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 KrollWhere 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.
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 KennedyWhere 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).
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 PorterWhere 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
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 ByrdWhere 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 ElbaWhere 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 LeungWhere 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.
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.