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Top 10 Actors Who Appeared in Horror Movies Before Fame

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Tiffany Ezuma. The jobs you take when you’re a struggling actor are terrifying! In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 actors who appeared in horror films before they were famous. For this list, we’ve picked the actors based on their star power today and how unknown they were before their roles in the horror films. The horror movie doesn’t have to be their first big screen outing, but it does have to be a role they played before they became famous or household names. We’re also excluding those actors whose roles in the horror genre actually helped catapult them to fame, such as Jamie Lee Curtis. Special thanks to our users Norris Vaughn, 7AMart1, derfboy00, Élie Renard Delisle-lafortune and ozfizann for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Tiffany Ezuma.

Top 10 Actors Who Appeared in Horror Movies Before Fame


The jobs you take when you’re a struggling actor are terrifying! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 actors who appeared in horror films before they were famous.

For this list, we’ve picked the actors based on their star power today and how unknown they were before their roles in the horror films. The horror movie doesn’t have to be their first big screen outing, but it does have to be a role they played before they became famous or household names. We’re also excluding those actors whose roles in the horror genre actually helped catapult them to fame, such as Jamie Lee Curtis.

#10: Julianne Moore
“Tales from the Darkside: The Movie” (1990)

Based on the anthology horror show of the same name, “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie” features a young Julianne Moore in the “Lot 249” segment. Adapted from an Arthur Conan Doyle tale, this story follows a disgruntled student who uses a mummy to get back at his classmates, with Moore playing one of said classmates. In the few minutes she’s on-screen, she acts with a sense of grit and determination, which isn’t always found in horror movie victims. The role was her cinematic debut after several small TV appearances in the 1980s.

#9: Demi Moore
“Parasite” (1982)

A true B movie, this 3D film was a blend of science fiction and horror. It tells the story of a future dystopia in which the corrupt government creates a parasite that feeds on its human victims. Demi Moore plays a young lemon grower determined to help the movie’s protagonist stop the parasite from killing. Though “Parasite” had all the elements of camp and cheesiness that viewers expected, there was also an undeniable intelligence to the young actress’ performance that made her seem a bit out-of-place in such a film – fortunately, this didn’t stop her from gaining more roles.

#8: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
“Troll” (1986)

Even though Julia Louis-Dreyfus had already played several characters on “Saturday Night Live” from 1982 to 1985, she wasn’t exactly a household name in the ‘80s. Jeanette Cooper in “Troll” wasn’t only her first film role, it was also her first major role after leaving the TV show. In the dark fantasy flick, Julia’s character gets possessed by the Troll and turned into a woodland nymph. The movie showcased her comedic qualities, since she manically laughed throughout her big scene. Though “Troll” did poorly at the box office, it did go on to gain a cult following.

#7: Jack Black
“I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” (1998)

Even in a horror movie, this guy was a funny man. Though he played small roles in some big movies during the early ‘90s, Jack Black was cast quite memorably as the over-enthusiastic Rasta man stoner in this 1998 slasher film. Though he was uncredited for the role, Jack was still recognizable despite his sloppy dreadlock wig, thanks to his trademark goofy laughter and the use of his eyebrows. Even back then, we could see how he used his full body for comedy, which enhanced his character’s short time on screen.

#6: Mila Kunis
“Piranha” (1995)

Her breakout role may have been as Jackie on “That ‘70s Show” in 1998, but Mila Kunis had been kicking around on-screen well before then. “Piranha” was the 12-year-old Mila’s film debut and saw her playing a young heroine trying to save her cabin mates from a deadly lake piranha. A remake of the 1978 film of the same name, the horror movie even had director Scott P. Levy using the first production’s special effects for his own. While the flick itself was a bit of a mess, Kunis’ performance showed a spark of that feisty personality that viewers would later come to love.

#5: Amy Adams
“Psycho Beach Party” (2000)

Based on a play of the same name, this movie was a tongue-in-cheek comedy horror hybrid meant to poke fun at ‘80s slashers, ‘60s beach party movies and ‘50s psychological dramas. Amy Adams’ character Marvel Ann proved to be a mix of self-righteousness, sass, and spunk. Her acting ability was seriously tested during an embarrassing break-up scene with her boyfriend. She also brought a sense of over-the-top perkiness to the role that would serve her later in more family-friendly roles.

#4: Leonardo DiCaprio
“Critters 3” (1991)

This direct-to-video release was Leo’s film debut. As the third entry of the “Critters” series, it follows the lukewarm success of the first two films but changed the movie’s setting. Mixing sci-fi and horror, it proved to be no challenge for Leonardo DiCaprio, who held his own against the adults in the film. Admittedly, the bar hadn’t really been set that high, considering the series had a reputation for its campiness. Leo doesn’t exactly look back on the film with fondness either; but regardless, we all know he was more than able to successfully branch out from it.

#3: George Clooney
“Return to Horror High” (1987)

In a blink and you’ll miss him role, young pre-heartthrob George Clooney played dumb cop and victim in this comedy horror film. He barely has any screen time but his character does mention that he wants to become a star. Clooney did a pretty decent job of fulfilling that prophecy in real life. The rest of “Return to Horror High” is so largely forgettable that it wouldn’t be a surprise if Clooney forgot he was in it! If only his character could see him now.

#2: Jennifer Aniston
“Leprechaun” (1993)

As one of the main stars of this Mark Jones-directed film, Jennifer Aniston basically helped carry “Leprechaun,” which was big responsibility for an actress who was just starting out. The movie’s premise was pretty wacky, but Aniston did her best with the material and was able to match its tone of horror meets comedy. She also proved to have good pipes for a scream queen, a path she surely could have successfully gone down after if that was what she wanted to do. Though it spawned several other films, Aniston didn’t appear in any more of them - but that was definitely for the best.

Before we scare up our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Kevin Bacon
“Friday the 13th” (1980)
- Brad Pitt
“Cutting Class” (1989)
- Viggo Mortensen
“Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III” (1990)
- Michelle Williams
“Species” (1995)
- John Travolta
“Carrie” (1976)

#1: Johnny Depp
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

Unlike most of the other movies on our list, this one was actually a huge box office success and let Johnny Depp legitimately show off his acting chops as he battled Freddy Krueger. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” marked his big-screen debut. As Glen Lantz, the protagonist’s boyfriend, his character was a bit of a stereotype but the film was intelligent enough to use that as a strength. Depp became a household heartthrob a few years later, but this role really helped launch his ability to pick interesting and varied projects – plus he was totally eaten by a bed!

Do you agree with our list? Who is your favorite actor to appear in a horror flick in his or her early years? For more first rate Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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