Being a working actor is a wonderful accomplishment. For most superstars, just getting paid for a gig in the beginning of their careers is celebration-worthy. It doesn't matter what the job was or is, it's a job. It means you can call yourself an actor. Get yourself a SAG card or do whatever else it is that actors do when they finally make it. Yet, not all actors are proud of their early work. Sure, they recognize the importance of those roles, but they don't all go back and watch their performances with pride. Many of the greatest actors are flat out embarrassed of their early roles, if only because they were so unpolished at the craft. Hell, Leonardo DiCaprio has said that he is embarrassed of Titanic, and he was fantastic in that movie. It happens. It's like seeing a picture of yourself as a kid. You were awkward. So were they.
In the spirit of digging up embarrassing early roles, we decided to look at some of the first jobs ever of today's superstars. Not all are embarrassing but many, many were. Some are embarrassing because of how the star looked as a younger person. Some are embarrassing because of the show or film itself. The one thing that all of these have in common is that they put current superstars in compromising positions. We're sure that these actors are proud of where they are currently, but boy, do they ever look silly in these early gigs?! Here are 16 Most Humiliating First Acting Jobs For Current Superstars.
16 Liam Neeson – Krull And Pilgrim's Progress
Way back in the late 1970's and early 1980's, Liam Neeson wasn't the giant star that he is today. His first ever role was in a film called Pilgrim's Progress and Neeson played the title character Pilgrim, donning a terrible hairdo (oddly enough not far from his look as Qui Gon Jin). A few years later, Neeson played the part of Kegan in Krull, which had him act out one of the worst death scenes in the history of film. That's pretty bad. It's really awkward, and it drags out for about 30 seconds longer than it probably should have. The picture above is from that very strange little film.
15 Jeremy Renner – Random Commercials
Even though Jeremy Renner has been working for many years now, he didn't really blow up until about 10 years ago. It was his starring role in The Hurt Locker in 2008 that brought him to the big stage. For the role, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Two years later, he earned another nomination for The Town. These days, Renner is one of the biggest actors in the industry, showcasing his incredible gifts in every role he takes on. But, in his early years, Renner's career hit a few bumps along the road. His first film role was in National Lampoon's Senior Trip. This film bombed, earning itself a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. But Renner wasn't all that bad. After that, aside from some later TV roles, Renner found himself in a number of commercials. To be quite honest, his commercials were pretty damn good, but doing a spot for 7-Eleven has got to be one of the last things Renner lists when he brags about his accomplishments.
14 Idris Elba – Space Precinct
It may be a little difficult to accept that there was ever a time when Idris Elba was unwanted in Hollywood, but in one of his first roles ever, he didn't even get to use his voice. Well, he had lines, but his voice was basically dubbed over as soon as he said them. Elba played the Pizza Delivery Guy in Space Precinct, and he had a total of two lines, “Sublight pizza! Hey.” He thought it was going to be his big break, but the Brit couldn't get the American accent down, so they replaced his 22-year-old voice with a random American. Ouch, that had to hurt...
13 Daniel Craig – A Kid In Arthur's Court
A Kid in Arthur's Court is kind of like the unofficial sequel to Rookie of the Year. Both films star the same kid, and he's a baseball player in both films. In this film, A Kid in Arthur's Court, however, when he falls down, he doesn't horribly disfigure his arm and become an amazing pitcher, he falls into Camelot. Waiting for him there is Daniel Craig in one of his very earliest roles. Make no mistake. This film is horrendous, but it's made worse by Craig's haircut. It's unseemly, if you ask us. He's interested in a young Kate Winslet, which may seem crazy considering butchered haircut he's recently received, but since this is a fantasy film, we're expected to see past that. In the end, Winslet too sees past his terrible mop and they live happily ever after.
