13 Breakout TV Stars Of 2013
Despite being snubbed by The Emmys, Tatiana Maslany is 2013’s buzziest new star. As the lead in BBC America’s “Orphan Black,” she plays upwards of six characters (often in the same scene). Maslany expertly builds every one into a complete person, minding even the finest mannerisms and facial expressions.
In his third season on Fox’s “New Girl,” Lamorne Morris finally has a chance to shine as Winston, the lonely, cat-loving third roommate of Zooey Deschanel’s Jess. After spending the first two years focusing on Jess, Schmidt and Nick, “New Girl” is finally giving Morris the material to prove that he can be just as funny as his costars.
“Orange Is The New Black” was one of the biggest surprises of the summer when it premiered on Netflix in July. Taylor Schilling—whose past work includes only a few movies and a short-lived NBC medical drama—plays Piper Chapman, the series’ fish-out-of-water lead. Deftly handling her character’s transition from lost puppy to embattled inmate, Schilling demonstrated incredible range across 13 episodes, earning herself a Golden Globe nomination in the process.
“Trophy Wife’s” ensemble cast has no weak links, but its youngest member, 9-year-old Albert Tsai, easily steals every scene he’s in. His offbeat humor and earnest delivery make Bert the most reliably funny part of a great new show.
Both Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright nabbed Emmy nominations for their roles on “House of Cards,” but Corey Stoll’s heartbreaking turn as the drug-addicted Peter Russo was the first season’s most memorable performance. With both Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe nominations under his belt, Stoll’s days of making one-off guest appearances on crime procedurals are over.
Before “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” the show’s cast was relatively unknown. However, when the show premiered in September, they proved their ability to carry a show despite their little experience. Chloe Bennet in particular, exudes confidence and charm as Skye, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s newest agent. Little about her performance betrays the fact that her only other major credit is a recurring stint on ABC’s “Nashville.”
John Oliver has been a correspondent on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central for seven years, but he finally got a chance showcase his full potential when he subbed in for Jon Stewart as host this summer. His performance was so impressive, HBO offered him his own satirical news show, set to air next year.
Another Australian actress making waves in America, Rebel Wilson first drew attention in 2011’s “Bridesmaids,” then exploded onto the scene in last year’s “Pitch Perfect,” as Fat Amy, the movies most memorable character. This year, she writing and starring in her own TV show, CBS’s “Super Fun Night.” Wilson’s brash humor is unlike anything else on television, ensuring the “Super Fun Night” is always interesting, if nothing else.
Nico Tortorella and his potentially murderous/potentially gay character Jacob (a.k.a. Will) were often the most interesting parts of “The Following’s” dull first season. The one character reluctant to kill among a sea of psychopaths, Jacob’s humanity set his storylines apart from the endless death that made up the rest of the show. Tortorella was an unfamiliar face to everyone except fans of ABC Family’s “Make It Or Break It,” where he played the main love interest for seven episodes before being unceremoniously replaced.
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After impressing in Fox’s quickly-cancelled “Lone Star” back in 2010, James Wolk made a few guest appearances on other shows and briefly played Sigourney Weaver’s son in USA’s excellent miniseries “Political Animals.” It was until this year, though, that he was able to make a serious name for himself, playing one of the most talked-about characters on AMC’s “Mad Men” and demonstrating his comedic chops beside Robin Williams in “The Crazy Ones” on CBS.
An Australian actress, Maia Mitchell already had success as a child actress back home. It wasn’t until this year that she broke into American television as the star of “The Fosters” on ABC Family. Playing the hardened foster child, Callie, Mitchell helps introduce the audience to the untraditional, but loving family named—you guessed it—Foster. Much like the show itself, Mitchell’s performance is exceedingly charming (if not always perfect) and full of potential.
Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher are the undeniable stars of Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” but it’s the chemistry of the entire ensemble that makes it such a strong freshman comedy. Chelsea Peretti’s hilariously incompetent administrator, Gina is often the source of the show’s biggest laughs. A long history in stand-up and comedy writing is on full display in Peretti’s pitch-perfect timing and delivery.
Aaron Tveit has had a long and successful career in theater, so his lack of significant television experience could be attributed to a simple lack of trying. It wasn’t until this summer’s “Graceland” that Tveit has had the chance to star in his own show. The USA drama has already bred a dedicated fan base and earned a second season, making Tveit the latest in a string of Broadway stars who’ve made the transition to television.
Reach staff reporter Reid Nakamura here.