TV.com Top 10: Actors ready for primetime

Let's face it, Hollywood isn't exactly only for talented actors. Several stars weasel their way into the showbiz elite with luck and a good headshot rather than ability. But there are a whole group of people who have been in the business who haven't got their fair shake. But that's about to change. Here are 10 actors we think are poised for stardom (we'll get to the ladies in a later edition).

10. Nick Kroll

Where you've seen him: Cavemen, Worst Week
Yes, we're risking all credibility by saying we actually liked Cavemen, but it's because we like Nick Kroll, and this may finally be his year. A comedian on the alternative comedy circuit, Nick has finally found some gigs that weren't panned before they even aired. He's building a cult following, and that should grow as he continues to lend his voice to two very funny 'toons.
Where we want to see him next: An HBO sketch comedy show...Human Giant 2?
Next Project: As the voice of Andrew LeGustambos in Fox's Sit Down, Shut Up, and the voice of Stu in HBO's Life and Times of Tim.
Bonus: Nick Kroll's demo reel.

9. Justin Chatwin

Where you've seen him: Weeds, Lost
He inexplicably disappeared after selling weed to kids in the pilot of Weeds, but was the most memorable character from that episode. Awesome. Then he turned on John Locke as an FBI agent posing as a hitchhiker in the Lost episode "Further Instructions." He was fantastic. Then he got the lead in Dragonball: Evolution. Ugh. Justin, you're better than that.
Where we want to see him next: He's got big time ABC dramedy written all over him, or anything that is aimed at teenage girls.
Next Project: Not a Dragonball movie sequel, that's for sure.

8. Page Kennedy

Where you've seen him: Weeds, My Name is Earl
You'll probably recognize Page Kennedy from the "Let's vent!" Coors Light commercials, but trust us, he's funnier than that. As the bumbling drug dealer U-Turn in Weeds (he never should have been killed off), Kennedy proved that he can be funny and scary at the same time. As a sexually confused gang leader in Earl, he showed us he can be funny and french-kiss another man at the same time. That's range, fellas.
Where we want to see him next: We don't want to typecast him, but he makes a perfect bumbling gangster.
Next Project: Small parts in some movies. Hopefully not anymore Coors Light commercials.
Bonus: Check out Page's demo reel (explicit language).

7. Eric Christian Olsen

Where you've seen him: Brothers & Sisters, Beerfest
Eric Christian Olsen has been making me bust a gut for years now, but for some reason he's still under the radar. Maybe it's because he gets roles in movies like Fired Up. His finest performance ever? Austin "The Cocky Blonde Guy" in Not Another Teen Movie.
Where we want to see him next: He needs to team up with Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz.
Next Project: Last we heard he's starring in an ABC pilot.
Bonus: Eric parodies Christian Bale's blowup on the set of Fired Up (explicit language).

6. Scott Porter

Where you've seen him: Friday Night Lights
Those who watch Friday Night Lights (all 200 of us) can't help but root for Jason Street, and Porter's earnestness made it easy. He's a good-looking guy who honestly doesn't give off the vibe that he's going to run off with your girlfriend. Who didn't sob like a baby during his final scene in Friday Night Lights?
Where we want to see him next: Porter looks great in a suit--let's put him on a David E. Kelley type Wall Street dramedy. And if that Justice League movie ever gets made, he'd make an awesome Flash.
Next Project: He'll play an FBI agent tracking down art thieves around the globe in the adventurous Fox pilot Masterwork.

On to the top five!

5. Neil Flynn

Where you've seen him: Scrubs
He may just play The Janitor on Scrubs, but Neil Flynn is one smart cookie (no offense to custodians). Though his character is just a bit of a one-trick pony, we've seen Flynn off camera (dude is FUNNY), we know he's capable of so much more.
Where we want to see him next: Anywhere but as a suburban dad on a normal sitcom.
Next Project: He'll play a suburban dad on the normal sitcom pilot The Middle. Doh!

