The Top 10 Breakout Stars of 2015

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It can be hard to stand out in Hollywood, but every year a crop of fresh faces show up to surprise, move, and entertain us. 2015 was no exception, with a lot of excellent newcomers across both film and television. Whether they delivered some impressive performances, or played an iconic character, these are the names on everyone’s lips. Without further ado, here are the year’s biggest breakouts:



Photo Credit: Shameik Moore (Dope):

As if getting your first lead role isn’t exciting enough, Shameik Moore’s star-making turn happened to be in one of the biggest hits of the summer. As Malcolm, he brings a charming sense of honesty to Dope‘s fast-paced, hip-hop-fueled universe. His character might be a total geek, but Moore’s performance was one of the coolest things around this year.
Up Next: The 70s-set TV show The Get Down.



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9. Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service):

Matthew Vaughn’s gleefully action-packed Kingsman is one of 2015’s most underrated comedies. At its center was Taron Egerton as Eggsy, a flawed, but caring young man who tries to cover his troubled upbringing with a devilish grin. Egerton is relatively unknown in the States, but after seeing him in this film, his leading man status is more than solidified.
Up Next: Billionaire Boys Club starring Kevin Spacey and Emma Roberts, Robin Hood: Origins, and, of course, Kingsman 2.



Photo Credit: Teyonah Parris (Chi-Raq):

You might recognize Teyonah Parris as Dawn, the secretary from Mad Men, or even from last year’s acclaimed satire Dear White People. Still, you’ve never seen her in command the screen the way she does in Spike Lee’s latest effort Chi-Raq. The film is wild and unpredictable, but Parris is able to hold her own, especially against heavyweights like Angela Bassett, John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jennifer Hudson. This is one girl you don’t want to mess with.
Up Next: The family drama Where Children Play, and the third season of her Starz show Survivor’s Remorse.



Photo Credit: Alicia Vikander (Ex MachinaThe Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Danish Girl):

Is there any movie Alicia Vikander wasn’t in this year? Okay, so there were definitely a few, but the actress has made an impressive resume for herself in a short amount of time. As the tortured robot in Ex Machina, she’s absolutely haunting. In Guy Ritchie’s reboot of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.she’s fun and fearless. In The Danish Girl, she’s awards season catnip. Miss Vikander’s star isn’t just rising, it’s soaring miles above the competition.
Up Next: The period piece Tulip Fever alongside Christoph Waltz, Cara Delevigne, and Judy Dench, The Light Between Oceans with Michael Fassbender, and the next Jason Bourne sequel.


Photo Credit:,0,214,317_AL_.jpg6. Shiri Appleby (UnREAL):

The theatrics on UnREAL‘s reality show within a show were certainly entertaining, but what made this series so endlessly watchable was the drama unfolding behind the scenes. Causing most of the chaos is Rachel, a character who’s simultaneously racked with guilt over her dubious decisions, and a heartless manipulator. In order to nail this down, the show needed a real ace in the whole, and boy did they find one in Shiri Applebe. Her breezy line delivery suggests a surface-level casualness that’s undercut with a bubbling sense of severity. It’s simply mesmerizing to watch.
Up Next: UnREAL season 2!


Photo Credit:,0,214,317_AL_.jpg5. Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt):

There’s no way you can watch Unbreakable without falling in love with Tituss Burgess’ Titus Andromedon. Whether it’s his instantly quotable lines (“But I already did something today!”), his excellent physical comedy (Werewolf transformation anyone?), or just the comedic brilliance of his club jam Peeno Noir, he steals just about every scene he’s in. Burgess may hail from the world of musical theater—and boy, does he have the voice to prove it—but his comedic chops on Unbreakable prove he’s just as at home on a sitcom set as he is on a stage.
Up Next: More Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.


Photo Credit: Brie Larson & Jacob Tremblay (Room):

Okay, so, I’m cheating here, but Room is a film about the unbreakable bond between a mother and son, so these two performances couldn’t really exist without each other. Brie Larson has already made impressive turns in films like Short Term 12 and The Spectacular Now, but Room has proven to be the vehicle that’s finally unleashed her formidable talent unto the world. Jacob Tremblay, on the other hand, is a total newcomer, but the emotional range he displays in this film about captivity and freedom is nothing short of revelatory. It’s no wonder that they’re both awards season frontrunners.
Up Next: Kong: Skull Island for Larson, and The Book of Henry for Tremblay.


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3. Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)-

Where has Rachel Bloom been hiding all this time? Though it seems like the multi-hyphenate actress came out of nowhere, she’s actually been gracing YouTube with her comedic and musical prowess for a while now. Still, nothing compares to her absolutely delightful new gig as star and co-creator of the CW hit Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Bloom has excellent comedic timing, can nail a killer tune, and is able to imbue her character with the perfect mix of insecurity and bold determination. The only thing crazy about Bloom is how crazy talented she is.
Up Next: Finishing up the first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Oh, and a little awards ceremony called The Golden Globes.


Photo Credit: Daisey Ridley & John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)-

Yes, yes, I know. Cheating again. Still, in a franchise as beloved as Star Wars, it’s incredibly impressive that two different newcomers were able to hold their own against fan favorites like Han, Luke, and Leia. Daisey Ridley is a hero worth rooting for, giving Rey shades of vulnerability in between her epic moments of bravery. Boyega, on the other hand, is fantastic comic relief, but his noble demeanor might win over a few hearts as well. These two star in the biggest film of 2015, so there’s no chance you’ll stop hearing about them anytime soon.
Up Next: More Star Wars (duh).


Photo Credit: Rami Maleck (Mr. Robot)-

Voiceover narration can often be a cheap storytelling device, as it directly tells you what a character is thinking instead of showing you through his or her actions. That being said, Rami Maleck may be the first actor to turn narration into an art form. The voiceovers on the cyber-thriller Mr. Robot are just as important as the action on screen, and the casual line delivery of Elliot’s thoughts are a nice juxtaposition to Maleck’s wide-eyed performance. Mr. Robot is easily one of the most interesting shows of 2015, with the potential to become even better in the future. This is thanks in no small part to Maleck, who knows how to give his cynical hacker a soul.
Up Next: Mr. Robot season 2 and the lead role in the upcoming Buster’s Mal Heart.



So, what do you think of our breakout stars list? Were we spot-on or dead wrong? Who were your favorite stars of 2015? Sound off in the comments below!


By Mike Papirmeister

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