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Holler if you just said “What?”!

You might be asking me why I would put Natalie Portman as #3, who is virtually known by everyone, and is the role model of  virtually 95% of late teens/early 20s young actresses around. We admitedly find Kristen Stewart’s fangirl-y-ness kind of cute and amusing [1][2]. However, if we decided to put Natalie Portman as our #1, then that would be a little bit boring, right?

Plus, this time we are choosing quality over quantity. ;P

So~~~ on our list of 20 Actors to Watch, here it is: Doona Bae on #2.

Born in Seoul, South Korea on October 11th 1979, this 30-year-old actress is best known as archer Park Nam-Joo in the monster film The Host (Gwoemul) by Bong Joon-ho, as well as playing activist Cha Yeong-mi in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance by Park Chan-wook.

Born to famous stage Korean actress, Kim Hwa-young, it seemed that Bae was born with acting in her veins. However, she always felt that acting was only for people of extraordinary talent, so she kept away. One day in 1998, after graduating from university, Bae was scouted by a model agency, and one year later she was already debuting on the KBS TV drama School — which earned her the KBS Drama Award for Best New Actress, while making her big screen appearance with a brief role on The Ring Virus, the Korean remake of the Japanese horror RINGU.

In year 2000, she was cast as Hyeon-nam in Barking Dogs Never Bite, directed by Bong Joon-ho due to her willingness to appear without makeup, which many other South Korean actresses refused to do. This earned her another award as Best New Actress, at the Blue Dragon Awards. She followed it with two films that were received positively by critics, first in 2001 with Take Care of my Cat by Jeong Jae-eun, for which she earned Best Actress by the Korean Critics Association, the Korean Film Directors’ Society (Chunsa Film Art Award), and the whole South Korean entertainment industry with a PaekSang Arts Award. And in 2002 with Park Chan-wook’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, for which she earned a Best Actress at the Director’s Cut Awards, chosen by Korean Film Directors, and would lead to a future collaboration.

After two weak films in 2003, Bae decided to take some time off from acting, in which she took up photography, and participated in the stage production of Sunday Seoul, co-written by Park Chan-wook.

In 2005, she went across the sea, and starred in the Japanese cult hit Linda Linda Linda, playing a South Korean exchange student in a Japanese girl rock band trying to play at the school’s festival — for which she recorded an EP titled We Are Paranmaum under the name Paranmaum — by Nobuhiro Yamashita, which also became a favorite of the film festival circuit. The year after it, she had a supporting role in Bong Joon-ho’s South Korean biggest box office success The Host.

Bae also appears on a few music videos, and has released Photo essays for London, Tokyo and Seoul. Finally, in 2009 she played an air sex-doll in the Japanese drama Air Doll by acclaimed director Hirokazu Koreeda. For the role, she earned Best Actress wins in festival circuits, as well as nominations at the Asian Film Awards, and the Japanese Academy Awards.

What’s next for Doona Bae? We have no idea. But if she’s making us wait another 3 years for a new movie on the big screen, and it’s as GOOD as Air Doll was when we waited those 3 years after The Host. Well, it’s all worth it.

Yay! We’re getting closer and closer on the #1 actor (and actress) between the ages of 25-30 that we should keep an eye out for until they turn 35. Before naming our top spots, however, we will talk about some of the names that didn’t make the lists for one reason or another~~~

In the meantime, on the #2 spot of our list of actors to Watch, none other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Born in Los Angeles, California, on February 17th 1981, this 29-year-old actor is best known for playing Tom Hansen on last year’s indie favorite (500) Days of Summer. However, he probably shot to pop culture fame for playing Tommy Solomon on the show 3rd Rock from the Sun through 1996-2001.

Discovered at an early age, Gordon-Levitt started acting on commercials, series and made-for-tv films. He could be seen in a couple of episodes of Family Ties (Michael J. Fox), as well as Dark Shadows, until he made his big screen debut in 1992 with role as extra on Beethoven (his character was “Student #1”). Later that same year, he played the role of Young Norman on A River Runs Through It by Robert Redford, starring Brad Pitt. The following years, he would continue his work on television with roles on The Powers that Be, Roseanne, and a guest appearance on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

It was finally in 1996 when he was offered the role of Tommy Solomon, an extraterrestrial pretending to be a teen alongside John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston and French Stewart… his alien family on Earth. Suddenly, he was a heartthrob appearing on teen magazines and being treated like a celebrity. In 1999, Gordon-Levitt was offered one of the male leads on the Shakespeare teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You alongside Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Larisa Oleynik. He also participated on the Disney animated film Treasure Planet, and finally on Manic with Don Cheadle.