4. Dan Byrd

Where you've seen him: Aliens in America, Heroes
Dan Byrd knows he's not going to be on the walls of teenage girls, so he's embraced his awkwardness and tapped into his comedic instincts. As Justin Tolchuck in the CW's vastly underrated Aliens in America, Dan showed the angst that goes with being a dork perfectly, and made us all think about our getting-stuffed-into-lockers days.
Where we want to see him next: Generic teen-sex comedy, the series.
Next Project: He'll play Courtney Cox's son in the ABC pilot Cougar Town.

3. Idris Elba

Where you've seen him: The Wire, The Office
In a show full of actors delivering outstanding performances, no one outshone Idris Elba as Stringer Bell in The Wire. He was cool, he was smart, and he was intimidating. This British actor has skills up the wazoo, and he's currently out of place on The Office as the new boss. That's Stringer Bell for God's sake!
Where we want to see him next: Too rough to be a cop, too likeable to be a criminal. Idris Elba should be Rock Johnson: Bounty Hunter, or something equally tough. He has to be on Showtime or HBO though.
Next Project: Several features over the next few years, likely UK productions.
Bonus: Idris as Stringer on The Wire (explicit language)

2. Ken Leung

Where you've seen him: Lost, The Sopranos, and if you're lucky, Keeping the Faith (video below)
Did you see this week's episode of Lost? As Miles Straume, Leung absolutely owned that episode, and showed people what he's capable of. The camera never gets tired of Ken--he's one of those rare talents that grabs your attention and puts it in a headlock.
Where we want to see him next: Ken Leung will never play a romantic lead or action hero, but he is perfect as an antihero. How about as a charming scamp hustling people in the big city?
Next project: As far as we can tell, he's available as soon as Lost kills off Miles.

1. Zeljko Ivanek

Where you've seen him: Damages, Heroes, Lost, True Blood
No one gave a better performance on television in 2007 than Zeljko Ivanek did as Ray Fiske in Damages. He's the ultimate "I know that guy from somewhere" actor, but has the skill set that makes him more than just a character actor. His recurring role on Heroes may have been a step backward for this Emmy winner, as the show's viewership has dropped, but hopefully he'll make up for it with more True Blood.
Where we want to see him next: Ray Fiske was the best television lawyer that came along in a long time, so let's keep him in the courtroom as an amoral barrister.
Next Project: His schedule looks pretty open.
Bonus: Watch Zeljko absolutely transform in this clip from Damages.
Double Bonus: Watch Zeljko ride the bus incorrectly in Lost.

