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Updated on Aug 20, 2020. Posted on Dec 29, 2014

34 Actors Who Impressed Us In 2014

There were plenty of impressive performances this year, but BuzzFeed Entertainment talked to the stars within about their particularly outstanding acting achievements in 2014.

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Jaimie Etkin for BuzFeed News

1. Eddie Redmayne

David Bertozzi/BuzzFeed News

The Transformation of Eddie Redmayne by Adam B. Vary

In The Theory of Everything, the 32-year-old actor went through a rigorous, painful process to take on the physicality and emotional life of famed scientist Stephen Hawking. It’s a performance that could catapult Redmayne to an Oscar.

2. Uzo Aduba

Rick Diamond / Getty Images

Behind Crazy Eyes' Stunning Transformation In "Orange Is The New Black" Season 2 by Jaimie Etkin

Uzo Aduba has seen the Bantu knot-wearing, eyeball-bulging fan favorite go from territorial would-be lover to dangerously devoted daughter on the hit Netflix series. She talks to BuzzFeed News about Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren's shocking second season arc.

3. Jake Gyllenhaal

Chuck Zlotnick / Open Road Films

Jake Gyllenhaal Knows What People Think Of Him by Adam B. Vary

The 33-year-old actor gives the best performance of his career in the darkly comic thriller Nightcrawler — this is how he pulled it off.

4. Lisa Kudrow

Macey J. Foronda for BuzzFeed

Lisa Kudrow's "Comeback" Is A Rare Second Chance by Kate Aurthur

In 2005, Kudrow and Michael Patrick King created The Comeback for HBO, but, ahead of its time in its critique of celebrity, reality TV, and narcissism, it lasted only one season. Nine years later, ​they tell BuzzFeed News the story behind the now-beloved cult comedy’s unlikely return.

5. Jack Falahee

ABC / Via

Everything You Need To Know About "How To Get Away With Murder" Star Jack Falahee by Jarett Wieselman

This season's breakout television star reveals what it's like to be at the epicenter of a sexual firestorm, the crazy series of events that led to him being cast on the year's most talked-about new show, and how he almost didn't get the role.

6. Gina Rodriguez

Nino Munoz/The CW

"Jane The Virgin" Star Hopes Other Latinos See Her Success And Say, "Why Not Me?" by Jarett Wieselman

"When you make your dreams come true, you allow other people to dream and try to make their dreams come true," newly minted Golden Globe nominee Rodriguez, the star of The CW's Jane the Virgin, told BuzzFeed News.

7. Evangeline Lilly

Dave J. Hogan / Getty Images

Evangeline Lilly Tried To Quit Acting, But Acting Would Not Quit Her by Adam B. Vary

The former Lost star and newly published author explains to BuzzFeed News how her lifelong passion for writing led her to The Hobbit — and to demand that Marvel Studios justify why Edgar Wright was no longer directing Ant-Man.

8. Jeremy Renner

Chuck Zlotnick/Focus Features

Jeremy Renner Is Preparing For Life After Tights by Alison Willmore

With a new movie and a new production company, the Marvel Studios actor is managing to balance blockbuster stardom with more serious acting gigs.

9. Bellamy Young

Eric McCandless / ABC

Why Mellie Grant Is The Smartest Woman In The Room On "Scandal" by Louis Peitzman

Love her or hate her, first lady Mellie Grant is a force to be reckoned with on Scandal. Her portrayer Bellamy Young spoke to BuzzFeed News about playing such a divisive character, the double standards women face, and why Mellie should never be underestimated.

10. Bill Hader

Larry Busacca / Getty Images

How Bill Hader Became A Serious Actor by Adam B. Vary

The Saturday Night Live alum shows off some major acting chops in the delightful dramedy The Skeleton Twins, but getting to this moment took Hader on some unexpected detours.

11. Angelina Jolie

Walt Disney

Angelina Jolie Looks Back On The Roles That Made Her Puke, Cry, And Fall In Love by Jarett Wieselman

The Oscar-winning actress reflected on Hackers, Gia, Girl, Interrupted, and more of the films that established her as a force in Hollywood with BuzzFeed News as her 38th movie, Maleficent, hit theaters.

12. Anthony Rapp

Joan Marcus

Nearly 20 Years After "Rent," Anthony Rapp Is Desperately Seeking Originality With "If/Then" by Louis Peitzman

In the musical If/Then, Anthony Rapp plays two versions of the same character in alternate realities. It's a complex, unique show, which — as the Rent star laments — is getting increasingly harder to find on Broadway.

13. Martha Plimpton

Ramona Rosales for BuzzFeed

Martha Plimpton Moves On (Again) by Kate Aurthur

In the course of nearly 35 years as a professional actress, the Raising Hope star has had only one steady job — and it just ended. But if there's anything Plimpton's illustrious, challenging career has taught her, it's that nothing lasts, and that this is OK. And that it's boring to still be talking about The Goonies.

14. The Manzos

Bravo / John Gara for BuzzFeed

How To Survive As A Reality Television Family by Louis Peitzman

After five years on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Caroline Manzo and her family are continuing their on-camera lives with their spin-off Manzo'd With Children. Now reality veterans, they reflect on how to stay real in the world of "reality."

15. Tilda Swinton

Rob Kim / Getty Images

Tilda Swinton Thinks Fame Can Turn People Into Vampires by Adam B. Vary

With four films opening in 2014 in the U.S. — including Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel and Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive — the 53-year-old's celebrity only stands to grow. But Swinton could scarcely care less.

