Jodie Foster throwing the peace sign

10 Celebrities and Their First Major Roles

How did some of the biggest stars in entertainment today get started, you ask? Well, read on. Below, we’ve compiled a list of 10 celebrities and the first film roles they ever had.

  1. Jodie Foster 
    Foster had several roles as a young child, mostly in episodes of television. Her first major movie appearance was in 1970, playing Suellen McIver in the made-for-TV Disney movie, Menace on the Mountain. She played the character when she was just eight years old.
  2. Johnny Depp
    This superstar has been in movies for decades, but his first on screen appearance came in 1984 with the release of A Nightmare on Elm Street by Wes Craven. He plays one of the main characters and (spoiler alert) suffers one of the most memorable deaths in movie history at the hands of Freddy Krueger.
  3. Harrison Ford
    Ford had his film debut in 1966 with a bit part in the movie Dead Heat. Apparently, executives were not impressed with his performance and one went so far as to tell Ford that he’d never make it in the entertainment industry. He proved that particular exec wrong and launched his acting career with his role in the 1973 drama American Graffiti.
  4. Vince Vaughn
    Now a seasoned and well-known actor, Vaughn’s first major on-screen role was a small part in the 1993 film Rudy, playing O’Hara. In his biggest scene, his character is sacked by Rudy. O’Hara then throws a tantrum and gets demoted to the prep team by the coach.  This was his first credited role and he was listed as “Vincent Vaughn.”
  5. Halle Berry
    Berry went from winning pageants in the 80s to playing a junkie at the beginning of the 90s. In the 1991 film Jungle Fever, Berry plays a drug addict and apparently her looks almost got in the way of her landing the role: it’s reported that Spike Lee didn’t want her for the role initially because Berry was “too beautiful.” After a few auditions, however, she convinced Lee that she could do a believable portrayal and was given the part.
  6. Vin Diesel 
    Diesel dropped out of college to make a short film (Multi-Facial) that he wrote, produced, and directed. The film played in the Cannes Film Festival in 1995 and caught the attention of Steven Spielberg. Spielberg was just beginning work on Saving Private Ryan (released in 1998) and created a role just for Diesel.
  7. Alan Rickman
    Rickman’s first major role on-screen was playing the villain Hans Gruber in the 1988 action movie, Die Hard. This wasn’t his introduction to acting professionally, however. He had already been in a number of plays and even been nominated for a Tony before he began appearing in films. Since playing Gruber, Rickman moved away from stage acting and began focusing more on film acting.
  8. Zoe Saldana
    We’ve come to know Saldana as a sci-fi star, thanks to her most recent major roles (in Avatar, Star Trek, and Guardians of the Galaxy), but she first showed up on-screen as a ballerina. She played the role of Eva, a main character, in the 2000 movie titled Center Stage. The role required her to both act and dance, which she handled just as well as the more aggressive choreography she’s had to tackle in her more recent roles.
  9. Kevin Bacon
    Bacon became a big name in the 80s, but his start came in the late 70s with the 1978 comedy National Lampoon’s Animal House. In the movie, Bacon plays an ROTC soldier and fraternity pledge. This role got his acting career started and his name out there, but his career was seriously launched after playing Ren McCormack in Footloose (1984).
  10. Jennifer Aniston
    Anniston’s first on-screen appearances were on failed TV shows throughout the early 90s. The shows did so poorly that Anniston also worked as a waitress and telemarketer while she looked for more acting gigs. She eventually got a role on the poorly-received horror film Leprechaun, which was released in 1993. Though the film was not considered a success, it was a significant step in the start of this actress’s long and accomplished career.
Last Updated: June 23, 2015