The Destined Dozen: Television Stars Destined for Greater Things

destined dozenWe at Gunaxin have been profiling some of the best young actresses working in entertainment today. We started with the Top Ten Young Actresses, examining the best under thirty talent in the industry. People were familiar with many of the names on that list, as to be expected with great young talent. So to complement that post, we created our Top Ten Up and Coming Actresses to look at actresses on the cusp of stardom. The idea was to give people a heads up on some of the stars of tomorrow and give them some names they might not be familiar with.

Throughout our examination, however, we’ve overlooked one large segment of the industry, a medium where a ton of talented young actresses work. That medium is television. Due to grueling schedules and timing of filming a TV series, most actresses don’t have the time to fit much feature film work in, let alone find that right movie to break out in. With a lack of feature film work, we ended up excluding many great names from our other two posts.

Now is the time for those television actresses to get their recognition. We think the following dozen actresses have all the necessary talent to do even greater work than they’re doing now. And by that we mean moving over to do feature film work. Not that there’s anything wrong with television work. If anything, TV is at its creative peak, allowing for fantastic shows like Mad Men, Lost, Dexter, The Tudors, and many others. We’re not trying to insult television work. Yet we recognize that movies remain the pinnacle of the entertainment industry.  You see people leave television shows to do feature films, recent examples include Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, and Jessica Alba. You don’t see it the other way around, unless someone needs the work. Movies seem to be where the big money and fame is located, and the top actresses gravitate to that medium.

Of all the ladies currently working in television, we feel these twelve have the potential to do that something more. Please note, that if you’re looking for Amanda Seyfried, currently on HBO’s Big Love, we already profiled over here and decided not to include her again and be repetitive. So here are our Destined Dozen:

12. Evangeline Lilly

lilly11 225x300Ranking Lilly on a list like this is difficult. She has the talent and looks to be ranked much higher, but does she have the ambition? People around her have noted her desire for privacy and the fact that she does not seek the limelight. In fact, she has stated that she lives in a “bubble”, and that she is not familiar with pop culture nor does she own a TV.  With Lost in its final few seasons, will we see Lilly move on to major motion pictures or will she fade from the public eye? Time will have to tell on that one. But until her future becomes more certain, we’ll keep her a little farther down this list than she could otherwise rank.

Major Television Roles: Lost, Kate Austen (2004-present)

Select Filmography: Lilly’s movie roles to date have amounted to little more than scenery. Lost was her first speaking role, although she does appear in the French-Canadian psychological thriller Afterwards which is currently being released around the world.

Upcoming Project: The Hurt Locker, an intense portrayal of a bomb squad that must disarm bombs in the heat of combat.

11. Missy Peregrym

missy11 170x300This Canadian actress and former fashion model began modeling at the age of eighteen. The modeling career opened doorways to appear in commercials and later a number of television guest spots. A self described tomboy, she was heavily involved in high school athletics, including soccer, snowboarding, basketball, and other assorted outdoor sports. The athleticism came in handy for her first film role, as it required a working knowledge of gymnastics. She broke through at the age of twenty-five with a reoccurring role on Season 2 of Heroes, and was subsequently cast as the female lead in the CW’s fantasy drama Reaper. Peregrym is at the beginning of what could be a very successful career.

Major Television RolesHeroes, Candice Wilmer (2007); Reaper, Andi Prendergast (2007-present)

Select Filmography: Although Peregrym appeared in an uncredited role in the bomb Catwoman, she effectively made her film debut playing the lead in Stick It, a movie about a rebellious teenager who is forced to return to her former life in gymnastics.

Upcoming Project: None currently scheduled.

10. Sophia Bush

sophia11 300x225Bush was the 2000 Tournament of Roses Parade Queen and a junior at USC before landing the role of Brooke Davis on One Tree Hill. Like many young stars, she has sprinkled in several movies in between seasons of the CW drama. She almost had her big break when was cast as Kate Brewster in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, but was replaced because the director thought she was too young. With One Tree Hill winding down in its sixth season, Bush has the opportunity to explore other options in the near future. The hope is that she can transition over to movies like other former UPN and WB (now the CW) stars such as Jessica Biel, Sarah Michelle Gellar, or Katie Holmes. At worst, she can fall back on her sexy voice and provide voice-overs.

Major Television RolesOne Tree Hill, Brooke Davis (2003-present)

Select Filmography: Like many young actresses Bush has appeared in a couple of horror films, including the remake of The Hitcher and Stay Alive. But she’s not just about horror as she was featured in the teen comedy John Tucker Must Die and the action flick Supercross.

Upcoming Project: Table for Three, a comedy about a single guy who invites a couple to move into his apartment, only to become the third wheel and have them involved in all aspects of his life.

