Big stars' first movies
Hollywood's A-listers weren't always at the top of the marquee.


Looking Back

He may make millions of dollars working with his buddy Tim Burton now, but that wasn't always the case for Johnny Depp. His first role on the big screen was in 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street." A 21-year-old Johnny played high schooler Glen Lantz, one of Freddy's victims.

Check out when other A-listers were taking Z-list roles.

(New Line Cinema)

Alex in Zoolander

Alex Skarsgard

He may be the hottest thing on HBO right now in "True Bloods," but Alex Skarsgard wasn't exactly the "it" thing back in 2001. 

He played Meekus in "Zoolander" for one of his first American roles. 



Eva Longoria Carlita

Eva Longoria

The "Desperate Housewives" cutie started off on daytime soap operas like "The Young and the Restless."

One of her first flicks was "Carlita's Secret" in 2004 where she shared a same-sex smooch with actress Maria Bravo. "It was the most fun I've ever had kissing somebody," she later said. 



Jamie Foxx AP

Jamie Foxx

He may be a big Oscar winner these days, but Jamie Foxx barely got noticed in his first film role. 

When you think of "Toys" (1992) with Robin Williams, you may think of Joan Cusack and LL Cool J, but surely Foxx doesn't come to mind. He was also in it. He played Baker.


Looking Back

Salma Hayek

Although Salma Hayek was already a star in Mexico, she had to start from scratch when she moved to the U.S. But it didn’t take long for people to notice her.

Her first big screen appearance was on “Mi Vida Loca” in 1993 and two years later she became a solidified star when she starred opposite Antonio Banderas in “Desperado.”



(Sony Pictures)


Tom Cruise

A young Cruise made his debut in 1981’s “Endless Love” opposite Brooke Shields.

Years later, the devout scientologist got into a public feud with his first co-star over her use of anti-depressants.

Fun Fact: This flick was also Ian Ziering’s film debut.




Nicole Kidman

The Australian actress made her film debut in “Bush Christmas” in 1983 but she didn’t cross over to U.S. screens until 1990 when she appeared opposite soon-to-be husband - and now ex-husband - Tom Cruise on “Days of Thunder.”


Fun Fact: "Days of Thunder" was one of the highest-grossing films of 1990 - Not bad for a debut film!




Jennifer Connelly

The native New Yorker first filmed for the big screen in 1982 when she was 11-years-old in “Once Upon a Time in America."

In 1986, the young star landed the lead in the fantasy flick “Labyrinth” and many other roles soon followed.

Fun Fact: Despite launching Connelly’s career, “Labyrinth” was a box office failure, grossing less than $13 million – almost half of its $25 million budget.


(Sony Pictures)


George Clooney

Despite his boyish good looks, Clooney started off in the horror genre, making “Predator: The Concert” and “Return to Horror High” in 1987.

Although he had hearts a flutter on the small screen on the hit drama “ER,” Clooney’s breakthrough role was almost a decade later in “From Dusk Till Dawn."


(Screenplay, Inc.)




Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper

"The Hangover" star Bradley Cooper didn't make his screen debut until 2001's "Wet Hot American Summer."

The actor was so committed to making the cult classic, he skipped his graduation ceremony at the Actor's Studio!

Wonder what James Lipton thought of that.

(Polygram USA Video)


Drew Barrymore

Born into a family of actors, Barrymore first basked in the limelight when she was less than a year old, appearing on television commercials.

In 1980, the 5-year-old made her big screen debut in "Altered States." The sci-fi thriller was also the screen debut of William Hurt.

A year later Barrymore got the call to star in "E.T.," and the rest is history.  


(Universal Studios Home Entertainment)


Denzel Washington

"The Book of Eli" star got his acting start in the comedy “Carbon Copy" in 1981. He has only done three comedies since. 

He told MTV last year that he's looking forward to working on a comedy with Will Smith in the near future, but no details have been released. 




Reese Witherspoon

The Academy Award winner went to an open casting call for "The Man in the Moon" in 1991 hoping to get a small part.

She got the lead. 

Witherspoon got rave reviews for her portrayal of a 14-year-old country girl who falls in love for the first time.



Leonardo DiCaprio

After guest-starring on the hit show "Growing Pains," DiCaprio made his big screen debut in "Critters 3" in 1991.

"I admit I've done a few lousy roles in the beginning of my career, like my role in 'Critters 3'", he has said. "But at that age, you'll do anything for attention." 

(Warner Home Video)

Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker

Best known as Carrie on “Sex and the City,” Sarah Jessica Parker started out with a cameo in “The Little Match Girl” in 1974.  

SJP scored a bigger role in “Somewhere, Tomorrow” about 10 years later.

(Guilty Pleasures)


Robert Pattinson

The British actor must be having a serious case of dèjá vu.

He was uncredited in his first movie role in Reese Witherspoon's “Vanity Fair” in 2004, and then co-starred with her again in "Water for Elephants." 

