Dramatic plots, scream queens, sci-fi legacies, and tons of spectacle—you’ll find this all in spades when it comes to the buzziest, can’t-miss films of fall 2017. It’s the kind of stuff movie magic is made of, but what’s more, the latest big-screen projects are bringing with them some major star power… even if you don’t know all their names yet.
Below are four of the talented, whip-smart, and—yes—stylish actresses standing out. These women are not all necessarily new to the industry, but this year marks the next step in their careers. Specifically, this includes such feats as taking on a lead role in the much-anticipated Blade Runner 2049 and appearing opposite a star-studded cast re-creating the “greatest show on earth.”
>Ahead, get familiar with the new guard of actresses on the rise.
>WHO: Ana de Armas
>WHAT: Ana is hardly a new face in the film industry, but her upcoming role as Joi in Blade Runner 2049 puts her on a whole new playing field. While details about her character have remained under wraps, we know she plays the romantic opposite to Ryan Gosling’s K. Some may call that lucky (honestly, hard to refute that), but Ana’s new stardom and prestige reflect years of hard work—over 10—for the Cuban actress whose résumé is impressive…and growing.
>What excited me most about playing the role of Joi is… “that she, as a woman, is expected to be and act in a certain way, and she was more than that.”
>Surprisingly, the one thing I do have in common with Joi is that… “I would sacrifice anything for love.”
>To prepare to take on such a major role in a film as highly anticipated as this one, I… “had a lot of conversations with [director] Denis Villeneuve and a lot of sharing of ideas. Of course, the first Blade Runner was a big inspiration for all of us … but we are creating our own movie now with a very different director and new characters, so it was long talks with Denis and going through the scenes with him and Ryan and knowing at what point emotionally these characters are at.”
>Unless you were on the set of Blade Runner 2049, you might not know that… “our still photographer, Steve, was the same still photographer for the first film. So in between takes, I used to hang with him, and he would tell me stories about the actors and how it was working with Ridley [Scott].”
>The best lesson I’ve ever learned from a costume designer or stylist is… “sometimes you have to take risks. I’ve always thought that fashion is something to help show who you are and to reinforce your personality. It can be a strength. So it’s important that when you have a stylist they get to really know you and you feel comfortable in what you are wearing. But you should also listen and try new things. I’m working on that.”
>What I love most about style in my home country of Cuba is… “there wasn’t really a sense of fashion in Cuba. Now it’s different: People have more access to Instagram or magazines. When I was growing up, none of that was going on. It was pretty hippy, artisanal, and kind of freeing that you didn’t really have to think too much about. I always recycled my brother’s clothes. I wore boy stuff mixed with hippy skirts and always flip-flops. Always.”
>The three fall pieces that are currently sitting in my shopping cart are… “I’d love one of those Stella McCartney masculine wool coats in dark blue. It has that tomboyish vibe–I love it!
>“I would like some really badass leather pants, like with zippers and things here at the knees.
>“I would love one of those little Chloé bags.”
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>WHO: Kaitlyn Dever
>WHAT: You may recognize Kaitlyn for her role on ABC’s Last Man Standing, where she played Eve Baxter for six seasons. Now, at 20 years old, she’s branching out and digging deep into roles, including in Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit and Lynn Shelton’s Outside In, which both debuted within the last couple months. All this, plus she’s got celeb stylist Karla Welch behind her red carpet looks. Expect to see so much more from this wunderkind.
The reason I’m so drawn to characters like Hildy in Outside In and Karen in Detroit is that… “they are both strong, down-to-earth females with unique characteristics. They both seem like people I’d love to be friends with.”
The one character I’ve played who’s surprisingly similar to me is… “probably Eve Baxter. Although I haven’t yet played someone super close to me, the one similarity I had with that character would’ve been the dry, sarcastic wit.”
To prepare for the role of Hildy… “Lynn Shelton and I met (while shopping for shorts in Santa Monica), and she gave me some suggestions of movies to watch to get a sense of the vibe of the whole film. We talked a lot about Hildy, about who she was and how she fit into this story. She had written a great backstory about her, and we had an open dialogue throughout the shoot. I really practiced being a shy, awkward teen who doesn’t have the best relationship with her parents, which is the opposite of who I am.”
>The biggest difference between my personal style and my character’s onscreen style is… “that I can’t really put a label on my style, because today I’m wearing a concert shirt and sweats, and yesterday I was in a Valentino dress. Every role I’ve ever played usually has a specific, unique style. I’m kinda all over the place!”
>The best lesson I’ve ever learned from a costume designer or stylist is… “you can’t go wrong with a white T-shirt. My stylist, Karla Welch, is always giving me great advice like this.”
>The three fall pieces that are currently sitting in my shopping cart are… “black and red lace-up Prada boots. I think lace-up boots are always a good idea because you can wear them with jeans, black pants, or with a dress and tights.
>“Always a big scarf. I love wrapping a big scarf around my neck. [It] makes me feel like I’m walking around in Paris … but really I’m probably just at The Grove in L.A., and it’s maybe 60 degrees.
“A really puffy bomber jacket that zips—I’m about to go to Ohio, and I think if I’m in a super-puffy bomber, I can walk around and feel like I’m in a sleeping bag.”
