Before they were famous: 40 big name actors and their horror film pasts

Everybody’s got to start somewhere, and not every actor saunters straight into an Oscar-winning role in their debut performance.

Who's this? Find out below.
Who’s this? Find out the answer below: she’s the first entry

No, most start off doing cheap or independent films: mostly just to get work and have some actual acting roles to put in their resume, but also in the hope that their performance will get them noticed by one of the big studios.

Everyone in this feature has two things in common. Firstly, they are (or were at one point) all considered major actors or actresses.

Secondly, they all starred in horror films very early in their acting careers. A rare few struck it lucky with horror movies that would become hugely successful: Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween springs to mind.

However, the vast majority instead featured in cheesy low-budget B-movie horrors, the sort of pish they’d rather forget they were ever in. You know, the sort of stuff I review on here.

Here, then, in order of surname, is my handy list of major actors and actresses who found themselves in (usually extremely low budget) horror films early in their careers. Just to make sure they won’t be able to forget them.

Amy Adams in Psycho Beach PartyAMY ADAMS
Before she was: nominated for five Oscars, starring in American Hustle and appearing in The Muppets
She was: Marvel Ann, one of the many bikini clad characters in slasher spoof Psycho Beach Party. In one surprising scene, her bikini bottom is accidentally ripped off, showing her arse. Bet she wouldn’t agree to that that nowadays.

Jason Alexander in The BurningJASON ALEXANDER
Before he was: the brilliant George Costanza in Seinfeld…
He was: the wise-cracking camp counsellor in video nasty slasher movie The Burning, complete with a full head of hair.

Jennifer Aniston in LeprechaunJENNIFER ANISTON
Before she was: Rachel in Friends, as well as Jennifer Aniston in a whole fuckton of films that never managed to stop people seeing her as Rachel from Friends
She was: Tory, the lead female in Leprechaun starring Warwick Davis. In all, the Leprechaun series ended up spanning six films, including the bizarre Leprechaun In The Hood.

Patricia Arquette in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3PATRICIA ARQUETTE
Before she was: in the likes of True Romance, Medium and Boardwalk Empire
She was: teaming up with her fellow teenage asylum patients to try and stop Freddy Krueger from killing them in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

Kevin Bacon in Friday The 13thKEVIN BACON
Before he was: in every fucking film known to man, to the extent that a game was made linking every actor to him within six movies…
He was: one of the hapless teens in the original Friday The 13th. He ended up meeting a grisly demise when an arrow was plunged through his neck.

Mischa Barton in The Sixth SenseMISCHA BARTON
Before she was: the ‘it’ girl of 2003 thanks to her role as Marissa in The OC
She was: the creepy little girl who gives Hayley Joel Osment a book in The Sixth Sense, before later appearing in his tent and vomiting a bit.

Gerard Butler in Tale Of The MummyGERARD BUTLER
Before he was: making ladies swoon in 300 and Olympus Has Fallen
He was: in pishy 1998 cheese-fest Tale Of The Mummy, which featured a far better cast than it deserved with Sean Pertwee and Christopher Lee also starring.

Jim Carrey in Once BittenJIM CARREY
Before he was: the man with the stretchy face in blockbusters like The Mask, Ace Ventura, Dumb And Dumber and The Truman Show
He was: the star of Once Bitten, a 1985 film about a teenager who is turned into a vampire.

David Caruso in Without WarningDAVID CARUSO
Before he was: the cocky, one-liner-busting and sunglasses-wearing Horatio Caine in CSI: Miami
He was: in Without Warning, a 1980 film about a bunch of teens hiking in the mountains who are attacked by an alien who throws spiky jellyfish at them. Judging by the photo, it would appear he plays Jimmy Somerville in it.

George Clooney in Return To Horror HighGEORGE CLOONEY
Before he was: the chap who single-handedly made ER worth watching and then became the main reason women like older men…
He was: in Return To Horror High, playing an actor starring in a slasher movie. Must have been method acting.

Jennifer Connelly in PhenomenaJENNIFER CONNELLY
Before she was: the teenage love interest of a creepy David Bowie in Labyrinth before growing up, being all gloomy in Requiem For A Dream and winning an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind
She was: the 14-year-old star of Phenomena, a visually stunning horror film by Italian low-budget maestro Dario Argento.

Jamie Lee Curtis in HalloweenJAMIE LEE CURTIS
Before she was: in a wide variety of films including A Fish Called Wanda, True Lies and Freaky Friday
She was: Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s legendary no-budget classic Halloween. Proud of her connection to the film, she would return to star in Halloween II, Halloween H20 and Halloween: Resurrection.

