March 11, 2009— -- Hollywood has long been known for its obsession with youth. As a demographic, it buys movie tickets. Lots of them. And studios hope that putting youth in front of the camera can help boost those sales.
But it's not so simple a formula--some young actors are better draws than others in the here and now. And some are making enough waves to position themselves as the bankable on-screen kings and queens of tomorrow.
In that sense, studios would be wise to place their bets on Daniel Radcliffe (with a cumulative score of 6.03 out of 10) and Miley Cyrus (5.93), as both had the highest rankings among industry voters in the teen-and-under set from the recently released inaugural Forbes Star Currency actors survey. The survey is an exclusive look at what the business side of Hollywood really thinks of more than 1,400 working actors when it comes to ensuring the financial success of film projects.
All actors considered here were age 19 or younger at the time the survey results were released Feb. 10. More importantly, what they all have in common is range, says producer Rick Alvarez, whose credits include the upcoming film "Dance Flick." Helping them is the fact that today's audiences are able--and want--to see young actors in different kinds of roles.
"In the past, someone like a Shirley Temple was limited," says Alvarez. "She was playing herself, and she was the cute little girl with the patent-leather shoes and the curly hair. How do you go from that to playing Cleopatra or Mary, Queen of Scots?"
Case in point: Radcliffe, 19, recently starred in the West End and Broadway runs of Equus, a play about a psychiatrist treating a disturbed teenager who blinds horses. Roles such as these, says Alvarez, get audiences "to see him as something else, and that speaks to him as an actor."
Producer Cindy Cowan, whose credits include the upcoming Ben Kingsley-Jim Sturgess film "Fifty Dead Men Walking," sees the same potential in Dakota Fanning (5.58) and Abigail Breslin (4.83) who, she believes, will have long, successful careers like Meryl Streep's because, like her, they take chances on different types of roles.