ByMelissa Thomas, writer at Creators.co
Horror blogger. Find more of my work at littleblogofhorror.com. Email me at [email protected]
Melissa Thomas

Love it or hate it, the horror genre includes names that everyone recognizes. Everyone from Vincent Price to Kane Hodder had to get their start somewhere - some born into the genre and others who started elsewhere. Here are 30 horror stars and their first roles and big genre breaks.

30. Tippi Hendren

Tippi Hendren
Tippi Hendren

Tippi's first role came in 1950 in The Pretty Girl as an uncredited Ice Box Pretty Girl. Her big break not only in horror, but what made her known in Hollywood was her role in Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 classic The Birds as Melanie Daniels. Tippi is also the mother of the beautiful Melanie Griffith and grandmother to Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson.

29. Andrew Bryniarski

Andrew Bryniarski
Andrew Bryniarski

Andrew's first role came in 1990 in the film Dragonfight where he played a bar fight spectator. His big break was in 1993's football drama The Program as Steve Lattimer. Bryniarski's break in horror came in 2003 in the reboot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in which he played Thomas Hewitt/Leatherface.

28. Ari Lehman

Ari Lehman
Ari Lehman

Ari's first role was Roger in the 1978 film Manny's Orphans. Lehamn's horror break came just two years later in the 1980 slasher classic where he played the very first Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th.

27. Felissa Rose

Felissa Rose
Felissa Rose

Felissa's very first role was actually her big horror break. She starred as the homicidal transvestite, Angela, in 1983's Sleepaway Camp.

26. Sean Whalen

Sean Whalen
Sean Whalen

Sean is a true "that guy," he has been in films and TV series of every genre, many know his face. He was the original "Got Milk" guy. His first role came in 1990 on the TV series Ferris Bueller as a fast food manager. His big horror break came in 1991's The People Under the Stairs in which he played Roach.

25. Nick Principe

Nick Principe in Chromeskull (Laid To Rest 2)
Nick Principe in Chromeskull (Laid To Rest 2)

Nick started his career in Hollywood began in props and stunts, he even worked as the prop guy in Rob Zombie's 2007 reboot of Halloween. Principe did stunts in 2006's Dead and Deader. His first credited role also came in 2006 in the film The Thirst where he played a Club Inferno bouncer. His big break came in 2009's Laid To Rest where he played slasher Chromeskull.

24. Adrienne Barbeau

Adrienne Barbeau in The Fog
Adrienne Barbeau in The Fog

Adrienne's first role was in the 1976 TV movie The Great Houdini as Daisy White. Her true big break came in 1972 on the TV series Maude where she played Maude's divorced daughter, Carol Traynor. Her break in horror came in John Carpenter's 1980 cult classic, The Fog as radio DJ Stevie Wayne. Fans of Sons of Anarchy may have recently caught her in a few episodes as Venus' crazy mother.

23. Jared Padalecki

Jared Padalecki
Jared Padalecki

Padalecki's first role came in 1999 as Matt Nelson in A Little Inside. His big break came in 2000 as Dean Forester on The Gilmore Girls. Jared's horror break came in 2005 for two reasons, the reboot of House of Wax where he played Wade and the hit CW series Supernatural as Sam Winchester. Another big role in horror came up for him in 2009 as Clay Miller in the reboot of Friday the 13th. He is married to Supernatural costar Genevieve Cortese (Ruby).

22. Jensen Ackles

Jensen Ackles
Jensen Ackles

Jensen first appeared on TV in 1996 on the series Wishbone as Michael Duss. His break started with the 2001 TV series Dark Angel in which he played Alec/X5-494/Ben. Another in 2004 when he played Jason Teague on Smallville. His biggest break however came in 2005 when he landed the role of Dean Winchester in the hit series Supernatural. He also received praise as Tom Hanniger in the 2009 reboot of My Bloody Valentine.

21. Janet Leigh

Janet Leigh in Psycho
Janet Leigh in Psycho

Janet's first role was in 1947's The Romance of Rosy Ridge as Lissy Anne MacBean. Her break out role came in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film that kick-started the slasher genre, Psycho as Marion Crane. She is the mother of Kelly Curtis (associate producer of 1992's Singles) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween). Janet Leigh sadly passed away on October 3, 2004 at the age of 77.

20. R.A. Mihailoff

R.A.Mihailoff
R.A.Mihailoff

R.A.'s first role was in the 1980 TV movie The Lathe of Heaven where he played Orderlie. His big horror break came in 1990 when he played Leatherface/Junior Sawyer in Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.

19. Adrienne King

Alice Hardy/Adrienne King
Alice Hardy/Adrienne King

Adrienne's first role was in the 1965 TV movie Inherit the Wind as Melinda. Her big horror break came in 1980 when she played Alice Hardy, the girl that decapitated Pamela Voorhees and the first Crystal Lake survivor in Friday the 13th.

18. Doug Bradley

Doug Bradley
Doug Bradley

Doug's first role was in a short film called Salome, he played King Herod. His big break came in the 1987 Clive Barker film Hellraiser as lead cenobite, Pinhead.

17. Dee Wallace

Dee Wallace
Dee Wallace

Dee's first role came in 1974 as a waitress on the TV show Lucas Turner. Her big break in horror came in 1977 as Lynne Wood in The Hills Have Eyes, and she has been a horror bombshell ever since.