(Warner Bros. Pictures)


Marisa Tomei

A 20-year-old Tomei had a small part in "The Flamingo Kid" in 1984. 

Fun Fact: The film, which starred a young Matt Dillon, was the first movie to receive a PG-13 rating.  



Steve Carell

"The Office" star had a minor role as Tesio in 1991's "Curly Sue." 

It was director John Hughes' last movie and Carell thought it could be his big break. “It's kind of silly to look back on it now,” he told Playboy Magazine in 2008. “I spent three days on the set, and all I did was look askance at Jim Belushi. But it was a huge deal for me to get a walk-on part in a movie."

"When it opened," he continues. "I took all my friends to the theater. My scene is in the first 45 seconds, after that was over my friends stood up and walked out. I'm sure the rest of 'Curly Sue' is great, but they didn't want to sit through an hour-and-a-half movie about an adorable moppet.”



Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson

It may feel like she's been acting in romantic comedies forever, but Hudson made her debut just 10 years ago in “Almost Famous.” 

Her breakout role as a rock band groupie won her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.  

(Dreamworks Video)


Michael Douglas

Douglas had a small role as a jeep driver in "Cast a Giant Shadow" in 1966 which went uncredited. 

His dad, Kirk, starred in the film.

His next film, "Hail, Hero," got him a Golden Globe nomination for most promising male newcomer.

(Rolling Stone)


Julia Roberts

America's sweetheart decided to pursue acting once her brother Eric Roberts had achieved some success in the industry.

She filmed her first movie, "Blood Red" opposite her older bro in 1987. She had only had two lines. 

Interstingly, the movie was released in 1989, after Roberts had already made a name for herself in "Satisfaction" and "Mystic Pizza."



Ben Affleck

Affleck's career had a slow start with small roles on miniseries and made-for-TV movies. 

In 1981 he got a role in “The Dark End of the Street" as ... a kid on the street. 



Demi Moore

Eight years before Moore filmed "Ghost" in 1990, she starred in the low budget sci-fi horror pic, “Parasite." 

The film, which took about a month to shoot, was a hit at the drive-in.

(Starz/Anchor Bay)


Matthew Broderick

Before becoming the infamous Ferris Bueller, Broderick was in “Max Dugan Returns” in 1983. 

He starred opposite father-son duo Donald and Keifer Sutherland. 

Fun Fact: “Max Dugan Returns” was one of the two movies the Sutherlands appeared in together. The other was “A Time to Kill” in 1996.

(Starz/Anchor Bay)


Kim Cattrall

Cattrall hasn't always played an over-the-hill sexpot. 

As a teen she starred in "Rosebud" (1975). It was Austrian director Otto Preminger’s second to last film, and deemed by many to be his worse. 

Time Magazine's review of the flick was properly entitled, "Rose Dud."

(20th Century Fox)


Matt Damon

While attending Harvard University, "The Bourne Identity" star got his first movie break with one line of dialogue in “Mystic Pizza” in 1988. 

The romantic comedy starred Julia Roberts, who Damon would star with again in "Ocean's Eleven."



Gwyneth Paltrow

In 1991 the actress got her first big screen part in "Shout" with John Travolta. 

That same year she was cast as young Wendy in Steven Spielberg's "Hook."

(Universal Pictures)

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt

Before he was the sexiest man alive, Brad went unnoticed and uncredited in four films in 1987 including “Hunk” and “No Way Out."




Cameron Diaz

The "Charlie's Angel" got her start in 1994 in the comedy "The Mask" alongside Jim Carey. 

But she almost didn't get the part. 

Studio execs considered Vanessa Williams, Kristy Swanson and even Anna Nicole Smith before ultimately deciding on Diaz.

(New Line)


Matthew McConaughey

The romantic comedy golden boy started his film career with a tiny part in “My Boyfriend’s Back” (1993), but it was his role in “Dazed and Confused” later that year that really set him apart.

Originally, McConaughey was thought to be too good-looking for the part in the coming of age drama, but after growing his hair out and donning a creepy mustache, director Richard Linklater conceded. 

(Universal Studios)



Jennifer Aniston

The “Friends” star got her big break in this 1993 slasher about a murderous leprechaun.

Fun Fact: “Leprechaun” was a big success, costing just $900,000 and grossing almost $9 million. These days, Aniston probably spends $900,000 on a pair of jeans.


(YouTube/Lions Gate)


Bruce Willis

Demi Moore’s ex-husband went uncredited in three movies in the early 1980s.

His first movie appearance was as a man entering a diner in “The First Deadly Sin” (1980). He followed that with an appearance as a courtroom observer in “The Verdict” (1982) and “A Guru Comes” (1985).

His first major movie role came starring opposite Kim Basinger in “Blind Date" in 1987 after he was already a TV star from the show "Moonlighting."

(Rolling Stone)

Big stars' first movies

Hollywood's A-listers weren't always at the top of the marquee.

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