've got spirit, yes they do. "I will be an actress forever. I get to meet more people," Prince told BuzzFeed News after the TIFF premiere, before an enthusiastic aside: "Hey, Dad, can I take my shoes off?" —Katie Hasty

8. Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird)

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Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is a delight for a number of reasons, and chief among them is her winning cast. Saoirse Ronan carries the film as Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson, and she’s bolstered by fantastic supporting roles from Odeya Rush, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, and the ridiculously charming Beanie Feldstein.

Feldstein shines as Julie, Lady Bird’s introverted, smart, theater-nerd best friend who’s deeply relatable without becoming a run-of-the-mill high school archetype. She nails the cringey awkwardness of a high school musical audition, tugging at her sweatshirt sleeves self-consciously, and is a delight to watch in the low-budget production of Merrily We Roll Along (made even more hilarious by the fact that Feldstein is currently starring in Hello Dolly on Broadway). Julie skips prom to cry on her couch and eat cheese, doesn’t care if people knows she likes Dave Matthews Band, and only crushes on her math teacher. She is, in short, the modern hero we deserve. —Keely Flaherty

9. Simon Russell Beale (The Death of Stalin)

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There are too many delicious performances in The Death of Stalin, the new film from Veep creator Armando Iannucci, to choose a favorite. There's Jason Isaacs playing Georgy Zhukov like a returning-from-a-suspension jerk of a football coach, or Jeffrey Tambor playing Georgy Malenkov as a quavery-jowled narcissist, or Andrea Riseborough as the brokenhearted but side-eyeing Svetlana Stalina.

But if there is a center of the film, it's found in Lavrentiy Beria as played by Simon Russell Beale, a stage legend who's finally been given the onscreen showcase he deserves. It's Beale who embodies The Death of Stalin's black-souled style of comedy, as the chief of Stalin's secret police, blithely overseeing a reign of terror and murder and strategically calling a halt to it just as easily. He's a monster as toadying official, and the scenes in which he does walk-and-talks through hallways in which people are being tortured and killed offer a singularly hilarious bleakness — brutality turned into bureaucratic mundanity. —Alison Willmore

10. Sam Keeley (The Cured)


Nothing really says "I fucking hated being a zombie" like Sam Keeley's honest face in The Cured. In flashbacks to that time before he turned into a zombie, his ease and smile make his transition and rehab from his undead state all the more shocking. He'll be starring in another fantastical film, The Ashram, and in Measure of a Man with Donald Sutherland and Judy Greer in the near future. —Katie Hasty

11. Bel Powley (Mary Shelley)

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Haifaa al-Mansour’s movie about the Frankenstein author’s young life isn’t quite the unabashed goth extravaganza I was hoping for, but it’s still a solid showcase for its three leads. Elle Fanning takes on the titular role as Mary Shelley, Douglas Booth plays her problematic poet lover Percy Shelley, and Bel Powley turns in a lovely and vulnerable performance as Claire Clairmont, Mary’s stepsister.

Claire mostly serves as Mary and Percy’s perpetual third wheel and, later, Lord Byron’s lover (played by Tom Sturridge as a heartless lothario who’s been too liberal with the eyeliner), but 25-year-old Powley manages to give her appreciable depth. “I didn’t know that Claire existed!” Powley told BuzzFeed News after the film’s premiere. “There’s nothing about her anywhere, other than her maybe mothering Byron’s child. The only interesting information about her is about the men in her life.” —Keely Flaherty

12. Madison Wolfe (I Kill Giants)

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Zoe Saldana is the big-draw name in this film about magic, grief, and the hardships of childhood, but 14-year-old Madison Wolfe carries the story squarely on her shoulders. Wolfe plays Barbara, a wildly self-aware and willfully antisocial teenager who may or may not be a real-life giant slayer. Barbara spends her days setting traps and laying talismans to protect her small New Jersey beach town from the treacherous magical realm she believes can and will collide with reality at any moment.

We spend most of the movie wondering if Barbara really is the town’s protector burdened with magical powers, or just a whip-smart teen who’s creatively dealing with some unspoken grief — she lives with her two older siblings, and any mention of their parents is quickly glossed over. Her scenes with Saldana, who plays the school therapist, are a treat, and even though the movie loses its pacing in the the third act, Wolfe convincingly carries her character arc through to the movie’s heart-wrenching end. —Keely Flaherty