If there’s one thing I love, it’s “Golden Girls” reruns. If there’s one thing I love more than that, it has to be seeing actors with enormous talent bust right through the showbiz ceiling. Because, quite frankly, it’s the quiet talents, the lesser-known actors, who often prove to be the most interesting.
And so I present you with a list of actors and actresses primed to hit, as Postal Service would say, such great heights:
- Sarah Burns — If her perfectly timed performance as the love-obsessed Hailey in “I Love You, Man” is any indication, there’s no stopping this comedienne. Get some more films on that resume, Sarah, and give the people what they want.
- Jack Carpenter — Remember the day Jack bowled you over with his gawky charm in “I Love You, Beth Cooper” because a few years down the road, he’ll be the next Jay Baruchel, only more accessible, less quirky. Count on it.
- Jemaine Clement/Bret McKenzie — HBO, in its infinite wisdom, saw fit to give “The Flight of the Conchords” to the world, and we fell hard for the saltine-dry comedic stylings of Jemaine and Bret. Take that to the big screen, boys.
- Brandon T. Jackson — As Booty Sweat-swigging Alpa Chino in “Tropic Thunder,” Jackson held his own against Robert Downey Jr. — no mean feat. It’s clear he’s got talent to burn, so smarten up, directors, and give him the match.
- Lee Pace — Pace is destined to be remembered as “that weird piemaker guy” from “Pushing Daisies.” But heads up, Hollywood: This Oklahoma-born talent has dramatic chops perfect for meaty leading parts like Calpernia in “Soldier’s Girl.”
- Aubrey Plaza — Aubrey steals whole scenes from Amy Poehler in “Parks and Recreation.” Then she steals Seth Rogen’s heart in “Funny People.” And she’s got a ball-busting indie hipness as cool as her bangs. What more could you ask?
- Kristen Schaal — This funny lady is hardly new to showbiz — she’s popped up in movies like “Adam & Steve” for years. But if it took her hilariously weird turn as Conchords stalker Melanie on “Flight of the Conchords” to make her a household name? OK, then.
- Paul Schneider — Schneider might be the most underappreciated actor of his generation. He balances subtle comedy (“Lars and the Real Girl”) and drama (“All the Real Girls”) like a champ, and now he’s giving prime-time TV a whirl. Let’s hope he’s on the cusp of something big. He deserves it.
- Amanda Seyfried — My but the brick-brain girl from “Mean Girls” has come a long way. She made dumb look funny, then won us over as Lilly Kane in “Veronica Mars” and a conflicted bride-to-be in “Mamma Mia!” Methinks becoming part of Diablo Cody’s “It” list (re: “Jennifer’s Body”) will take her even farther.
- Charlene Yi — She played a perpetually stoned Yoko to Martin Starr’s Lennon in “Knocked Up,” and now she’s co-written what looks to be the sleeper indie rom-com hit of summer ’09, “Paper Heart.” We haven’t scratched the surface of what this girl can do.
Everybody knows how this works (you’ve been here, you’ve bought the T-shirt, you spat your gum out behind that tree root): What other actors/actresses do you see poised to do great things?