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Entertainment Stock Market: The 30 Best Male Actors Under 30

by Steve Lawson

The best actors in the world can deliver performances that make the person they are in their real life disappear. They can take us on a journey of emotion in whatever role they take. From comedy, to drama, to horror or rom-com, you can count on the actor on the screen to do their best to make you feel something.

Some, though, do that better than others.

For a long time, our screens were dominated (fittingly) by legends like Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman. But who will take the reigns from these amazing men when they are gone?

Well, I have answers.

Disclaimer:  This is not a list of the highest-grossing actors. This isn’t about their numbers. This is about who delivers the best in their performances. This is about who is showing the range and skill.

All of these actors are talented. But who is currently delivering the most on their abilities?

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Entertainment Stock Market: The 30 Best Male Actors Under 30

30. Michael Cimino – “Love, Victor” | “Never Have I Ever”

 

Michael Cimino captures the hearts of millions as the closeted and adorable Victor Salazar in Hulu’s “Love, Victor.” A performance that was shockingly strong for someone so new in the world of acting, Cimino owned the emotional moments and was more than capable of getting a laugh. Now, on his way to heartthrob status, big things are coming for this young actor!

How to move up:  We need to see more range, and he needs to take a few more chances. If he shows he can be more than the adorable love interest, he will fly up the rankings!

29. Gavin Casalegno – “The Summer I Turned Pretty” | “Walker”

Gavin Casalegno is the blue-eyed scene-stealer from “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and my personal pick for Belly’s (Lola Tung) endgame. An actor and model, Casalegno knows how to turn up the heat when he wants to in a scene, but he doesn’t only rely on looks. Look only at the heartbreaking scene in season two where Casalegno’s Jeremiah confronts Belly for not being there for him through his mother’s illness. Make sure you have tissues nearby, though. Once he expands his roles a bit more, we will see him rising up this list.

How to move up:  Much like Cimino, Casalegno needs to show he can take on a different role. Heartthrob status will get you on the list, but it’s taking the next steps into the darker and more complex that will get you a higher spot!

28. Gaten Matarazzo – “Stranger Things” | “Sweeney Todd” (Broadway)

Who doesn’t love Dustin Henderson? Gaten Matarazzo ensures that Dustin remains the beloved member of the “Stranger Things” group by delivering the laughs time and time again. When he isn’t dealing with The Upside Down, Matarazzo is showing off his vocal chops on Broadway in the revival of “Sweeney Todd”. Our goal for Gaten is that he expands his roles to showcase more of his dramatic skills.

How to move up:  With the final season of “Stranger Things” coming, a strong performance will move him up. However, if his character remains stuck in the “funny friend” trope, we will have to wait for another more wide-ranging role to come for Matarazzo.

27. Andrew Barth Feldman – “No Hard Feelings”

Where the hell did this guy come from? Thrust into a movie with A-list megastar Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman held his own in “No Hard Feelings,” which is so damn impressive we needed to give him a place on this list. A few more roles and his number will go up without a doubt.

How to move up:  In short, he needs more roles. And they’re coming, without a doubt. His first lead role was strong; He was funny and he delivered with emotion. But we didn’t see enough to really give him more than the ranking he has. And where he’s at is above some very talented actors!

26. David Mazouz – “Gotham”

What kid doesn’t want to be Batman? Well, for David Mazouz that dream became a reality as he was able to portray the brooding caped-crusader in the TV series “Gotham.” Growing into the role as he got older, Mazouz showed he has the ability to deliver some memorable moments and give heart to his characters. Inexperience is keeping him low on the list right now.

How to move up:  He needs to get back to acting. We haven’t seen him in a minute and that’s a shame because he seems ready for something big!

25. Hero Fiennes Tiffin – “After Everything” | “After”

When Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is your dad, talent is probably a given. And for Hero Fiennes Tiffin, talent is plentiful. Known mainly for his role in the “After” series, this young actor is taking full advantage of being a heartthrob and has plenty of people glued to the screen when he arrives.

How to move up:  We need more range, and you’ll hear that a lot for the actors in this 20-230 range. But his stock is heating up, and a good project could propel him to a much higher spot on the list!