16. Bill Moseley

Bill Moseley
Bill Moseley

Moseley's first role was small, he played a cab driver in the 1982 film Endangered Species. His break in horror came in 1986 as "Chop-Top" Sawyer in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II. He also had a small role in Army of Darkness. Horror fans also love him for his role as Otis Driftwood in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects.

15. Sid Haig

Sid Haig
Sid Haig

Sid's first role was in the 1960 short film The Host in which he played the fugitive. His big break came in 1974 when he played Hays in the blacksploitaion film Foxy Brown. Haig retired from acting in 1992 because he was tired of being typecast. He was offered the role of Marsellus Wallace in Quentin Tarantino's 2nd film Pulp Fiction, but he turned down the role. He returned to film in Tarantino's 1997 film Jackie Brown as Judge, Tarantino wrote the role specifically for him. Horror fans know and love him as Captain Spaulding of House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. There is no denying, Sid Haig is a legend.

14. Skeet Ulrich

Skeet Ulrich
Skeet Ulrich

Skeet did not receive credit for his first role, he was an extra in the 1989 classic Weekend at Bernie's. His big break came in 1996 with two big films, he was Chris Hooker in The Craft and the psychotic Billy Loomis in Wes Craven's Scream.

13. Neve Campbell

Neve Campbell
Neve Campbell

Neve did not receive credit for her first role; she was a student on the 1991 TV series My Secret Identity. She became a regular on Are You Afraid of the Dark?. Her big break in horror came in 1996 when she played Bonnie in The Craft and Sidney Prescott in Wes Craven's Scream.

12. Tyler Mane

Tyler Mane
Tyler Mane

Tyler started his career as a professional wrestler beginning in 1986. He wrestled under the names Darryl Karolet, Nitron, Big Sky, The Skywalker, Sky High Walker, Gully Gasper and Tyler Mane. Mane's first role came in 1992 in Luchadores de las Estrellas. He left wrestling for film in 1996. His horror break came in 2007 as Michael Myers in Rob Zombie's reboot of Halloween. He now runs his own production company, Mane Entertainment.

11. Derek Mears

Derek Mears
Derek Mears

At 6'5" with a muscular build, you would assume Derek Mears was born into horror, right? Wrong! He actually got his start in stand-up comedy at the age of 17. His first role was in 1995 as Chuck X in The Demolitionist. His first stunt work came in 1998 on the TV series Charmed. Mears did a string of comedy bits on television shows and didn't land his first role in horror until 2007 as Chameleon in The Hills Have Eyes II. His big horror break came in 2009 when he pulled on the iconic hockey masked and played Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th reboot. Mears has not forgotten his stand-up roots, he is a part of a comedy group called The Resistance.

10. Danielle Harris

Danielle Harris
Danielle Harris

Danielle's first role was in 1987 as the adorable Samantha Garretson on One Life to Live. Her horror break came in 1988 when she played Jamie Lloyd, the niece of Michael Myers, in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.

9. Michael Berryman

Michael Berryman
Michael Berryman

Berryman's first role was in 1975 as Doc Savage in The Man of Bronze. Most know him as Ellis of the 1975 classic, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. His horror break came in 1977 as Pluto in The Hills Have Eyes.

8. Malcolm McDowell

Malcolm McDowell
Malcolm McDowell

McDowell's first role came in 1964 on the TV series Crossroads as Crispin Ryder. His big break came in 1971 as Alex in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.

7. Linda Blair

Linda Blair
Linda Blair

Blair's first role came in 1968 on the TV series Hidden Faces as Allyn Jaffe. Her horror break came in 1973 as Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist.

6. Brad Dourif

Brad Dourif
Brad Dourif

Brad did not receive credit for his first role, it was in the 1975 film W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings. His break out role was in 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as Billy Bibbit. His horror break came in 1988 when he played serial killer Charles Lee Ray and lent his iconic voice to the equally homicidal doll that his soul possessed, Chucky in Child's Play. He is the father of Fiona Dourif (Curse of Chucky).

5. Tony Todd

Tony Todd
Tony Todd

Tony Todd is another large, intimidating man (a total sweetheart though) with an undeniable voice. His first role came in the 1986 film Sleepwalk as Barrington. His horror break came in 1990 when he played Ben in the reboot of Night of the Living Dead. He is best known to horror fans for his role as Candyman in the 1992 film by the same name. He has also acted on and off Broadway.

4. Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie's first role was on the show Quincy M.E. in 1977, she had a very small part, she was "the girl in the dressing room." Her break in horror came in 1978 when she landed the role of Laurie Strode in John Carpenter's Halloween. She is the daughter of Janet Leigh.

3. Robert Englund

Robert Englund
Robert Englund

Robert's first role was in 1974 in the film Buster and Billie in which he played Whitey. His horror break came in 1984 when he landed the role of dream demon Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street. Englund still continues to terrify and amuse us in genre films.

2. Kane Hodder

Kane Hodder
Kane Hodder

Kane began his work in Hollywood predominantly as a stuntman, his first stunt role was on the show Emergency! in 1977. His first acting gig came in 1974 in the film California Split in which he played a Reno poker player. His break in horror came in 1988 when he played Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. He is the only person to play Jason more than once, 4 times to be exact.

1. Vincent Price

Vincent Price
Vincent Price

Price's first role came in 1938 as Robert Wade in the film Service de Luxe. His big horror break came in 1953 in the House of Wax in which he played Prof. Henry Jarrod. Vincent Price will forever be the grandfather of horror. He sadly passed away October 25, 1993 at the age of 82.

Curious about anyone else? Let me know in the comments, and I may do another round.

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