From 'Borat' prankster Maria Bakalova to 65-year-old Leslie Jordan, these were the breakout stars of 2020
Normal people, never, rarely, sometimes always, call me Kat and I can destroy you. (Photo: Hulu, Focus Features, Fox, HBO)
The coronavirus couldn't stop an influx of new talent from demanding everyone's attention in 2020. In fact, our attention may have been more focused than ever on what movies and TV shows were streamed (and for how long) during the nine month quarantine, and how young they were (and sometimes older) actors brought us a small amount of relief.
From Maria Bakalova's funny, very topical appearance in Borat Subsequent movie film to the double threat posed by Hulus Normal People to a 65-year-old character actor who owns social media, here are our 15 (technically 16) most popular breakout stars of 2020.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. In the trial of Chicago 7. (Photo: Netflix)
Where you saw it: Watchmen premiered in 2019, but the HBO Limited series got even more resonant in 2020 as fans and media linked the summer's racist reckoning with the historical depiction of bigotry in the US. He also won an Emmy for his excitement. The curvaceous role as Cal Abar must now be viewed as an Oscar contender for his smoldering portrayal of the black panther Bobby Seale in Aaron Sorkin's The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Where you'll see him next: We should see him face off against Candyman in the highly anticipated horror reboot, but that has been postponed until August 27, 2021. He will also star in The Matrix 4 (Dec. 22, 2021) in an unannounced role, then with Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth in George Miller's Mad Max spinoff Furiosa.
Emmanuel Acho on Jimmy Kimmel Live !. (Photo by Randy Holmes via Getty Images)
Where you saw him: Former Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker and current Fox Sports analyst became an unlikely YouTube sensation. His series Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man became a quarantine hit, drawing 65 million views. Guests included Matthew McConaughey, Chelsea Handler and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and a book deal from the series soon followed. The November release became the New York Times bestseller.
Where you'll see him next: We assume he'll have more awkward conversations on YouTube.
Maria Bakalova in Borat The following film. (Photo: Amazon)
Where you saw her: The (so far) relatively unknown 24-year-old Bulgarian actress did the unthinkable: she stole a Borat film from Sacha Baron Cohen. There's no question that Bakalova possesses many of the biggest laughs in Borat Subsequent Film, to which she also adds surprising emotions. And all of this is before the most shocking and famous scene of the insane comedy in which Bakalova makes Rudy Giuliani ... do everything he did while lying on the bed.
Where to see her next: Bakalova has nothing special on her agenda yet, but after signing with CAA in November, we're assuming the offers will come in like a whiskey hotel suite during an inappropriate interview. Bakalova could also be the rare comedy actress to make an Oscar nomination. That could really happen.
Kingsley Ben-Adir on a night out in Miami. (Photo: Amazon)
Where you saw him: The London-born star appeared alongside Zoë Kravitz in seven episodes of Hulu's High Fidelity, starred one of Anna Kendrick's many love interests on HBO Max's love life, and starred alongside Sarah Snook of Succession on the first episode of AMC's anthology series Soulmates and portrayed President Barack Obama in Showtime's The Comey Rule, but what people are really talking about is his great twist as Malcolm X in Regina King's adaptation, One Night in Miami, which could win Ben-Adir One Night at the Oscars.
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