24. Asa Butterfield – “Sex Education” | “All Fun and Games”

The first one on the list that has me feeling some type of way for not being able to rank him higher, Asa Butterfield, has all the tools to be a top-10 player, but his roles have held him out of that. Bursting onto the scene and single-handedly ruining many a movie-goers day with his tragic portrayal of Bruno in “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” Butterfield has pivoted to being the sex-positive Otis in Netflix’s “Sex Education.” He has all of the talent, but right now, he needs to bring it to a different role. Once he does, and his upcoming horror turn might be it, he’ll rise in the rankings.

How to move up:  Butterfield is a strange case of having all the tools, he’s shown it off, and yet he just doesn’t have that performance. I wouldn’t bet against him rising through the ranks at some point, but for right now he’s in his proper position at 24.

23. Walker Scobell – “The Adam Project” | “Percy Jackson and the Olympians”

Walker Scobell is someone who feels like they are on the precipice of something huge. Showing comedic chops that do have an air of Ryan Reynolds in them, Scobell is young but ready to flex his acting muscles. The upcoming “Percy Jackson” series is his first star-vehicle and we are excited to see how he delivers!

How to move up:  Nail the Percy Jackson role. If he hits on that there is no way to keep him out of the top 20.

22. Reese Gonzalez – “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”

A newcomer to the major acting world, Reese Gonzalez recently starred in “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” playing the titular Dante. We will be seeing his co-star soon, but for right now it is Gonzalez getting his flowers. Inexperience is keeping his stock in the 20s, but another strong performance and watch out. Able to relay a lot of emotion, even as the screenplay had him out of it for a longer-than-wanted period, Gonzalez really brought Dante to life in a way that few could have.

How to move up:  Get in more projects. Reese and a few others on this list are victims of exposure. What he brought to the screen was undeniable. He had charisma and charm. He needs to show that a few more times or land one big project. One big hit and he’ll cement himself in the top 15.

21. Max Pelayo – “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”

Much like his co-star Gonzalez, Max Pelayo suffers from a lack of evidence. While I loved the film and his role in it, I cannot rank him higher at the moment. But the brooding, self-loathing performance that Pelayo gave as Aristotle was something to behold, and if he can continue to expand his resumé, he will soon be sitting high on our list.

How to move up:  Like his co-star, Pelayo just needs more opportunities. If he can bring his brooding, quiet confidence to more roles and continue to work on his subtleties that displayed such a natural instinct on the screen, Pelayo will be a household name in no time.

20. Christopher Briney – “Heathers: The Musical” | “The Summer I Turned Pretty”

Oh, Conrad… Christopher Briney knows how to brood like few others as the emotionally stunted older brother to Gavin Casalegno in “The Summer I Turned Pretty.” Now about to star in an unexpected realm of musicals, Briney is fetch as fetch gets right now and we see him rising up this list once “Mean Girls” the musical drops.

How to move up:  Don’t fuck up “Mean Girls.” He’s basically earmarked for the top 15 if this movie is even passable. The rest of the top-15 actors are sitting in their cars looking at Briney and thinking, “Get in, loser.” So, Mr. Briney, get your ass into that top 15!

19. Caleb McLaughlin – “Stranger Things”

Caleb McLaughlin may have drawn the toughest assignment of all of the “Stranger Things” kids. Lucas is not a character that has a ton of memorable moments; he seems to react to the world around him rather than impact it. Still, McLaughlin is more than talented enough to cover that up. With a burning intensity and a sharp wit, McLaughlin delivers one of the more powerful performances on the show. We just want to see him take a role that expands on his emotions.

How to move up:  Expand his role. Be a scene stealer. McLaughlin can deliver consistently when given the spotlight, but he doesn’t demand attention ye if he is a secondary part of a scene. But he will. He’s that good.

18. Jack Champion – “Scream 6” | “Avatar: The Way of Water”

Rising star doesn’t seem to cover Jack Champion. He is a rocket ship right now. Starring in two blockbusters in one year at the young age of 18 is impressive. His performances were even better. However, this is where the list is starting to get very competitive, and we need a bit more than his manic serial killer to move him any higher. We have no doubt he can; we just need to see him do it.

How to move up:  Don’t stop jumping genres. Going from “Avatar” to “Scream” is a perfect way to show you are no one-trick-pony. Give us something new for a few movies in a row, and I’ll kick someone out of the top 10 for the potential champion (I couldn’t resist).

