The Top 12 Breakthrough Actors Of 2014


One of the most enjoyable experiences of reporting on the world of arts and entertainment is the discovery of the new. As much as one can mock certain savvy culture enthusiasts (I will not use the “H” word here) for liking entertainers before they hit it big, many of us are on the lookout for the next big star.

Of course, with so many terrific performances coming from the world of film and television this year, it was hard to narrow down a list of breakout actors. I decided to leave off some actors and personalities who had received much attention for their other work although reached their career’s creative apex this year. (John Oliver and Rosamund Pike will not be found here, for instance.) Some of the people featured in this list had never starred in anything before 2014, while others crossed over to greater notoriety with a certain big performance (or two). There were so many noteworthy debuts this year, that in preparation of this feature, I had to tune into a few shows I did not regularly watch to confirm that a certain actor merited the spot.

There are a couple of recurring factors in this list. As several of the performers here indicate, 2014 was a big year for funny women in both television and film. Although women are still not headlining enough big screen comedies, many are tearing it up on the small screen. Meanwhile, a few of the young males who appear on this list made it due to their standout roles in some of the year’s biggest ensembles. Even if they did not get much screen time, these young lads left an indelible impression.

So, here are 12 breakthrough actors of 2014 that resonated with audiences on the big and small screens. Since it is impossible for one writer to go through all of the films and series from the past 365 days, there are sure to be a few oversights. Mark those blind spots to my ignorance and feel free to comment below with your additions.