Even the most successful, richest, most loved people have to start somewhere, and same goes for actors. You might remember every role these sixteen stalwarts played in recent years, but chances are you have missed their emergence on the big screen – such was its obscurity. In many cases, though, the films that gave these stars their breakthroughs were far from poor.
1. Nicole Kidman
Most people first noticed the Oscar-winning actress when she took home the Emmy for her role as Celeste Wright in Big Little Lies, but movie buffs will know Kidman had a small role in a 1989 film called Skin Deep.
Source: Entertainmentwise | IMDb
2. Rachel McAdams
Rachel McAdams drew attention to herself with the iconic performance as Regina George in Mean Girls.
She first appeared on film in a 2001 sci-fi TV movie called Shotgun Love Dolls where she played Beth, a teenager who wakes up in an alternative dimension and joins an all-girl crime-fighting team.
3. Emma Stone
Before becoming the highest-paid actress in the world, Emma Stone went by Emily Stone and sang on the unaired pilot episode of The New Partridge Family.
“I don’t regret it for a minute,” she once told Newsweek when asked about her reality television past.
Source: CinemaBlend | IMDb
4. Viola Davis
Viola Davis has won the Triple Crown of Acting (an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony), but before starring in Oscar-nominated movies like Fences, in 1998 she had a small role in Out of Sight alongside George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez.
5. James Franco
Long before Freak and Geeks, James Franco had an early role in Never Been Kissed together with Jessica Alba and Octavia Spencer.
6. Margot Robbie
The Australian broke through playing Naomi in The Wolf of Wall Street, but in her native land she was already famous for starring in a horror movie called I.C.U.
7. Gabrielle Union
Before you fell in love with her as the cheerleading captain of the Clovers in Bring It On, Gabrielle Union starred in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a Klingon officer.
Source: Bougie Black Girl | IMDb
8. Michael Cera
Pretty much everyone remembers George-Michael Bluth’s awkward relationship with his father Michael played by Jason Bateman in Arrested Development, but few haven’t missed the Canadian’s role in the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen classic Switching Goals.
Source: Bustle | Twin Peaks Wiki
9. Kerry Washington
Before she brought the iconic Olivia Pope on Scandal to life, Kerry Washington got her big break in a coming-of-age movie called Our Song from 2000 which remains obscure despite winning critical acclaim for its “realism and originality”.
10. Chris Messina
Unbeknownst to most, the NYC-born actor and director was in early-internet Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan romance You’ve Got Mail, which explains the inside joke of Mindy constantly mentioning Nora Ephron films in The Mindy Project.
11. Jennifer Lawrence
Before she became one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood in recent years, Jennifer Lawrence was just your average high school mascot on Monk.
She revealed the role to have been “humiliating” for her as she mistakenly assumed she had landed a bigger role on the show and talked it up to her friends beforehand.
12. Keanu Reeves
Before he became one of the most famous faces of the 90’s for his performances in The Matrix and John Wick, Keanu Reeves was just another Canadian teenager playing hockey for his high school team in Toronto. It perhaps helped a great deal when he auditioned for his role in 1986’s Youngblood where he landed a small role.
Source: YouTube | Keanu Russian Club | IMDb
13. Ryan Gosling
Before he became one of the most desired men on the planet, Gosling starred on legendary Canadian television shows Are You Afraid Of The Dark and Road To Avonlea. In the former, he played the brother of a boy who is obsessed with death and finds a radio station that takes its listeners to the afterlife.
14. Dev Patel
The English teen drama Skins was a launchpad for numerous successful Hollywood careers, such as the ones of Dev Patel, Nicholas Hoult, Daniel Kaluuya, and Game of Thrones stars Hannah Murray and Joe Dempsie.
Source: Skins Wiki | SBS
15. Colin Firth
Before he became an Oscar winner and one of England’s most beloved actors, a baby-faced Colin Firth made his debut in the 1984 drama Another Country.
16. Ben Affleck
Before writing the Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting together with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck wasn’t even credited for his role as “Basketball Player #10” in the 1992 version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but many remember the quick scene where he plays basketball against a vampire.