Every actor has a starting point, a role that marked their entry into the world of cinema or television. While some of these roles are minor and easily overlooked, they often serve as stepping stones to illustrious careers that capture the hearts of audiences worldwide.
In this article, we delve into the early roles of renowned actors, shedding light on the humble beginnings that preceded their rise to stardom.
From brief appearances in TV shows to supporting roles in films, these initial performances provide a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of some of Hollywood’s most celebrated talents.
Join us as we journey back to where it all began.
Christina Hendricks in “Undressed” (1991): As Rhiannon, Hendricks played a character in this MTV series that explored the romantic and sexual challenges faced by young adults. It was an early glimpse into Hendricks’ ability to portray complex characters.
Aaron Paul in “Beverly Hills, 90210” (1999): Portraying Chad, Paul appeared in this iconic teen drama, giving a glimpse into the lives of the privileged youth of Beverly Hills. His role, although brief, showcased his early acting chops.
Chris Rock in “Krush Groove” (1985): In a minor yet memorable role, Rock played a person standing next to a club during a fight. This film, centered around the world of hip-hop, provided Rock with one of his earliest on-screen appearances.
Alison Brie in “Hannah Montana” (2006): As Nina, Brie had a guest role in this beloved Disney series about a girl leading a double life as a pop star. It was a testament to Brie’s versatility as an actress.
Charlie Day in “Mary & Rhoda” (2000): Day’s portrayal of the Mailroom Kid in this TV movie about two friends reuniting in New York showcased his early comedic timing, hinting at the successful comedic career he would later achieve.
Kristen Stewart in “Flinstones: Viva Rock Vegas” (2000): As the Ring Toss Girl, Stewart had a brief appearance in this prehistoric comedy, filmed from the back, but the photo confirms it is her actually.
Zooey Deschanel in “Mumford” (1999): Playing Nessa Watkins, Deschanel showcased her unique charm and quirkiness in this comedy about a psychologist’s unconventional methods and the town he works in.
Anna Kendrick in “Camp” (2003): As Fritzi Wagner, Kendrick played a theater-loving teen in this musical drama. Her role highlighted her singing talents and set the stage for her future in musical films.
Ben Affleck in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1992): In a blink-and-you-miss-it role, Affleck played Basketball Player #10, giving a brief appearance in this cult classic about a cheerleader turned vampire hunter. Funny thing is, they over recorded his voice and it’s sounds hilarious.
Angelina Jolie in “Looking to Get Out” (1982): As Tosh, Jolie had an early role in this drama about two gamblers escaping their debts. It was a glimpse of the star in her formative acting years, acting with her real life father and actor Jon Voight.
Zach Braff in “Manhattan Murder Mystery” (1993): As Nick Lipton, Braff played a role in this Woody Allen-directed comedic mystery about a couple suspecting foul play in the sudden death of their neighbor.
Bryan Cranston in “Amazon Women on the Moon” (1987): Cranston portrayed Paramedic #1 in this anthology comedy film that parodied 1950s sci-fi movies. It was one of his early roles before achieving stardom.
Jennifer Aniston in “Leprechaun” (1993): As Tory Reding, Aniston faced off against a malevolent leprechaun in this horror-comedy, showcasing her early versatility as an actress.
Jason Bateman in “Teen Wolf Too” (1987): Taking on the role of Todd Howard, Bateman played a college student who discovers he has inherited the family curse of turning into a werewolf.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt on “Roseanne” (1993-1995): As George, Gordon-Levitt appeared in multiple episodes of this iconic sitcom, showcasing his early talent in comedic roles.
Jack Black in “Never Ending Story” (1994): Playing Slip, Black had a role in this fantasy film, hinting at the comedic and energetic performances he would become known for.
Jon Hamm in “Space Cowboys” (2001): As Young Pilot #2, Hamm had a brief role in this adventure drama about retired pilots sent into space to repair an old satellite.
Ryan Gosling on “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” (1991): Gosling portrayed Jamie Leary in this children’s horror anthology series, showcasing his early acting skills in suspenseful narratives.
Kerry Washington in “Save the Last Dance” (2001): As Chenille, Washington played a supportive friend in this drama about a young woman who aspires to be a ballerina in inner-city Chicago.
Paul Rudd in “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers” (1995): Rudd took on the role of Tommy Doyle, a character tormented by past encounters with the infamous Michael Myers.
George Clooney in “Grizzly II: The Concert” (1983): Clooney played a nameless character who meets a tragic end at the hands of a monstrous bear in this horror film.
