Despite his involvement with “silly slapping” videos (circulating in the internet for awhile) and turning off smoking alarms while movie productions, the 21 year old actor last seen in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull pocketed a Career Box Office of $2.3 billion*. Labeouf/Ladouche isn’t an easy catch as his asking price now is $10 million.
While Hollywood execs were desperately seeking the next leading man (Is it Colin? Is it Jake?), this scrawny kid star (Holes) was slowly maturing into the Gen-Y mover of their dreams. His first solo outing, Disturbia, opened to an impressive $22 million — an achievement quickly dwarfed by his next film, Transformers, which grossed a massive $708 million worldwide. Steven Spielberg, who executive-produced the latter, took a shine to the kid, casting him in Indy 4. ”He’s accessible without being soft,” says one top studio exec. ”There’s a bit of an edge there. I think he’s fantastic.” He’s most often compared to a young Tom Hanks, but LaBeouf has built a template closer to Cruise, lining up action franchises and then injecting them with emotion. Now he just needs to prove he’s got enough stamina, and good sense, to keep his career ablaze without getting burned by fame or sidetracked by momentary lapses in judgment (see: Walgreens arrest).
Coming soon: The terrorism thriller Eagle Eye, followed by (no surprise) Transformers 2.
*Worldwide box office; live-action films only; figures provided by Media By Numbers and BoxOfficeMojo.com
Now that she’s the darling of the indie world, what other “shenanigans” can she get into? Plenty, if she plays her cards right. ”Ellen has a choice,” says one producer. ”Will she be Meryl Streep or will she be a big [box office] star?” So far, Page hasn’t dropped any big hints as to which direction she’s leaning. What’s certain is that she’s not going to be some bland ingenue, dolling herself up for fashion shoots or trolling out her personal life for the tabloids. She’s shown off her acting chops in small films like Hard Candy, but also played a mutant in the last X-Men movie. Most important, Juno’s success ($228 million worldwide) has made Page a cult icon to a generation of young women. They’ll likely follow her wherever she decides to go, at least for the near future. ”Audiences are looking for authenticity, verisimilitude,” says a top studio exec. ”She has that.”
Hollywood’s had a devil of a time finding the next female romantic comedy star. Even Reese Witherspoon hasn’t been able to drag a rom-com over the $100 million mark domestically since 2002. Into this void steps Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy), who capitalized on the success of last summer’s Knocked Up by opening her first solo vehicle, 27 Dresses, to $23 million, besting both Legally Blonde films. ”Women really like Katherine, and men like her too,” says a top talent agent. ”That’s a pretty good place to be.” (It doesn’t hurt to have a fan following from TV, either. Ask George Clooney.) A classic beauty, Heigl’s as adept with a pratfall as she is with a crying jag. The challenge will be finding great material (not easy in her genre) and maturing into dramatic roles. Romantic comediennes tend to have short shelf lives — witness Meg Ryan.
Could she be the next Julia Roberts? It’s a tall order, to be sure, but of all the contenders to the throne, Anne Hathaway may have the best shot. After being launched from obscurity as the star of Disney’s $300 million worldwide-grossing Princess Diaries films, Hathaway deftly left the kiddie pool behind by polishing her acting chops (and, ahem, baring her chest) in the R-rated, Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain. Then she held her own against no less than Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. ”Annie’s just going to keep going up and up,” raves one studio exec. ”She can do anything.” Well, almost. The doe-eyed gamine has one more mission before she can ascend to the next rung on the A-list ladder. ”She needs to appeal to men,” says one producer. True enough. And playing a slinky secret agent with legs for days in Get Smart ain’t a bad first step.
Nobody can spot a phony faster than a teenager, which is exactly why Michael Cera has become the alpha male for the Proactiv set. ”He has defined for a generation something that feels relatable, slightly underdog, and authentic,” says a studio exec. With his sad baby-seal cuteness and mastery of the uncomfortable pause, Cera has made teenage awkwardness not just funny but cool. After building an ardent fan base on TV’s brilliant-but-canceled Arrested Development (and developing an Internet following with his Web series at clarkandmichael.com), Cera delivered a one-two knockout last year, first as a sweet guy trying to score in the summer smash Superbad and then as the most non-playa baby daddy ever in the indie darling Juno. Industry insiders worry about how his boyish charm will age — will he still be adorable at 30? — but for now, he’s hotter than a high school quarterback after the championship game.
The Step Up stud stars in Fighting, opposite Terrence Howard, but 2009’s G.I. Joe will be his real leading-man test.
Across the Universe had ’em swooning, and 21 hit No. 1. Has heat, but his next film, Crossing Over, is an ensemble.