Johnny Depp in A Nightmare On Elm StreetJOHNNY DEPP
Before he was: responsible for taking on all manner of weird and wonferful roles, from Edward Scissorhands to Jack Sparrow, and from Willy Wonka to Sweeney Todd…
He was: Glen, the boyfriend of heroine Nancy in A Nightmare On Elm Street. He has the honour of being only the third person killed by Freddy Krueger, of a total of 46 throughout the series.

Tom Hanks in He Knows You're AloneTOM HANKS
Before he was: Forrest Gump, Woody and the star of Philadelphia, Big and countless other films I could be here all day listing…
He was: Elliot, a relatively minor character in 1980 slasher He Knows You’re Alone. Originally planned to be killed off, the filmmakers liked Hanks so much they decided to keep his character alive.

Katherine Heigl in Bride Of ChuckyKATHERINE HEIGL
Before she was: Dr Izzie Stevens in medical drama Grey’s Anatomy
She was: Jade, the young lover in Bride Of Chucky who gets mixed up in Chucky and Tiffany’s devious plans.

Leonardo Di Caprio in Critters 3LEONARDO DICAPRIO
Before he was: a lower-class romantic in Titanic, a thief in Inception, a racist in Django Unchained and a cock in The Wolf Of Wall Street
He was: Josh, a 15-year-old lad in killer furball film Critters 3.

Fergie in Monster In The ClosetFERGIE
Before she was: her out of the Black Eyed Peas…
She was: Ten years old and starring in Monster In The Closet, a movie by the kings of low budget horror, Troma Entertainment.

Harrison Ford in The PossessedHARRISON FORD
Before he was: Han Solo and Indiana Jones, two of the greatest characters of all time…
He was: a teacher in The Possessed, a film Ford shot right after Star Wars wrapped but before it was released. This was his last role as an “unknown” before it all kicked off.

Crispin Glover in Friday The 13th The Final ChapterCRISPIN GLOVER
Before he was: Marty McFly’s dad in Back To The Future and the titular character in the grossly underrated Willard
He was: Jimmy Mortimer, part of the teen machete fodder in Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter. His atrocious dance scene is the stuff of horror movie legend.

Before he was: Roseanne’s husband in Roseanne, Fred Flintstone in The Flintstones and the legendary Walter in The Big Lebowski
He was: A cop in C.H.U.D., a 1984 film about Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Needless to say, a review is forthcoming.

Hugh Grant in The Lair Of The White WormHUGH GRANT
Before he was: every American’s idea of the perfect English gentleman (except for when he tried to shag that hooker)…
He was: James d’Ampton, a lord of a manor in The Lair Of The White Worm, a bizarre ’80s horror directed by Ken Russell.

Mila Kunis in PiranhaMILA KUNIS
Before she was: Meg in Family Guy, Jackie in That ’70s Show and voted number 1 in FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World list in 2013…
She was: the twelve-year-old star of Piranha, a 1995 remake of the 1978 Joe Dante film. Amazingly, rather than featuring new effects, the film reused the piranha footage from the ’70s movie.

Matthew McConaughey in Texas Chainsaw MassacreMATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY
Before he was: the star of Magic Mike and The Wolf Of Wall Street, and earned an Oscar nomination for Dallas Buyers Club
He was: in the fairly atrocious 1994 film Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, where he played Leatherface’s insane brother (essentially reprising the hitch-hiker role from the first film).

Steve McQueen in The BlobSTEVE MCQUEEN
Before he was: the highest paid film star in the world by the mid-70s, partly thanks to his performances in the likes of Bullitt, The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven
He was: Steve Andrews in the original 1958 version of The Blob. In this, his first leading role, he was credited as Steven McQueen. He then went on to direct 12 Years A Slave (not really).

Demi Moore in ParasiteDEMI MOORE
Before she was: part of the ’80s Brat Pack before perfecting paranormal pottery in Ghost…
She was: the co-star of Parasite, a daft film in which she had to help a doctor protect a new parasite he’d developed from falling into the hands of the government. Only problem is, the parasite’s in his stomach. Always the bloody way, eh?

Julianne Moore in Tales From The DarksideJULIANNE MOORE
Before she was: Trying her hand at all manner of weird and wonderful films including Magnolia, The Big Lebowski and, um, The Lost World: Jurassic Park
She was: in ‘Lot 249’, one of the three short stories in Tales From The Darkside: The Movie. In it, she’s stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors by a mummy, who then fills the wound with flowers. The lengths some people will go to when they don’t have a vase.

Chloe Grace Moretz in The Amityville HorrorCHLOE GRACE MORETZ
Before she was: The next big thing, thanks to her surprisingly mature performances in Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2 and the Carrie remake…
She was: Chelsea Lutz, the young girl in the remake of The Amityville Horror. She was only seven years old during filming.