Comments (38)
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At least I know couple of people in top 5. Zeljko Ivanek was cool in Damages, and Idris Elba really rocked in Rocknrolla.
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My vote goes to IdrisElba hands down. He has such a strong presence on the screen that I'm sure he can take a lead role without an ensemble cast and make it his own."StringerBell" was an unforgettable character in THE WIRE (my favorite series of all time)He did a masterful job in the movie about the genocide in Rwanda.."Sometimes In April" ..Let him use his native Brit accent and he can be James Bond..Spot on classy young man!
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Only remember Nick from Cavemen[fave], Ivanek was great on episode of House this season before arriving on Heroes. I like everyone on Lost. I had a feeling there was a connection between the Doc and psychic , Ken Leung is great.
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Sorry Tim, but I LOVED Dragonball Evolution, the story moved fast, had lots of humor and action and I am looking forward to the next one. And the music was awesome. All the actors were very good, Justin and James Marsters were the standouts.
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I admire performance of Zeljko Ivanek. He is a great actor. I would like to see him more on TV.
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Ken Leung rocks. I liked him as the bad guy in Rush Hour, and I agree that he has great screen presence. Justin Chatwin kinda sucks. "Further Instructions" is Locke's weakest episode. And I hated The Invisible.
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I love so many of these actors, but believe that Zelkjo Ivanek and Scott Porter take the cake for actors who are ready for their own show. Ken Leung has a fantastic character on Lost and i don't want him to leave.
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I knew Zeljko from 24. But he was at his best in Damages. In heroes, you're just supposed to count the seconds untill Sylar beheads him.
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Ken Leung is a great actor. I haven't followed him specifically, but he just seems to pop up in a lot of the things I've watched. I remember first seeing him in Rush Hour, then in X-Men, then Saw, then Inside Man. After seeing him do so many versatile roles, I picked up a movie he starred in, called Shanghai Kiss (his co-star was Hayden Panettiere, who plays the cheerleader Claire Bennet in Heroes). His acting was top-notch and the movie showed that he's more than ready to be the star of his own show or movie. Last week's episode starring Miles, played by Leung, was a great episode.
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I loved Dan Byrd in "Aliens in America". Too bad it got canned; it WAS sooo underrated. And so what if he isn't a teen hunk? He's a great actor & very funny. Hopefully he'll get a chance to shine in Cougartown...
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Ken tore it up on Lost! And why not make him a romantic hero?
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Wow, know one out of 10.
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@muj_adidas - We love Jensen, but we also think he's already a big enough name, and he has his own show.
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Everyone I've heard of on this list I don't like, lol.
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Justin Chatwin, was awesome in The Invisible
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i loved Scott Porter in Friday Night Lights. i guess im one of the 200 ppl who actually watched it. :)
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Ken Leung is great, really funny. The guy who plays Dan Farraday is also awesome. Neil Flynn is also so funny, I agree he shouldn't be playing a suburban dad, but maybe he'll still get something else. Who knows.
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Zeljko Ivanek will be recurring on the next season of Big Love. His role there is pretty much perfect for him, I hope he sticks around for a while.
Don't agree with most choices, and lord knows you missed a lot of people. David Anders (Alias, Heroes) needs his own show *badly*. Michael Muhney, Daran Norris and Ryan Devlin from Veronica Mars should be snatched up quickly. Amy Acker needs a bigger and better role than the one on Dollhouse, and that show is as good as cancelled anyway. And now that T:SCC is dead, Summer Glau is on the market again... There's my list.
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Don't know any of them.
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Ken Leung!
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Yay Zelijko Ivanek!!
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Top 1-5: How could you go wrong with Ken Leung? Miles Straum (what a wonderful character) is just so great that I can't believe he hasn't already made it. His interactions with Jorge Garcia (aka Hurley) over the past few weeks are just some of the best TV on the air. That great interaction on time travel & this week's 'Hoth' are just precious.
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From 6-10: nothing but Scott Porter. Jason Street was just such a great character & Scott really played it to the hilt.
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i love ken leung he it really great on Lost both dramatically and in comedy can't wait to see what he does next
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they forgot to say zeljko was in the first season of 24 and he was great. thats where i first saw him
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I think that out of the 10 the best is Scott Porter.
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I agree Zeljko rocks!!



XO XO



:):):):)
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Zeljko Ivanek is a great actor. I'd add Jason Gray-Stanford, who plays Randy Disher on "Monk". The guy is very funny.
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no one ever heard of Jensen Ackles? this guy rocks
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eljko Ivanek, great actor.
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Ken Leung is doing a great job, that's true, also Zeljko Ivanek is pretty good, no wonder they're in the first 2 places.
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Im a fan of Scott Porter, I thought he was great on FNL. His new show sounds pretty interesting. Ken Leung is also pretty good.
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Lost is basically a dumping ground for underrated acting talent but Ken Leung is certainly one of the best ones. I think every male on this list is ready for the big time.
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Yay I love Dan Byrd
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I think I like this list.
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Those who watch Friday Night Lights (all 200 of us) can't help but root for Jason Street.

So not true. Not for me at least. Can't stand Jason Street. At. All.
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The only one of these people I've ever heard of is Dan Byrd. He's awesome. :)
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Ken Leung is doing great job on lost.he's ready
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