Everyone has got to start somewhere. Most of your favorite actors had to work their way up from humble beginnings, unless their parents were already famous and the studios were looking to cash in on their name. Other than that though, most of them actually worked for it. Many actors started out as an extra. It's the logical first step. Some got to stand around looking like normal background humans, while others may have even had a line or two that they got to speak. Over the years, we've become accustomed to seeing these actors as the main stars, making it weird to spot them in the background. Every time you watch an old movie and see some megastar just standing off to the side in a minor role you think to yourself, "I wonder if this is their first movie?" Well, for many of the members on this list, it is.
For the most part, the movies that most stars are extras in are films that no one saw. Maybe the movie itself was so minor that it barely had an audience or the role itself never made it to the final cut. There are some major stars who had background roles that were visible in larger films though. It is these roles that this list focuses on. After all, what fun is talking about an extra if you can't actually see them? For each of the stars on this list, their first appearance on camera would be forgettable if this was a different time, but this is the age of the Internet and the Internet never forgets. We stay vigil. We've found them. Most of the extras here weren't extras for very long, so these roles captured them before they were the big wigs they would soon become. Some of the pictures are quite clear, while others are sort of blurry or difficult to see. We'll get through it together. Here are 15 movie extras before they were famous.
15 Renée Zellweger – Dazed and Confused
Even though Renée Zellweger might not be as recognizable today after having some work done, there was a time that she was crazy famous and everyone loved her sweet, sucked-on-a-lemon style face. But before she was amazing as Bridget Jones, she needed to start from the bottom rung. Her first role in a major film was a pretty great one in Dazed and Confused. She actually has a few spots in the background in it, yelling at kids, setting up a beer funnel in the back of a truck and walking by Matthew McConaughey and crew.
14 Amy Adams – Pick of Destiny
13 Evangeline Lilly – Freddy vs. Jason
12 George Clooney – Centennial
The uncredited village extra, that's how George Clooney started. If ever you're watching the TV mini-series, Centennial, in the "Indian Village scene," you can spot a man-child that looks very much like a brunette version of George Clooney in the background. Turns out, it is him, just about six years before starting on E/R (That's E/R, not to be confused with ER, which Clooney also starred in—Yeah, it's confusing). There are no videos from this show because moving pictures were still a new invention around the time it came out. Heh, Clooney's not that old, he's just always looked it.
11 Sly Stallone – Bananas
10 Elijah Wood – Back to the Future II
9 Megan Fox – Bad Boys 2
8 Keira Knightley – Phantom Menace
Keira Knightley (left) was in a few minor things on TV before her big break as Sabe in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Sure, she had a name and a centered position in the camera. Heck, she even had a few lines, but she really was nothing more than an extra. She was decked out with makeup to look like Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala. At the time, you wouldn't know it was Knightley even if you knew what she looked like in 1999.
7 Matt Damon – Mystic Pizza
6 Brad Pitt – No Man's Land
5 Matthew McConaughey – Unsolved Mysteries
4 Charlize Theron – Children of the Corn III
3 Jackie Chan – Enter the Dragon
That man getting savaged up there by Bruce Lee? That's Jackie Chan. Chan was in a million movies as an extra, just a faceless guy doing kicks and flips in the background of any martial arts movie. In a few of those movies though, like Enter the Dragon, Chan was lucky enough to beaten up by the main star. In the scene pictured above, Chan jumps on Lee's back giving him a big bear hug, a move that has never really been that effective. The bear hug expert, Lee, reverses it easily and grabs a hold of Chan's ridiculous haircut. He holds him there a minute, thinking what to do next. The solution? He snaps Chan's neck simply by pulling his hair. Yeah, Jackie Chan was killed by Bruce Lee pulling his hair.
2 Denzel Washington – Death Wish
1 Bruce Willis – The Verdict
Now part of the classic game, "spot the Bruce Willis in the courtroom." The scene in The Verdict pictured above was one of the last times that the superstar Willis was not a superstar on camera. It would be six years from this point that Willis starred as John McClane in Die Hard, and his life, and ours, would never be the same again. Notice the full head of hair, the slightly off-centered seating, these are things that we are not used to seeing in connection with Willis. He also had an uncredited role in The First Deadly Sin before The Verdict, but he wasn't as pretty as he is here.
Sources: Wikipedia; IMDB; MentalFloss
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