Sometime around the end of 3rd Rock from the Sun, Gordon-Levitt decided to quite acting and enrolled in university, only to drop out in 2004 to focus on acting again. However, he made a conscious decision to “be in good movies” so since then, he’s appeared in a string of underrated independent films, including Mysterious Skin in which he plays a gay prostitute victim of sexual abuse, and Brick by Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom). He even co-starred on the terribly received Havoc alongside fellow the 20 to Watch Anne Hathaway, and Shadowboxer by Lee Daniels (Precious) starring alongside Cuba Gooding Jr., Helen Mirren, and Mo’Nique.

By year 2008, he had already participated on The Lookout with Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Isla Fisher and Carla Gugino, Stop-Loss by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), Miracle at St. Anna by Spike Lee (Inside Man, 25th Hour), and Killshot by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) starring alongside Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke, Hal Holbrook, Rosario Dawson and Thomas Jane.

In 2009, Gordon-Levitt was nominated for a Golden Globe, and an Independent Spirit Award for Male Lead for his participation on (500) Days of Summer, which was wildly received by critics. And he tried his luck on a film with more commercial flare when he played Cobra Commander on the live-action adaptation of G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra alongside Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid and Byung-hun Lee.

What’s coming up for him this year? How about Hesher by Spencer Susser, starring next to fellow the 20 to Watch Natalie Portman, as well as Elektra Luxx starring Carla Gugino and Malin Åkerman, and Inception by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine and fellow the 20 to Watch Ellen Page.

Top it all of with a series of animated shorts, Morgan M. Morgansen’s Date with Destiny and Morgan and Destiny’s Eleventeeth Date, directed by Gordon-Levitt himself… and well, we’re sold!

Surprise! Natalie Portman is not my #1 *shock* And I love Natalie Portman, I’m pretty sure I’ve been a fan for 10 years or so, that would mean I have been visiting NataliePortman.com for that many years.

I should get a medal or something…

Anyway, Natalie Portman is on #3 of my list of Actors to Watch Until They’re 35. Right next to Brother’s co-star Jake Gyllenhaal! Coincidence or conspiracy? xD

Born in Jerusalem, Israel on June 9th 1981, this 28-year-old actress is best known for playing Queen/Senator Padme Amidala on the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy — to the dismay of us fans — even though other people should know her better for playing Evey Hammond on the live-action adaptation of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, or the little assassin-in-training Mathilda on Luc Besson’s Leon (The Professional), or Alice on Mike Nichols adaptation of the stage play Closer, for which Portman earned nominations for Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards, the BAFTA, and other critic circles, as well as winning a Golden Globe.

Portman has had an unusual career, not only by being discovered at a pizza parlor to be a model, and instead getting a part on Besson’s Leon, which would turn into a breakthrough role for her — besides turning into a cult hit, and becoming one of Portman’s most memorable performances — grow up in the limelight and surprisingly have quite normal formative years attending high school and then university. I mean, not many could say that they’ve worked with Michael Mann (Heat) alongside  Al Pacino and Robert de Niro, Ted Demme (Beautiful Girls), Woody Allen (Everyone Says I Love You), and Tim Burton (Mars Attacks!) before they graduated high school.

She then signed on to the Star Wars prequels, in which she would play the would-be mother of iconic characters Luke and Leia. The project spanned through her early twenties, starting in 1999 with the release of The Phantom Menace, until 2005 with the release of Revenge of the Sith. Between those projects, she came up with a broad variety of films, starting with the slighly-more-grown up Anywhere But Here by Wayne Wang starring with Susan Sarandon in 1999, following that up with Where the Heart Is, a tad more mature light drama with Ashley Judd and Stockard Channing in 2000.

The roles and projects began escalating in intensity in 2003 when she played a small part on the epic film by Anthony Minghella, Cold Mountain, with Jude Law and Nicole Kidman. Finally in 2004, two of her most critically acclaimed projects were released. First up, Garden State written and directed by Zach Braff, and Mike Nichols’ adaptation of Closer with Julia Roberts, Jude Law and Clive Owen. Suddenly, Portman was everywhere during award season with nominations here and there, and some wins.

After the final Star Wars film in 2005 and studies abraod, Portman was back with smaller films of more serious flare like Free Zone with Hiam Abbass, as well as more popular commercial work with V for Vendetta adapted by the Wachowski brothers and starring alongside Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry and John Hurt.