17. Asher Angel – “Shazam” | “Shazam 2: Fury of the Gods”

This is a case of a character being unable to carry an actor. Asher Angel is more talented than the “Shazam” series allows him to be, and his co-star Zachary Levi (Shazam) undermining his character’s entire personality doesn’t help. Put Angel in a role with the emotional depth of some of the actors higher up on this list, and you’ll see a top-10 force emerge.

How to move up:  Ugh, I don’t really know. This might be a case of type-casting causing an actor to get stuck. Angel has the chops, but he isn’t being given roles with much emotional depth to them. He needs to land a role in a horror movie where he is the emotional gut-punch loss that will break him out of his nice-guy typecast. Add some gore to your resumé, Asher; we’ll all be better off for it.

16. Jace Norman – “Henry Danger” | “Danger Force”

A Nickelodeon actor? Yup. Jace Norman is no slouch, somehow turning a kids character into a force on the screen. Playing the role of Henry Danger since he was just a kid, the now-adult Norman seems ready to break out and deliver something new! His talent and charisma ooze out of him, and soon, the world will be seeing him in full force. But, until then, he will stay on the outside of the top half of this list.

How to move up:  Break away from the kids shows and do something dark. A lot of advice I give out to actors looking to expand their resumé is to be a villain. Play it dark, be evil, show us that you aren’t squeaky clean. It’s the Daniel Radcliffe model. He went so far away from “Harry Potter” that he can do whatever he wants now and we’re into it!

15. Sebastian Croft – “Heartstopper” | “Dampyr”

We have entered the top half of our list, and we start it out with an actor who is the head of the hate club for his own character! In a very good way, Sebastian Croft delivered the most unlikable character he could in Ben Hope of “Heartstopper” over on Netflix. We will see other castmates of his on this list, but Croft kicks off the “Heartstopper” cast with a strong performance that by all appearances, is totally different than his actual personality. If you are a gamer, perhaps you’ve heard his voice in your hero in “Hogwarts Legacy.”

How to move up:  Funny enough, Croft needs to go against my last advice and play a positive character. Because his turn as Ben Hope was so wildly unlikable (which was his goal), I need to see that he can also be a hero. He sits in the 15 spot because of how much we all bought in to his performance.

14. Tom Holland – “Spider-Man: No Way Home” | “Avengers: Endgame”

Again, this is not a “Who made the most money” list. There is no doubt Tom Holland has hit the jackpot in roles. Being Spiderman is one thing, but being Spiderman AND getting to act in an“Avengers” movies? Unreal. On top of that, he has starred in movies such as “Uncharted” and landed Apple TV series leads! The thing holding him out of the top 10 seems to be a wall he’s hit in terms of bringing something new to his roles. An adjustment will have to be made for him to show he can carry a non-Marvel entity. Still, there is no doubting his talent.

How to move up:  A few years ago, Holland would have been No. 1 by a mile. But his last few non-Spiderman roles seem to miss the mark. Holland has skills but seems to struggle when asked to deliver heavier scenes. This is not to say he isn’t a great actor, but some of his struggles have become apparent in movies like “Chaos Walking” and the series “Cherry.” I fully expect a return to form for Holland, but it needs to happen soon because a few actors are nipping at his heels.

13. Ty Simpkins – “Insidious” | “The Whale” | “Jurassic World”

If Patrick Wilson is the current King of Horror, that would make Ty Simpkins the Prince of Horror. His latest run in the “Insidious” series was so strong I had to give it an actual cheer. Going from child to adult in the same role can be difficult, but Simpkins has guided us through his character’s life with great subtlety. A dramatic turn in “The Whale” and, of course, being in the blockbuster “Jurassic World” franchise has only helped his case. Has he peaked in the rankings? I don’t think so. He has the talent. He just needs to lead a movie next.

How to move up:  Carry the next horror movie. Be the guy, the guy, and show the world you are more than capable to lead. This is a rare instance of an actor not needing to genre-hop to succeed. If you can be the best in your genre, you deserve a high ranking. Simpkins is the Prince of Horror; he’s only going to go up.

12. Finn Wolfhard – “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” | “It” | “Stranger Things”

Another “Stranger Things” kid showing that there is a reason they made it in entertainment, Finn Wolfhard, has seemingly found his niche in the paranormal. From “It” to “Stranger Things” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” this young actor knows how to deal with all forms of hauntings and ghouls. His humor is sharp, and his subtle ways of hitting you in the heart with emotional punches are what makes Finn a powerhouse on this list.

