Because of COVID-19, many movies had their release dates postponed. Some will hit theatres later this year, while others likely won’t debut until 2021. Through all the uncertainty, one thing is clear: as these movies emerge, we have some groundbreaking performances to look forward to. 

Here are seven of the fastest risers in Hollywood, names you’ll see headline some big-time titles as we shift from 2020 to 2021. You may already recognize some of them, but if not, it won’t be long before you do.

Florence Pugh

After making a splash in 2019 with the folk horror film Midsommar and the sensational Greta Gerwig adaptation of Little Women, it’s no surprise that Florence Pugh kicks off our list. 

Pugh has shared the screen with Hollywood heavyweights, from Meryl Streep and Saoirse Ronan, to Chris Pine and Michael Shannon. She possesses an absurd ability to transform into her characters — whether it’s the dainty Amy March in Little Women or the aggressive wrestler in Fighting with my Family.

This year, Pugh stars alongside Scarlett Johansson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film, Black Widow (2020). This will be the largest production Pugh has undertaken yet, with the opportunity to shoot her into stardom.

John David Washington

His breakthrough performance in Spike Lee’s award-winning film, Blackkklansman (2018), earned him both Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nods. Even under the enormous shadow of his father, two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington, John David is carving a name for himself.

Washington stars in Christopher Nolan’s secretive spy thriller, Tenet (2020), which just hit theatres. In it, he plays ‘The Protagonist’ alongside Robert Pattinson and Michael Caine. This film is projected to be the biggest of the year and is the first blockbuster released since the world shut down in March.

Lashana Lynch

In 2019, Lynch played the 1950s pilot Maria Rambeau in the MCU film, Captain Marvel (2019), opposite award-winners Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson. Next up, Lynch will appear in the latest James Bond installation, No Time to Die (2020).

Assuming the iconic mantle of 007 after James Bond’s retirement, Lynch’s character, Nomi, is very much Bond’s counterpart. Despite sharing the same code name, the two agents have very conflicting views and modi operandi. Lynch will be the first black, and female, agent in the infamous operative. Her character will provide a fresh take on the Double-O, one that’ll surely have audiences craving more.

Anthony Ramos

Best known as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in Hamilton, Anthony Ramos makes it hard to forget his name. He’s appeared in A Star Is Born (2018) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), and has given scene-stealing performances as Mars Blackmon in the TV series, She’s Gotta Have It.

John M. Chu’s In the Heights (2021), based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical of the same name, will bring Ramos back to his musical origins — acting, singing, and dancing as the film’s lead. Despite its delayed release, In the Heights is already creating a huge stir and forecasts a thunderous turnout. The film will showcase Ramos’ triple-threat power and is sure to become a 2021 summer favourite. 

Jessica Henwick

In 2015, Jessica Henwick joined the cast of the HBO phenomenon Game of Thrones. She then became Colleen Wing in the Netflix show, Iron Fist. Although reviews of Iron Fist were largely negative, Henwick’s performance was a bright spot, earning praise for her physicality and dry wit.

She’s now set to appear in the 2021 film, Godzilla vs. Kong, alongside Alexander SkarsgårdMillie Bobby Brown, and Brian Tyree Henry. This’ll be an impressive addition to Henwick’s growing filmography and is sure to be a box-office boom. Henwick will also join The Matrix Franchise, playing an undisclosed role in The Matrix 4.

Barry Keoghan

Barry Keoghan’s chilling performance as Martin in 2017’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer earned him multiple nominations including Best Supporting Actor and Villain of the Year. He starred alongside Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman in this film and held his own against the two acting powerhouses. 

Next, Keoghan will appear in A24’s medieval mindbender, The Green Knight (2020), based on the Arthurian legend. However, it’s the MCU blockbuster The Eternals (2021) that could really turn Keoghan into a household name. With this, and his role in Matt Reeves’ The Batman (2021), we’ll see a lot of Keoghan in 2021 as he rattles the superhero world with a bang. 

Ana de Armas

After a busy career in Spain, Ana de Armas made Hollywood waves with films like Knock Knock (2015), Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and, most recently, the critically acclaimed Knives Out (2019).

She now joins Lashana Lynch in No Time to Die (2020), playing a CIA agent who helps Bond. Also coming out this year is Deep Water, a psychological thriller about a married couple playing dangerous mind games with each other. De Armas plays the wife, while Ben Affleck plays the husband. The last actress to play a similar role opposite Affleck was Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl (2014), who earned an Oscar nomination for her performance. And if that wasn’t enough, de Armas will also become Marilyn Monroe in the biographical film, Blonde.

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