Viggo Mortenson in LeatherfaceVIGGO MORTENSEN
Before he was: Aragorn in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy…
He was: the predecessor to Matthew McConaughey, also playing Leatherface’s brother in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. This time the film in question was Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.

Jack Nicholson in The Little Shop Of HorrorsJACK NICHOLSON
Before he was: one of the most famous actors in the world, and one of only two actors to be nominated for an Oscar in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and 2000s (the other being Michael Caine)…
He was: in quirky 1960 horror comedy The Little Shop Of Horrors. In it, he played a bit part as a masochistic dental patient who insists the dentist drill and pull out all his teeth. A brilliant scene.

Ellen Page in Ghost CatELLEN PAGE
Before she was: the quirky Canadian star of Juno, Inception, Hard Candy and X-Men: The Last Stand
She was: the 14-year-old daughter in Ghost Cat, a film about a house haunted by the ghost of its previous elderly resident and her cat. You can insert your own joke here about her being interested in pussies, I’m above that sort of thing.

Brad Pitt in Cutting ClassBRAD PITT
Before he was: Mr Angelina Jolie and the star of Fight Club, Moneyball, Ocean’s Eleven, World War Z and Inglourious Basterds
He was: in Cutting Class, a high school slasher film where he played Dwight, the unlikely-named basketball-playing jock and general asshole. He was also in an episode of TV series Freddy’s Nightmares.

Meg Ryan in Amityville 3DMEG RYAN
Before she was: Tom Hanks’s love interest in Sleepless In Seattle, Billy Crystal’s love interest in When Harry Met Sally, and Tom Hanks’s love interest again in You’ve Got Mail
She was: the generic friend character in Amityville 3D, the piss-poor third film in the Amityville series.

Paul Rudd in Halloween 6PAUL RUDD
Before he was: Phoebe’s boyfriend in Friends, and Brian ‘Sex Panther’ Fantana in the Anchorman movies…
He was: in Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (the sixth film in the series), playing the grown-up version of young Tommy Doyle from the original movie. Although this was released shortly after Clueless, which also starred Rudd, he actually shot this first so I’m counting it.

Sharon Stone in Deadly BlessingSHARON STONE
Before she was: known for being a bit sexy in Basic Instinct, a bit nasty in Total Recall and a bit, um, gambly in Casino
She was: in Deadly Blessing, a horror directed by A Nightmare On Elm Street creator Wes Craven. Apparently Craven wasn’t too keen on her: read my review for more info on that.

Billy Bob Thornton in Chopper Chicks In ZombietownBILLY BOB THORNTON
Before he was: in Armageddon and the hilarious Bad Santa, and was Mr Angelina Jolie for a while before Brad Pitt dethroned him…
He was: a minor character called Donny in the fantastically named Troma film Chopper Chicks In Zombietown. Sadly, the film wasn’t quite as good as its title suggested.

John Travolta in CarrieJOHN TRAVOLTA
Before he was: impressing people with his dancing in Saturday Night Fever, impressing people with his dancing in Grease and impressing people with his dancing in Pulp Fiction
He was: the nasty girl’s boyfriend in the original Carrie, where he sadly didn’t get the chance to impress anyone with his dancing.

Paul Walker in Monster In The ClosetPAUL WALKER
Before he was: in The Fast And The Furious (and before he was dead, obviously)…
He was: also in Monster In The Closet alongside Fergie. Two future superstars in one shitty film? That’s what I call bloody good casting.

Naomi Watts in Children Of The Corn IVNAOMI WATTS
Before she was: wrestling with a gorilla in King Kong, wrestling with a girl’s tongue in Mulholland Drive, wrestling with Sean Penn’s baws in 21 Grams and wrestling with a creepy ghost kid in The Ring
She was: wrestling with her underwhelming acting career, starring in straight-to-video release Children Of The Corn IV: The Gathering.

Rainn Wilson in House Of 1000 CorpsesRAINN WILSON
Before he was: making us all chuckle and cringe simultaneously with his role as Dwight in the US version of The Office
He was: in Rob Zombie’s brilliantly bizarre horror film House Of 1000 Corpses, where he’s captured, killed and turned into a mermaid.

Renee Zellweger in Texas Chainsaw MassacreRENEE ZELLWEGER
Before she: hit the big time with Jerry Maguire, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Chicago then got a bizarre facelift…
She was: also in the dogshit Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation alongside Matthew McConaughey. The film was actually shot and shelved in 1994, when both were unknowns, and was only released in 1997 after both had became famous.

So there you have it, 40 of Hollywood’s biggest stars and their humble horror film beginnings. There are plenty more where they came from, so if you’d like more of the same let me know in the comments and I’ll happily oblige.

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