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Top 10 Movie Stars Who Started Out as Extras

VO: TT WRITTEN BY: Thomas O'Connor
Written by Thomas O' Connor All movie stars need to start out somewhere, but did you know that many of them started in the background of your favourite movies! WatchMojo presents the top 10 Movie Stars Who Started Out as Extras! But who will take the top spot on our list? Will it be Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matthew McConaughey, or Clint Eastwood? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to zmpeters21 and Andrew A. Dennison for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, be sure to check out the suggest page here: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Movie+Stars+that+Started+Out+as+Extras

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We’ve all gotta start somewhere. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Stars that Started Out as Extras.

For this list, we’ll be taking a look at instances when future stars appeared in minor, but visible appearances, rather than those with hard to tell background scenes, before making it big. We are also allowing for bit parts with spoken lines, and narrowing our focus to appearances that are more unusual, surprising, or comedic.

#10: Elijah Wood
“Back to the Future Part II” (1989)

Before he was simply walking into Mordor, Middle-Earth’s favorite Hobbit was hanging out in the far flung future of 2015, wearing a colander on his head and turning his tiny little nose up at antiquated videogames. When series protagonist Marty McFly goes to avert disaster by taking the place of his future son at the Cafe 80s, he runs into a pair of kids trying to get an old videogame to work, and one of them is Mister Frodo himself. When Marty aces the game, the pair aren’t impressed. Jeez, he hasn’t even carried the One Ring up Mount Doom and already he’s all jaded.

#9: Jackie Chan
“Enter the Dragon” (1973)

The idea of two of the biggest names in martial arts movies, Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, having an epic battle to the death is something that will forever remain a dream, and fans eager to see these two icons face off will have to make due with Chan’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in Lee’s most famous film. Playing one of a legion of nameless goons in the employ of the evil Han, Chan gets quickly dispatched after attempting to ambush Lee from behind. Fun fact, during filming, Lee accidentally hit Chan in the face, something the now-departed Lee spent the rest of the shoot apologizing for.

#8: Steve Carell
“Curly Sue” (1991)

Let’s be honest, you probably haven’t seen this lesser-known film by the great John Hughes, and the rom-com was in fact his last film as a director. Starring Jim Belushi, the film sees a homeless man and his adorable, curly-haired companion conning unwary people out of their money through the power of cuteness. In one scene, the two enter a classy restaurant, drawing some consternation from the staff. One of the waiters in the restaurant is played by a young man by the name of Steve Carell. The future Michael Scott doesn’t manage to get a line off, denying 1990s audiences an early taste of his comedic chops.

#7: Sharon Stone
“Stardust Memories” (1980)

Comedy legend Woody Allen has discovered his fair share of big names over the years, and the future star of “Basic Instinct” is just one of them. Allen stars as a filmmaker frustrated with the state of his career, and in the film’s opening scene he catches the eye of a beautiful blonde seated in a nearby train. The blonde blows Allen a kiss, but before he can do anything about it, the woman’s train leaves. The scene almost didn’t feature Stone, but the actress originally chosen for the part failed to make it to set, and Allen chose Stone as her replacement from the pool of extras.

#6: Harrison Ford
“Getting Straight” (1970)

We can’t all start our careers playing iconic roles like Han Solo and Indiana Jones. The future superstar appeared in a bit-part in this 1970 comedy opposite Elliott Gould. It’s hard to imagine that the man playing this nervous college student would go on to become one of the most iconic and charismatic actors of our generation, but there you have it. This wasn’t Ford’s first film role, but the young actor repeatedly found himself cast in roles of this size. Frustrated, Ford began training himself as a carpenter to survive between acting gigs. It wasn’t until his meeting with George Lucas that Ford’s career started to take off.

#5: Sylvester Stallone
“Bananas” (1971)

Another struggling actor given an early break by Woody Allen, the man who would one day become an icon of 80s action movie machismo once went uncredited in Allen’s “Bananas” as a thug harassing passengers on the New York subway. According to legend, Allen initially rejected Stallone for not looking tough enough, but after pleading with Allen, Sly was given the part. It’s hard to believe that anyone could think that Stallone doesn’t look tough, as even this early in his career, the future Rambo cuts an imposing figure. Just five years later, Stallone’s role in “Rocky” would catapult him to super-stardom.

#4: Robert Downey Jr
“Greaser’s Palace” (1972)

Today, he’s Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, and Kirk Lazarus, but back in 1972, he was just “small boy in covered wagon.” Appearing in this film written and directed by his dear old dad Robert Downey Sr, the future Tony Stark plays a small child opposite his real-life mom Elsie Downey. Some other members of the Downey family make appearances in the film, including RDJ’s sister and cousin. An absurdist parable about a Christ figure clad in a striped suit, the film is a far cry from the kind of fare that would make the younger Downey famous years down the line.

#3: Clint Eastwood
“Tarantula” (1955)

Over the course of his long career as an actor, this legendary actor would lock horns with everything from serial killers, rogue cops, and quite a number of cowboys. But in one of his very first appearances, the actor would face an altogether more spectacular enemy: a giant tarantula. When an experimental spider escapes from a secret government laboratory, the residents of an Arizona town find themselves with a giant, hairy problem. Leading the squadron of jet fighters sent to dispatch the colossal arachnid is none other than the Dirty Harry himself. His face is partially obscured by an oxygen mask, but we’d recognize that steely gaze anywhere.

#2: Arnold Schwarzenegger
“The Long Goodbye” (1973)

Before rising to superstardom as The Terminator, and later politics as The Governator, the Austrian bodybuilder had a number of smaller acting roles. In this flick from director Robert Altman, he appears as a musclebound enforcer in the office of mobster Marty Augustine. Given that Arnold barely spoke a word of English at the time, it’s no surprise that he just stands around looking imposing, but the future Conan at least got to show off his muscles when Augustine demands that everyone in the room strip down to their undies. Given that Arnold had already been crowned Mr. Universe, he’s unsurprisingly got the best physique in the room.

#1: Matthew McConaughey
“Unsolved Mysteries” (1987-2010)

The McConaissance may be underway now, but back in 1992, nobody had heard of the Texas-born actor or his signature drawl. The future Academy Award winner appeared early on in reenactment footage in an episode of the classic TV documentary series, “Unsolved Mysteries.” He can be spotted in this segment as a murder victim who gets shot multiple times by a fugitive, naturally while wearing an open shirt to show off his abs. The more things change, the more they stay the same. McConaughey would appear in “Dazed and Confused” just a year later.

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