In 2006, Paris Je t’Aime was finally released in Cannes and festival circuits, the collection of short films included one by Tom Tykwer titled True. There were also other interesting collaborations with Goya’s Ghosts by Milos Forman (Amadeus) alongside Javier Bardem and Stellan Skarsgård, as well as a role on Wong Kar-Wai’s (In the Mood for Love) English debut My Blueberry Nights, and her much-talked-about collaboration with Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums) on the short film Hotel Chevalier, which was the prologue to the film The Darjeeling Limited in 2007, as well as Mr. Mangorium’s Wonder Emporium by Zach Helm (Stranger than Fiction) with Dustin Hoffman.

In 2008, Portman tried her chances with the period piece with telenovela drama The Other Boleyn Girl, based on the book by the same name, playing Anne Boleyn opposite Scarlett Johansson (as her sister Mary) and Eric Bana (as the King). However, the most exciting news were when it was announced that Portman would sit on the director’s chair, first on the short film Eve starring Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazzara and fellow the 20 to Watch Olivia Thirlby, and then on a New York I Love You segment.

Of course, besides writing and directing shorts, Portman has also put on the producer hat with films likes Love and Other Impossible Pursuits based on the novel by Ayelet Waldman, alongside Lisa Kudrow, as well as Hesher written and directed by Spencer Susser, and playing opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt… which are set to be released sometime this year. In the meantime, Portman released Brothers late last year, based from the Danish film of the same name, and directed by Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father, In America) opposite fellow the 20 to Watch Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire.

What’s in store for the rest of 2010? Well, besides from the small releases for Impossible Pursuits, and Hesher, there’s the Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler) film Black Swan. Starring Portman with Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder and Vincen Cassel – the film is promising enough to get very early Oscar buzz.

In 2011, however, there’s two HUGE projects. First up in April 2011 — if it doesn’t get pushed back — there’s the big stonner comedy Your Highness by David Gordon Green (Snow Angels, Pineapple Express) alongside Zooey Deschanel and James Franco. Then, just one month later, Kenneth Branagh’s live action adaptation of Marvel’s Thor with Anthony Hopkins (playing Odin), Stellan Skarsgård, Rene Russo, Adriana Barraza, and Tadanobu Asano.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s the sketchy romantic comedy Ivan Reitman Untitled Project (which was previously known as F*ck Buddies or Friends with Benefits) with Ashton Kutcher – okay… ? – and Kevin Kline. And there are also plans on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees), which is also being produced by Portman. You can’t really say she doesn’t have variety on her CV now.

Yeah, okay… we’re excited about Black Swan the most, but who knows what a few months would do to our desire of wanting to see more of Portman.

PS: Happy Bday in about a week! I know, way ahead~~~ Wow, you’re 29!!!

Wow, we’re approaching our Top3 Actors and Top3 Actresses on our list of the 20 to Watch Until They’re 35, and considering Prince of Persia has just opened to worldwide audiences this weekend, I’d figure there’s no better time to name Jake Gyllenhaal as #3.

Born in Los Angeles, California on December 19th 1980, this 29-year-old actor shot to fame playing Jack Twist on Ang Lee’s award-winning Brokeback Mountain, opposite Heath Ledger, and fellows the 20 to Watch Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway, earning himself nominations for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards, the Screen Actors Guild, and several critic circles, as well as a win at the BAFTAs. He is also known for playing Donnie Darko on the cult hit by the same name, and can be currently seen on screens playing Prince Dastan on the live-action adaptation of the Prince of Persia video game called Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Gyllenhaal comes from a talented family, with his father director Stephen Gyllenhaal, his mother Oscar-nominated screenwriter Naomi Foner, and older sister Oscar-nominated actress Maggie Gyllenhaal… so you can say he had no other choice than to be an actor… or better yet a “movie star”.

He started acting in the early 90s with small roles, and by the late 90s he already landed the lead on October Sky with Chris Cooper and Laura Dern, which was received well as a family film, and earned Gyllenhaal nominations for Breakthrough Performer. However, he followed that up with films like the off-beat Bubble Boy, and Lovely & Amazing with Emily Mortimer and Catherine Keener… but it wasn’t until the independent film Donnie Darko saw the light of day early 2002, and many years later became a cult hit on DVD that that he started to get noticed.

He starred in a series of rather small films alongside Jennifer Aniston, Zooey Deschanel, Susan Sarandon, Dustin Hoffman, and Holly Hunter. Finally, in 2004, Gyllenhaal would get the chance to work on his first big blockbuster at the helm of  Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012) on The Day After Tomorrow alongside Dennis Quaid, Sela Ward, and Ian Holm. It was during that summer that he began working on Brokeback Mountain, a role that would change his life forever.

