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The stars under 30 that Hollywood dreams of: no hard drugs, no superheroes | Culture

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Timothée Chalamet chains the two biggest hits of the last nine months, establishing himself as the messiah of a generation that has a hard time attracting people to the movies

Zendaya at the presentation of ‘Rivales’ with the posters with her face behind.Mario Anzuoni (REUTERS)
Eneko Ruiz Jiménez

A huge face of Zendaya occupies the poster of Rivals. In the film, the tennis trio he forms with Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor share the spotlight and minutes. In the poster, they are a slight reflection in his glasses. The actress who triumphed on television with Euphoria She has 184 million followers on Instagram, she breaks the mold on the red carpet, her personal life is talked about and she is an ambassador for Louis Vuitton, but she still had to prove herself at the box office as a headliner. In 2022, director Quentin Tarantino made a comment that raised some dust: “The marvelization of Hollywood has led to the franchise being the star. There are no actors who are stars. “Captain America or Thor are.” It was not a criticism of comic book movies, but a real trend: cinema has had problems finding stars under 30 years old. Among the 10 highest-paid actors in 2023, only three were under 50, and none under 33 (the youngest is Margot Robbie). This year many of those twenty-somethings are trying out.

Despite the noise they make on networks, the ultimate goal is to generate stars like those of before: celebrities whose name on the poster attracts the public without the need for franchises or brands, beyond magazine covers and advertisements. The preeminence of the sagas, the diversification of home cinema and the drop in revenue has pushed Hollywood into this predicament, although there is already an actor who is the messiah of his entire generation. At 28, Timothée Chalamet has broken a curious mark that he had had in place for almost half a century: he is the first protagonist (since John Travolta in 1978, with Saturday Night Fever y Grease) that has chained the two highest-grossing films for nine consecutive months, according to IndieWire.

In both films, Chalamet is the headliner: Wonka, which many did not bet on, convinced families and exceeds 632 million dollars; and the epic Dune: part 2, with an evolution in its interpretive aspect, exceeds 700 million. They are not movies about superheroic universes or returns of nostalgic franchises. Much of the promotion has been based on selling him along with the charisma of his generation of actors, and thus overcoming the figure of a scrawny, sexy and intense young man that has haunted him since Call me by your name, now as an excessive ruler. Since last summer, no other release has come close to those figures, which doesn’t say much about the state of the box office either.

‘Wonka’ Trailer

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‘Wonka’ trailer.

It was Leonardo Dicaprio who gave it to him in the filming of Don’t look up The advice to take your baton in Hollywood: “No hard drugs or superheroes.” Chalamet told it in October 2022 to the British version of the magazine Vogue. At least we know that he respected the second part. The figures, beyond his magazine covers, establish him as the star under 30 that Hollywood has been asking for for years: global, intergenerational and with his huge name on the poster. The actor, whose career model is Michael B. Jordan, Jennifer Lawrence and Dicaprio, has worked with Wes Anderson, Greta Gerwig and Woody Allen, and today he films as A Complete Unknown under James Mangold. It will be… Bob Dylan. He biopic Musical has become the wild card genre after superheroes.

Zendaya’s career totals 4,000 million at the box office with the trilogy of Spider-Manalthough the weight then was, on the one hand, of the Marvel universe and, on the other,—as in Dune— of the male protagonist: Tom Holland. His partner, in fiction and reality, has already made his own journey to stardom in 2022 with Uncharted, but now he is focused on theater. That’s why, Rivals It is Zendaya’s moment of truth, a sensual film like the one Luca Guadagnino gave to Chalamet and for which the 28-year-old actress has been paid $10 million out of a $5 million budget, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Amazon trusted her so much that they were one of the first to delay the release of a film due to the actors’ strike. So I could do promotion, virals and red carpets. The benefits will come when it surpasses the 100 million barrier, which is very far away.

‘Immaculate’ trailer.

The rise of his partner in EuphoriaSydney Sweeney, who at 12, when Zendaya was already a Disney girl, made a PowerPoint to their parents to explain the reasons why they should go to Los Angeles to be a star. She was clear about it, and she has worked for it: “I can’t take six months off. “I wouldn’t be able to pay for my life here,” he explained to The Hollywood Reporter. “I had no idea there were so many connections in Hollywood,” he replied in The Sun. This profile has made her the atypical star who has achieved the impossible: her success among young people in a genre that is as old as the romantic comedy in theaters. Part of her brilliant promotional campaign was devised by her with one goal: to get rumors that she was dating her co-star.

