Meet Hollywood's New Leading-Lady Guard

olivia wilde

Somewhere between fresh face and top-salary stalwart, there’s that moment in which a sought-after actress is on the verge of Hollywood domination.

Often what that means is: you might not be inundated with posters bearing their faces at this moment, but they’ve got enough projects in the pipeline to ensure you will soon.

Such ladies are ruling this summer’s box office — in rom-coms, 3-D epics, sci-fi flicks and beyond.

Olivia Wilde

This summer: 'Cowboys and Aliens,' 'The Change-Up.'

Coming up: A staggering six movies between now and 2013. She's the latest actress being floated for the lead in 'Lovelace,' about porn star Linda Lovelace. (Dare to dream, gentlemen.)

Why she has staying power: Wilde has striking looks that set her apart from a gaggle of LA imports -- and, according to the million fawning profiles on her we've read in the last month, the brains to back them up.

Zoe Kravitz

This summer: 'X-Men: First Class.'

Coming up: 'Mad Max: Fury Road' (Tom Hardy plays the lead).

Why she has staying power: Kravitz has no interest in being a poppy rom-com doll -- she'll have the corner market on smouldering mysterious types for years to come, and is equally suited to kickass action films and sullen dramas.

Freida Pinto

This summer: 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes.'

Coming up: Pinto snagged the female lead in warrior epic 'Immortals.'

Why she has staying power: She's as beautiful as Angelina Jolie, but that's not why Pinto may inherit the actress's throne. She's graceful and savvy -- she avoided the easy overexposure that could have come with 'Slumdog Millionaire -- and fearlessly chooses thinkpiece films to fill out her workload.

Mila Kunis

This summer: 'Friends With Benefits.'

Coming up: 'Ted' (a comedy opposite Mark Wahlberg), 'Oz,' possibly 'Warcraft,' based on the World of Warcraft game.

Why she has staying power: Kunis isn't just gorgeous and funny -- she has a presence strong enough to stand up to larger-than-life male leads onscreen. With Kunis in the lead, the playing field is always either level or tilting in her favour.

Viola Davis

This summer: She's in the sure-to-be-huge 'The Help,' adapted from Katherine Stockett's bestseller.

Coming up: Two high-profile films in 2012, 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' and 'Steel Town.'

Why she has staying power: Davis is having a huge moment in the middle of her career. Her turn in 'Doubt' put her on the fast-track to directors' first-instinct list of incredibly moving onscreen presences.

Emma Stone

This summer: 'Friends With Benefits,' 'The Help' and 'Crazy, Stupid, Love.'

Coming up: She's Mary Jane in 'The Amazing Spider-Man.' Enough said.

Why she has staying power: Hollywood is collectively crushing on Stone, whose comic timing is as perfect as her looks.

Emma Watson

This summer: 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2'

Coming up: 'My Week With Marilyn,' 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower'

Why she has staying power: Well, first off, directors have been waiting to get her for 10 years, so there's sure to be a dizzying backlog of offers. Watson has established herself as a no-drama prospect with a built in fan base -- after a few indie films, we're betting she'll be back to big-studio projects.

Jennifer Lawrence

This summer: 'X-Men: First Class.'

Coming up: 'The Hunger Games,' 'House at the End of the Street,' 'The Silver Linings Playbook'

Why she has staying power: Lawrence may have already scored an Oscar nomination, but in the long term she'll be known as the face of 'Hunger Games,' which will be an at-least-four-picture series.

Zoe Saldana

This summer: 'Colombiana'

Coming up: 'The Words,' 'Luna,' 'Star Trek 2'

Why she has staying power: Saldana has defined what she's good at and defined it fast. Directors evidently didn't need to see her have the solo spotlight in her own action flick ('Colombiana' comes out August 26) before booking her in back-to-back-to-back action thrillers.

Anne Hathaway

This summer: 'One Day'

Coming up: 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Why she has staying power: Hathaway is already about as firmly on the A-list as one could be. But out of these girls, she's the most likely to still be atop it in 20 years. She's the ultimate genius role-picker, choosing high-profile movies that rarely feel cheap, and will up her own ante considerably with 'Dark Knight.'

Guess what else a lady is leading?

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