ByIan M. Simpson, writer at
I love superheroes and villains alike! I'm also a big fan of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Gaming! Follow me on Twitter! @The_Simpsonian
Ian M. Simpson

Acting is by no means an easy career path. In fact, the majority of actors and actresses got their start in low-budget or lesser-known films. It usually takes years and more than a few hard choices before even the most talented actor gets their big break.

However, there are a handful of actors and actresses who have been lucky in their career by starting off in more well-known and popular films. Some of them had big roles, others had smaller parts, but they all had great starts in the film industry.

Now just to be clear, I'm not talking about small-screen roles here. Some of these eight actors and actresses have done some small roles in television programs, but their first big-screen roll is where it all counts.

1. Daisy Ridley — Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Just last year, J.J. Abrams showed us that he was going to revisit the magic of the old Star Wars by introducing a cast of fresh faces in The Force Awakens. The most eye-catching and remarkable cast member was Daisy Ridley as Rey, the heroine of Episode 7.

Daisy really showed her acting talents in a spectacular performance that made her a household name. She has been confirmed to be reprising Rey in the eighth Star Wars film, and it's only logical to assume that she'll be in the ninth as well. I can't wait to see what she has in store for the rest of her career.

2. Alan Rickman — Die Hard

That's right, the actor behind Severus Snape started out as playing one of the greatest cinematic villains of all time: Hans Gruber. As a terrorist, he takes over Nakatomi Plaza in LA, where John McClane (Bruce Willis) serves as a one man army to take him down.

Of course the hero triumphs in the end, but that didn't stop Rickman from giving us a spectacular performance of what a good movie villain ultimately should be. After that, he went on to act in all of the Harry Potter movies, Love Actually, Sweeney Todd and Galaxy Quest.

3. Cameron Diaz — The Mask

No appearance in television shows, not even any appearance in television movies, Cameron Diaz jumped into acting headfirst in Jim Carrey's hilarious comedy The Mask. She played Tina Carlyle, the love interest of Jim Carrey's character that has some dealings with some wrong people.

The Mask is an absolute classic that baffles me when I think that was her first role ever. Since then she has gone on to star in Charlie's Angels, Being John Malkovich, The Box, The Holiday and Sex Tape.

4. Matthew McConaughey — Dazed and Confused

Alright alright alright indeed. In Richard Linklater's classic teen drama Dazed and Confused, many young actors had a chance to make a name for themselves. The film featured Milla Jovovich, Ben Affleck, and of course Matthew McConaughey.

McConaughey played Wooderson, the stoner in his mid-twenties who still liked to hang out with the high school crowd. Though that may sound just a tad creepy, his character is a really chilled out guy who just likes to keep livin'. Since that classic '90s flick, he's starred in Tropic Thunder, Magic Mike and Interstellar.

5. Tom Hardy — Black Hawk Down

Tom Hardy is at the top of his game right now, starring in legendary movies like Mad Max: Fury Road and even getting an Oscar nomination for his role in The Revenant. It all started back in 2001, when he played Twombly, a member of the 75th Rangers in the highly-rated war film.

Though the audience paid more attention to Ewan McGregor and Eric Bana, it was still a launching platform that Hardy used to land spots in movies like This Means War, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises.

6. Keira Knightley — Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Daisy Ridley wasn't the only actress to get a head start on her career through Star Wars. Keira Knightley might not have had as big of a role as Ridley, in fact her role was a character in disguise for most of the movie.

Knightley played Sabé, the decoy for Natalie Portman's Queen Amidala. She spent the movie covered in red and white makeup, so a lot of people didn't recognize her. That didn't stop her from going on to act in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Pride & Prejudice and The Imitation Game.

7. Johnny Depp — A Nightmare On Elm Street

Johnny Depp is one of the most famous and revered actors of our time, and he got his start in one of the most popular horror films ever! Before he starred in Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice In Wonderland, Sweeney Todd and Edward Scissorhands, he played Glen, a boy pulled into his bed and killed by Freddie Krueger.

From then on, Depp scored much bigger parts in much bigger movies, such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Finding Neverland, and just about every movie that Tim Burton makes.

8. Seth Rogen — Donnie Darko

Yes, the man best known for outrageous comedies like Neighbors, The Night Before and This Is The End, started out in the epic psychological thriller Donnie Darko. He played Ricky Danforth, one of the two antagonistic high school kids that terrorized Donnie and Gretchen throughout the movie.

His minimal screen time was overshadowed by Jake Gyllenhaal, but his appearance opened up the door to an amazing comedy career ahead of him. He was in 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, The Green Hornet and Pineapple Express!

Some actors definitely have had to go through some tough roles and hardship to make it as an actor, and some actors have gotten lucky with their premiere roles. Of course that doesn't mean that one actor is better than another. Samuel L. Jackson had to through many small-time roles until he made his name popular. No matter how long it took them to rise to fame, it's safe to say they are all talented actors.

Which of these fantastic first-time roles is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!


Latest from our Creators