We're going to start off a little different than usual. We'll begin by telling you what this list isn't. This isn't a list that lists every actor who starred in horror films early in their careers. If it wasn't their first feature film or their first ever performance, you won't find them here. It's super confusing hearing that names like Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts, Kevin Bacon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Paul Rudd and more got their start in horror films because they didn't get their start in horror films. They acted in horror films, yeah, but so have a lot of actors. Everyone knows McConaughey got his start in Dazed and Confused for starters. Paul Rudd's first movie was Clueless, even though his appearance in Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers came later that same year. Naomi Watts' debut film, For Love Alone, came out a full 10 years before she was in Children of the Corn: The Gathering, and Kevin Bacon was in Friday the 13th, yeah, after he was in Animal House. Finally, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was already an established actor by the time Halloween H20 came out in 1998, so he most certainly did not get his start in horror films. There are countless examples like these that you'll find circulating out there.
You opened this up because you expected to find which actors really and truly started their acting careers in horror films, so that's what you'll get. Here is a list of actors who actually started in horror. We will look at what the role was and see if they ever came back to their roots later in their careers.
18 Patricia Arquette – A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
17 Johnny Depp – A Nightmare On Elm Street
16 Amber Heard – SideFX
15 Jason Alexander - The Burning
14 Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Troll
13 Jennifer Aniston - Leprechaun
12 Charlize Theron – Children of the Corn III
11 Eva Mendes – Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror
10 Rachel Weisz – Death Machine
9 Josh Hartnett – Halloween H20
8 Mariska Hargitay – Ghoulies
7 Rooney Mara – Urban Legends: Bloody Mary
6 Sharon Stone – Deadly Blessing
5 Hilary Swank – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
4 Leonardo DiCaprio – Critters 3
3 Chloe Grace Moretz – The Amityville Horror
2 Mila Kunis – Piranha (1995)
1 Tom Hanks – He Knows You're Alone
Tom Hanks is one of the greatest actors to ever live. He's won two Best Actor Awards at the Academy Awards in back-to-back years with Philadelphia and Forrest Gump and he's one of the highest grossing actors of all time. On top of all that, he started his acting career in a horror film. This legendary film is called He Knows You're Alone. Remember it? Probably not. It wasn't received well, but it served as the launching pad for Mr. Hanks. Later in his career, he would return to horror, if only briefly, for Vault of Horror I and a Tales from the Crypt television episode. He would also voice Woody in Toy Story of Terror, which was super spooky, so we'll count it. He may not be considered a horror legend, but that won't stop horror fanatics from claiming him as one of their own.
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