That star move worked. Anyone but youfree adaptation of Much ado About Nothinghas exceeded 400 million dollars, having cost 25. The only attraction is the sensual romance between Sweeney, 26, and Glen Powell (who will also have his moment of brilliance at the hands of Hit Man by Richard Linklater, coming June 7). The film is still in some Spanish theaters three months later, and joins it now Immaculatewhich turns her into a nun through a horror script that she couldn’t bring to fruition before she became famous.

From TV and failure at Marvel to stardom

Anya Taylor-Joy in an image from 'Furiosa: From the Mad Max Saga'.
Anya Taylor-Joy in an image from ‘Furiosa: From the Mad Max Saga’.

Sweeney, who did not listen to Dicaprio, failed, however, in 2024 by landing with Madame Web in a Marvel adaptation. The same thing happened to another star of the series who has his key moment this year. Anya Taylor-Joy has a very popular face thanks to Queen’s Gambitbut, while waiting to grow in the third installment of Dunewill arrive in Cannes with Furiosa: A Mad Max Story. The weight of it is carried, in her case, by the brand of George Miller’s franchise, although they are aware of what is at stake for this 28-year-old actress who has achieved the best side of herself in horror, through Multiple, The witch, The menu o Last night in Soho.

His companion for upcoming misdeeds in DuneFlorence Pugh, also stood out thanks to the opportunities of terror with Midsummer, and as secondary in Oppenheimerbut after the crash of Do not worry dear, has decided to take refuge again in the warmth of Marvel with the choir Thunderbolts*. Because things don’t always go as you expect. Jenna Ortega’s dance in the series Wednesday took her to the TikTok stratosphere, but when the thriller psychological Miller’s Girl took advantage of his fame for the poster, it didn’t make any difference at the box office. This year she will return home alongside Tim Burton in Bitelchús, Bitelchús, as Winona Ryder’s daughter. Paul Mescal will jump into another franchise with a legacy, after becoming the face of British independent cinema: Gladiator 2 elevate it as Russell Crowe’s nephew. They will still have to prove their worth as stars, and convert fans into networks in occupied seats.

Youth stars and their box office

'Dune: Part 2' cast, including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Anya Taylor-Joy and Florence Pugh.
‘Dune: Part 2’ cast, including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Anya Taylor-Joy and Florence Pugh.
  • Timothée Chalamet. His greatest success: Dune: Part 2 His failure? to the bones. Have you seen it in: Don’t watch it’s coming, Wonka, Interstellar y Little Women.
  • Zendaya. His greatest success: Spider-Man: No Way home. His failure? Malcolm and Marie. Have you seen her in: Dune, The Greatest Showman, Euphoria, Rivals (At the cinema).
  • Tom Holland. His greatest success: Spider-Man’s seven appearances. His failure? Chaos Walking Have you seen it in: The impossible, Uncharted.
  • Sydney Sweeney. His greatest success: Anyone but you. His failure? Madame Web. On billboard: Immaculate.
  • Jenna Ortega. His greatest success: Scream VI His failure? Miller’s Girl. Have you seen her in: Wednesday. Soon: Bitelchús Bitelchús (September 6).
  • Anya Taylor-Joy. His greatest success: Multiple His failure? Amsterdam. Have you seen her in: Dune: Part 2, Queen’s Gambit, The Menu, New Mutants. Soon: Furiosa: from the Mad Max saga (25 of May)
  • Florence Pugh. His greatest success: Oppenheimer His failure? Do not worry dear. Have you seen her in: Black Widow, Dune: Part 2, Midsommar, Little Women. Soon: Thunderbolts*.

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Eneko Ruiz Jiménez

He has spent years weathering fires in the EL PAÍS social media team and now he dedicates himself to talking about movies, series, comics and whatever comes his way from the Culture section. He doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle.

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Nell Tiger Free, in an image from the movie 'The First Prophecy'.
Timothée Chalamet and Austin Butler, in 'Dune: part 2'.

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