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  • Chayliel Quintanilla Flores

Under the Radar: Exploring the Hidden Gems on Hollywood Stars’ Resumes

Tom Holland as Bradley Baker in Edge of Winter

Tom Holland. It’s highly likely that the first thought that occurs after reading that name is Spider-Man. What about Emma Watson? Hermione Granger probably comes to mind. It’s not unreasonable to associate these people with specific roles, especially when those are the parts that led them to achieve stardom in Hollywood. However, many actors have worked on roles that, at times, fall into obscurity as their mainstream projects overshadow their smaller films. Keeping that in mind, it’s interesting to see what additional roles are on an actor’s resume, especially when those characters are distinct from the image that is typically associated with a performer.

Emma Watson as Pauline Fossil in Ballet Shoes

Like previously mentioned, Emma Watson is known for playing the studious Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise. However, during her time working on this series, a young Watson also worked on the dance themed film, Ballet Shoes (2007). She starred as Pauline Fossil, an orphan whose talent is discovered after she and her sisters enroll in a stage school. Set in London during the 1930’s, the film follows Pauline’s journey as she navigates through sudden success in the performing arts, learns to stay true to her roots, and discovers the consequences that can arise from allowing fame to get to one’s head. Seeing as Watson is best known for her work in action packed blockbusters, it is refreshing to see her explore dance and theater as her character brings iconic stories like Alice and Wonderland and Cinderella to life on stage. What is especially curious about this is that a decade later, Watson would grace the screen as Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (2017) and breathe new life into the dance skills she exhibited as Pauline.

Eddie Redmayne as Gordy in The Yellow Handkerchief

Another one of Hollywood’s most recognizable names is Eddie Redmayne, who long-before starring in award winning films like The Theory of Everything and The Trial of the Chicago 7, worked on his fair share of independent films. One of his earlier roles is in the 2008 drama, The Yellow Handkerchief, in which he plays an eccentric young man named Gordy who ends up on an impromptu road trip with an elderly man who is trying to find solace and a strong-willed young woman attempting to abandon her painful past. As audiences follow Gordy’s journey, they watch Redmayne capture the quirky personality and expressions of this young man who is struggling with newfound feelings for his female road trip companion. What is interesting about this role is that it demonstrates Redmayne’s capacity to express himself through dramatic acting as well as his ability to add levity and humor into a character. Since Redmayne is now known for his portrayal of various historical figures and the goofy Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them franchise, it is fascinating to view how this earlier role prepared him to showcase these skills at a larger scale.

Saoirse Ronan as Daisy in How I Live Now

Another actor with an impressive resume is Saoirse Ronan, who is best known for her work on award winning films like Brooklynn (2015) and Atonement (2007). While she starred in many films, the 2013 dystopian film, How I Live Now, may be one that audiences are not as familiar with. Ronan stars as an angsty American teenager named Daisy whose summer in England is cut short as the threat of war leaves her and her cousins fighting for their lives. While the film centers around the hardships of war, Ronan’s character also struggles with issues such as a complicated romance and body insecurities, which often plague the teen years. The film showcases Ronan’s ability to embody the headspace of a character and visually communicate the complex feelings that person is experiencing. As of today, Ronan has starred in drama films depicting several headstrong female characters such as Jo March in Little Women (2019) and the titular character in Ladybird (2017), so it is interesting to witness how her emotional performance as Daisy served as a preview for the future female driven projects that she would embark on.

Tom Holland as Bradley Baker in The Edge of Winter

One more of Hollywood’s biggest names is Tom Holland who, like mentioned before, rose to fame by playing Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Prior to swinging around as the friendly neighborhood hero, Holland expanded his acting skills by starring in the 2016 thriller, Edge of Winter. The film follows Holland’s character, Bradley Baker, and his younger brother as they attempt to survive a weekend with their estranged father, whose fear of losing touch with them causes him to descend into madness. Unlike the role of Spider-Man, this role requires Holland to heavily implement elements of serious dramatic acting in order to maintain the tense and suspenseful mood of the film. In scenes where Bradley keeps to himself, Holland emotes brooding facial expressions to convey his internal skepticism towards his father, and in scenes where Bradley confronts his deranged parent, Holland uses strong vocal inflection to communicate the anger and fear his character experiences. In between filming the Spider-Man series, Holland starred in films with more serious themes such as the crime drama, Cherry (2021) and the thriller, The Devil All the Time (2020). It is compelling to witness his growth in these genres and how he continues to implement intense physical and vocal acting into his recent projects.

Many actors are known for the iconic characters they portrayed which allowed them to make it big in the entertainment industry. However, along with those career-pivoting roles, many actors have also worked on projects that deserve to be commended, even if the general public may not be familiar with them. They allow actors to expand on their performance skills and explore different genres, which helps them to grow their capacities as performers. While it may be difficult to imagine one’s favorite stars as anything but the iconic roles they’ve brought to life, it’s good to recognize their films that have slipped under the radar because they serve as stepping stones for the actors’ signature projects.


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