12 Nicole Kidman - BMX Bandits
Honestly, Nicole Kidman isn't half bad in her early film, BMX Bandits. She's easily the best part of the film, and the role certainly led her to bigger and better things. But this is a hilariously bad movie. In it, Kidman has several montages where she performs a few tricks on her BMX bike. Now, whenever these montages take place, Kidman is swapped out for a stunt double and the cuts are shocking. While we know that we're expected to ignore the fact that Kidman has suddenly sprouted the broad shoulders of a man and biceps bigger than her torso, it is still a real challenge. Despite her actual acting, these jarring cuts are enough to make this film embarrassing for Kidman.
11 Quentin Tarantino – Golden Girls
Even though we know that Quentin Tarantino isn't actually ashamed of his early role on Golden Girls, we are embarrassed for him. He appeared in "Sophia's Wedding Part 1" as one of the many Elvis impersonators singing the “Hawaiian Wedding Song.” For Tarantino, this was a big gig for him because it predated all of his future Hollywood success. “Well, it was kind of a high point because it was one of the few times that I actually got hired for a job,” he said. When speaking of his performance, Tarantino, as modest as ever, suggested he was the best, saying, "I wore my own clothes, because I was, like, the Sun Records Elvis… I was the real Elvis; everyone else was Elvis after he sold out." If you watch the performance, he's actually very clearly the worst of the bunch, if not the most distracting.
10 Jon Hamm – The Big Date
Jon Hamm is a ginormous star these days, especially after starring on Mad Men for all those years. Hamm almost never made it an actor, though. He just happened to nab a couple of film roles before he officially gave up on the dream once and for all. Before he made it, Hamm was working as a waiter who couldn't catch a break. He did get on TV in his younger years, though. He was a contestant on The Big Date, a dating show like every other dating show. On his episode, Hamm held a creepy grin on his face the entire time. Obviously nervous, Hamm panicked and said the word "fabulous" or a variation of it several times. Maybe it was his plan, but we like to think it wasn't. In this case, panicking is a better explanation than planning. His exact words to the woman were, "Well, [we'd] start off with some fabulous food…a little fabulous conversation, end it with a fabulous foot massage for an evening of total fabulosity." Yeah, she didn't pick him.
9 Benicio Del Toro – Big Top Pee-wee
In 1988, Benicio del Toro's film career got off to a running start with Big Top Pee-wee. In the film, del Toro played Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy. Now, we actually enjoy the film, though it received terrible reviews from most, but del Toro's role must be a touch humiliating for the actor to look back on. When asked about it, he said he has never gone back and watched the film, but he prepared for it by imitating a dog he had growing up. At least, he would imitate the way the dog barked. Now, this isn't a horrible performance by any stretch, but we have to wonder if choosing del Toro for the part was a comment on his looks. Either way, we doubt he shows this on dates.
8 Ricky Gervais – Razmatazz
Long before Ricky Gervais was a star comedian, he was in an 80's band called Seona Dancing. No, the band was not good at all, but they did have at least one public performance that we have access to. That phenomenal appearance was on Razmatazz and Gervais, in his very best David Bowie costume, got out there, and sang his heart out. If you're a fan of Ricky Gervais, popular 80's music, or gender-neutral humans, then you have to check out Seona Dancing on Razmatazz. It'll definitely be the best thing you watch all day, we promise you this.
7 Michael Cera – The Crying Kid
Even though Michael Cera had several roles before the ones we're most interested, we wanted to focus in on the 2001 TV movie Walter and Henry because of its charm. Before that, Cera had done several commercials as a child, including a particularly amazing Pillsbury Doughboy commercial. The role we love though, the Walter and Henry one, features a scene with Cera crying in bed. In fact, that was his credited role, "the crying kid." Now, his performance is pretty incredible but it's also hilarious. Cera also had a funny appearance on La Femme Nikita as a creepy-a*s little kid that can take control of others' minds. Just look at that stare.
