For many to achieve success, they have to try and try and try until they attain a certain level of achievement. Many have told stories about the multiple times they failed and the many wrong choices they made before their careers finally took a turn for the better.
There is no business that is quite as cutthroat as the business of entertaining people. Whether it’s the music industry or Hollywood, many of its famous celebrities’ road to fame contained numerous obstacles and barriers. But perhaps it’s the difficulties and barriers that one has to overcome that makes success and fame all the sweeter.
There are a select few, though, who were lucky enough to have gotten their big breaks on their first foray into acting. Sure, many of them had had their taste of performing in front of audiences in theatre productions or television shows, but when they first tried a new medium, such as TV or film, they garnered instant recognition that somehow contributed to their career breakthroughs.
15 Johnny Depp (Nightmare on Elm Street)
It’s probably considered a claim to fame to have appeared in one of the late great Wes Craven’s many horror films. Perhaps his most renowned film installment is the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Johnny Depp actually made his film debut in the first movie when it showed in 1984. But according to Syracuse.com, Depp almost didn’t get the role as one of the victims of Freddy Krueger named Glen Lantz, the boyfriend of the character Nancy. It’s a good thing he eventually won the role over other actors such as Charlie Sheen, John Cusack, and Brad Pitt.
14 Jeff Goldblum (Death Wish)
He’s most known for his roles in Jurassic Park, The Fly, and Independence Day and he’s had a lucrative career that has spanned almost five decades. Jeff Goldblum got his start in the 1974 action film Death Wish, in which his character didn’t even have a name. He was just known as Freak # 1 and though he didn’t have any speaking lines, his role as a creepy-looking stalker in a grocery store certainly paved the way for him receiving other quirky roles in future.
13 Kevin Bacon (National Lampoon’s Animal House)
Apparently, appearing in a National Lampoon movie can be a good springboard for one’s career. Several actors who went on to have bigger roles got their start in National Lampoon’s Animal House, such as Karen Allen, Tom Hulce, Tim Matheson, and the one and only Kevin Bacon. In the film, Bacon starred as Chip Diller, a cocky member of prestigious fraternity house Omega Theta Pi. Chip eventually becomes a born-again Christian missionary in Africa.
12 Frances McDormand (Blood Simple)
She may not be considered one of Hollywood’s sexiest or most gorgeous, but she’s certainly one of the most versatile actresses of her time, having won her share of acting awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actress in the film Fargo. Frances McDormand made her feature film debut in the 1984 film Blood Simple, which was written and directed by the man she subsequently married, Joel Coen. The film was a huge critical success, with Rotten Tomatoes critics saying it was “brutally violent and shockingly funny in equal measure.”
11 Tommy Lee Jones (Love Story)
It’s quite amusing when one hears the story of how Tommy Lee Jones got his start in movies. Not many know that the revered actor has more than acting skills under his belt; he’s got a brain as well. Jones went to Harvard and graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English. It was in Harvard where he met Erich Segal, the author of the best-selling novel Love Story, which was made into a major motion picture. Segal said in an interview that he based his lead character Oliver on two dorm roommates, one of who was Jones. Years later, Jones got to star in the movie version of the novel in his first role.
10 Elijah Wood (Back to the Future II)
Elijah Wood can consider himself either blessed or cursed for having such youthful features, perpetually looking like a boy no matter that he’s already in his mid-30s. But Wood is not too old for many of us to forget that he was once a child actor. He appeared in his very first film Back To the Future II, one of three in the Robert Zemeckis blockbuster franchise. In the movie, he played one of the two little kids trying to get a video game to play and mocking Marty McFly for his gaming skills.
9 Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
She’s a second generation Hollywood child, being the daughter of acting legends Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Given that acting was in her genes, it was only natural that Jamie Lee Curtis would enter the same profession as her famous parents. She made her film debut when she was barely out of her teens in the slasher horror movie Halloween in 1978. Curtis played the film’s main character Laurie Strode and this role cemented her career and paved the way for a string of films as a leading lady.
8 Josh Brolin (The Goonies)
The film Goonies is one of the cult classics that will live on from generation to generation and anyone and everyone who was part of the film can surely look back at it as one of the best career decisions they’ve ever made. For sure, Josh Brolin counted himself lucky that his film debut was as a goonie. In the movie, he played Brand Walsh, who goes on an epic adventure with his younger brother and his cheerleader crush Andy.
7 Natalie Portman (Leon: The Professional)
Natalie Portman is one of those enviable actresses who seems to have it all: looks, brains, talent, and a golden heart to boot. She was a child actress who got her big break at the age of 12 years old when she was awarded the role of an orphan who befriends a middle-aged hitman in the film Leon: The Professional. Her depiction of the character opened doors for Portman to get a taste of mainstream Hollywood, as it eventually led to her role as Queen Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
6 Alan Rickman (Die Hard)
He was pretty much an institution in the British theatre and TV scene for a whole decade before he made his debut in Hollywood with a bang. Alan Rickman has been known to appear in such mainstream Hollywood films as Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually, and as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter film series. But Rickman got his start in Hollywood when he was chosen for the role of German terrorist and main antagonist Hans Gruber in the action film Die Hard opposite Bruce Willis. It led to him playing other villainous roles so perfectly.
5 Jennifer Lawrence (The Bill Engvall Show)
She’s one of the most sought-after Hollywood actresses these days and at such a young age too! Jennifer Lawrence is oozing with talent. She has a natural gift for acting, as she’s able to play roles so beautifully without having had any professional acting training. She began her acting career in the TBS comedy series The Bill Engvall Show when she was 17, according to Digital Spy. For her role, she won a Young Artist Award for Outstanding Young Performers in a TV Series. The rest, as we know, is history.
4 Lindsay Lohan (The Parent Trap)
It’s a pity that her personal life spun out of control and has become tabloid fodder for the past few years because Linday Lohan was once considered one of the brightest and most promising actors in Hollywood. Lohan made her film debut at the age of 11 when she played the role of twins in the remake of the Disney classic The Parent Trap. According to People, she won the Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film and she went on to star in more child and teen roles. Her career took a backseat when personal problems invaded her professional life.
3 Anna Paquin (The Piano)
Not very many people have the privilege of winning an Academy Award for their very first film and at the tender age of 11, at that! But Anna Paquin made history when she won the Best Supporting Actress plume for the film The Piano, making her the second youngest winner in Oscar history, as reported in New York Mag. After her success in The Piano, Paquin broke into mainstream Hollywood and went on to star as Rogue in the X-Men film franchise. Her latest achievements include a Golden Globe Award for her role in the HBO series True Blood.
2 Kate Beckinsale (Much Ado About Nothing)
She’s considered one of the prettiest actresses in Hollywood, but the road to tinsel town was long and winding for Kate Beckinsale. After a few stints on British television, Beckinsale landed the role of Hero in the film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing when she was only 20 years old. Critics, including those from Rolling Stone magazine, gave her fairly good reviews for her performance, which eventually led her to her big Hollywood break when she was cast as the female romantic lead opposite Ben Affleck in the 2001 epic film Pearl Harbor.
1 Carey Mulligan (Pride and Prejudice)
For anyone familiar with the novel and film adaptations of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice, you’d know that the second to the youngest sister Kitty was the shy and mousy one who was always in the background, having to step back from her sisters’ more dominant personalities. For the 2005 film adaptation, Carey Mulligan was chosen to play the role of the young Kitty in her feature film debut. Although the role was small, it still led her to the many career opportunities she has today.