In any career, you have to start at the bottom in order to work your way up to the top. Often that means taking crappy jobs, even if you don’t want to. Movie stars are no exception. Before making a name for themselves, some of the biggest actors in the world got their starts in awful movies, as you’ll see below.
Perhaps no first role is more embarrassing than Jennifer Lawrence’s. Before starring in blockbuster hits like X-Men and The Hunger Games, and annually being nominated for Academy Awards, she was a struggling actress just like everyone else. Her first role was as a mascot in the TV show Monk in 2006. Decked out from head to toe in a cougar costume, she can be seen bouncing around on the sidelines and jumping on Tony Shalhoub’s back (she takes her cougar head off for a split second, so you’re gonna have to be sharp to spot her).
Hey, they can’t all be winners. You’ve got to start somewhere. Here’s the list of 10 famous stars and their embarrassing first films.
10. Adam Sandler — Going Overboard
Not that his most recent films have been much better, but Adam Sandler’s first film, Going Overboard, might just be one of the worst comedies you’ll ever see. Sandler plays young comedian Schecky Moskowitz, who takes a job on a cruise ship in the hope of becoming a cruise ship comic. Other famous actors in the film include Burt Young (Paulie from the Rocky films) and Peter Berg, now a big name director. Going Overboard has an abysmal 1.9 rating on IMDB, bad enough for the sixteenth worst ranked film on the site.
9. Uma Thurman — Johnny Be Good/Kiss Daddy Goodnight
Uma Thurman is best known for being Quentin Tarantino’s muse. She rose to fame in 1994 after her role in Pulp Fiction, and she would go on to star in Tarantino’s Kill Bill films as the bride, seeking vengeance on the team of assassins who betrayed her. Before her success, however, she started her career off on a bad note. Her first two films, Johnny Be Good and Kiss Daddy Goodnight, were both poorly received. The first, a high school comedy starring Robert Downey Jr. and Anthony Michael Hall, has a 4.4 rating on IMDB and a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Kiss Daddy Goodnight, a neo-noir thriller, didn’t fair much better.
8. Kristen Stewart — The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
Kristen Stewart has been heavily criticized throughout her career for her acting abilities, but she recently put the naysayers to rest with her performance in Clouds of Sils Maria. In it, she played the young American assistant of a famous international movie star. Many believed the role should have earned her an Academy Award nomination. She’s come a long way since her first film, the poorly received The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, in which she plays a young girl at a carnival. Blink and you’ll miss it.
7. Jason Bateman — Teen Wolf Too
The original Teen Wolf, starring Michael J. Fox, was a blockbuster hit, earning $80 million against a small $1.2 million budget. So you’d think starring in the sequel for your very first movie would be a pretty good start to a career, right? Not the case for Jason Bateman, who despite his rocky start would go on to have success in Hollywood with projects like Arrested Development and Horrible Bosses. Teen Wolf Too made less than 1/10th of the original and was universally panned by critics. Bateman had a tough time rebounding from his first film, and had it not been for Arrested Development he might have disappeared from Hollywood altogether.
6. Bryan Cranston — Amazon Women on the Moon
Bryan Cranston rose to prominence a little later in life than most actors. Before playing the father in Malcolm in the Middle and the meth-cooking science teacher in Breaking Bad, he struggled to make a name for himself in show business. His first role was in the bizarre sci-fi parody Amazon Women on the Moon. The film, which is more like a series of sketches, boasts some pretty impressive talent, with big name actors like Arsenio Hall, Michelle Pfeiffer, Phil Hartman, Rosanna Arquette, and Steve Guttenberg. But most interesting of all is Cranston, who plays a small role (Paramedic #1).
5. Tom Cruise — Endless Love
For years now, Tom Cruise has been one of the biggest movie stars in the world. His films— perhaps most notably the Mission Impossible franchise — regularly bring in hundreds of millions of dollars. But even he came from humble beginnings. Despite his first film (Endless Love) being a box office success, it was largely panned by critics and received six Golden Raspberry nominations. Even the author who wrote the book upon which the film was based trashed it. In the film, a 19-year-old Cruise can be seen rolling around in the grass with his shirt off after a game of soccer.
4. Clint Eastwood — Revenge of the Creature
Clint Eastwood became one of the most well known actors in Hollywood by playing tough guys in spaghetti Westerns. Who could forget his stoic performance as “The Man With No Name” in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly? Before that, however, he got his start in a decidedly different kind of movie: Revenge of the Creature, a 1955 sci-fi horror film about the creature from the Black Lagoon. Eastwood is uncredited in the film, but he appears early on as a lab technician (the most badass lab technician ever).
3. Sylvester Stallone — The Party at Kitty and Stud’s
How Sylvester Stallone got his start in show business is well documented. Before he hit it big with Rocky in 1976, he starred in a low budget softcore adult film called The Party at Kitty and Stud’s. He took the role, which paid a meager $200, out of desperation. He had just been evicted from his house and was living in a bus station when he saw a casting call for the film. Luckily for him, Rocky turned out to be a major success, launching his career and assuring that he would never have to take a role out of desperation again.
2. Jim Carrey — All in Good Taste
Here’s a movie that you probably won’t hear much about: All in Good Taste. It’s a Canadian comedy about a young filmmaker who is disappointed to see his script about an orphan and a dog being turned into movie filled with sex and violence, and it stars a young Canadian comedian by the name of Jim Carrey in his very first film role. He plays a small part, but is it ever a strange one to start your career on. He plays a naked cameraman. That’s right, Jim Carrey’s first role was as a naked cameraman.
1. Jennifer Aniston — Leprechaun
Before she hit it big on Friends as Rachel Green, Jennifer Aniston (pre-nose job) got her start in a 1993 horror comedy called Leprechaun. Starring Warwick Davis as the malevolent Irish creature, the film is about “an evil, sadistic Leprechaun [who] goes on a killing rampage in search of his beloved pot of gold.” Sounds great, huh? Although it was largely panned by critics upon its release, it has since grown into some sort of cult classic. Still, Hollywood megastar Jennifer Aniston would probably rather be remembered for her role on Friends.
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