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Top 10 Actors Who Got Big Roles with No Experience

VO: Lisa Yang WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Script written by Nick Spake You wouldn't believe that these celebrities didn’t have any acting experience before landing their big roles! Ashton Kutcher landed the role of Michael Kelso after being scouted by a talent scout! Did you know that Alexis Bleeder’s first acting role ever was Rory on Gilmore Girls? The casting scout definitely saw something in these celebs because we can’t imagine anyone else playing their role!

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Top 10 Celebs Who Landed Big Roles Without Any Acting Experience

Way to hit the ground running. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Celebs Who Landed Big Roles Without Any Acting Experience.

For this list, we’re taking a look at performers who got their big break in movies and TV shows without any serious acting experience. They may have had a small role or two, but probably nothing you’ve ever heard of.

#10: Madeline Brewer

“Orange Is the New Black” (2013-)

We guess you could say Madeline Brewer was quote unquote “fresh meat” when she auditioned for “Orange Is the New Black.” Before landing the role of Tricia Miller, Brewer attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and won the 55th annual Miss Pitman Pageant. Then in a blink of an eye, this Jersey girl was on one of Netflix’s flagship programs. Sporting a distinctive hairdo and tattoo, Brewer only played this troubled inmate for one season. However, her charismatic performance quickly led to other work in shows like “Hemlock Grove,” “Black Mirror,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” With each new role, Brewer only becomes more recognizable.

#9: Ashton Kutcher

“That '70s Show” (1998-2006)

Michael Kelso was widely considered the breakout character on “That '70s Show,” which is interesting considering that the role kicked off Ashton Kutcher’s acting career. Although Kutcher portrayed a doofus on the show, he originally had aspirations to major in biochemical engineering. While attending the University of Iowa, Kutcher caught the eye of a model scout at a bar. After placing first in the Fresh Faces of Iowa modeling competition, he left school and visited the International Modeling and Talent Association Competition in New York. Upon moving to L.A., it wasn’t long until Kutcher successfully transitioned from modeling to acting.

#8: Evanna Lynch

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2005)

If you’re a diehard “Harry Potter” fan, chances are you’ve always dreamed of sharing a scene with Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson. Evanna Lynch got to live out her wildest fantasy upon earning the role of Luna Lovegood. This Irish native grew up reading “Harry Potter” and even wrote letters to J. K. Rowling, but had no prior screen credits to fill her acting résumé. Nevertheless, Lynch outshined 15,000 other young ladies at an open casting call. She even managed to beat out Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan, who had been considered for the part. Lynch’s obsession with “Harry Potter” truly paid off, as she was able to channel Luna’s peculiar behavior to a T.

#7: Alexis Bledel

“Gilmore Girls” (2000-07)

We’re not sure what’s more shocking: that Alexis Bledel’s first name is actually Kimberly or that she basically stumbled into the role of Rory Gilmore. Bledel started out in community theater productions of “Our Town,” “The Wizard of Oz, and “Aladdin,” hoping to change her shy nature. After a scout discovered her at a local mall, Bledel found work as a fashion model and even went to Page Parkes Center for Modeling and Acting. While attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Bledel decided to try out for a role on “Gilmore Girls.” Although she wasn’t a seasoned actress and was actually sick throughout the audition process, Bledel made her television debut soon after.

#6: Jason Statham

“Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998)

Before he was one of the most recognizable action stars in the world, Jason Statham was working as a model for French Connection and had appeared in a couple music videos. Statham also made a living selling fake goods on street corners, which ironically lead to his first film role. It all started when Statham met an up-and-coming filmmaker named Guy Ritchie, who was preparing to direct his first feature, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” Rather than casting big name stars, Ritchie was looking for actors who could bring a certain level of authenticity to their roles. Statham’s background made him an ideal candidate to play Bacon, kicking his acting career into high gear.

#5: Rosario Dawson

“Kids” (1995)

Despite receiving mixed reviews upon release, 1995’s “Kids” gained a lot of attention due to its NC-17 rating, controversial subject matter, and overall impact on the indie film scene. It also notably put a fifteen-year-old Rosario Dawson on the map. Up until this point, the only acting experience Dawson had was a fleeting appearance on “Sesame Street.” While Dawson was just hanging out on her porch one day, she had the good fortune of crossing paths with director Larry Clark and screenwriter Harmony Korine. Encouraging her to audition for a movie they were making, Dawson scored the role of Ruby. This made leeway for Dawson to find more work in indies and blockbusters alike.

#4: Auli'i Cravalho

“Moana” (2016)

It’s only appropriate that Auli'i Cravalho’s rise to prominence sounds like something out of a Disney fairytale. Born in Kohala, Hawaii, Cravalho was only 14 when she was cast as the titular heroine in “Moana.” At first, this high school freshman was reluctant to even audition because she felt “there were already so many great submissions over YouTube.” In a fortunate twist of fate, an Oahu casting agent encouraged Cravalho to follow her dreams. Among hundreds of actresses, Cravalho was the last to try out. Through an online callback session, this newbie was offered the role of a lifetime. Considering that this was her first major gig, there’s no telling just how far she’ll go.

#3: Will Smith

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96)

Now this is a story all about how Will Smith’s life got flipped, turned upside down. Having taken center stage in record-breaking blockbusters and Oscar darlings, audiences sometimes forget that Smith got his start on the small screen. Before this wacky sitcom premiered, though, Smith wasn’t even known for his acting chops. He actually began as a hip-hop artist under the stage name of The Fresh Prince, collaborating alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff. When NBC approached the rapper about building a sitcom around him, he had no other starring roles to his name. Through six seasons on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” it became clear that Smith was destined for superstardom.

#2: Johnny Depp

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

Whenever a modern moviegoer is introduced to “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” they’re often surprised to learn that the film not only stars a young Johnny Depp, but that this was also his first acting role ever. Depp actually attended the audition for this film to support a friend who was trying out. Although Depp had been working as a rock musician, he was a complete newbie to the movie scene. Nevertheless, director Wes Craven saw something in Depp and chose to cast him as Glen Lantz. Oh, and the friend Depp was accompanying was none other than Jackie Earle Haley, who ironically got to play Freddy Krueger over 25 years later.

#1: Gabourey Sidibe

“Precious” (2009)

“Precious” is as far away from a Cinderella Story as you can get. For actress Gabourey Sidibe, though, her ascension to fame was nothing short of a dream come true. While working as a receptionist for The Fresh Air Fund, Sidibe decided to attend an open-call audition. Although Sidibe’s acting background was nonexistent, she stood out in a pool of over 300 others who showed up. Landing the titular role, she went on to achieve an Independent Spirit Award for her heartbreaking performance, as well as an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. That’s one way to start off your acting career.


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