It’s funny to think that a year ago, most of us probably didn’t have a clue who Gina Rodriguez, Grant Gustin or Anthony Anderson were when they headlined their own shows. Now, each star has a hit season behind them and they’re household names.
So who will be the breakout stars this season? From Supergirl’s Melissa Benoist to The Last Kingdom’s Alexander Dreymon, the schedule’s packed with leading ladies and dashing gentlemen who could find themselves at the center of the zeitgeist. So take note: these are the fresh faces of fall 2015.
Show:Scream Queens (Tuesday, Sept. 22, 8/7c, Fox)
He Plays: The only seemingly normal guy at serial killer-plagued Wallace University, where he runs the school newspaper when not hustling lattes at the campus coffee shop. Used to crush on Chanel (Emma Roberts), he's now into Grace (Skyler Samuels).
You Might Recognize Him From: Before his turn as a sexy crooner in the big-screen musical Rock of Ages, the one-time Best New Artist nominee for Latin America's MTV Awards romanced Spencer on Pretty Little Liars and dueted with Adriana on 90210.
Why You'll Care: Aside from the dimples and the whole sexy Latin thing, Boneta's Pete is determined to help Grace find out who is stalking the sorority sisters of Kappa Kappa Tau. And that combo of heroic and hot makes for a sexy pairing with Samuels. "I feel the pheromones bouncing off of them!" jokes costar Jamie Lee Curtis.
She Plays: Superman's cousin, Kara Zor-El, who decides to follow the family's superhero tradition to protect the residents of her adopted home, National City. That is, when she's not getting coffee for her bitchy boss (Calista Flockhart) at the massive media conglomerate Catco Worldwide.
You Might Recognize Her From:Glee, where she belted her way into our hearts as the "New Rachel," Marley Rose. Last year, she also costarred opposite Miles Teller and Oscar winner JK Simmons in Whiplash.
Why You'll Care: "She is a great actress, she can do comedy and drama, and this part will require her to do both," raves executive producer Greg Berlanti. "But more than anything, for us to believe that this whole thing is real, she has to make us believe it's real. And I found myself hoping for her and identifying with her."
Show:The Last Kingdom (Saturday, Oct. 10, 10/9c, BBC America)
He Plays: Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a dashing Saxon nobleman raised by Vikings and caught between two cultures that want to rule England in the lawless 9th century.
You Might Recognize Him From: The German-born actor cleaned up well in his role as a smothered mama's boy on American Horror Story: Coven.
Why You’ll Care: History goes down easy thanks to Dreymon's charm, swashbuckling skills and a five chili peppers heat-o-meter ranking—thankfully on full display. He passes the action hero test with brio as Uhtred, whom the actor describes as "a warrior and a leader who's capable of great mischief and ballsy humor." Not to mention the ability to rock an assortment of unidentifiable fur costumes.
She Plays: Alex Parrish, a "supersmart" FBI trainee caught up in the hunt for the bomber of NYC's Grand Central Station. Hint: It's an inside job.
You Might Recognize Her From: Pageant followers may recall the Bollywood star as Miss World 2000, and dance music fans may recognize her as Pitbull's partner in the music video "Exotic." This crackerjack thriller is Chopra's first acting stint outside of India.
Why You’ll Care: She's the total package: appealing, strikingly beautiful, confident and talented; an actress who can convincingly get down and dirty as well as glam up gorgeously. "I love that Alex is a tough girl, yet vulnerable, and I love being able to play that dichotomy through the season," Chopra notes. The native of Jamshedpur, India, more than lives up to the challenge. We can't wait to unwrap the mystery that motivates Agent Parrish.
Show:The Man in the High Castle (Friday, Nov. 20, Amazon Instant Video)
He Plays: Secretly Jewish metal worker Frank Frink, living in Japanese-run California 13 years after the Axis powers won World War II. Frank's girlfriend, Juliana (Alexa Davalos), joins the resistance, which has tragic consequences for him and his family.
