They Were So Young! 10 Early Roles of A-list Actors

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Written By Amanda Anthony

Amanda is a freelance writer passionate about horror and fantasy films. When she’s not writing about the latest celebrity hijinks and epic on-screen moments, you can find her watching Blumhouse films through the delicate fibers of a protective blanket. Amanda lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband, kiddos, and goofy golden doodle, Ripley.

Before they graced the red carpet as Hollywood’s elite, every A-lister had a debut film. Let’s delve into the cinematic beginnings of top renowned actors and the roles that foreshadowed their superstardom to come.

Halloween (1978)

Breakout Roles
Image Credit: Compass International Pictures

Jamie Lee Curtis‘ breakout role was Halloween (1978). The film centers around high school student, Laurie Strode (Curtis), who is babysitting on Halloween night. Her town, Haddonfield, Illinois, has a dark secret. In 1963, Michael Myers killed his sister on Halloween. Now, Michael has escaped the sanitarium where he’s been held and he has his eyes on the local babysitters of Haddonfield. Halloween is known for tense music, composed by director, John Carpenter (The Fog). It was a pioneer in the slasher film industry, with multiple sequels and reboots.

Endless Love (1981)

Tom Cruise
Image Credit: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

Before becoming a major movie star, Tom Cruise had a minor role in the romantic drama, Endless Love (1981). This is a film about the intense and obsessive love between two teenagers, David Axelrod (Martin Hewitt) and Jade Butterfield (Brook Shields). Eventually, Jade’s parents become concerned and intervene. This leads to a chaotic series of events including arson, institutionalization, and court orders. The film explores the boundaries of young love, obsession, and family dynamics.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Acting Debuts
Image Credit: New Line Cinema Inc.

Before he became Captain Jack Sparrow and many other iconic roles, Johnny Depp (The Tourist) made his film debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). The film centers around a group of teenagers experiencing similar nightmares. A figure named Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) appears in the dreams with knives for fingers. Soon the teens discover that if they die in a dream, they die in real life. Depp plays Glen Lantz, the boyfriend of the main protagonist, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp).

Empire of the Sun (1987)

Christian Bale
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Long before he was Batman, a young Christian Bale starred in the Steven Spielberg-directed war film, Empire of the Sun (1987). This film is set against the backdrop of World War II and follows Jamie “Jim” Graham (Bale), a young British boy living in Shanghai. When the Japanese invade, Jim becomes separated from his parents and interned in a prison camp. Amidst the adversities of war, he navigates a harsh world of survival, loss, and adaptation.

Mystic Pizza (1988)

Julia Roberts
Image Credit: Night Life Inc.

Before Pretty Woman made her a global star, Julia Roberts (Runaway Bride) had a leading role in the romantic drama, Mystic Pizza (1988). Mystic Pizza is a tale of three young women, Kat (Annabeth Gish), Daisy (Roberts), and Jojo (Lili Taylor), living in the small town of Mystic, Connecticut. The girls work at a local pizza joint, Mystic Pizza. Throughout the film, the girls deal with family, romance, and personal growth.

Critters 3 (1991)

Leonardo DiCaprio
Image Credit: New Line Cinema

Before making waves in bigger films, Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic)debuted in the low-budget sci-fi horror, Critters 3 (1991). In the third installment of the series, the Critters descend upon a multi-story apartment building in Los Angeles. As residents of the building, including young Josh (DiCaprio) and Annie (Aimee Brookes), realize the threat, they band together to fend off the invaders.

The Mask (1994)

Cameron Diaz
Image Credit: New Line Cinema

In her film debut, Cameron Diaz (The Sweetest Thing) starred alongside Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura) in this comedy and immediately made a splash in Hollywood. The Mask (1994) is a comedic superhero film about a man named Stanley Ipkiss (Carrey), who finds a magical mask. The mask transforms Ipkiss into a zany and seemingly invincible alter ego. It also attracts the attention of the city’s gangsters and police, all while trying to woo his love interest, Tina (Diaz).

Leon: The Professional (1994)

Natalie Portman
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

At just 13 years old, Natalie Portman (V For Vendetta) made a memorable debut in the crime thriller, Leon: The Professional (1994). The story centers around Léon (Jean Reno), a reclusive and skilled hitman in New York City. He forms an unlikely bond with Mathilda (Portman), a 12-year-old girl after her family is brutally murdered by a corrupt DEA agent. As Mathilda seeks vengeance, Léon becomes her reluctant mentor, teaching her the deadly art of assassination while navigating the dangers of their shared enemies.

The Princess Diaries (2001)

Anne Hathaway
Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada) stole hearts as a regular teen who discovers she’s a princess in The Princess Diaries (2001). When Mia Thermopolis (Hathaway) finds out she’s a princess and granddaughter to the current Queen (Julie Andrews) of Genovia, she must change herself to fit the role. With plenty of laughs, a few tears, a little love interest, and a lot of life lessons, Mia discovers her inner princess was there all along.

Thirteen (2003)

Evan Rachel Wood
Image Credit: Searchlight Pictures

A young Evan Rachel Wood (Across the Universe) delivered a powerful performance in Thirteen (2003), launching a successful career. In the film, Wood plays Tracy, a 13-year-old girl who becomes entranced by her wild classmate Evie (Nikki Reed). Tracy’s behavior slowly changes to reflect her new friend’s attitude, and Tracy and her mother fall out. The film poignantly examines the complexities of adolescence, peer pressure, and the desperate lengths a mother will go to save her child from self-destruction.

The 20 Best Romance Movies of All Time: Love Stories That Captivated Our Hearts

Pride and Prejudice Focus Features
Image Credit: Focus Features

Ready for a dose of romance? Check out our ultimate list of the 20 most unforgettable love stories ever told! As a self-proclaimed cinema enthusiast, I’ve watched countless heart-melting movies, and trust me; these films will stir up all the emotions within you. Whether you’re an old romantic or new to the world of love, this collection caters to every romantic soul. So, grab your popcorn, tissues, and prepare to fall head over heels for these iconic films.

The 20 Best Comedy Movies of All Time: Laugh Your Way Through the Ultimate List

The Truman Show Paramount
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Looking for a good laugh? Look no further! Our list of the top 20 comedy movies is here to brighten your day and leave you in stitches. This list will have you doubled over with laughter, from hilarious characters to unforgettable punchlines. Don’t miss out on the comedic gold waiting to be discovered. Click and prepare for a joyride through the best of the best in the world of comedy films.

The 20 Best Music Movies of All Time: Lights, Camera, Rock’ n’ Roll!

Bohemian Rhapsody 20th Century
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

Get ready to be swept away by the mesmerizing blend of storytelling and music in our selection of the top 20 music movies ever made. From jazz beats to timeless rock anthems, these films deliver a symphony for your senses. Prepare to be moved, entertained, and immersed in the captivating world of music. Popcorn in hand, volume turned up, let the journey begin!