Johnny Depp in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984): As Glen, Depp played a teenager who becomes one of Freddy Krueger’s victims in this iconic horror film.
Leonardo DiCaprio in “Critters 3” (1991): Portraying Josh, DiCaprio’s character witnesses the critters’ mayhem, including the demise of his stepdad, in this sci-fi horror comedy.
Kerry Washington in “Our Song” (2000): Washington portrayed Lanisha Brown, a 15-year-old member of a community marching band. The film delves into the lives of three high school girls facing the challenges of adolescence.
Amy Adams in “Drop Dead Gorgeous” (1999): Adams played Leslie Miller, a beauty-pageant contestant in a small Minnesota town. The film is a mockumentary-style comedy about a local beauty pageant that turns deadly.
Matt Damon in “Mystic Pizza” (1988): As Steamer, Damon played the younger brother with a less refined palate in this romantic comedy about the lives and loves of three waitresses.
Julia Roberts in “Satisfaction” (1988): Roberts portrayed Daryle, a member of a girl-rock group. The film follows the band as they spend a summer trying to make it big.
Tom Hanks in “He Knows You’re Alone” (1980): Hanks played Elliot, a psychology student, in this horror film about a soon-to-be bride being stalked by a killer.
Denzel Washington in “Carbon Copy” (1981): Washington starred as a black teenage son who is discovered by a white business executive, leading to comedic situations as they navigate their newfound relationship.
Emma Stone in “Superbad” (2007): Stone portrayed Jules, a high school student who remains oblivious to Jonah Hill’s character’s antics during a home economics class.
Clint Eastwood in “Revenge of the Creature” (1955): Eastwood had a minor role as a lab technician in this sequel to the classic monster film “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”
Sylvester Stallone in “The Party at Kitty and Stud’s” (1970): Stallone took on a starring role in this film, showcasing his early days in cinema before achieving action-star fame.
Michelle Williams on “Baywatch” (1993): A young Williams made an appearance running down the beach in her bikini, showcasing her early start in the entertainment industry.
Jack Black in “Bob Roberts” (1992): Black played a zealous teenager in this mockumentary about a fictional conservative folk singer running for office.
Jack Nicholson in “The Cry Baby Killer” (1958): In his film debut, Nicholson played the lead role, giving audiences their first look at the future Hollywood icon.
Brad Pitt on “Another World” (1987): In his first speaking role, Pitt appeared in this long-running soap opera, hinting at the superstar he would become.
Harrison Ford in “Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round” (1966): Ford played a bellhop in this crime comedy, showcasing his early days in film.
Demi Moore in “General Hospital” (1982-1983): Moore took on the role of Jackie Templeton in this iconic soap opera, marking one of her earliest roles in television.
Ellen Pompeo in “Strangers With Candy”: Pompeo portrayed Lizzie Abrams, a member of the Flatpoint High debate team, in this cult comedy series.
Leslie Odom Jr. on “Gilmore Girls”: Odom played Quentin Walsh, the editor of the Daily Princetonian, in this beloved drama series.
Chris Pratt on “The O.C.”: Pratt portrayed Ché, a college friend of Summer, in this teen drama series that explored the lives of families and friends living in Newport Beach.
Elizabeth Banks on “Sex and the City”: Banks played Catherine, a woman who encourages Charlotte to meet “unwanted” men, in this iconic series about four women navigating love and life in New York City.
Kevin Hart on “Undeclared”: Hart took on the role of Luke, a devout Christian student, in this comedy series about college freshmen adjusting to university life.
Max Greenfield on “Veronica Mars”: Greenfield portrayed Leo D’Amato, a deputy working under Sheriff Lamb, in this mystery drama series centered around a student detective.
Sandra Oh on “Popular”: Oh played a nameless but extremely intense humanities teacher in this teen comedy-drama series that explored high school hierarchies.
Nick Offerman on “Gilmore Girls”: Offerman portrayed Beau Belleville, the brother of the Dragonfly Inn’s produce supplier, in this heartwarming series about a mother-daughter duo.
Adam Scott on “Boy Meets World”: Scott played Griff Hawkins, a transfer student and head of the school bully brigade, in this coming-of-age series.
Sara Ramirez on “Law & Order: SVU”: Ramirez portrayed Mrs. Barrera, whose young son is suspected in the murder of a peer, in this long-running crime drama series.
Jessica Alba on “The Secret World of Alex Mack”: Alba played Jessica, a mean girl from Paradise Valley, in this series about a girl with unique powers after a chemical accident.
