Young Faces in Movies
It feels like a breath of fresh air to see so many new faces among the young protagonists of movies released in 2018, and they come in a variety of ethnicities and nationalities, which is a reflection of our vitally multicultural American society.
Elsie Fisher, 15, from California, plays a 13-year-old middle schooler who posts videos on YouTube in Eighth Grade (2018), written and directed by Bo Burhnam, 28.
Thomasin McKenzie, 18, from Wellington, New Zealand, is the daughter of a Vietnam vet (Ben Foster) in Leave No Trace directed by Debra Granik from the 2010 novel My Abandonment by Peter Rock.
Danielle Macdonald, 27, from Sydney, Australia, played a rapper in Patti Cake$ (2017). She is Jennifer Aniston’s daughter in Dumplin’ by Anne Fletcher, an overweight teenager who enters a beauty contest inspired by Dolly Parton, a pregnant woman who bonds with an equally pregnant Sandra Bullock in Bird Box by Susanne Bier.
Trevante Rhodes, 28, from Texas, had acted in Moonlight (2017) by Barry Jenkins. He plays Sandra Bullock’s lover in Bird Box directed by Susanne Bier from the 2014 novel by Josh Malerman.
Millicent “Millie” Simmonds, 15, from Utah, acted in Wonderstruck (2017) by Todd Haynes, she is the deaf teenage daughter in A Quiet Place by John Krasinski.
Richie Merritt, 15, from Baltimore, Maryland, plays Richard Wershe, a teenage FBI informant, in White Boy Rick with Matthew McConaughey as his arms-dealer father. Bel Powley, 28, from London, who acted in The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015) by Marielle Heller, is his heroin-addicted sister.
Isabela Moner, 17, born in Cleveland, Ohio of a Peruvian mother, is a teenager adopted by foster parents (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) in Instant Family, the kidnapped daughter in Sicario: Day of the Soldado.
Awkwafina, 30, born Nora Lum in Queens, New York, is Chinese-American. She plays a pickpocket in Ocean’s 8 with Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, Constance Wu’s college friend from Singapore in Crazy Rich Asians.
Henry Golding, 31, born in Malaysia, raised in England, stars with Constance Wu in Crazy Rich Asians (2018) directed by Jon Chu from the 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan, with Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick in A Simple Favor (2018) by Paul Feig.
Amandla Stenberg, 20, from Los Angeles, plays a teenager who witnesses her friend being shot by a policeman in The Hate U Give. She was featured on the cover of TIME magazine as a Next Generation Leader.
Nick Robinson, 23, from Seattle, who co-starred with Amandla Stenberg in Everything, Everything (2017), is a gay teenager in Love, Simon by Greg Berlanti.
Elizabeth Debicki, 28, from Melbourne, Australia, plays a battered wife turned prostitute in Widows by Steve McQueen.
Cynthia Erivo, 31, born in London of Nigerian parents, is a singer in Bad Times at El Royal with Jeff Bridges, a hairdresser in Widows by Steve McQueen with Viola Davis.
KiKi Layne, 26, from Cincinnati, Ohio, and Stephan James, 25, born in Toronto Canada of Jamaican parents, play the young lovers in If Beale Street Could Talk directed by Barry Jenkins from the 1974 novel by James Baldwin. James was civil rights activist John Lewis in Selma (2013) and 1936 Olympic medalist Jesse Owens in Race (2016), he acts with Julia Roberts in TV series Homecoming by Sam Esmail.
John David Washington, 34, son of Denzel Washington, plays Ron Stallworth, the African-American detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in mid-70s Colorado Springs, in BlacKkKlansman by Spike Lee. His activist friend is played by Laura Harrier, 28, from Chicago, sporting an Angela Davis afro.
Joe Alwyn, 27, from London, acted in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016) by Ang Lee. He is the lover of Queen Elizabeth (Margot Robbie) in Mary Queen of Scots, the husband of Abigail (Emma Stone) in The Favourite by Yorgos Lanthimos, the college boy who assaults Garrard Conley (Lucas Edges) in Boy Erased by Joel Edgerton.
Lucas Hedges, 22, born in New York, acted in Manchester by the Sea (2016) by Kenneth Lonergan, plays a college freshman sent to gay conversion therapy by his parents (Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe) in Boy Erased directed by Joel Edgerton from the 2016 memoir by Garrard Conley, the drug-addicted son of Julia Roberts in Ben is Back, directed by his father Peter Hedges.
Timothée Chalamet, 23, born in New York from a French father, was a sensation last year in Call Me by Your Name by Luca Guadagnino, he confirms his talent in Beautiful Boy with Steve Carell, based on books written by father and son David and Nic Sheff, about meth addiction.
We have to mention two stand-out young performers in foreign films: Victor Polster, 16, in the Belgian movie Girl by first time director Lukas Dhont, 25, and Yalitza Aparicio, 24, from Oaxaca, Mexico, as the nanny in Roma by Alfonso Cuáron.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elisa Leonelli, a photo-journalist and film critic, member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, interviews directors and movie stars, as well as artists, musicians and writers, for international and domestic publications. Formerly Film Editor of VENICE, Los Angeles Arts and Entertainment magazine, currently Los Angeles Correspondent for the Italian film monthly BEST MOVIE, author of the critical essay, "Robert Redford and the American West."