How to move up:  Wolfhard needs to get emotional. That is the next and biggest step to going from the very-good category to the elite. We need tears and guttural feelings. Everything else is there, and it is strong!

11. Noah Centineo – “Black Adam” | “The Recruit” | “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”

Who saw this coming from Noah Centineo? I did. A lot of people did. Charisma is something you are born with, and for every boring human being I have ever met, I know where their charisma went. Noah Centineo absorbed it. He is a true leading-man turn away from the top five. Once that happens, watch out. He will be everywhere.

How to move up:  As I said, Centineo needs to be the lead in a real powerhouse movie. He needs it. He is one role away from being a mega-star.

10. Noah Schnapp – “Stranger Things” | “The Tutor”

The current leader of the “Stranger Things” actors on the list, Noah Schnapp has found himself in the public eye quite a bit. However, an iffy performance in “The Tutor” hurt his stock a bit for this list. The script seemed to be an issue everywhere in that movie, so we gave him some leeway, but he needs a strong bounce back. Entertaining, subtle and able to really make the sad moments hurt, Schnapp might be the one who has the best chance at No. 1 of the entire cast.

How to move up:  Schnapp is one of the actors on this list who is currently (in our model, at least) having his stock fall. This is the inaugural list, but going forward, Schnapp needs to right the ship and deliver the same charisma and emotion he does as Will Byers. “The Tutor” was a miss, but I’ll give most of the blame to a bad script. But great actors can cover up a bad script to some degree. I want to see his next role outside of “Stranger Things” and what he does with it.

9. Tanner Buchanan – “Cobra Kai” | “Designated Survivor”

Yeah, the brooding type really does get the love here. Playing a character with some… angst is always more interesting than being pure bubbles and candy. Tanner Buchanan knows how to deliver that well and has done it for a while now. Growing with each role, he has earned his place in the top 10. What comes next will be what dictates a top-five appearance.

How to move up:  Get this man a leading movie role. He needs it. He deserves it, and he will crush it. With the looks, talent and charisma to carry a movie, Buchanan is just an opportunity away from top-five status.

8. Timothee Chalamet – “Wonka” | “Dune” | “Bones and All”

Okay, my feelings towards Timothee Chalamet are… complicated. No doubt he is an incredibly gifted actor. But he feels like he is being forced into a round hole when he is a square peg. An indie-movie king, the blockbuster world is hurting his standing on our list as he seems to be losing some of what made him so incredible to watch. His turn in “Bones and All” is far stronger than that of “Dune” and will certainly be better than the upcoming “Wonka,” but because he is there, the movie will be better than it would be otherwise.

How to move up:  Another actor who would have been No. 1 a year or so ago, his more muted performances in mega-budget projects have led to a bit of a dip in Chalamet’s stock. “Wonka” isn’t going to help, but whatever comes after that certainly will. He’ll get himself back into the top five – I’m sure – he just needs to land this plane.

7. Joe Locke – “Heartstopper” | “Agatha: Darkhold Diaries”

Joe Locke responded to an open casting call, got his first acting role and ended up leading a phenomenon. Top 10 actor under 30? Absolutely. Top five? It is on the horizon for sure. His upcoming Marvel role will show the world that Locke is here to stay and a force to be reckoned with. I am also so excited for this “Heartstopper” lead (we all love Charlie) to grow as an actor. Inexperience isn’t enough to hold him down. Two seasons of evidence show he is everything a director and studio could want in an actor.

How to move up:  Locke should be top five, but there are so many amazing actors that I had him sit at seven – for now. It is only a matter of time before he is threatening to take over the list altogether. He needs to show us he’s more than the lovable Charlie Spring, and with this Marvel series coming up, I don’t doubt that Locke will.

6. Griffin Gluck – “Locke & Key” | “Cruel Summer” | “Big Time Adolescence”

It’s not often you have a supporting actor this high on lists like this. But Griffin Gluck isn’t any supporting actor. Criminally underused by Hollywood, he has the acting chops of an actor twice his age. Instincts, comedic timing and the ability to somehow be threatening when he isn’t a physically imposing individual all allow Griffin to shine as an actor. If he had a true leading role under his belt, he would be a top-five player. For now, he will have to look in on the top five as a close contender.

