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39 Stars We Couldn't Get Enough Of In 2015

There were plenty of impressive performances this year, but BuzzFeed Entertainment talked with a group of actors about their particularly outstanding achievements — on screen and off. Here are our features, presented in chronological order of when they were published.

1. Taraji P. Henson

Chuck Hodes / Fox

The Oscar-nominated actor leads an all-star cast on Empire, Lee Daniels’ series about the dark side of hip-hop. “I know I’m going to have to probably dig into some ugly places in my life to bring the character to life,” she told BuzzFeed News. — Kelley L. Carter

2. Jussie Smollett

Chuck Hodes / Fox

Director Lee Daniels “holds up the mirror to us as human beings,” Jussie Smollett told BuzzFeed News. On Empire, the actor plays Jamal, a groundbreaking young black gay character. — Kelley L. Carter

3. Jay and Mark Duplass

David Bertozzi / BuzzFeed

Between Transparent, The Mindy Project, and their new HBO series Togetherness, brothers Jay and Mark Duplass have been taking over the world. But they told BuzzFeed News it's taken years for them to get there. — Alison Willmore

4. Larry Wilmore

Comedy Central

“I just want to get real and say the honest truth,” Wilmore told BuzzFeed News of his new Comedy Central show The Nightly Show. — Kelley L. Carter

5. Jeremy Jordan


He’s at the top of his game in the indie movie musical The Last Five Years, but the actor told BuzzFeed News he wouldn’t be there without the learning experience that was NBC’s musical series. — Louis Peitzman

6. The actors behind the Keating Five on How To Get Away With Murder

ABC; Photo illustration by Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

Jack Falahee, Matt McGorry, Aja Naomi King, Alfred Enoch, and Karla Souza talked instafame, working with Viola Davis, and their secret slumber parties in an exclusive roundtable interview with BuzzFeed News. — Jarett Wieselman

7. Patricia Arquette

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Arquette has gone directly from winning an Oscar for Boyhood to starring in CBS’s new crime drama, CSI: Cyber. BuzzFeed News talked to her about her feminist Oscars speech, the freakout that followed, her appreciation of television, and her early film roles. — Kate Aurthur

8. Daniel Franzese

John P. Johnson / HBO

Over a decade after playing Damian in Mean Girls, the actor is playing another full-figured, unapologetic gay character on Looking — and, he told BuzzFeed News, he wouldn’t have it any other way. — Louis Peitzman

9. Regina King

Gabriel Olsen / Getty Images

“You have to dream it. You have to say it. And then you have to put in the work to achieve it,” said King in an interview with BuzzFeed News. This year, she appeared on American Crime, directed her first episode of Scandal, and starred on The Leftovers. — Kelley L. Carter

10. Avengers newcomers Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen

Jay Maidment / Marvel

On the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and writer-director Joss Whedon discussed the challenges of bringing Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch into the Marvel Cinematic Universe — especially when one of them was also in an X-Men movie. — Adam B. Vary

11. Michiel Huisman

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

After scene-stealing performances on Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, and Nashville, Michiel Huisman — television’s most omnipresent supporting player — is poised to enter the next phase of his career: movie star. — Jarett Wieselman

12. Keisha Castle-Hughes

Helen Sloan / HBO

The 25-year-old former child star played a warrior on Game of Thrones this season. She told BuzzFeed News she's taking back the — Ariane Lange

13. iOTA

Warner Bros. Pictures

He doesn’t speak a word, but playing the Doof Warrior in director George Miller’s gonzo action spectacular Mad Max: Fury Road was a dream come true for the Australian actor-musician. — Adam B. Vary

14. Omari Hardwick

Myles Aronowitz / Starz

Before the Season 2 premiere of Starz’s hit series Power, the show’s lead actor talked to BuzzFeed News about his breakout role and his next project: a Gil Scott-Heron biopic that he’ll produce and star in. — Kelley L. Carter

15. Phyllis Smith

Getty Images

The Office alum Phyllis Smith delivers a breakout performance as Sadness in Pixar’s Inside Out. She’ll break your heart in the best way possible. — Jarett Wieselman

16. Taryn Manning

JoJo Whilden / Netflix

The actor behind Pennsatucky — the Orange Is the New Black character who made us angry, and then broke our hearts — talked to BuzzFeed News about what Doggett’s been through and where she’s going next. — Jaimie Etkin

17. Adrienne C. Moore


Orange Is the New Black Season 3 was the best yet for the actor behind Black Cindy. Moore talked to BuzzFeed News about tackling religion and body image issues (i.e., not having “TV titties”) through her character. — Kelley L. Carter

18. Kelly McCreary


Kelly McCreary has shaken up Grey's Anatomy in its 11th season. Now, the actor behind Maggie Pierce reveals how she got the part, why she once quit acting, and why the show is so important. — Kate Aurthur

19. Holly Madison

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

“I call myself a born-again feminist,” the author of Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny told BuzzFeed News, detailing the hell that was her life with Hefner from 2001 to 2008. — Kate Aurthur