16. Lee Pace


Lee Pace Is Ready For The Spotlight, But Not The Scrutiny by Jarett Wieselman

Before the Pushing Daisies alum embarked on his two most high-profile projects to date — AMC's Halt and Catch Fire and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy — he told BuzzFeed News he wouldn't compromise his privacy for viewers' curiosity.

17. Melanie Lynskey

Larry Busacca / Getty Images Entertainment

The Actress Who Can Do Everything by Kate Aurthur

Melanie Lynskey exploded into film 20 years ago, playing a murderous teenager in Heavenly Creatures — this year, she was a hipster mom in Happy Christmas. She talked to BuzzFeed News about her career choices, Charlie Sheen, and full-frontal nudity.

18. Finn Wittrock

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

How Finn Wittrock Became One Of The Year's Most Talked-About New Stars by Jarett Wieselman

With a trio of attention-grabbing roles in 2014 — The Normal Heart, American Horror Story: Freak Show, and Unbroken — Wittrock has taken Hollywood by storm.

19. Carole Radziwill


Why Carole Radziwill Had To Stop Being Polite And Start Getting Real by Kate Aurthur

On The Real Housewives of New York City.

20. Bob Balaban

Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

Bob Balaban Has No Idea How He Became A Brilliant Hollywood Character Actor by Adam B. Vary

He's worked with Spielberg and appeared on Seinfeld. He's directed Philip Seymour Hoffman and been directed by George Clooney and Wes Anderson. In his own words, Balaban talked through his remarkable professional journey with BuzzFeed News.

21. Emily Blunt

Anthony Harvey / Getty Images

Emily Blunt Looks Back On A Decade Of Career-Defining Roles by Jarett Wieselman

From The Devil Wears Prada to Into the Woods, the five-time Golden Globe nominee shares behind-the-scenes secrets from eight of her most beloved film roles with BuzzFeed News.

22. Katharine McPhee


Katharine McPhee Is Reintroducing Herself by Louis Peitzman

It's been eight years since the world first met Katharine McPhee on American Idol, and this year, she took on her first major non-singing television role on CBS's Scorpion. With the musical drama Smash behind her, she's more determined than ever to prove herself.

23. Jack O'Connell

Jon Premosch for BuzzFeed

Jack O'Connell's Journey From British Bad Boy To American Hero by Jaimie Etkin

In playing prisoner of war Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's second directorial effort, Unbroken, the former Skins star earned the role that could transform his career. It's a challenge O'Connell eagerly accepted and an opportunity he didn't take lightly.

24. Samira Wiley

Rick Diamond / Getty Images Entertainment

The Rise Of Poussey On "Orange Is The New Black" by Emily Orley

Samira Wiley and her character have become the major breakouts of the Netflix series' second season. The actress talks to BuzzFeed about Poussey's growth and becoming a fan favorite.

25. Allison Janney

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

How Allison Janney Became That Actor In Everything by Jarett Wieselman

The six-time Emmy winner tells BuzzFeed News about the highs, lows, and insane experiences she's encountered in her 25-year career.

26. Robert Pattinson

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Robert Pattinson Is Putting "Twilight" Behind Him by Kate Aurthur

Pattinson talks about his bleak new thriller The Rover, changing people’s perceptions, and being the guy who "never played team sports."

27. Sarah Steele


How The "Body Woman" On "The Good Wife" Grew Into The Role by Emily Orley

Sarah Steele talks to BuzzFeed News about playing the fat girl as a teenager, making up lines with Lena Dunham, and why she's love to work on the acclaimed CBS legal drama for years.

28. Liza Weil

Christopher Polk / ABC

The Actress Behind Paris Geller Is All Grown Up by Emily Orley

Liza Weil, best known for playing Rory Gilmore's neurotic frenemy on Gilmore Girls, talks to BuzzFeed News about what she learned from life in Stars Hollow, working in ShondaLand for five years, and becoming a series regular again on How to Get Away With Murder.

29. Rene Russo

Open Road Films

Rene Russo Finally Steps Back Into The Spotlight by Adam B. Vary

Nearly 10 years after her last leading role, the beloved actress looks back at her career, her self-imposed acting hiatus, and tells BuzzFeed News why she's back with the riveting Nightcrawler — for now.

30. Elisabeth Moss

Jason Kempin / Getty Images

6 Lessons Elisabeth Moss Has Learned From Not Playing "Just The Girlfriend" by Jaimie Etkin

"Who Peggy is eventually is what gets her to where she is," Moss told BuzzFeed News of her Mad Men character.

31. and 32. Michael Weatherly and Sean Murray

Kevin Lynch / CBS

What You Didn’t Know About The McNozzo Bromance On "NCIS," As Told By The Stars Behind It by Ariane Lange

BuzzFeed News interviewed NCIS actors Michael Weatherly and Sean Murray about their on-screen bromance. Turns out, they have an off-screen bromance as well.

33. Erika Christensen


Erika Christensen's Journey From Teen Star To "Parenthood" by Kate Aurthur

She was a druggie rich kid in Traffic at 17, and at 31 is a lawyer mom on Parenthood — here, Christensen talks with BuzzFeed News about her long career, growing up famous, Scientology, and how harrowing it’s been for her character this season.

34. Lorraine Toussaint


The Breakout Villain of “Orange Is the New Black” Season 2 by Emily Orley

Lorraine Toussaint, who plays the manipulative Vee on Season 2 of Netflix's women's prison drama, talks to BuzzFeed News about stepping into the role of Litchfield's most dangerous disruptor. In other words: You don’t know Vee.

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