How to move up:  He needs to get into some bigger projects. He’s a bit of a streaming darling right now, and that’s great, but I want to see a big movie poster with Griffin’s name plastered across it. He’s shown the range and the scene-stealing ability, now he needs to show the big-time delivery.

5. Jaeden Martell – “It” | “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” | “Knives Out”

Jaeden Martell delivers in anything you give him. He has a way of twisting a role to fit what he needs it to be and his line delivery has an ease to it that makes you truly believe he is whatever character he is playing. Not afraid to attack different roles, Martell seems to be most comfortable as the innocent, wide-eyed character. That’s an age thing, though, and I fully expect to see a total villain turn at some point in his future (hint, hint, Hollywood).

How to move up:  We’re at the top five and frankly, it is hard to say they have to do anything to move up. Martell just needs to keep crushing his roles. His consistency will keep him firmly at the elite level of this list.

4. Omar Rudberg – “Young Royals”

This is a young actor ranking, and so sometimes people aren’t going to be in a ton of projects. Omar Rudberg is someone who you should know, and movie executives should be eager to utilize. His turn in “Young Royals” has shown that he is made for this. He has the emotional range of award-winners and he is never afraid to let it fly on screen. To be able to relay as much emotion as he does, in a language I don’t understand, means he is crushing it.

How to move up:  Give us more roles. I may have been over-eager placing him in the top five, but watch “Young Royals” and tell me Rudberg doesn’t absolutely destroy any scene given to him. He’s a beacon on the screen. He keeps your attention, and he is incredibly talented.

3. Nicholas Galitzine – “Red, White & Royal Blue” | “Bottoms” | “Mary & George”

I will never get over the fact that in the same month, this man had a character delivering a heart-breaking monologue (Prince Henry from “Red, White, and Royal Blue”) and another character being the most obnoxiously funny football jackass on the planet (Jeff from “Bottoms”). Give Nicholas Galitzine a role, and he’s going to understand the assignment. He doesn’t miss. The movie may not hit (hi, “Cinderella”), but it will be infinitely better because Galitzine is in it.

How to move up:  He probably won’t because soon he’ll have aged off the list. But for the first release of this series, Galitzine needed to be on it, and he earned his place. He’s going to be on screens for a long time. And I will never complain about that.

2. Jacob Tremblay – “The Little Mermaid” | “Luca” | “Good Boys” | “Room”

How many actors on this list can say they nearly won an Oscar? The answer is two: Chalamet and Jacob Tremblay. And Tremblay did it as a child. The amazing performance in “Room” earned him an Academy Award nomination. His co-star, Brie Larson, won for her performance. Ever since, Tremblay has delivered in every single role. Currently, he is on some strange voice-acting run, but we hope to see him back in front of the camera soon. Not many actors could steal an entire movie by appearing in one scene, but “Doctor Sleep” was highlighted and remembered for the horrific scene Tremblay scars us with.

How to move up:  Get back to the face roles. We need to see Tremblay on screen, causing us all to feel every emotion under the sun to let him claim the No. 1 spot. There is not a lot of advice to give to an actor who has an Oscar nomination under his belt.

1. Kit Connor – “Heartstopper”

After season 2 of “Heartstopper,” there was no way for me to keep Kit Connor out of the No. 1 spot. That last scene had millions of people sobbing. The golden boy of the internet right now, exploding in both the fashion and branding world, Connor is truly on a star turn. Why is he No. 1? He is unstoppable. Everything he currently touches turns to gold. His stock is so high that when we requested an interview with him, we were told his media schedule was “locked,” meaning that there is absolutely no room for another interview. Young, talented, and ready to lead a major franchise, it is only a matter of time before we see Connor on the giant screens of our local theaters.

How to move up:  He can’t. There’s no higher ranking. But he can hold onto it by doing something other than “Heartstopper.” His star power is ridiculously high right now, so he is the best under-30 actor. Still, if he doesn’t land a new, complex role soon, he won’t be our top spot for much longer. Until then, however, he has earned this. He has captivated audiences, and all “Heartstopper” fans see Nick Nelson in Kit Connor.


Thanks for reading my “30 Best Male Actors Under 30.” I hope you have enjoyed yourself, and keep an eye out for more movies, music and show recommendations! For more entertainment and sports takes, find me on Twitter, @Steve_Lawson93.

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