10 Best Young Movie Actors

Sunday, March 13 by Jason Cuthbert

Many of these 10 best young movie actors made their marks during the 1980's. This decade in cinema saw the rise of the "coming of age" genre with relatable characters and sincere angst. Whether they played awkward intellectuals or scorned rebels, these 10 young movie actors captured youth with total honesty.

  1. James Dean. James Dean rose to legendary status with only three major film roles: "East of Eden", "Rebel Without a Cause", and "Giant." In 195 the Academy Awards issued James Dean the first posthumous award in their history for "East of Eden", and then again for "Giant." Dean was a young actor that challenged conservative perceptions, along with his friends and mentors Marlon Brando and Dennis Hopper.
  2. Leonardo DiCaprio. This amazing young movie actor began with reoccurring television roles on "Roseanne" and "Growing Pains." By the time he was 21, he already had seven feature film credits and held his own with brilliant actors like Robert De Niro and Johnny Depp. While still in his early 20's, DiCaprio became an international star with James' Cameron's blockbuster "Titanic."
  3. River Phoenix. This young movie actor, and older brother of actor Joaquin Phoenix, only graced the earth for 23 years. During his brief career, Phoenix played many edgy teenage roles in: "Stand By Me," "The Mosquito Coast" and "My Own Private Idaho." He even played a young Indiana Jones, in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."
  4. Robert Downey Jr. Downey became a huge box office draw with the "Iron Man" and "Sherlock Holmes" series', but he was also incredible in his earlier roles. His charming sarcasm was utilized in "Back to School" and "Less Than Zero." He also worked with another young actor, Anthony Michael Hall, in "Weird Science", "Johnny Be Good" and as cast members on the comedy television show "Saturday Night Live."
  5. Matthew Broderick. Broderick's staring role in the 1986 hit "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" became one of the biggest teen characters ever. Matthew Broderick had a very successful run in the 1980's with other youthful films like "War Games," "Ladyhawke," and "Biloxi Blues." He managed to end the decade transitioning into a well-perceived adult role in the critically acclaimed Civil War film "Glory."
  6. John Cusack. Another popular young actor during the 1980's was "Better Off Dead" star John Cusack. This cult classic was part of his burgeoning career that included these staples of the youth genre: "Sixteen Candles," "Stand By Me," and "Say Anything." He matured gracefully into more adult fare such as: "Bullets Over Broadway" and "Being John Malkovich."
  7. Kiefer Sutherland. When your father is a tremendous actor like Donald Sutherland, the pressure is high for any young actor. You most likely know Kiefer Sutherland as Federal Agent Jack Bauer on the successful TV show "24." But he once played charismatic teens with an aggressive side  in: "Stand By Me," "The Lost Boys," and "Young Guns."
  8. Shia LaBeouf. Shia LaBeouf has accomplished unbelievable feats for a young movie actor. He has balanced action films like "I, Robot" with character-driven dramas like "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints." His performances have been included in franchises like: the fourth "Indiana Jones" installment, the second "Wall Street" movie, and the entire "Transformers" trilogy.
  9. Keanu Reeves. Reeves may be best known as Neo from "The Matrix" films, but he also has a diverse collection of youth films. His laid-back demeanor was captured in: the gritty "River's Edge", the heart-warming "Parenthood," and the hilarious "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure." Before his cinematic adulthood was fully realized, Keanu also thrilled audiences with his starring roles in "Point Break" and "My Own Private Idaho."
  10.  Anthony Michael Hall. If one young actor was the on-camera representation for director John Hughes in his teen sagas, it was Anthony Michael Hall. It started with the first film of the "National Lampoon Vacation" series – that John Hughes wrote. This collaboration continued with his roles as the lovable "geek" in "Sixteen Candles," the lonely "nerd" in "The Breakfast Club," and the sexually curious teen in "Weird Science."