The stars are aghast – Hollywood's juiciest new roles are going to unknown actresses

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

For Phyllida Lloyd, the decision must have been straightforward. Not only has she worked with Meryl Streep before, but she knows that – in casting the Oscar-winner as Margaret Thatcher in the forthcoming biopic Iron Lady – she is almost guaranteed a hit. Streep, after all, is both extremely famous and extremely bankable. Last year Forbes named her the seventh best value-for-money star in Hollywood. The third woman on the list, she was trumped only by Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Aniston. She is, at least on the face of things, a pretty sound bit of casting.





But what of Adrianne Palicki? While Streep transforms herself into Maggie, Palicki is preparing to become Wonder Woman. A relative unknown, the Ohioan actress was last week named as the star of a new adaptation of the 1970s classic. It's a casting decision which had young Hollywood on tenterhooks. Scripted by David E Kelley of Ally McBeal acclaim, Wonder Woman is set to become television's next big hit. Christina Hendricks, the star of Mad Men, made her interest in the part known when she told an interviewer that she had "been wanting to wear that outfit (her) entire life". Beyoncé has said that she hopes to be the first Wonder Woman on the big screen.



Palicki isn't the only unknown entity to secure herself a plum job of late. When it was announced that Rooney Mara would take the role of Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's adaptation of the Stieg Larsson's book series, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Hollywood-watchers were confounded. It was one of the most sought-after roles of the year. Emma Watson, Carey Mulligan, Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman had all been said to be in the running for it. And yet, instead of opting for a tried-and-tested silver screen name, Fincher cast a girl whose career has thus far been limited to a leading role in the poorly received remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street and a bit-part in The Social Network.



Of course, there is one very obvious advantage to casting a newcomer. They will cost considerably less than Hollywood royalty. It's not known what Mara will be paid for her efforts, though it's safe to say it won't be the £10million that Emma Watson earned for each of the final two Harry Potter films. And she won't rack up the expenses of other stars, according to Nina Gold, who cast Colin Firth in The Kings Speech: "It's not just about what they are paid – there is all sorts of stuff you don't see on screen. For some stars, studios end up paying for everything from their trainer to their dog-walker."



But cost-cutting doesn't appear to be Fincher's motive in casting Mara – even if Daniel Craig is said to be earning £12m for his role alongside her. Picking a new face allows filmmakers to work with an actor about whom the public has no preconception. Instead of having to get past the barrier of their celebrity, with all the gossip-magazine baggage and previous role associations that it may bring, directors can simply present their star to the audience in the mode of the character. "If you have a very famous person in the lead role, a lot of people find that it is all they will see," notes Dr Warren Buckland, Reader in Film Studies at Oxford Brooks University. "It creates a lack of sincerity." To this end, witness Mara's recent photo shoot with W magazine, in which she was styled to resemble her fictional alter-ego – complete with multiple piercings and trademark tattoos.



Added to this is the inevitable kudos awarded to a film which discovers a new star. "Often the most exciting roles are the ones that launch a new name," observes Nina Gold. "When it all comes together, and the actor is perfect for the part, there's really nothing like it." There is little doubt, for instance, that the novelty of two brand new talents, Freida Pinto and Dev Patel, contributed to the buzz surrounding Slumdog Millionaire. And in casting the relatively obscure Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson as teenage star-crossed lovers, the makers of the Twilight Saga ensured that the two young actors will be forever associated with the series. Indeed, says Buckland, for many a filmmaker this temptation is too great to resist. "Every director dreams of discovering the next big star."



Perhaps, then, casting a newcomer is not quite the blind leap it may seem. After all, while Meryl Streep et al might enhance the chances of a film being a hit, they can't guarantee it. Look what happened with Lions for Lambs. And, of course, as Buckland points out, there is one major disadvantage of working with an A-lister: "They're the boss. The director no longer has control – it all becomes about protecting the celebrity's image."



In an age when studios and investors are looking to maximise box-office success and minimise financial loss, launching a brand new, DIY star might just be the best bet.

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel

film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower