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Faces To Watch 2010

December 27, 2009|Steven Zeitchik and John Horn and Chris Lee and Rachel Abramowitz

ACTRESS

Movie fans who enjoyed watching Gemma Arterton tart it up as the dishy Bond girl Strawberry Fields in "Quantum of Solace" last year will get a double serving of the actress in 2010. The 23-year-old stars as an ancient muse in Louis Leterrier's epic "Clash of the Titans" in March before teaming up with Jake Gyllenhaal to stop an evil ruler from destroying the world in May's "Prince of Persia."

The British actress may have radiated a sultry vibe as the 007 vixen, but she'll be in full fight mode in these new roles. While shooting "Persia," she was flung against a cliff, yanked several stories in the air by a wire and scaled a steep mountainside -- all while serving as the movie's emotional ballast. "I play the only female voice in the film, and so I had to be really fiery but also have a real vulnerability and sensitivity," the actress says from her home in London.

GEMMA ARTERTON

Arterton, who has previously graced the stage at London's historic Globe Theatre, is soon returning to her roots: She'll star on London's West End in the Hollywood satire "The Little Dog Laughed" beginning in January. She's also indulging her serious side on the screen, most recently the Stephen Frears coming-home dramedy "Tamara Drewe." You'd think a stage actress would need a tutorial before swashbuckling her way through ancient lands. But Arterton's theater training entailed stage combat and sword work, making the transition to films that much smoother. "I did need to learn how to ride horses, though," she says with a laugh.

-- Steven Zeitchik

JAY BARUCHEL

ACTOR

Jay Baruchel is apologizing in advance if moviegoers suddenly grow sick of him. "The last thing I want to do is cram myself down someone's throat," the 27-year-old costar of "Tropic Thunder" and "Knocked Up" says of his 2010 deluge. "Out of nowhere, I have four things coming out in five months. It's terrifying."

Suggesting there's far more to the Canadian comic than goofy sidekick parts, Baruchel plays the lead romantic character in the highly touted comedy "She's Out of My League" (March 12), supplies the voice of the central, underachieving viking in the animated "How to Train Your Dragon" (March 26) and has nothing less than the title role in the summer tentpole "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (July 16). Art-house audiences also may see him in "The Trotsky," due in early 2010.

Baruchel, whose stagnating kid-actor career was turned around with Judd Apatow's 2001 TV series "Undeclared," says that actually , he'd rather be behind the camera. "All I've ever wanted to do," he says, "is to write and direct horror movies."

-- John Horn

QUINTON 'RAMPAGE' JACKSON

ACTOR

When word got out that writer-director Joe Carnahan ("Narc," "Smokin' Aces") was making a big-budget movie reboot of the cheese-tacular '80s TV action-comedy "The A-Team," a Who's Who of Hollywood heavyweights -- among them, Ice Cube, Common and street-fighting phenom Kimbo Slice -- began clamoring to play B.A. Baracus. That is, Mr. T's extravagantly mohawked, gold-bedecked, fool-pitying character.

In the end, former Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight champ Quinton "Rampage" Jackson nabbed the part -- and quit the UFC to film it. "Mr. T was my hero growing up," says Jackson, whose only prior film role was a bit in 2008's "The Midnight Meat Train." "I was never a big fan of anything. But I was a big fan of 'The A-Team.' "

Now, with "The A-Team" already positioned as one of summer 2010's biggest tentpole movies, the body-slamming brawler appears set to inherit his idol's global superstardom. "Rampage, in a lot of ways, is this generation's Mr. T," says Carnahan. "He's a legitimate tough guy."

Still, don't arrive at the theater expecting to see a dead-on "Hey sucka!" Mr. T impersonation. "I'm not trying to be Mr. T.," says Jackson. "I'm Rampage! This is my own thing."

-- Chris Lee

MIA WASIKOWSKA

ACTRESS

She's not your mother's "Alice in Wonderland," the sweet blond from the 1951 animated Disney version, nor is she the 7 1/2 -year-old from Lewis Carroll's classic 1865 book.

"In our story, Alice is 19 years old, " says Australian actress Mia Wasikowska, who plays the innocent but sexy heroine in Tim Burton's femme-power version of "Alice in Wonderland" (March 10), which combines live action with performance capture extravagance. "She's grown up a lot and is a different person than she was when she was 7 years old. She's kind of going back to her roots and rediscovering herself."

Burton's fantasy, which stars an electric orange-tufted Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter as the evil Red Queen, is destined to introduce the 20-year-old Wasikowska to an audience broader than the devoted "In Treatment" fans who watched her play a suicidal young gymnast , or those who caught her turn as a Jewish partisan in the 2008 film WWII film "Defiance."

In addition to "Alice," Wasikowska also appears in "The Kids Are All Right," premiering at January's Sundance Film Festival, as the daughter of a lesbian couple played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening. She also recently began the new untitled Gus Van Sant film about two romancing teenagers "very affected by mortality and death."

-- Rachel Abramowitz

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