In Hollywood things can be move very fast. A movie can go from having a moderate opening week showing to a cultural phenomenon in a matter of weeks. There is no formula to predict this type of widespread success and influence, but when it happens, it’s an experience that truly changes an actor’s life. In the following article, we talk about 16 roles different actors have played in movies that have altered the trajectories of their lives forever. Some of them were debut starring roles, others were supporting actor appearances and there are even a few comedic performances included – take a look below:
16 Julia Roberts – Pretty Woman
Do you remember what you were doing in 1990? Well, that was the year when one of the most successful romantic comedies of all time was released. It was directed by Gary Marshall, and it starred a young and very beautiful Julia Roberts playing a down-on-her-luck prostitute in Los Angeles. Her co-star was the equally good-looking Richard Gere, and whenever the two of them were on-screen, magic happened. To date, the movie has earned close to $500 million, and it’s one of the most popular romantic comedies of all time. Of course, she has gone on to star in so many hit movies, but Pretty Woman is what started it all for Julia Roberts.
15 Al Pacino – The Godfather
Most of us weren’t even born yet in 1972, but that was the year when Al Pacino started making a name for himself as one of the best actors in his generation. The movie was the classic mafia flick known as The Godfather, and it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The movie starred an amazing amount of talent: Marlon Brando, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall and more. A role like this only comes once in a lifetime, and The Godfather is often considered as one of the best films of all time. For a young actor breaking starting out his career, Pacino couldn’t have asked for anything more.
14 Will Smith – Independence Day
13 Cameron Diaz: There’s Something About Mary
12 Jennifer Lopez – Selena
11 Jim Carrey – Ace Ventura
Canadian-born actor Jim Carrey is one of the funniest men that Hollywood has ever produced. It was evident that he would be a breakout star when he displayed his unique talent on the laugh-out-loud funny comedy series In Living Color. Then he made the switch to movies, and he hit gold with the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. There are not too many people who could handle such a demanding comedic role but it was perfect for Carrey. The movie cost about $15 million to make and it brought in over $100 million at the box office. After that major success, a Hollywood star was born!
10 Jeremy Renner: Hurt Locker
These days Jeremy Renner is a huge Hollywood star acting in big franchise movies like The Avengers, Mission Impossible and The Bourne series, but he had to work really hard to get to the top. One of the movies that really sparked major fireworks in his career was the gripping and very intense movie The Hurt Locker. He played the role of a soldier in the bomb detonator squad in the Iraq War, and he delivered an extremely passionate and heartfelt performance. The film won an Oscar for best director (Kathryn Bigelow) and also for Best Original screenplay. After that movie, it was official; Renner had officially arrived.
9 Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years A Slave
Sometimes lighting strikes fast and when you least expect it. That was how Lupita Nyong’o must have felt when her first major role in a Hollywood movie became a bona fide hit. Of course that movie was the raw and poignant historical drama 12 Years A Slave directed by Steve McQueen. The movie came out last year, and it garnered Oscar nominations for the lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and supporting actress, Lupita. She went on to win the Oscar for the role and became an instant Hollywood celeb. Next up, you can see her in the JJ. Abrams movie reboot: Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens.
8 Channing Tatum – Step Up
7 Ryan Gosling – The Notebook
6 Lindsay Lohan – Mean Girls
5 Matt Damon – Good Will Hunting
There are few actors who have been able to make an instant splash on the scene by both writing the screenplay and also starring in that same movie. That’s what happened with the talented Matt Damon when him and his pal Ben Affleck wrote and acted in the 1997 film Goodwill Hunting. The movie was a runaway hit making a whopping $225 million with a filming budget of just $10 million. It was nominated for nine Oscars, and it won the Academy awards for best screenplay, best supporting actor (for Robin Williams) and best picture of the year. We can all agree that this movie started Damon’s career off with a real bang!
4 Leonardo DiCaprio- Titanic
Nowadays when we think of Leo DiCaprio, we think of the superstar actor who dates hot models and stars in huge movies like The Wolf of Wall Street, Shutter Island and The Great Gatsby. But there was a time when he wasn’t such a megastar. Everything changed for him when appeared in the 1997 movie Titanic directed by James Cameron. The epic film and love story about the sinking of the ill-fated ocean liner was an amazing success and it grossed over $1.8 billion dollars worldwide. After that movie, the Leo-mania was officially underway and as they say, the rest is history.
3 Anthony Hopkins - Silence of the Lambs
2 Robert Pattinson- Twilight Saga
Vampires have been always been a huge draw in Hollywood for decades, but in the last several years they have bigger than ever. This fact was proven to be stronger than ever with the Twilight Saga series that became a full-on epidemic all over the world. The Twilight series made several hundreds of millions at the box office and the star-crossed lovers at the center of the drama became instant superstars. Their fame was further fueled by the fact that the two of them began dating in real life. Their relationship ended in a ball of flames when Stewart cheated on him with the director Rupert Sanders. It was a public and sordid affair that was splashed all over the tabloids. Pattinson has moved on now and he’s dating the eclectic British singer FKA Twigs. Pattinson currently models for Dior and he has a full slate of movies dropping in 2013 - so expect to see lots more of him in the future.
1 Jennifer Lawrence - The Hunger Games
In the same way that Taylor Swift is ruling the music charts right now, it’s fair to say that Jennifer Lawrence is doing the same in Hollywood. She has had a string of successive hits in the last 3 years, but arguably, the movie that started it all was the extremely successful “Young Adult” leaning flick The Hunger Games. The movie touched down with an inbuilt following in 2012 due to the success of the book, and it took off like wild fire. Since then, the sequels that have been released have been just as successful. And at the age of 24, the young and talented actress is riding on top of the world.