Suddenly, Gyllenhaal was an Academy Award nominee, and continued his work as a “proper” actor with roles on a more broad variety of films from Proof with Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins, and Jarhead by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) with Peter Sarsgaard (who ended up marrying his sister Maggie), and Jamie Foxx, as well as Zodiac by David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en) with Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, and Chloë Sevigny, and Rendition by Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) with Reese Witherspoon in 2007.

By that time, Gyllenhaal decided to take a break from acting, until 2009 when the film Brothers, based from the Danish film of the same name, and directed by Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father, In America) opposite Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire. This year, he’s returned to the blockbuster genre with his very own possible franchise by playing Prince Dastan in Disney’s adaptation of Prince of Persia.

What’s coming up for him? How about Nailed a wacky comedy by David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees, which is also pretty wacky), as well as Love and Other Drugs by Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond) with Anne Hathway, Judy Greer, Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt, and Source Code by Duncan Jones (Moon) with Vera Farmiga.

Yeah, those three (plus a few other rumored projects) and we’re happy with the next five years. Plus, Gyllenhaal has all the makings of a true movie star. We can’t even help smiling when he’s interviewed.

Forgive the lack of 20 to Watch posts, in case you were expecting them sooner. Continuing with the list of the 20 to Watch Until They’re 35 is none other than Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi.

Born in Hanado, Japan, on January 6th 1981, this now-29-year-old actress burst into the worldwide film scene when she played deaf-mute Chieko Wataya on Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel, for which she earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscar., among other nominations like a Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role at the Golden Globes, a Best Supporting Actress and a Breakthrough Performance at the Online Critics Awards, another one at the Satellite Awards, as well as a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Female Actor in a Supporting Role, and several other wins and nominations in critic choices.

Kikuchi began her career by appearing on Ikitai (Will to Live) directed by renowned Kaneto Shindo (Onibaba, Hachiko Monogatari which he has remade recently as Hachiko: A Dog’s Story) in 1999, and followed that up with By Player (Sanmon Yakusha), another one of Shindo’s films.

She continued her collaborations in her native Japan with Hole in the Sky (Sora no Ana) directed by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, and on the short film Tori by Tadanobu Asano, who co-star next to her on screen. During 2004, she participated in films that were generally received positively by critics, with roles in Cha no Aji (The Taste of Tea) directed by Katsuhito Ishii — a possible favorite among many festival movie goers — , 69 sixty nine by Sang-il Lee (Scrap Heaven, Hula Girls) about a bunch of pseudo-counter-culture revolutionaries from high school in an obscure city in Japan in 1969, based on the novel by RYu Murakami. And finalizing with Survive Style 5+, a wacky intertwine storyline following a whole bunch of people, directed by Gen Sekiguchi. The film starred big names from Japan, including Tadanobu Asano (who is in the same Agency as Kikuchi), Kyoko Koizumi, Hiroshi Abe, and even martial artist Sonny Chiba (who was last seen on worldwide screens in Tarantino’s Kill Bill).

After slowing down for a while, and continuing her work in 2006 with Inarritu’s Babel and earning worldwide attention, in 2007 she collaborated in The Insects Unlisted in the Encyclopedia (Zukan ni Nottenai Mushi) written and directed by Satoshi Miki (Turtles Swim Faster Than Expected, Instant Swamp) alongside Yusuke Iseya (Blindness). In 2008, she returned to international screens with The Brothers Bloom written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick), alongside big names like Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, and Mark Ruffalo. Moreover, she voiced Suito Kusanagi on Mamoru Oshii’s animated film Sky Crawlers with Chiaki Kuriyama (Kill Bill) and Ryo Kase (Letters from Iwo Jima).

Last year, Kikuchi starred as Ryo on Map of the Sounds of Tokyo written and directed by Isabel Coixet (My Life Without Me, Elegy) with Spanish actor Sergi Lopez (Pan’s Labyrinth). In Japan, she made the film Assault Girls by written and directed by Mamoru Oshii, a sci-fi/fantasy live action film mix with CG about a group of people (including 3 women and a man) that war against mutants in a digital world to achieve points. Moreover, she also participated on the Japanese remake of the critically acclaimed American film Sideways. You can’t really say she doesn’t have variety in her CV.

What’s more exciting for this 2010? Let’s start with Shanghai directed by Mikael Håfström, which will probably open in several cities around the world, as it stars John Cusack, Ken Watanabe, Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li, and Franka Potente. Followed that up in December with the film adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood by Vietnamese director Anh Hung Tran (The Scent of Green Papaya) alongside the 20 to Watch fellow Kenichi Matsuyama.

Yes, we CAN’T WAIT for that one.