jason momoa, conan, conan the barbarian

Move over Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Statham and Jovovich. There's a new crop of hot young action stars muscling in on your territory.

Many of this year's most anticipated action flicks star established actors who are newcomers to the genre, like Ryan Reynolds in 'Green Lantern,' Seth Rogen as 'The Green Hornet' and James Franco in 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes.' Naturally, there are also a host of flicks starring tried-and-true action heroes, too, such as Jason Statham in 'The Mechanic' and Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in 'Cowboys & Aliens.'

Others, like this week's release 'Conan the Barbarian,' feature relatively unknown actors carrying huge blockbuster hopefuls. You just have to take one look at 'Conan' star Jason Momoa to know he can pull it off, though. That man was built for action roles. Plus he's easy on the eyes, which certainly doesn't hurt.

2011 has been Momoa's year, leaving everyone (aside from 'Stargate' fans, of course) wondering just where this guy's been hiding for all of these years. He scored major buzz as the brutal Dothraki warrior Kal Drogo on 'Game of Thrones,' and now all eyes are on him again as he puts his own spin on the role made famous by the Governator in the early '80s. He should probably book a contemporary role pretty quickly, though, before he becomes stereotyped as an old-timey brute.

Momoa certainly holds his own in the goofy new 'Conan' flick. He grunts out his lines in an intimidating fashion, and he sure can wield that sword. He also has that rare combination of incredibly ripped bod and perfectly chiseled face, making him an action star who can appeal to both sexes. He's tough enough to impress the dudes, and more than handsome enough to entertain the ladies. As Zoolander might say, Momoa is 'really, really ridiculously good-looking.'

Momoa isn't the only newcomer the studios are taking a leap of faith for lately. Henry Cavill ('The Tudors') is our new Superman, and Garrett Hedlund ('Country Strong') got to headline the huge-budget 'Tron: Legacy' last winter. With so many hot new action stars bursting onto the scene, we thought it was time to compile a list of the top five most promising of the lot.

Jason Momoa. As mentioned above, just look at him. His beefy 6'3" frame is intimidating, to say the least. He clearly knows how to wield a sword. Plus he has that whole quiet bad-boy thing going for him, with that steely gaze and luxurious head of hair. With 'Game of Thrones' and 'Conan' under his belt now, we'll probably be seeing a lot more of Momoa in the future (not that I'm complaining).


Chris Hemsworth. 'Thor' has raked in hundreds of millions of dollars around the world already, which means Hemsworth is now officially a bankable international action star. He did the beloved Marvel franchise proud -- no easy feat. Next up is the highly anticipated 'Red Dawn' remake. If Hemsworth nails this one, too, he's golden.


Zoe Saldana. After 'Avatar,' we didn't hear much from Saldana for a while (unless you count her rather unremarkable role in 'Star Trek'). But that's all about to change with next week's release of 'Colombiana,' where she plays a badass Colombian assassin. With her character's tight little 'Lara Croft'-esque outfit and penchant for machine guns, 'Colombiana' will certainly make it clear that Saldana can hold her own against the big boys.


Andrew Garfield. The nerdy breakout star of 'The Social Network' isn't exactly the first person who comes to mind when you think 'action star.' But then again, neither is his 'Spiderman' predecessor Tobey Maguire. Garfield's winning combination of shy charisma and, well, lithe flexibility, just may make him the world's most endearing new action star.


Noomi Rapace.
She blew everyone away as the iconic Swedish badass Lisbeth Salander in the original Millennium Trilogy movies. Now she's set to share the screen with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in the new 'Sherlock Holmes' flick this winter. With her impressive versatility, stunning good looks and action capabilities, Rapace is well on her way to becoming a bona fide movie star.


One to Watch: Weston Cage. I know, I know. Nicholas Cage's troubled son hasn't been in any actual movies yet. But that won't last long, with all of the buzz he's been generating with his public beat-downs and impromptu karate sessions for the paps. With a famous family that has tons of connections, it's really only a matter of time before Weston lands a role. ('Drive Angry 2,' perhaps?)