10 Actor Performances Before They Were Famous

For the majority of actors, bit roles that lead to nothing are not only common; most famous actors started out with roles so laughably bad that they cringe at the thought of sharing them with others today. How about Clint Eastwood’s first inglorious appearances on the screen? This could very wll be a long and interesting list.

These ten actors, now household names, got swept up in movie magic well before they ever saw their names in light. The following are some of the best films ever made, and were either responsible for, or introduced us to, these now A-List Actors. Check it out!

10. Susan Sarandon – The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1974)

Susan Sarandon has graced the big screen, the small screen, and the theater for 4 decades. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1974) was THE cult film. The film itself is a kitsch musical that started as a stage show, about cross-dressing aliens who like show tunes. It features Tim Curry in a corset, Meat Loaf as a leather clad biker, and Susan Sarandon as the guileless newlywed Janet Weiss. Her starring role in this film is one of its most memorable aspects, including some steamy scenes involving the title character.

9. Jack Nicholson – Easy Rider  (1969)

Jack Nicholson is an elder statesmen of cinema. Easy Rider (1969) is one of the most important films of late 60’s cinema. A neutral perspective on the decline and fall of the age of aquarius, through the eyes of two legitimate free spirits Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper, also the director), it analyzes honestly, and sometimes uncomfortably the prelude to chaos and the cross-roads America existed in the late 60’s. Jack Nicholson’s role is minor with no more than thirty minutes of screen time.

8. Jodie Foster – Taxi Driver (1976)

Jodie Foster has had one of the most storied, grounded, and infamous stints in Hollywood of all time. One of Martin Scorsese’s first and most famous projects is the Taxi Driver. Personified by a young Robert De Niro, the deranged and scarred veteran Travis Bickle is one of the earliest examples of a villain as protagonist, operating on morally questionable territory to save the downtrodden. The downtrodden is Foster’s twelve year old prostitute Iris, a role so heartbreakingly convincing in its darkness and utter cynicism that one flinches and understands her plight despite the youth of her character.

7. Brad Pitt – Thelma & Louise (1991)

Brad Pitt is known for being one of the sexiest men alive. His acting resume has covered diverse and colorful territory with various levels of success, from Interview with a Vampire to World War Z. Thelma & Louise (1991) starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon as the title characters is Brad Pitt’s first major Hollywood film role, having done a number of tv films and small projects before, his role as petty thief J.D., and in particular a certain steamy bedroom scene, nudged the door to future success.

6. Anne Hathaway – Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Anne Hathaway, while a reasonably new presence in the cinematic world, already has one of the most varied and grandiose portfolio of performances under her belt. Brokeback Mountain (2005) is both famed and infamous for its honest portrayal by Ang Lee of a homosexual relationship and the ensuing deterioration of the lives of the two gentlemen that comes with being themselves and hiding it. She portrayed Lureen, the wife of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist. She played it memorably and with honesty and gravity, a far cry from her role in the Princess Diaries.

5. Johnny Depp – Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Johnny Depp‘s reputation ebbs and flows in ways almost as weird as the characters he is generally type cast into today. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is one of the most iconic slasher films ever made. Depp’s character in this film is just a teenage boy. In his debut role, he plays it straight, bringing a certain mature terror to his character – and his death is one of the most spectacular and famous slasher deaths in film history, giving bucket of blood a whole new meaning.

4. Marilyn Monroe – All About Eve (1950)

If gentlemen really do prefer blondes, then Marilyn Monroe is the ultimate sex symbol. All About Eve is one of the most famous films about acting ever. The movie features Bette Davis as an actress on the out and Anne Baxter as the machiavellian Eve Harrington. They play out a power struggle that highlights the cyclical and disposable nature of fame. All About Eve also happens to be one of Marilyn Monroe’s earliest film roles, playing the foolish Miss Caswell. Like Anne Baxter’s Eve, she’s another up and comer; her role wasn’t significant, but the exposure it created for Miss Monroe certainly was.

3. Harrison Ford – American Graffiti (1976)

Han Solo and Indiana Jones. With a career like that, this actor needs no introduction. American Graffiti is American Pie for a more wholesome generation. Set over the course of one evening before a group of friends moves on to college, it is the epitome of coming of age film. The timeless story deals with the terror of getting older and the loss of friendship, and innocence. Ford‘s role in the film is rather limited as Bob Falfa, an arrogant man about town.

2. Meryl Streep – The Deer Hunter (1973)

Meryl Streep is arguably the greatest actress who has ever lived. The Deer Hunter (1973) is Michael Cimino’s first film and is considered a deeply divisive film. The movie studies the chaos of the Vietnam War on an extraordinarily personal scale, along with the damage and emotional degradations of war. At the time of filming, Streep was a relative unknown. Playing Linda in the film, her portrayal not only thrust her into the national spotlight but garnered Streep her first academy award nomination.

1. Al Pacino – The Godfather (1972)

Al Pacino is legendary. A man and a myth, he has reached the highest echelons of cinematic glory with films like Scarface and Dog Day Afternoon. The Godfather (1972) is frequently ranked as one of the best films ever made, if not the single best. And it was Al Pacino‘s first major role. Pacino’s portrayal of relative innocent Michael and the progressive destruction of his soul in service of his family and his “family” is subtle and masterful.

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