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Jack O'Connell and Shailene Woodley lead BAFTA Rising Star nominees

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Story by Jack Foley

BRITISH actor Jack O’Connell and American actress Shailene Woodley are among the five young actors nominated for this year’s EE BAFTA Rising Star award.

They are joined on the shortlist by Whiplash star Miles Teller, The Wolf of Wall Street hottie Margot Robbie and Belle actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

Although named The Rising Star Awards, the prize – which is decided by a public vote – is not just for newcomers and can go to actors who have already appeared in a number of films.

O’Connell has emerged as one of the early favourites following a year in which he starred in acclaimed prison drama Starred Up, gritty IRA thriller 71 and Angelina Jolie’s World War II story Unbroken.

The 24-year-old, from Derby, said he was “honoured to be considered… amongst such a talented field”.

Woodley, who first shot to prominence playing George Clooney’s daughter in The Descendants, has two big box office smashes to her name in the past 12 months: The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent.

Of the other contenders, Australian star Robbie first came to prominence playing Donna Freedman in Aussie soap Neighbours and had a lead role in the short-lived US series Pan Am, before catching the eye in Richard Curtis drama About Time. She will shortly be seen alongside Will Smith in Focus.

Miles Teller, meanwhile, has hitherto mostly be seen in comedies such as “That Awkward Moment”: but has picked up rave reviews alongside JK Simmons as an ambitious musician in Whiplash (opening in January).

He will also shortly be seen as Reed Richards, aka Mr Fantastic, in superhero adventure Fantastic Four.

Finally, there’s Mbatha-Raw, whose fact-based role in Belle saw her play a Caribbean slave’s daughter raised as an aristocrat in 18th Century England. She told the BBC that she was “delighted… to be recognised for a growing body of work”.

She will next be seen in Jupiter Ascending, alongside Channing Tatum, and The Whole Truth.

The winner will be announced at the BAFTA Film Awards on February 8, 2015.

British actor Will Poulter won last year’s Rising Star award, following in the footsteps of such previous recipients as James McAvoy, Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf.

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