A quick search for “action stars” online draws up a fairly predictable list of names — almost all male, white and towards the upper end of the age spectrum. Most noticeably, all have been doing their action thing for many, many years. Among the Arnold Schwarzeneggers, Sylvester Stallones, Tom Cruises, Jason Stathams, Jackie Chans, Liam Neesons and Gerard Butlers, there are a couple of “younger” faces towards the end of the lineup, including Chris Hemsworth and Henry Cavill, but what becomes immediately apparent is that this mostly still-busy assortment of machine gun-toting, baddie-dispatching and film-fronting heroes is looking rather … fatigued.

Fresh blood is needed to, well, shed some fresh blood.  

And it’s something that the industry appears to agree with. Fred Kogel of German film and TV group Leonine (which distributes both the Expendables and John Wick franchises), recently noted that most of today’s action stars were the same ones he saw on the big screen in the 1980s, calling for the emergence of a new generation. “I think it’s on us to build up new stars again, with the physicality, with the looks and with the sympathetic, great-acting factor,” he said.

Others concur. “We need stars who can fill some of these iconic roles that Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Gibson and other action heroes before have done, because we don’t have enough,” says Jeffrey Greenstein of genre powerhouse Millennium, which has worked with practically every bicep-busting actor in the book (and, historically, gave many their first break). 

But who are the new generation that can pick up the bloody baton and carry on the legacy left by the greats?

The Hollywood Reporter has consulted action aficionados, directors, producers and writers to draw up a list of names. From rising talent who have already displayed some decent action chops and are ready to move to the next level, established actors who may be primed to leap into the ass-kicking world, or older faces who could make a later-in-life Neeson-style career pivot, here — in alphabetical order — are 25 potential new action stars. 

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