9. Katee Sackhoff

katee21 225x300Only twenty-eight, Sackhoff is a ten year veteran of television, earning a number of guest roles and a regular gig on the Richard Dreyfuss vehicle The Education of Max Bickford before landing her current role on Battlestar Galactica. Last season Sackhoff pulled double duty, shooting scenes for both Battlestar and her role on the Bionic Woman remake. Her roles on both shows helped set a standard for action-heroine cool and complexity.  Still, few stars from sci-fi shows, even acclaimed ones, achieve mainstream stardom. Odds don’t favor Sackhoff breaking out, particularly in light of the fact that Battlestar gets low ratings despite its acclaimed status. But don’t count her out just yet. Sackhoff has the rare ability to combine the qualities of strength and vulnerability at once, and already has a cult following from her sci-fi work. With her tenure on Battlestar Galactica coming to a close, she can start the next chapter in her career. Maybe movies are the next step?

Major Television Roles: The Education of Max Bickford, Nell Bickford (2001-2002); Battlestar Galactica, Captain Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace (2004-present); Bionic Woman, Sarah Corvus (2007).

Select Filmography: Sackhoff does not have a lengthy film history, making her motion picture debut in My First Mister, and appearing in film in Halloween: Resurrection as Jenna “Jen” Danzig. She has also done a few made for television movies.

Upcoming Project: None currently scheduled.

8. Olivia Wilde

olivia91 242x300Wilde got her start on short-lived Fox show Skin (most memorable for the line, “His father is the district attorney!” in promos) before breaking out in her role as Alex Kelly, a bisexual, who had a relationship with Mischa Barton’s character Marissa on The O.C. She was later cast in the midseason replacement The Black Donnellys (aptly so because she holds both Irish and U.S. passports) before landing her current gig on House.  Her movie career has less hits on the résumé, although she was given strong consideration to play the Bond girl Vesper Lynd in the 2006 hit Casino Royale, a role that eventually went to Eva Green.

Major Television Roles: Skin, Jewel Goldman (2003-2004); The O.C., Alex Kelly (2004-2005); The Black Donnellys, Jenny Reilly (2007); House, Thirteen/Dr. Remy Hadley (2007-present)

Select Filmography: Wilde has appeared in minor roles in the teen comedy The Girl Next Door alongside Elisha Cuthbert and the true story turned drama Alpha Dog. Her biggest role came in the recent adventure thriller Turistas.

Upcoming Project: The Year One, a comedy with Jack Black and Michael Cera about a couple of lazy hunter-gatherers who set off on an epic journey through the ancient world.

7. Anna Friel

anna12 258x300This British star got her start at the age of 13, kicking off a series of appearances on various British television shows and movies. Her work includes two memorable moments, a lesbian kiss on the soap Brookside and a much discussed ménage à trois scene in the TV film The Tribe. Friel then moved on to work in features, although mainly in smaller rolls, before joining the cast of the Bryan Fuller created drama Pushing Daisies. Friel was nominated for a Golden Globe in the show’s first season. Sadly, as we are publishing this article, word has leaked that Pushing Daisies has been cancelled by ABC. That puts and end to the Charlotte Charles character, but allows Friel to pursue more big screen employment.

Major Television RolesPushing Daisies, Charlotte ‘Chuck’ Charles (2007-present)

Select Filmography: Friel’s largest roles have been as Roz Harmison in the internationally successful Goal! franchise, a series of movies about soccer, and as Lady Claire in the Michael Crichton adaptation Timeline.

Upcoming Project: Land of the Lost, a Will Ferrell comedy about a forest ranger who inadvertently stumbles into a mysterious land populated by dinosaurs and other creatures.

6. Summer Glau

summer31 200x300A professional dancer since age 12, Glau is a classically trained ballerina and knows several other dances. She parlayed her skills into several television commercial appearances before being cast as a ballerina (guess those lessons came in handy) in an episode of Angel.  It was there that she caught the eye of writer/director and show co-creator Joss Whdeon. Whedon would later cast her in his short-lived sci-fi series Firefly. Glau has followed up her role on Firefly with a number of sci-fi shows, furthering her fan base. Although relatively new to the spotlight, Glau’s already won two Saturn Awards (2005 for Serenity and 2008 for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) and in 2008 she was nominated for two Teen Choice Awards. Seems like only a matter of time before we see Glau on the big screen more often.

Major Television Roles: Firefly, River Tam (2002-2003); The Unit, Crystal Burns (2006-2007); The 4400, Tess Doerner (2005-2007); Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron Phillips (2008-present)

Select Filmography: Glau’s movie experience is limited to Serenity, the feature film sequel for Firefly.

Upcoming Project: None currently scheduled.

5. Hayden Panettiere

hayden91 300x225Panettiere started young. I mean real young. She began modeling at the age of four months and started appearing in commercials at age eleven months. At age 6, she landed a role on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live, and two years later landed a role on the CBS soap opera Guiding Light. Several television guess spots, feature films, and made-for-TV movies would follow before Panettiere landed her part on Heroes as a high school cheerleader with regenerative healing powers. And if her live acting résumé was not enough, she does voice work, including providing the voice for Dot in Pixar’s A Bug’s Life and assorted voices in several video games. Oh, and in 1999 Panettiere was nominated for a Grammy. And did I mention she’s not even twenty yet? I think she has a nice career ahead of her.

