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18 Up and Coming Young Actors Who Are Big in Indie Films Right Now

Whether they've acted in supporting or lead roles, these young stars have grown to be familiar faces in independent films in recent years - and they all have mind-blowing potential.

Timothée Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Lucas Hedges

Who is he?

22-year-old American actor and son of Peter Hedges, screenwriter of About A Boy and What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

Where have I seen him?

He's Patrick in Manchester By The Sea, first boyfriend Danny in Lady Bird, and he played Frances McDormand's son in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. He also played the lead role in Boy, Erased and his performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

What's next for him?

Great things lie ahead for this young drama actor. See him next in Honey Boy written by Shia LoBeouf, premiering at Sundance this month. 

Daniel Kaluuya

Who is he?

29-year-old British actor and writer who first gained recognition when he starred as Posh Kenneth in UK drama series Skins.

Where have I seen him?

He wowed audiences as Chris Washington in Jordan Peele's Get Out, and most recently he played W'Kabi in Black Panther.

What's next for him?

After being nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Get Out, it's fair to say that Daniel is definitely one to watch. He is set to star in upcoming film Queen & Slim, which is written by Lena Waithe, producer of Dear White People.

Sasha Lane

Who is she?

23-year-old American actress whose acting debut in American Honey landed her a British Independent Film Award.

Where have I seen her?

She played the lead role in Andrea Arnold's racy drama American Honey alongside Shia LaBeouf, and most recently she starred as Jane in The Miseducation Of Cameron Post and Rose in Hearts Beat Loud.

What's next for her?

Sasha is starring in the upcoming Hellboy reboot, and is playing a lead role in upcoming indie thriller Daniel Isn't Real. 

Caleb Landry Jones

Who is he?

29-year-old Texas born American actor who started off his career in small roles, and then moved on to acting more prominent roles in films such as X-Men: First Class and Jordan Peele’s Get Out.

Where have I seen him?

He played Jeremy, the younger brother of Rose Armitage in Get Out, featured as Jack in indie drama The Florida Project, and most recently starred as Red Welby in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

What's next for him?

Caleb is featuring in Jim Jarmusch’s upcoming project The Dead Don’t Die alongside Adam Driver, and he is also set to star in The Kindness Of Strangers, written and directed by Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig. 

Timothée Chalamet

Who is he?

Perhaps currently the most talked-about actor under the age of 30, 23-year-old Timothée has quickly risen to stardom over the last few years after he played the lead role in the Oscar-nominated Call Me By Your Name.

Where have I seen him?

Timothée launched his career with supporting roles, including one in Interstellar, but you will most likely remember him for his performance in Call Me By Your Name as Elio Perlman. He also played Kyle in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, and most recently Nic Sheff in Beautiful Boy.

What's next for him?

Timothée's performance in Beautiful Boy has already won him awards, and it's looking likely the film will earn him a few more. He is also going to be starring in Woody Allen’s new film A Rainy Day In New York and Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women

Amandla Stenberg

Who is she?

20-year-old American actress, musician, and feminist who was first noticed when she played Rue in The Hunger Games

Where have I seen her?

She played Maddy in Everything, Everything and Ruby in The Darkest Minds, but she has gained the most recognition for playing the lead role as Starr Carter in George Tillman Jr's The Hate U Give, which premiered last year. 

What's next for her?

Most recently she starred in war film Where Hands Touch, which has sparked controversy over the past couple of months. Although there is not any news of immediate upcoming projects for Amandla, her stunning performance in The Hate U Give will surely land her some more leading roles soon—watch this space. 

Lakeith Stanfield

Who is he?

27-year-old American actor and rapper who made his feature film debut as Marcus in Short Term 12, for which he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. 

Where have I seen him?

Lakeith has quite a successful record of supporting roles under his belt—he played activist Jimmie Jackson in Selma, he was Snoop Dogg in Straight Outta Compton, and he was Andre Hayworth in Get Out. Most recently, he played the lead in black indie comedy Sorry To Bother You, which has received critical acclaim.

What's next for him?

Catch him in upcoming mystery drama Knives Out alongside Daniel Craig and Jamie Lee Curtis, and indie dramedy Uncut Gems directed by The Safdie Brothers. 

Elsie Fisher

Who is she?

An award winner at only 15-years-old, Elsie Fisher is an American actress who's got Sundance-goers talking. 

Where have I seen her?

She burst onto the indie scene as awkward teenager Kayla in Bo Burnham's critically acclaimed directorial debut Eighth Grade, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. You may have also seen her in The Axe Murders Of Villisca and Disney's McFarland. 

What's next for her?

She is the voice of Parker Needler in the upcoming animated production of The Addams Family alongside Chloë Grace Moretz and Charlize Theron, and she is also set to star in a film based on all-female rock band The Shaggs

Bel Powley

Who is she?

26-year-old British actress who takes after her father, British actor Mark Powley. She launched her career by starring in British sitcoms such as Benidorm, but over last 3 years she's become a familiar face on the American films scene. 

Where have I seen her?

You will remember her playing the lead as Minnie in the racy coming-of-age drama The Diary Of A Teenage Girl, as Carrie Pilby in the indie movie of the same name, and she starred as Anna in fantasy-drama movie Wildling

What's next for her?

Her newest film Ashes In The Snow is currently out in cinemas across the US, and you can also see her playing Holly in Amazon Prime original series Informer.