Jon Hamm on “Gilmore Girls”: Hamm portrayed Peyton Sanders, a man Lorelai meets at an auction, in this series that delves into the lives of the residents of Stars Hollow.
Amy Adams on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: Adams played Beth Maclay, the cousin of Buffy’s friend Tara, in this iconic series about a young woman chosen to battle the forces of evil.
Kal Penn on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: Penn portrayed Hunt, a UC Sunnydale student turned into a caveman due to bewitched beer, in this supernatural drama series.
Lucy Liu on “Beverly Hills, 90210”: Liu played Courtney, an overly enthusiastic waitress, in this iconic series about the lives of teenagers in Beverly Hills.
Robert De Niro in “Godsend”: De Niro took on the role of Dr. Wells, a scientist who clones a couple’s dead son, in this sci-fi thriller.
Michael Caine in “The Swarm”: Caine portrayed Brad Crane, a scientist battling killer bees, in this disaster film.
Sean Connery in “Meteor”: Connery played Dr. Bradley, a scientist trying to avert a meteorite threat, in this disaster film.
Sam Rockwell in “Gentlemen Broncos”: Rockwell appeared in sequences bringing a young author’s literature to life in this comedy film.
Jon Voight in “Anaconda”: Voight portrayed a sleazy snake poacher in this adventure horror film about a documentary crew taken hostage.
Kirk Douglas in “Saturn 3”: Douglas starred in this sci-fi film that revolves around a menacing robot on a space station.
Christopher Walken in “Communion”: Walken portrayed Whitley Strieber, a writer who experiences an alien encounter, in this sci-fi drama.
Ben Kingsley in “Species”: Kingsley played a scientist in this sci-fi horror film, where a group tries to stop an alien-human hybrid from reproducing.
Harrison Ford in “K-19: The Widowmaker”: Ford portrayed Alexei Vostrikov, a Russian submarine captain faced with a nuclear meltdown, showcasing his ability to take on intense dramatic roles.
Marlon Brando in “The Island of Dr. Moreau”: Brando starred in this adaptation of H.G. Wells’ story, playing the enigmatic doctor experimenting with animal-human hybrids.
Harrison Ford in “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977): Ford’s portrayal of Han Solo, the charming rogue smuggler, became iconic and established him as a leading man in Hollywood.
Edward Furlong in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” (1991): As John Connor, Furlong played a key role in this sci-fi action sequel, trying to prevent the end of the world.
Simu Liu in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (2021): Liu starred as the titular character, bringing Marvel’s first Asian superhero lead to the big screen.
Jason Momoa in “Game of Thrones” (2011-2019): Momoa’s portrayal of Khal Drogo, the fierce Dothraki leader, showcased his commanding presence and solidified his place in Hollywood.
Viggo Mortensen in “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy (2001-2003): Mortensen’s portrayal of Aragorn, the ranger turned king, became one of the most memorable roles in fantasy film history.
Danny Trejo in “Runaway Train” (1985): Trejo had a minor role in this action film, marking the beginning of a long and varied career in Hollywood.
Tim Roth in “Reservoir Dogs” (1992): Roth’s portrayal of Mr. Orange in Quentin Tarantino’s debut film showcased his intense acting abilities.
Robert Pattinson in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005): Pattinson played Cedric Diggory, a brave and noble Hogwarts student, in this fantasy film.
Rosario Dawson in “Kids” (1995): Dawson portrayed Ruby in this gritty drama about New York City teenagers.
Mel Gibson in “Mad Max” (1979): Gibson starred as Max Rockatansky, a vengeful police officer in a post-apocalyptic world, marking his breakout role.
Charlie Hunnam was discovered during a shopping trip and later became known for roles like Jackson “Jax” Teller on “Sons of Anarchy” and in films like “Pacific Rim.”
Katherine Heigl transitioned from child modeling to acting, becoming a romantic comedy queen and starring in “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Danny Trejo made his film debut in “Money Train” at age 41 and later became a recognizable face in action films.
Chris Pratt was discovered while working at a restaurant and later became known for roles in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Jurassic World.”
Charlize Theron was discovered after an altercation at a bank, leading to a successful career with roles in films like “Monster” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Pamela Anderson was discovered at a football game and later became an icon with roles in “Baywatch” and “Barb Wire.”
Channing Tatum was discovered while working as a stripper, leading to roles in “Magic Mike” and “21 Jump Street.”