Major Television Roles: One Life to Live, Sarah Victoria ‘Flash’ Roberts (1994-1997); Guiding Light, Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Spaulding (1996-2000); Ally McBeal, Maddie Harrington (2002); Heroes, Claire Bennet (2006-present)

Select Filmography: In movies, Panettiere was first recognized for her role as Sheryl Yoast, Will Patton’s daughter, in the Disney football film Remember the Titans. She also starred as a (surprise, surprise) cheerleader in the direct to video Bring It On: All or Nothing and appeared in the Kate Hudson romancer Raising Helen.

Upcoming Project: I Love You Beth Cooper, a comedy about a nerdy valedictorian who proclaims his love for the hottest and most popular girl in school.

4. Anna Paquin

anna13 241x300Paquin’s inclusion on this list can certainly be debated. At age 11, she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Jane Campion’s The Piano. That made her the second-youngest Oscar winner in history after Tatum O’Neal (and let’s hope her career turns out better). Paquin followed up her Oscar win with a series of roles, although generally in smaller films and general of a supporting nature. The one major exception was her role as Rogue is the popular X-Men trilogy. If you’ve won an Oscar and appeared in major motion pictures, can you be destined for greater things? In this case I believe the answer is yes. Paquin has yet to become a leading lady in Hollywood, and after headlining the popular HBO vampire drama True Blood, she may be in line for such a promotion.

Major Television Roles: True Blood, Sookie Stackhouse (2008-present)

Select Filmography: In addition to her role in the X-Men trilogy, Paquin may be most recognized for her roles in Fly Away Home, Finding Forrester, and as Polexia Aphrodisi in Almost Famous.

Upcoming Project: Margaret, Paquin co-stars in the Matt Damon drama about a young woman who witnesses a bus accident and is caught up with consequences.

3. Blake Lively

blake61 225x300Lively can thank her brother for her career, as he made his agent send out auditions on her behalf despite her disinterest in acting. One of the auditions landed her the role of Bridget in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie, and Lively’s career was launched. Her first film was only in 2005, but in that short time period Lively’s star has been on a meteoric rise. After a Teen Choice Award nomination for the Pants movie, she really began to gain in popularity last year after landing the starring role on the teen TV series Gossip Girl. This time she won two Teen Choice Awards for her work. With the blonde bombshell only a few years into her career, Lively should have plenty of big roles in the future.

Major Television Roles: Gossip Girl, Serena van der Woodsen (2007-present)

Select Filmography: In addition to her role in the The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie and its sequel, Lively has starred in the college comedy Accepted.

Upcoming Project: The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, a star-studded drama about Pippa Lee a woman who engages in a period of reflection and finds herself heading toward a quiet nervous breakdown.

2. Kristen Bell

kristen21 300x225Bell rose to fame and became best known for her lead role in Veronica Mars, a detective drama where Bell plays the impossibly smart daughter of a private eye that solves crimes Nancy Drew-style. Trust me, it’s a lot better than it may sound. The first season in particular is very compelling television. Bell parlayed that success into some movie parts and a role on Heroes as the electric Elle Bishop. She also provides the narration to the teen hit Gossip Girl. With her Heroes future up in the air, Bell may soon crossover into feature films full time.

Major Television Roles: Veronica Mars, Veronica Mars (2004-2007); Heroes, Elle Bishop (2007-present); Gossip Girl, Narrator (2007-present);

Select Filmography: Bell’s greatest film success came this year for her role in the Judd Apatow comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. She had previously starred in the horror remake Pulse, and for a real treat of a movie check of her brief role in David Mamet’s Spartan. Bell fans may also want to know that the long awaited and long delayed Fanboys should finally be released in February next year. Fanboys is about a group of Star Wars fans that travel to Skywalker Ranch to steal an early copy of Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 1997.

Upcoming Project: Serious Moonlight, a high-powered attorney duct tapes her husband to the toilet right before their home is invaded by burglars.

1. Katherine Heigl

katherine11 239x300Heigl started at age nine as a model before breaking into films in smaller roles. Her real breakthrough, however, was her role on the teen cult hit Roswell. It introduced her to a younger audience and got her noticed in Hollywood circles. After Roswell was cancelled, she took a role on the uber-popular medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. In a weird twist, her characters on Roswell and Grey’s both are named Isabel (although spelled differently). Heigl won a Emmy last year for her work on Grey’s and also broke out in movies with her role in the Apatow helmed comedy Knocked Up. Her choice for number one on this list may be a bit boring due to the fact she’s already sewing the seeds of a Hollywood breakout. However, she can’t be ignored and seems primed to become a major star very soon (and she’s nearly already there).

Major Television Roles: Roswell, Isabel Evans (1999-2002); Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Isobel ‘Izzie’ Stevens (2005-present)

Select Filmography: In addition to Knocked Up, Heigl starred this year in the modest hit 27 Dresses. She also starred in The Ringer, a Johnny Knoxville comedy about pretending to be retarded that has a surprising amount of heart to it.

Upcoming Project: The Ugly Truth, where Heigl stars as a romantically challenged morning show producer who gets caught up in a series of outrageous tests by her chauvinistic correspondent, played by Gerard Butler.