5 young actors to look out for at cannes

As we predict film’s breakout faces of 2016, these stars of tomorrow might just be catapulted to superstardom following their appearance on the Croisette.

by Oliver Lunn
12 May 2016, 12:43pm

Cannes is where the world's biggest actors — the megastars of movies — head to unveil their latest awards-bait. It's also the place where fresh-faced actors, if they're lucky, hit a confident stride as their faces light up the big screen, their performances declaring: "Hey critics, hey everyone, I've arrived." Cannes is a vast arena in which these young thesps can show off their acting chops. It can kick open the doors for them; they can go from unknown to known in an instant, from that guy who used to take the bus every day, to that guy who never takes the bus because of crazed selfie-seeking fans.

Amid the star wattage at this year's festival — and there is enough of it to ensure the Croisette is visible from outer space — are the newcomers with meager IMDb credits under their belt, the small fish in the big pond. Meet the up-and-coming actors on our radar this year. Step aside, Clooney.

Eric Ruffin in The Transfiguration
One of the most buzzed about films at this year's Cannes is billed as an "atmospheric tale about love, loss and vampires." Meaning it's basically an indie vampire romance in the vein of Let the Right One In. It's called The Transfiguration and little is known about its first-time filmmaker, Michael O'Shea, or its relatively unknown cast. We do know that Eric Ruffin is the young lead. He plays 14-year-old Milo, an orphan from New York City who escapes loneliness by immersing himself in the world of vampires. Because vampires are so comforting, right? Ruffin previously starred in a few episodes of The Good Wife but has no major movie credits under his belt yet. With the anticipation surrounding this film building, that could all change in a few days. The Transfiguration, which was shot on location in NYC, is a teen movie as much as it is a vampire movie, says its director. It's clearly one to watch.

Josh Wiggins in Mean Dreams
Another fresh face set to make a splash is 17-year-old Josh Wiggins. The Texas-born actor stars in Mean Dreams, a coming-of-ager directed by Canadian filmmaker Nathan Morlando. In the film Wiggins plays Jonas, a teen from a broken home who strikes up a relationship with Casey, also from a broken home. Together they steal a load of drug money from Casey's dad who's a corrupt police officer. Then, naturally, they head for the open road. The indie thriller is a tale of first love and life on the run, and it looks great. Wiggins first landed on screens in 2014's Hellion, but with the world's eyes on Cannes this week, Mean Dreams might hoist him up a few more rungs on the ladder of stardom.

Image via Instagram

Pyotr Skvortsov in The Student
One of the more daring foreign offerings on this year's menu, The Student is a Russian teen drama adapted from Marius von Mayenburg's controversial play "Martyr". Directed by Kirill Serebrennikov, it follows Veniamin (Pyotr Skvortsov), a disillusioned teen who struggles to fit in at school. So far it sounds like fairly well-trodden ground. But then you learn the reason why he's ostracized: he's obsessed with The Bible. While the rest of his classmates get drunk, do drugs, and have sex, the troubled Veniamin undergoes a spiritual crisis that pushes him to adopt a strict stance on the world. If this clip is anything to go by, newcomer Pyotr Skvortsov has got that steely ascetic glare down to a T. It's unsettling, and it was clearly a challenging role for the young actor. You can catch this one in the festival's Un Certain Regard strand.

George MacKay in Captain Fantastic
In Matt Ross's upcoming indie flick, 24-year-old English actor George MacKayplays Viggo Mortensen's son. Before that, when he was just 10 years old, he played one of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan, his first role. Then, once he grew into his rough-around-the-edges look, he bagged a role in Duane Hopkins' gritty social realist drama Bypass. But still, he hadn't made waves across the Atlantic. Now, in the offbeat indie that received rave reviews at Sundance, his star is rising. The film is about the unconventional upbringing of six kids whose father raises them alone in the forest. It doesn't look as creepy as that sounds though. In fact the poster, which features the family next to a VW camper, makes it look more like a Little Miss Sunshine-style comedy; while the trailer makes it look sweet but not treacly.

Jared Gilman in Paterson
Though Jared Gilman's baby face was first seen in Moonrise Kingdom four years ago, it's still fresh and somewhat androgynous. Since playing Sam Shakusky in Wes Anderson's film (he was just 11 at the time), Gilman raked in three more movie credits, but nothing of note. That is, until recently when the 17-year-old landed a role in Jim Jarmusch's Paterson alongside Adam Driver. Not much is known about Gilman's role other than he plays a student, while Adam Driver plays a New Jersey bus driver and aspiring poet. Intriguingly the cast also includes Kara Hayward, Gilman's co-star in Moonrise. Both are squarely on our radar this year. Keep your ear to the ground.



Text Oliver Lunn

Cannes 2016
Captain Fantastic
mean dreams
the student
the transfiguration