In a previous blog post a few weeks ago, we mentioned the film Leprechaun, Jennifer Aniston’s earliest feature film role. That little fun fact got us thinking about other big name actors and actresses who got their start playing parts in crazy films as well. Now, we don’t fault any of these now-famous thespians; you gotta get your start somewhere.
Below we list out some actors/actresses from the highest echelons of celebrity in Hollywood who had their earliest roles in completely absurd films. There are just a few rules to this list.
- The film listed had to be at the start of a major actor or actress’s career.
- They couldn’t just be an extra.
- The film not only has to be critically-reviewed as bad, but it has to be goofy, campy, strange, or just generally “ridiculous.”
5. Jennifer Aniston – Leprechuan
We’ll start off with what we already know and previously mentioned. Jennifer Aniston is the heroine of the 1993 campy horror film about a maniacal Leprechaun that kills anyone that gets in his way after his bag of gold coins is stolen. It’s super cheesy, not very scary, and typical bad horror movie fanfare.
There are two things worth noting about Jen’s role in the film. First, this movie came out the same year that Friends debuted on NBC and forever changed Aniston’s life, allowing her to never do a movie like this again. Second, Jen was not even featured on the original movie cover for this film, but was later added to it after she became a household name.
How this didn’t win an Oscar will always be a mystery…
4. Leonardo DiCaprio – Critters 3
Unlike the rest of the people on this list (with an asterisk beside Angelina Jolie), Leo DiCaprio got his first real acting gig in a film as a young child, but that didn’t save him from an awful first film. Leo played a young kid who must help save a Los Angeles apartment building (and the world) from aliens that eat everything they get close to (as the title implies, this is their third visit to Earth) in this cheap knock-off of Gremlins.
The movie poster pretty much says all you need to know about this film and it’s style was surprisingly common in the films of the early 90s. They made little sense and were a strange blend of weird monsters, cheap gore, slapstick humor, and goofy sound effects.
3. Clint Eastwood – Revenge of the Creature
Yes, you read that right, even screen legends like Clint Eastwood had to get their start by paying their dues as chumps in bad B-movies. In the 1955 forgettable sequel to Universal’s monster movie classic, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Eastwood plays an uncredited laboratory assistant. Now, since Eastwood was not originally credited for the role, but he has a handful of lines, so we are going to go with it.
Eastwood is only on screen for about 30 seconds, but it’s interesting to see him not as the tough-as-nails Dirty Harry type, but a simple, nerdy lab technician. Eastwood’s role is so small, he doesn’t even get attacked by the monster at any point during the movie.
2. Angelina Jolie – Cyborg 2
We’re going to bend the rules a little bit here because this film wasn’t technically Angelina Jolie’s first movie role. She had appeared in Lookin’ to Get Out eleven years earlier as a child in a small role. Her first major lead role was in the 1993 film Cyborg 2. It’s a bad Sci-Fi film set in the year 2074 where Jolie plays a cyborg (part human, part android) who is supposed to kill a rival company’s board of directors, but goes AWOL because she doesn’t want to terminate her own life in the process.
I guess this one isn’t really supposed to be campy, but was among a string of Sci-Fi action films that hit the scene in the 90s. Regardless of its intent, Cyborg 2 is no great art, but you can at least see where Jolie got her action movie start that led to later roles in films like Tomb Raider, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Salt.
1. George Clooney – Return to Horror High, Grizzly II, & Return of the Killer Tomatoes
We’ll close with the case of George Clooney. He is yet another example of the horror movie genre being one of the most prolific ways for young actors to cut their teeth and get into feature films. Clooney did not just one horror film early on, but three! Before his breakout role on ER, Clooney’s first visible gig in a feature film was a supporting role in the 1987 slasher Return to Horror High about a murderer that is stalking a high school.
During this same time, Clooney did two other B-horror movies from 1985-1988. He had a small part in 1985’s unfinished Grizzly II, about a grizzly bear that goes on a killing spree at a concert in a national park; however, it was never released because the film ran out of funding during production. Then in 1988, Clooney took on another feature film role in the absurd Return of the Killer Tomatoes, the sequel to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.
While Clooney was never the leading man in these three films, clearly he used his parts to launch his career onto bigger and better things.
Honest to God, this is the real trailer for George Clooney’s 2nd feature film.