You Might Recognize Him From: Babysitting Ron Perlman's titular superhero as FBI Agent John Myers in the first Hellboy film, and on British TV in miniseries like North & South, Emma and Fleming: The Man Who Would be Bond, in which he played Peter, Ian's much cooler, travel writer older brother.
Why You’ll Care: Few actors can stay captivating while spending a week filming a torture scene in a dark, dank basement jail, wearing just his birthday suit. "I was in that cell for a good long time," Evans says. "It was traumatic, actually. Not just because it was brutal, but because of sacrifices Frank is up against. It was very emotional—and it stuck with me."
She Plays: Jane Doe, a highly skilled woman who wakes up in a duffle bag in the middle of Times Square, covered in fresh tattoos and lacking any memory.
You Might Recognize Her From: The Marvel Comic Universe, where she appeared in two Thor movies and episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the warrior Lady Sif.
Why You’ll Care: “Even though [Jane Doe’s] had her memory erased, she has an inner strength that is incredibly admirable,” explains producer Martin Gero. “Jaimie Alexander…can play the extreme vulnerability of going through something like this, but then [she has] that incredible tenacity and strength.” Or, simply put, says Gero, “She’s a star.”
He Plays: Wilkin Brattle, a knight-turned-farmer-turned-executioner in 14th-century Wales.
You Might Recognize Him From: Aussie Jones is mostly known for his work in Australian theater—TBX is his big small-screen debut.
Why You'll Care: "We'd seen a lot of amazing British actors for the role," creator Kurt Sutter says. "But they were missing that kind of raw vulnerability. That's why we started looking at Aussies, because they're way more f--ked up than Brits. Lee is classically trained, but there's a rawness to him."
Show:Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Monday, Oct. 12, 8/7c, The CW)
She Plays: Rebecca Bunch, a successful Manhattan lawyer who packs up her life and moves across the country to West Covina, California in pursuit of her childhood crush, Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III).
You Might Recognize Her From: Her widely popular YouTube channel, where she wrote and performed cheeky songs such as "F--k Me, Ray Bradbury" and "You Can Touch My Boobies."
Why You'll Care: As writer, executive producer and star of The CW's only new fall offering, Bloom is a triple threat who’s poised to break out, thanks to her sharp wit and melodic voice, which is on full display during the comedy's many musical numbers. "Rebecca is a heightening and hyperbole of how I think a lot of us have been when we've been in love," Bloom says. "I want people to see themselves in her."
He Plays: Carlos Gutierrez, a war vet with major PTSD and an even more extreme secret identity.
You Might Recognize Him From: Seducing and stalking J-Lo as The Boy Next Door; teaching Aria self-defense on Pretty Little Liars, and shaking what the good lord gave him in the fourth and fifth Step Up movies.
Why You'll Care: Who doesn't love a sexy but conflicted do-gooder? "[My character] is seen around the world as a hero-type figure," explains Guzman. "But he actually has a lot of trouble seeing it in himself, so there is a lot of self-doubt and conflict."
Show:Life in Pieces (Monday, Sept. 21, 8:30/7:30c, CBS)
She Plays: Youngest Short family member Sophia, the rare Precocious Kid who doesn't grate.
You Might Recognize Her From: Though only 7 years old, Eisenberg has a list of fairly impressive credits, including The Wolf of Wall Street. (You can also see her later this fall in Starz's Flesh and Bone.)
Why You'll Care: "She seems to be an old soul, both as an actor and as the character she's playing," says creator Justin Adler. "She really embodies that sort of Macaulay-Culkin-from-Uncle Buck kind of John Hughes kid that is always fun to watch."
He Plays: Alex Cole, a spitfire with intimacy issues who is also the inventor of a dating website. When his recently-divorced sister and her daughter move in with him, his life starts to take on a new direction.
You Might Recognize Him From:The Mindy Project, on which he played Mindy’s love interest Josh Daniels, the douche-y lawyer who turned out to be a cheater.
Why You’ll Care: At first glance, Alex is your typical womanizing jerk, but it turns out there’s a lot more to the guy than meets the eye. “This is about a brother and a sister having a very intimate relationship,” says his co-star Michaela Watkins. “I don’t feel like I’ve ever really seen anything like that before.”