The Social Network, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, tells the tale of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's ruthless battle to keep control of the billion-dollar business he started in his Harvard dorm. Based in part on depositions in lawsuits filed against Zuckerberg and Facebook, the film draws much of its dark humor from a central irony: The awkward guy who changed our definition of ?friend? never seemed to grasp the word's original meaning.
Nicki Minaj blew away Kanye West, Rick Ross and Jay-Z on Kanye's "Monster" this fall with her breathlessly careening, 32-bar verse about brain-eating and moneymaking. Her schizoid gifts (on display on her debut LP, Pink Friday, out this month) propelled the Queens native, 25, to the top of the hip-hop heap. After making her mixtape bow, she came under Lil Wayne's warped tutelage and uncorked her inner drama brat (she studied theater in high school), feigning accents, switching personae, upping the thrills. "I don't want to symbolize sex. I don't want to be sexy to boys. But if it's sexy to the girls, it's cute," she says.
Danish model Freja Beha Erichsen has been the face of Gucci and Chanel, and has graced the covers of British, French and Italian Vogue. But what she really wants to be is Jimmy Page. ?I always wanted to be a rock star,? says the five-foot-ten Freja (pronounced FRY-ya). ?My mom could have killed me — I would amp up the music and scream as loud as I could.? The willowy 22-year-old's tastes lean toward the indie-centric: Cat Power, Jeff Buckley, Cold War Kids, ?everything Jack White has ever done.? Lately she's been listening to a lot of Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, teaching herself to play the blues or jamming in her living room, where she keeps five guitars. ?I live on Wall Street, so you can imagine my neighbors don't really dig it. But I don't like all the business guys in suits.?
This foursome of twentysomething Brits got together five years ago at a London-pub country night, bonding over a bluegrass version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." They initially formed to record frontman Marcus Mumford's songs but quickly morphed into something more democratic. "We're like brothers," says keyboardist Ben Lovett, "and we try to run the band that way."
The band's debut album, Sigh No More, full of foot-stomping tunes and Steinbeckian lyrics that wrestle with faith, broke Billboard's Top 20, and they played their Hot 100-cracking single, "Little Lion Man," on Letterman. Get a taste of their life on the road in this artsy, intimate documentary on the band: Part One and Part Two
Ninja and Yo-landi Visser — the surreal South African hip-hop duo Die Antwoord, who play high-energy party rap in a style they call "zef" — emerged online earlier this year with a pair of creepy, cartoonish music videos ("Zef Side," "Enter the Ninja") that soon amassed millions of views on YouTube.
Die Antwoord were soon playing Coachella, getting signed to Interscope and opening for M.I.A. — and director David Fincher tried to recruit Yo-landi to play the lead in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They release their debut album, S.O.S., this month.
The star of the biggest musical production of all time — Bono and the Edge's $50 million-plus spectacle Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, opening in previews November 14th — isn't exactly a Broadway vet. Born to hippie parents and raised in New York's West Village, Reeve Carney, 27, was discovered by Spider-Man director Julie Taymor when she caught a club gig by the singer's psych-rock band, also named Carney. "He has incredible natural charisma and a powerful rock voice," Taymor says. "And he feels like a high school student — he's got that youth in him." Carney's psyched for the role: "My whole life has been focused on music. Somehow it's led to this."
Since putting on an enormous, air-conditioned mouse head in 2007, 29-year-old electronic musician Joel Zimmerman has blissed out tens of thousands of MDMA-powered party people and turned into dance music's crossover star of the moment, collaborating with Travie McCoy, Jason Derulo and Robyn at the VMAs last month and appearing as himself in DJ Hero 2. "With Lady Gaga and David Guetta, dance music is definitely having its mainstream moment," he says.
Avatar this isn't. "It's pretty much the exact opposite," says Bam Margera of Jackass 3D, out October 15th. "Instead of CGI, you're gonna see things like Wienercam, which is my dick peeing on people's faces in 3-D." America's favorite jackasses had a rough couple of years off-screen, including Johnny Knoxville and friends getting Steve-O, who had struggled with drug abuse for years, involuntarily committed after he sent some suicide-sounding e-mails in 2008 (Steve-O is now sober). But they're back and celebrating their 10th anniversary in the style their legions of fans have come to expect "In a weird way, there's something noble about making sacrifices and being self-deprecating for other people's amusement," says Steve-O. "We're just trying to make the world a sillier place."