John David Washington

Who is he?

34-year-old American actor, previous football running back for the Sacramento Mountain Lions, and son of Denzel Washington. 

Where have I seen him?

You may have seen him as Ricky in the HBO series Ballers, but most recently he stunned audiences with his brilliant lead performance as Ron Stallworth in Spike Lee's Blackkklansman, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination and won him a Hollywood Breakthrough Award. 

What's next for him?

Great things lie ahead for this young actor and we are bound to see him in more leading roles soon. You will probably spot him at the 91st Academy Awards on 24th February as Blackkklansman has been nominated for six Oscars.

Zoe Kazan

Who is she?

35-year-old actress, writer, partner of Paul Dano and granddaughter of director Elia Kazan.

Where have I seen her?

She wrote and acted the lead role in Ruby Sparks, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. She also starred in romantic drama What If alongside Daniel Radcliffe and as Emily in Kumail Nanjiani's critically acclaimed The Big Sick

What's next for her?

Along with Caleb Landry Jones, Zoe is also starring in Lone Scherfig's upcoming drama The Kindness Of Strangers, which will premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on 7 February. 

Joe Alwyn

Who is he?

He's only been in seven films, but already 27-year-old British actor Joe Alwyn is making headlines and has quickly risen to fame over the last three years.

Where have I seen him?

His first film role was a major one, playing Billy in Ang Lee's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. He's also Samuel in the recently Oscar-nominated The Favourite, Henry in Boy, Erased and Robert Dudley in Mary Queen Of Scots. You may have also spotted him hanging off the arm of Taylor Swift on numerous occasions. 

What's next for him?

He is starring in the upcoming biopic based on the life of Harriet Tubman, Harriet, which can be seen at cinemas later this year. 

Helena Howard

Who is she?

Discovered by Josephine Decker at a Teen Arts Festival in 2014, Helena Howard stunned Decker with what she reported to be "the best performance she'd ever seen in her life." She invited her to play the lead role in her film and since this, 20-year-old Helena has been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.

Where have I seen her?

The role that got her nominated for an Independent Spirit Award was playing Madeline in last year's Madeline's Madeline, a beautifully disorientating drama about a teenage actress with mental health issues. 

What's next for her?

She is starring as Hannah in short thriller Twist and as Cleo in upcoming comedy Shoplifters Of The World.  

Kaitlyn Dever

Who is she?

With a number of successful supporting roles under her belt, 22-year-old Kaitlyn Dever is definitely one to watch. 

Where have I seen her?

You may remember her from Short Term 12, as Karen in Detroit, as Hildy in Outside In and most recently you may have seen her playing Andrea alongside Hugh Jackman in The Front Runner and Lauren in Beautiful Boy

What's next for her?

Her most recent film Them That Follow had its Sundance premiere this month, and she will be starring in upcoming comedy Booksmart directed by Life Itself's Olivia Wilde—Booksmart hits theatres in May. 

Charlie Plummer

Who is he?

19-year-old American actor who started his career at the age of 12 in Boardwalk Empire; as he grew, so did his experience of acting in films as well as television.  

Where have I seen him?

After Boardwalk, he played teenager Jack in the coming-of-age drama King Jack. He then went on to win awards for his performance as Charley in A24's Lean On Pete and starred in thriller The Clovehitch Killer which had its premiere at the LA Film Festival in September 2018.

What's next for him?

Charlie has been busy, and this is evident through the fact there are three films premiering this year in which he is playing lead roles—one is Share which had its Sundance premiere this month, another is Gully, and the third is Words On Bathroom Walls, based on the novel by Julia Walton.

Morgan Saylor

Who is she?

24-year-old American actress who you will recognise as the daughter of Nicholas Brody in Homeland

What have I seen her in?

Since Homeland Morgan has acted primarily in indie drama movies, and these include Jamie Marks Is Dead, Being Charlie, and Elizabeth Wood's steamy cocaine-addled flick White Girl. Most recently, she played the lead female role in heartwarming indie Anywhere With You (AKA We The Coyotes).

What's next for her?

Morgan plays Mary in upcoming drama Blow The Man Down, which is currently in the stages of post-production. 

Alex Wolff

Who is he?

21-year-old American actor and musician who all of you Nickelodeon kids will be familiar with if you watched The Naked Brothers Band—it was Alex's first time acting in a TV series and he was only 9-years-old. 

Where have I seen him?

Aside from Naked Brothers Band you would have seen him as John in My Friend Dahmer, Spencer in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (before he transforms into Dwayne Johnson) and he played Peter in Hereditary

What's next for him?

Alex has recently directed and written his own film The Cat And The Moon which he stars in, and this is in post-production. He is currently filming drama film Human Capital.  

Laia Costa

Who is she?

33-year-old Spanish actress born in Barcelona who has played leading roles in a number of independent films, some of which are Spanish and German.

Where have I seen her?

She played the lead role in Victoria, a German thriller which premiered worldwide in 2015, and most recently she starred as Isabel in Amazon Studios' Life Itself. If you're a regular watcher of indie films on Netflix, you may have seen also seen her in the saucy drama Newness and Duplass Brothers production Duck Butter.

What's next for her?

See her in upcoming horror indie Piercing, which is set to be released next month, and romantic drama Only You

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