20. Emma Myles

JoJo Whilden / Netflix

Leanne Taylor (Emma Myles) had the most shocking backstory of any of the characters on Orange Is the New Black. Myles talked to BuzzFeed News about how the storyline was almost spoiled for her, meeting Meryl Streep, and how the show changed her life. — Jaimie Etkin

21. Kimiko Glenn

JoJo Whilden / Netflix

Orange Is the New Black's Kimiko Glenn, who plays the Litchfield prisoner you love to hate, talked to BuzzFeed News about Soso’s descent into depression and what’s next. — Susan Cheng

22. Rebecca Ferguson

David James / Paramount Pictures

Your new favorite action heroine from Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation talked to BuzzFeed News about her shoes, her stunts, and being Tom Cruise’s equal. — Alison Willmore

23. Rose McGowan

Getty Images

After 20 years of acting — and finally realizing she hates it — Rose McGowan has become Hollywood’s feminist whistleblower. Now, she's telling the industry in an interview with BuzzFeed News, “Fuck your rules.” — Kate Aurthur

24. Julie Chen


Two decades in network news, 17 seasons as the host of Big Brother, five years on The Talk, and one of Hollywood’s most high-profile marriages has turned Chen into the obsession of millions. — Jarett Wieselman

25. Rami Malek

Cait Oppermann / BuzzFeed News

Rami Malek talked to BuzzFeed News about what it's been like to go from “hey, it’s that guy” to the breakout star of the season as Elliot Alderson on USA’s hit dark drama, Mr. Robot. — Alison Willmore

26. Constance Wu


A lifetime of frustration has turned the breakout star of ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat into the perfect poster child for Asian-American representation. — Jarett Wieselman

27. Priyanka Chopra


After 15 years thriving in Bollywood, Priyanka Chopra is ready to take on Hollywood with her ABC primetime series Quantico. — Jarett Wieselman

28. Ellen Page

Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

Only a few years ago, Ellen Page thought she could never come out publicly. Now, her new movie Freeheld marks an important step in the marriage equality movement — and it’s just the start of a new stage in her career, she tells BuzzFeed News. — Kate Aurthur

29. Lea Michele

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

With a new TV show, a new book, and a new outlook on Hollywood, Lea Michele talked to BuzzFeed News about being primed for the next phase of her career. — Jarett Wieselman

30. Keke Palmer

Hilary Gayle / Fox

“I definitely did think about some of the jokes,” Palmer told BuzzFeed News of her Scream Queens character. “Ultimately as an actor, you have to try to find a way to not be personal.” — Kelley L. Carter

31. Morris Chestnut

John P. Fleenor / Fox

After 25 years in Hollywood, the actor is starring on the surprise hit of the season, Fox’s Rosewood. “Hopefully, it will open up the doors for other people,” he told BuzzFeed News. — Kelley L. Carter

32. Gabourey Sidibe

Christopher Fragapane / Fox

With a role on TV’s hottest drama and a forthcoming memoir, the Oscar-nominated actor has the kind of career that she never dared dream of — due, in large part, to the fact she’s not afraid to speak up for herself. — Jarett Wieselman

33. Bre-Z

Chuck Hodes / FOX

The rapper who plays up-and-coming emcee Freda Gatz is having her moment. She talked to BuzzFeed News about her unlikely path to Fox’s hit show. — Kelley L. Carter

34. Natalie Dormer

Justin Tallis / AFP / Getty Images

The Game of Thrones and Hunger Games star told BuzzFeed News how she recalibrated her career. — Jarett Wieselman

35. Daniel Radcliffe

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

“A lot of my friends are looking for that franchise, looking for that [big] role. And I’m like, well, I don’t have to do that,” the actor told BuzzFeed News. — Adam B. Vary

36. Tessa Thompson

Warner Bros.

Following breakout roles in Dear White People and Selma, the actor told BuzzFeed News she continues to seek out unconventional characters of style and substance, just like her role in Creed. — Jarett Wieselman

37. Michael B. Jordan

Barry Wetcher / Warner Bros.

“I put that pressure on myself to be the best version of Michael B. Jordan,” the actor told BuzzFeed News on the verge of Creed’s release. “And whoever that person is going to be, I’m still growing.” — Kelley L. Carter

38. Gwendoline Christie

Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed

With roles in three of 2015’s biggest projects — Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens — the actor has the kind of platform she always dreamed of. But Christie told BuzzFeed News how she was repeatedly told it would never happen. — Jarett Wieselman

39. Domhnall Gleeson

Bella Howard for BuzzFeed News

Domhnall Gleeson has been everywhere in 2015, from the lethal sci-fi thriller Ex Machina to the sweet Irish romance Brooklyn, to two of the year’s most anticipated movies, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Revenant. But, as the actor told BuzzFeed News, he would just as soon you only paid attention to his work, and not to him. —Adam B. Vary