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>WHO: Natasha Liu Bordizzo
>WHAT: If you didn’t watch Netflix’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny last year, here’s your first chance to meet the Australian/Chinese actress who may soon be a household name. Natasha takes on a different—although also physically taxing—role of Deng Yan, an acrobat in The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. Natasha may be one of the lesser-known names in the cast, but after the December premiere, that may no longer be the case.
The reason I was so drawn to the character of Deng Yan is that… “the character is a Chinese acrobat in America at the end of the 20th century. P.T. Barnum (played by Hugh Jackman) finds use for her talent in his newly founded circus, Barnum & Bailey. Being a young Chinese immigrant in 19th-century America, Deng Yan would have had an array of hardships to overcome. I thought that portraying someone from this demographic would be fascinating, and it was.”
The biggest step I took outside my comfort zone to play the role was… “definitely performing to a live audience of extras. Even though it’s a film, the musical and performance elements of the film feel very theatrical, which is something I’ve never done.”
Surprisingly, the one thing I do have in common with Deng Yan is that… “we both want to control our surroundings. She is doubtful of the new circus members that P.T. Barnum has asked her to train, as she wants everything prepared to perfection. This diligence can be a good trait, but like my character, I’ve been trying to let go and let life’s magic unfold on its own!”
To prepare for the role, I… “stretched every night and learned how to throw knives.”
Strange and unexpected things happen on set all the time, like the time… “that the director of my recent project Hotel Mumbai chopped his finger off on a fan in India. And a thousand other stories. It’s always madness!”
The one memory I’ll never forget from walking my first major red carpet is… “my first film, Netflix’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2016) had its world premiere in Beijing at the Olympic Bird’s Nest arena. My entrance was a runway-esque strut down the center stage in front of thousands.”
The three fall pieces that are currently sitting in my shopping cart are… “high-rise, sailor-cut, brushed-cotton pants: easy, breezy, perfect paired with slides and my fake specs.
>“A glittery, wool-blend cardigan: a funky outfit finisher to any basics underneath.
>“A statement belt: fall, for me, is the season of relaxed high-rise pants, cropped tees, and cute belts.”
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>WHO: Jessica Rothe
>WHAT: What’s a fall movie lineup with a horror flick that makes you want to sleep with the lights on? Happy Death Day is just the trick. And we already have so much respect for its star, who basically lives out all of our worst nightmare (a Groundhog’s Day–like plot with fewer fuzzy animals and more murderers wearing baby masks) on screen. Don’t worry, though; you’ll likely get over the fright, but Jessica’s talent—as seen in her memorable performance as one of Emma Stone’s roommates in La La Land last year, and as anticipated in Forever My Girl out early next year—is something that leaves a lasting impression.
The reason I was so drawn to the role of Tree in Happy Death Day is that… “she undergoes such an epic transformation. When we meet Tree, she is your stereotypical self-centered sorority girl—snarky, aloof, and at times downright unlikeable. But as the film continues and she is forced to re-live the same day and her murder over and over and over again, her hardened façade starts to peel away, and we get to see the smart, caring, funny, and even at times sweet girl who is hiding underneath. The emotional journey from despised villain to take-charge-of-the-world-and-kick-ass heroine is one that I think doesn’t exist enough in films (especially for women). Also, who doesn’t want the chance to die 14 different ways in one film?”
Surprisingly, the one thing I do have in common with my character is that… “we are both fighters. Once we have set our mind on something, we will not give up come hell or high water.”
To prepare for this role, I made sure I… “took lots and lots and lots of notes. We had to block shoot the majority of the film (for example, we shot the scenes of me waking up in the film from day one through day 14 on the same day, back to back), so having a clear picture of Tree’s journey was important.”
The biggest difference between my personal style and my character’s onscreen style is… “I get to wear more than one outfit. Because Tree is stuck in a loop, my wardrobe mainly consisted of the same three items for the majority of the shoot. By the time we finished shooting, I was ready to burn everything (especially the sequined top that completely tore up my arms—who knew sequins were a health hazard?).”
Unless you were on the set of Happy Death Day, you might not know that… “the first night we arrived in New Orleans was Halloween (very fitting for a horror film, I know). So my co-star Israel Broussard and I threw together costumes from our combined luggage, and we set off down Bourbon Street, a hurricane in each hand and his sweet dog, Charlotte, in tow.”
The best lesson I’ve ever learned from a costume designer or stylist is… “‘Why not?’ That’s my stylist Penny Lovell’s motto in her studio. It’s liberating when you take the pressure off and allow yourself to try things that you wouldn’t normally wear.”
>The three fall pieces that are currently sitting in my shopping cart are… “I know it’s not a clothing item, but I’m obsessed with Jan Marini facewash right now. My skin can be pretty finicky, but it loves both the face wash and lotion.
“The high-rise slim painter jeans from Madewell. I absolutely love their jeans. They fit everyone and last forever. I love that these are a bit looser and casual but still have a high rise. I’m trying to work up the courage to embroider something fun on my next pair.
“Sock boots like the Stella McCartney faux stretch-shade sock boots. I just finished shooting an ’80s film, and one of my favorite parts was the amazing (and at times totally bizarre) fashion. These boots bring it all back. And with a kitten heel, I won’t worry about falling on my face.”