Co-director and actress Molly Gordon poses for a portrait promoting the film “Theater Camp” during the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, January 20, 2023 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewel/Invision/AP)
Anonymity can be an actor’s best friend, but this summer several talents are primed to make themselves known in big film roles, whether it’s the alien make-up, the shield of character work, or the comforts of niche fandoms lose for small screens.
Here are six actors who will wow cinema audiences this summer.
GRETA LEE IN PAST LIVES
Greta Lee cried during her first reading of Celine’s song “Past Lives,” which was released on June 2nd. The writer-director had written a deeply personal story about childhood friends and possible soulmates who find themselves in New York decades later. Nora is in a relationship but wonders “what ifs” in this painful romance.
“Telling a love story from that perspective felt so radical to me,” Lee said. “It read so quietly, but I was struck by how cosmic it was. It’s connecting. It’s universal. It’s all about life and how short life is and how we can reconcile that.”
A stylish chameleon with comedic skills, Lee always made the best of every scene she was in, whether she cooed “Sweet Birthday Baby” hundreds of times to Natasha Lyonne in “Russian Doll,” to Marni as Soojin in “Girls.” frustrated or told The Morning Show divas the hard truth. But Nora would be something else.
“With character work, with costumes, or with the way people speak, there’s hiding in plain sight,” Lee said. “That felt so emotionally X-rated to me, so brutally revealing in a way. It was absolutely terrifying.”
XOLO MARIDUEÑA IN THE BLUE BEETLE
Cobra Kai fans will know Xolo Maridueña as Miguel Diaz, but the Los Angeles star of new DC Comics movie Blue Beetle (August 18) is getting a much bigger platform. Maridueña plays Jaime Reyes, one of the most well-known Latino comic book characters.
“As a Mexican-American playing a Mexican-American, it takes great pride in representing your community in a positive light,” he said. “It was a bit nerve wracking trying to incorporate a culture into a film. But we have about 40 Latinos that we can show their perspectives to.”
It’s a year of transition as he awaits the spotlight and says goodbye to “Cobra Kai,” which is in its final season. But even with the higher profile, Maridueña joked that he still has to clean up for his dog.
POM KLEMENTIEFF IN GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3” AND “MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE-DEAD RECKONING PART I”
French actor Pom Klementieff has dreamed of starring in a Mission: Impossible movie for years. In fact, she even wrote the words “Mission: Impossible” in her stunt training schedule.
“I wanted to manifest it,” she said. “I’m so crazy.”
She also made the smart move of telling her agency, which suggested her name when director Christopher McQuarrie began looking for a new actor with fighting skills.
“I was ready for it,” she said. “I was just punching and kicking hard. I was like, ‘Let’s go.’”
Her character details are still under wraps, but it’s clear from trailers and teasing that she’s getting a chance to go head-to-head with Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. The film hits theaters on July 12.
But first she and her “Guardians of the Galaxy” colleagues close with “Vol. 3” will be released on Friday.
Her role as Mantis may have brought her fame in Marvel households, but she also loved being able to “hide behind her antenna.”
“Right now a lot of people don’t really recognize me, which is an amazing position because I get to work with great people, but I also get to just have a personal life,” she said. “But I know that could change. I have to prepare myself for that.”
X MAYO IN “THE BLACKINESS”
X Mayo has always had big ambitions. She even got a gig as a writer for The Daily Show for a few years. For some, that would be the high point. But she wanted to do more and it seemed like the industry was boxing her into a box where she could only write political comedies. She knew she had to keep going.
“You can’t tell me I can’t do everything because I’ve done everything,” she said.
American Auto helped, but she has two big films this summer: The Blackening (16 Destroy) (delayed from a summer release, now headed to Peacock on November 17).
On the latter, she had the life-changing experience of working and bonding with Meg Stalter (“Hacks”).
“It was the first time I’ve done a film with a woman who was exactly my size. It changed my spirit and my appreciation so much. Meg has no problems with her body. I had so many back then,” she said. “So many actors are so small and small. That wasn’t the case with Meg. I was free to be physically comedic, and she was right there with me.”
JAKE RYAN IN ASTEROID CITY
He’s the little Bishop brother who’s mad that Suzy stole his record player in Moonrise Kingdom. He is the skeptical nephew of Llewyn Davis. He’s the teenager who had a set of chicken nuggets and dips ready for Kayla in eighth grade. And this summer, Jake Ryan takes center stage in Wes Anderson’s latest Asteroid City (June 16).
Though he’s worked with Anderson many times — on commercials, short films, and even Isle of Dogs, for which he recorded voice for fun about four years before the film came out — he still had to audition for Asteroid City. It wasn’t a short process either.
“It wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t easy either,” Ryan said. “In the end it was very rewarding.”
In the film, which is set in 1955, he plays Jason Schwartzman’s character’s son, Woodrow.
“He’s going through a lot right now. He is a very sensitive person and wants to shape the world. He wants to leave something for future generations,” Ryan said. “And he craves a human connection. I respect that and totally understand that.”
MOLLY GORDON AT THE THEATER CAMP
Molly Gordon grew up in and around the entertainment industry, starring alongside her best friend Ben Platt in productions of Fiddler on the Roof and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying before she even turned 6.
She was Triple A on Booksmart and Melissa McCarthy’s daughter on Life of the Party, but this summer she’s forging her own path as a writer, director and actress in the loving satire Theater Camp (July 14).
Gordon plays Rebecca-Diane, who teaches music theory to children at a seedy but popular summer camp in upstate New York. She co-directed with boyfriend Nick Lieberman, and they also share screenwriting with co-stars Platt and Noah Galvin.
“I felt so inspired by so many collectives of people coming together, like Christopher Guest, The Groundlings, The Lonely Island, doing (stuff) with their friends and writing specifically for their friends,” Gordon said. “We thought, let’s make something of a world that we know really well and love, and because we love it, we can poke fun at it.”
This story was updated on Monday, May 8th, 2023 to correct Xolo Maridueña’s first name to “Blue Beetle” and to change references to “Please Don’t Destroy”, pushing the release date back to the fall.
___ For more information on this summer’s movie releases, including a comprehensive monthly calendar, visit: http://www.apnews.com/movies
By Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press