"I would have to be insane to have not wanted the role," says Rooney Mara, 25, who beat out far bigger names to play tortured Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. "Salander is one of the most complex, enigmatic female characters I have ever read." Mara hasn't had time to ponder how her life might change: "An hour after I was hired, I was in motorcycle training. Five days later, I was in Sweden." Her small, indelible role in Dragon director David Fincher's The Social Network led directly to the new part. "People go, 'Lisbeth has to kick ass,'?" says Fincher, "but my idea is that she's smart and just different."
Andrew Garfield, the next big-screen Spider-Man, grew up in Surrey, England, with his own secret identity, or at least a conflicted one. His dad was American, his mom British; he wasn't sure what he was. "We all feel like outsiders sometimes," says Garfield. "I definitely have felt that way all my life." But probably not at the moment: In addition to the Spidey casting, announced in July, the 27-year-old's role in The Social Network , as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's discarded business partner Eduardo Saverin, is his highest-profile performance yet. The chameleonic actor also starred as a doomed teen in September's pastoral sci-fi film Never Let Me Go . "I've got a lot to be happy about, and part of me doesn't feel like I deserve it," he admits. "So part of me wants to sabotage it."
In December, Elle Fanning — who debuted in I Am SamSomewhere. The film stars Stephen Dorff as a burned-out actor and Elle, 12, as his daughter/ticket to redemption, whom the actress plays with quiet melancholy. "Elle's mature but still kidlike," says Coppola. Elle and Dakota are close — they still share a bathroom. "It's awful," Elle says, jokingly. "I cleaned crusty toothpaste out of the sink this morning."
"At some point, I want people to feel confused," says Reggie Watts, 38, splayed across his Manhattan hotel bed. A biracial Montanan with bright-pink fingernails and a giant Afro, he played in rock and jazz bands before getting into comedy. Last spring, Conan O'Brien picked him to open his national tour, and in a few days he's shooting a Comedy Central pilot for a "trippy variety show." A typical set of his includes improvised electronic-music loops, squirrel impressions and a 15-minute autobiographical doo-wop freestyle. The closest he comes to a joke? "A panther walks into a gazebo. Man doesn't have enough time to say anything, because he's killed instantly."
Olivier Zahm, the 47-year-old Parisian libertine who edits the avant-garde fashion and art bible Purple Fashion Magazine, has a very specific demographic he's trying to reach: "When a young teenager reads Purple somewhere in Japan or in Australia, my dream is that they will follow a new path," he says. "An alternative life, an unconventional life."
A former art critic and philosophy student, Zahm is probably best known for his Warholian photo blog, Purple Diary, which consists of black-and-white snapshots of Zahm and his gorgeous, famous friends behaving badly. "With the blog, I try to push the limit of privacy, what's private and what's public," he says.
• Aubrey Plaza plays brooding teen maladjust April on Parks & Recreation — she's like a more babe-ly Daria, and her eye roll is a deadly weapon.
• Community jock and ex-30 Rock writer Donald Glover is also a (good!) rapper, Childish Gambino.
• Ravishing and razor-tongued Party Down and Mean Girls vet Lizzy Caplan has been picked by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay for their new HBO series.
• Zach Cregger broke out with IFC comedy troupe the Whitest Kids U'Know — and was cast in the new NBC sitcom Friends with Benefits.
Check out the complete 2010 Hot Issue on All Access to get the lowdown on gin-making brothers Michael and Rick Mast, rock and roll hat maker Orlando Palacio (clients include Elvis Costello and Beyoncé), the five documentaries pushing Hollywood's hot buttons, Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack, the top contenders for Michael Scott's replacement on The Office — and the real reason you need to be afraid of Justin Bieber.
By Matt Diehl, Josh Eells, Jenny Eliscu, Andy Greene, Vanessa Grigoriadis, Brian Hiatt, Julia Holmes, Jesse Hyde, Walter Kirn, Jonathan Ringen, Courtney Rubin, Austin Scaggs, Pervaiz Shallwani, Rob Sheffield, Peter Travers and Jonah Weiner