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Who's Who in the Hollywood Zoo?

What happened to the next generation of movie stars? It seems as though we've been hanging onto the same name actors for ages. Tom Cruise was a star in Top Gun in 1986 and nothing's really changed if you consider the amazing response to the follow-up some 35 years later. Having starred in Interview with a Vampire, there are some obvious parallels given the actor's multi-generational film career and while no one's holding out for him to reboot The Highlander, any attempt may be more biographical than we'd initially expected.

The new generation of Hollywood heavyweights are still rather lightweight at the moment if you consider the new Spider-Man on the block in Tom Holland. Being the primary next-gen star who seems burdened by all hopes and dreams, you can understand the actor taking a one-year hiatus. If you take a closer look, it seems most of the buzz is around Spider-Man, Harry Potter and Dune cast members in Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe. While the latter are still trying to shed their Hogwart's, it seems as though the industry's tendency to bank on safer options and share the load among broader ensembles is having an unfortunate knock-on effect in not vetting fresh talent.

who's who in the hollywood zoo

We're still de-aging and upcycling the old guard. While it seems that Jack Nicholson has finally exited stage left, the same can't be said for 80-year-old, Harrison Ford, who's more prolific than ever with Yellowstone and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. There's a band of "Flagship Brands", headline acts who still seem to be alive and kicking... think Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt, Mark Wahlberg, Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington, Dwayne Johnson, Nicole Kidman, Scarlett Johansson and yes, even Will Smith.

If these bankable stars are still sitting pretty, you've got to give all due respect to the legacy projects. Able to navigate their way through the highs and lows of Hollywood, their stars may have been tarnished at some point but are characterised by the sentiment of "I've Still Got It, Damnit!". Among this legendary selection of never-say-die fighters you'll find the likes of: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Daniel Craig, Sylvester Stallone, Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Murray, Sandra Bullock, Jason Statham, Liam Neeson, Jackie Chan, Vin Diesel, Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell, Gerard Butler, Patrick Stewart, Jennifer Aniston, Milla Jovovich, Clint Eastwood, Michelle Yeoh and Johnny Depp.

While many of the aforementioned actors have managed to find a healthy balance of publicity and performance, garnering accolades and big pay days, they're only shamed by a purer kind of Hollywood animal. The lesser-spotted "Shut Up, I'm in Character" movie star. These creatures are more concerned with the actual art of camouflage and shapeshifting. Leaning into the light and dark of their roles, they suspend ego (to a degree) in order to mine the depths of their characters in the hopes that somebody notices enough to put them on a pedestal. More revered than remunerated, Daniel Day-Lewis would be their cult leader. The list of actor actors includes: Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Colin Firth, James McAvoy, Kate Winslet, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep, Javier Bardem, Hugh Jackman, Geoffrey Rush, Andy Serkis, Michael Fassbender, Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Tom Hardy, Willem Dafoe, Eddie Redmayne, Jessica Chastain, Tilda Swinton, Jesse Eisenberg, Bill Nighy, Joaquin Phoenix, Hugh Grant, Jennifer Connelly, Jeff Bridges, Andrew Garfield, Viola Davis, Edward Norton, Michael Shannon, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Ethan Hawke, Gary Oldman, Paul Dano, Toni Collette, Benedict Cumberbatch and Rooney Mara.

As amazing as dramatic actors can be, they're at least a little bit envious of another species of actor... "The Funny Guys". These charming critters hold the power of laughter. It has medicinal value as scientifically-proven and if given in the right doses can prove to be very lucrative at the box office. Whether blessed with the gift of the gab, naturally funny-looking or organically self-deprecating and immune to ridicule, this amusing collective may not win Oscars all that easily but are sure to be the life of the party... readily landing laughs all the way to the bank. In this cluster, you'll find actors like: Steve Carell, Ryan Reynolds, Paul Rudd, Adam Sandler, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Sacha Baron Cohen, Zach Galifianakis, Melissa McCarthy, Vince Vaughn, Ed Helms and Anna Kendrick.

In the delicious here and now, we're trying to figure out who's actually leading the current generation of acting talents. The superhero craze has created a draft or blueprint on who we should be giving more attention. Although packing actors into these spectacular sardine cans means we can't easily separate stars from CGI and each other. Known as "The Contenders", these actors have shown promise... and been given great responsibility, however as much as we love them... none have truly gone from good to great, transcending the celluloid to the point of decade-defying legend. This talented and possibly underappreciated lot includes: Emily Blunt, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Channing Tatum, Jennifer Lawrence, Ryan Gosling, Gal Gadot, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Olsen, Idris Elba, Adam Driver, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Chris Pine, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Michael B. Jordan, Emma Stone, Dave Bautista, Rami Malek, Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chloë Grace Moretz, Zoë Kravitz, Tye Sheridan, Ansel Elgort and Nicholas Hoult.

Spare a thought for the "I Know That Face" brigade, a collective of talents who have consistently delivered the goods but haven't managed to assume household name fame. Their tireless efforts are duly noted come awards season but through non-star name appropriation or niche dynasty, they haven't quite done enough to win mainstream appeal. A gold mine of serious acts with supporting act potential, these players are constantly nipping at the heels, recognisable yet unable to latch onto enough pop culture capital to get tongues wagging... yet. A diligent bunch who you'll keep recognising until you feel compelled to Google and say their names in front of the mirror, they include: Karl Urban, Rebecca Ferguson, Taron Egerton, Mads Mikkelson, Christoph Waltz, Riz Ahmed, Dan Stevens, Domhnall Gleeson, Felicity Jones, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Emilia Clarke, Shailene Woodley, Alicia Vikander, Vera Farmiga, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alexander Skarsgård, Marion Cotillard, Paul Bettany, Mark Strong, William H. Macy, Mark Rylance, Sean Harris and yes, his name is William Fichtner.

Finally, one of the rarest of these Hollywood movie stars can be best described as "Which Planet Are You From?". These astronomical actors have an innate out-of-the-box sensibility, able to operate by raw intuition and fascinating enough to occupy any role with a degree of flamboyance. Much like cats, we're left wondering what they're really thinking... enigmatic and spacey enough to question the very essence of what it means to be human. A very rare and exquisite species, they are few in number but come to encompass the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Bill Hader, John Malkovich, Taika Waititi, Tony Hale, Jermaine Clement.