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The Biggest Breakout Stars of 2011

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(Reuters)

Each year, the entertainment world introduces a wealth of fresh faces. For better, or for worse, they dominate news headlines, become paparazzi bait, and, with or without talent, command our attention.

So which new faces made 2011 their breakout year?

Rooney Mara

We got a taste of the New York native, granddaughter of longtime co-owner of the Giants, Wellington Mara,  in “The Social Network” last year, but 2011 that Mara became a big star. First, the young actress starred in the coming-of-age drama “Tanner Hall,” directed by Tatiana von Furstenberg and Francesca Gregorini, and later managed to score a very coveted cover – the cover of U.S. Vogue. She also has tongues wagging worldwide with her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in the highly-anticipated “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” a role which also got her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.

The Middleton Sisters

This time a year ago, we’d just learned really who Kate Catherine Middleton was after Prince William, second in line to the throne, declared he was marrying his college sweetheart. Ever since the April 29 nuptials, the now Duchess of Cambridge has had a big effect on fashion, beauty and charitable trends. with her every move the subject of both tabloid and mainstream news fodder. However, she wasn’t the only British commoner to send the world into a tizzy. Younger sister Pippa, 27, maid-of-honor at the lavish affair managed to upstage the bride in a form-fitting Alexander McQueen number (even earning the tag “Her Royal Hotness” and igniting a rise in butt implant surgery) and became a source of international fascination.

Elizabeth Olsen

Famous when they were barely nine months old as stars of "Full House," fraternal twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were two of the biggest (and richest) stars of their generation. While their younger sister Elizabeth, 22, might not have her name attached to a zillion tween products or be producing her own movies, she looks set to have a very long high-profile career as a Hollywood screen star. Olsen made a breakthrough this year and garnered rave reviews from critics in the independent flick “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” about a young woman who comes out of a cult and tries to live a normal life with her sister and brother-in-law. She has since signed on to several projects, earned Elle Magazine’s Hollywood Break-Out Award and appeared on the cover of fashion magazine Nylon.

Adele

She is rolling in the deep, and rolling in the dough, thanks to the quadruple-platinum selling album "21." The soulful British artist has been nominated for six Grammys, and her album has become the biggest seller of the 21st century. Need we say more?

Courtney Stodden

Every year, there is at least one that makes us shudder, and this year the award goes to teenager Courtney Stodden, who is the epitome of Internet fame for no real reason. The busty bleached blonde, 16, got parental permission to marry “Lost” actor Doug Hutchinson, 51, and has since kept herself relevant and the center of the media’s attention by parading around L.A. in next-to-no clothes – even getting kicked out of a pumpkin patch due to a revealing outfit in the otherwise family-friendly environment. All of which helped her become Fox411's Web Celeb of the Year.

Kendall Jenner

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Kardashian family knows precisely how to build a brand and bring in the big bucks. But this year, it wasn’t all just about Kim and her 72-day marriage. Her half-sister, 16-year-old Kendall Jenner, made a splash on the scene in her own right. The Wilhelmina-signed model inked a deal to design her own jewelry line with sister Kylie, walked for the first time in New York Fashion Week, scored a lucrative contract with swimwear brand White Sands, and graced the cover of TeenPROM. Speaking of covers, the young reality star/model may very well end up on the cover of Vogue one day if she plays her cards right and keeps her image classy and clean. (Ahem, Kim Kardashian.)

Justin Theroux

Anytime somebody becomes even remotely attached to America’s sweetheart, Jennifer Aniston, they automatically become high on the paparazzi priority list. But when he stars in a movie with her, moves in with her, and appears to become the love her life – well, it is safe to say he has made it. Although he has appeared in several feature films before, and wrote the screenplay for the 2010 blockbuster “Iron Man 2,” this year we were really introduced to Justin Theroux – Aniston’s current, and seemingly very serious, squeeze. Their film together “Wanderlust” is slated for release early next year, and in the meantime, Theroux is also reported to be riding the animation wave and is developing a half-hour cartoon series for FOX.  

Michael Fassbender

Playing a sex addict and going full-frontal in a Steve McQueen film, in addition to playing psychology great Dr. Carl Jung and spanking a (naked) Keira Knightley is a sure-fire way to put oneself on the entertainment industry map. 2011 was the year of Michael Fassbender, a humble Irish-German actor who cracked the Tinseltown code and has a bunch more big-time films under his belt for 2012.

Kenny Wormald

Zac Efron and Chace Crawford may have passed on the chance to groove alongside Julianne Hough in this year’s “Footloose” remake, but for the previously unknown Kenny Wormald, it has cemented his status as the new cool kid in town. The professional dancer got the thumbs-up from critics for his portrayal of the iconic Ren McCormack in the 1984 revival, and has positioned himself for a lot more success as the new teen heartthrob.

Ryan Gosling

Yes, he bowled us over back in 2004 as the lovable Noah Calhoun in “The Notebook,” but 2011 was the year that Ryan Gosling truly became a fully-fledged, A-list Hollywood movie star. He prompted hearts to race in the comedic horror “Drive,” buffed up for “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” got tongues wagging as an ambitious press agent in George Clooney’s political thriller “Ides of March” and managed to sway Eva Mendes to become his real-life love interest. Meh, not bad.

 

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