Who Are the Next Pacinos and De Niros of Hollywood?

Undoubtedly, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino are regarded as two of the greatest actors to have ever lived. They come from an era of solid, professional actors like James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Gene Hackman. However, a debate will arise if you were to sit amongst a table of film fanatics nine times out of 10. Who is the best actor of all time? Al Pacino or Robert De Niro? That is a difficult question to answer, and it’s subjective, but we cannot argue that these two actors dominated cinema from the early 70s until the early naughties.

Credit: Heat (1995)

While they are still knocking out the occasional return-to-form roles like in The Irishman and Silver Linings Playbook, it’s safe to say they are slowing down, and the torch will be passed on in the coming years. However, while Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio have already cemented themselves as great actors to be remembered forever, some are overlooked actors with incredible chops.

Here are three actors to watch out for as we search for our next De Niro and Pacino!

1. Jack O’Connell

After bursting his way onto the screen as the loveable lousy boy, James Cook, in UK teen drama series Skins, Jack O’Connell has proven he is well on his way to becoming one of the greats. Although he told NME in 2020, “I want to be regarded as one of the best, ” he also seems in no rush to get there. Instead, he seems to focus on picking his projects carefully, sometimes even choosing plays over movie or TV roles.

After landing the lead role in Unbroken upon impressing Angelina Jolie with his self-tape audition, O’Connell went on to star alongside Julia Roberts and George Clooney in Money Monster. Next, he landed the lead role in Scott Frank’s passion project, Godless, and has stunned viewers of the new BBC series SAS Rogue Heroes with his electrifying portrayal of war veteran Paddy Mayne. Fans have even taken to Twitter to express their desires for O’Connell to be crowned the new James Bond!

So while he is kicking up quite a fuss, O’Connell feels that there is a massive class division within the film industry. Having such a thick Derbyshire accent has put up roadblocks for O’Connell. There seems to be a theme with Tom Hardy, Tom Holland, and Robert Pattinson hailing from the south of England. O’Connell said with Total Film, “Because I don’t talk a certain way, certain opportunities are unavailable. It should be based on what you’re trying to offer in terms of your portrayal, but not everybody’s got that level of imagination.”

It appears that O’Connell isn’t interested in becoming a massive star. Instead, he wants to be a respected actor with a solid body of work to be proud of. This is evident in his roles with smaller projects like Jungleland and Seberg. Although he can portray unhinged men with violent tendencies so well,  like his exhilarating role as Eric Love in Starred Up, O’Connell has been working hard on shaking that image.

Having been in trouble with the law for a violent crime, he is no longer curious about what he can do with his fists. Instead, he wants to explore a range of characters, whether it be another natural life person like his upcoming role as Peter Collins in Michael Mann’s Enzo Ferrari or his depiction of Oliver Mellors in the adaption of the controversial book Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

O’Connell has an immense ability to tell a story without words. His eyes say it all. You can see he is fully immersed in the role. He is losing himself. His presence on screen is always mighty significant for a man short in stature. He packs a punch and steals any scene he is in. These are all characteristics of an iconic actor in the making.

Credit: Godless (2017)

2. Paul Walter Hauser

Being more of a heavy-set actor often typecasts you into a specific type of role. I mean, didn’t you see John Candy jumping out of airplanes and taking out the bad guys? But with Paul Walter Hauser, it seems the man can and will do anything!

Starting his career with minor roles on TV shows such as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Community, Hauser quickly went on to steal scenes in movies such as BlacKkKlansman and his Oscar-snubbed role in I, Tonya. His next role was the lead in a Clint Eastwood movie and a dream come true for him. He played natural life security guard Richard Jewell, a hero who foiled a bomb attack and was later deemed a lead suspect by the FBI. Hauser’s performance was flawless and gained critical acclaim. He nailed every characteristic of the real-life Richard Jewell and stood his ground on screen with phenomenal Oscar winners Kathy Bates and Sam Rockwell.

Hauser’s next project saw him get dark and nasty to portray the sadistic serial killer Larry Hall. With his soft, squeaky voice and boy-like qualities, it’s hard to believe that this man was a killer. But Hauser brought an edge to the character that’s hard to shake. It gets under your skin and lives there. One second you feel sorry for him, and the next, you are disgusted and disturbed. Hauser balanced this with ease and gave one of the best TV performances of 2022.

Having proven he can tackle any role given to him, Hauser is one to watch and one of t, he future greats!

Credit: Black Bird (2022)

3. Jeremy Allen White

Like O’Connell, Jeremy Allen White made his bones on a hit TV show. He was playing Lip Gallagher on Showtime’s Shameless, a US remake of the UK drama series of the same title. While the original version was popular in the UK, it didn’t quite get to its predecessor’s worldwide acclaim. However, white’s character, Lip Gallagher, was a fan favorite on the show. While it could have hung over him as any popular character can, he has gone on to branch out and stars in movies such as After Everything and The Rental. But it’s his latest role where he has shown!

The Bear has become an instant classic and has already been renewed for another season. White plays Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto, a top chef from the fine dining world who returns home to Chicago to run his family’s sandwich shop when his brother commits suicide. The show explores some heavy themes and perfectly captures a kitchen’s dynamic. It’s fast-paced, anxiety-inducing, and utterly captivating. White’s ability to carry a scene with razor-sharp dialogue is phenomenal, and he is the show’s star.

White also delivers one of the best monologues in film and TV history. Clocking in at 7 minutes in length and shooting in one long take, grips you like a vice and forces you to fall in love with his character even more. His presence on screen is massive, addictive, and utterly captivating. With a punk-rock sensibility about him and echoes of a young James Dean, White has the tools to become the next big action star, heartthrob, or pre-eminent thespian.

He is due to star alongside Zac Efron in The Iron Claw, following the story of the Von Erichs, an American family of professional wrestlers.

Credit: The Bear (2022)

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