6 Woody Harrelson - Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme
You might think that just because he was on Cheers, everything came easy to Woody Harrelson, but that wasn't the case. Film was his goal all along and he had to appear in some questionable films along the way to stardom. His first real big film breakthrough was on White Men Can't Jump, but a couple of years before that (in 1990), Harrelson appeared in the film that we wish he was remembered for. We're talking about the classic cinematic masterpiece, Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme. If you've never seen this piece of art, stop what you're doing and find it. Harrelson plays Lou the Lamb, a cigar-smoking lamb that seems quite abusive to Mary. The film is a pretty trippy experience and Woody is quite good in his brief appearance, but we have to imagine he's at least a little embarrassed of this performance.
5 Jean Claude Van Damme – Gay Karate Man
Jean Claude Van Damme's first credited role in his illustrious career might be one of the best credited roles of all time. He was simply called "Gay Karate Man." The film was Monaco Forever. In it, Van Damme picks up a hitchhiker, s*xually assaults him, and then comes within an inch of kicking the man's head clean off his shoulders when he is confronted about it all. It's a remarkably strange scene. Although Van Damme comes across as a borderline creep, his kicks and his form are quite impeccable. Great role. Slightly embarrassing, yes, but great nevertheless.
4 Ryan Reynolds – Hillside/Fifteen
Long before Ryan Reynolds was Deadpool or the social media superstar that he is today, he was Billy Simpson on Hillside (or Fifteen in the United States). Now, despite this show's following, Reynolds must be a bit embarrassed looking back on this. It's not really his performance that was bad, though they were countless cringe-worthy moments as well. It was more about his look. Back then, Reynolds had the same-sized head as he has today but with a much, much smaller body. Watching an episode knowing what Reynolds looks like today is like watching those early scenes in The Love Guru where Mike Myers' face is superimposed onto a child's body. The 15-year-old version of Reynolds was this tiny little person with a gigantic bobblehead and strangely broad shoulders. It's honestly a little off-putting looking at him.
3 Chris Evans – Mystery Date Board Game
Chris Evans may be Captain America now, making him one of the most recognizable actors in the world, but his early career was not as prolific. In 2001, Evans first got some attention in the underrated Not Another Teen Movie. Before that, like just two years before that, Evans was a face on one of the cards in the Mystery Date board game. You know the one where you would open a door and try to match with the correct date. You could even talk on the phone with this lovely dream date. Well, Captain America's mug was used as the face of one of the candidates. He will forever be immortalized by that beautiful game. It's unclear if they used his voice as well. We wonder if Evans ever busts this game out to play with friends. If we were him, we certainly would.
2 Joe Manganiello – The Ketchup King
You've never seen The Ketchup King. We're certain of it. But this was the movie that gave Joe Manganiello his start. This was before he married Sofia Vergara, before Magic Mike, before True Blood, and even before he played Flash Thompson in Spider-Man. His official role was the Black Dildo. This wasn't a nickname or anything either. Nope, Manganiello actually voiced a talking Black Dildo in the film. Of all the first roles, this one is the most embarrassing. We’re not sure if any other actor in history can say that their very first performance was a dildo. There may be no worse first role. Whoever it was that first said "everyone's got to start somewhere," did not have this in mind.
1 Tobey Maguire – The Wizard
Tobey Maguire's first movie role was uncredited, but it was sheer incredibleness. Maguire played one of Lucas' goons at the Video Armageddon in The Wizard. If you don't remember The Wizard, shame on you. For any kids that loved video games, this film was one of the most amazing movies ever made. Well, Maguire was one of the lackeys of the bad kid. You knew Maguire was bad because he was sporting a greasy mullet that would bring a tear to Blake Shelton's eye. But one man's treasure is another man's trash, so while we may love the role, we're pretty sure Maguire would cringe at it today. He's all class now. This role isn't up to the caliber of Spider-Man.
Sources: IMDB; Youtube; Wikipedia; Movie Clips