No matter how cheesy, ridiculous, or unbelievable some horror films may be, landing a part in one can still help launch an actor’s career. These six Hollywood stars can all thank scary movies for helping them hit it big. Since October is the perfect month to settle in and watch a scary movie or two, why not take a look at the films that gave these actors their start? Here are six actors and the horror films that helped launch their careers.
1. Kevin Bacon
These days, Bacon has no shortage of successful films, some of which include X-Men: First Class, Mystic River, Hollow Man, and Footloose. One of his very first roles, though, was in the 1980 film Friday the 13th. In the movie, Bacon plays Jack Burrel, who was hired to help renovate Camp Crystal Lake before meeting a pretty unfortunate end.
Bacon has certainly not shied away from projects in the horror/thriller genre since his first scary movie role. He was in 1990’s Tremors, the 1995 thriller Murder in the First, and recently starred in Fox’s The Following. He also has an as-yet-unreleased horror film in the works, titled 6 Miranda Drive. The movie is about a family that brings a terrifying supernatural force back with them from vacation, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
2. Jennifer Aniston
Aniston skyrocketed to stardom as Rachel on Friends and is now one of Hollywood’s most beloved actresses. Interestingly, her first big break was in the 1993 movie Leprechaun. She plays Tory Reding, a spoiled girl who moves into a home that has a murderous leprechaun trapped in the basement, per IMDb. The vindictive leprechaun is accidentally released and sets out to find his his stolen gold, which was taken from him years ago by a man named Dan O’Grady.
Aniston has caught a lot of grief over the years for the role, in which she battled a 3-foot troll. In an Entertainment Weekly article, Aniston said an Irish journalist even asked her if she wanted to apologize to his countrymen for the film. Her response: “I should have apologized. But didn’t that punish me enough?”
3. Leonardo DiCaprio
Before DiCaprio even appeared in Growing Pains, he was playing Josh in the 1991 movie Critters 3. The film centers around a group of Los Angeles residents who are chased to the top of an apartment tower by a group of hairy aliens, per IMDb. The film was a far cry from the roles DiCaprio plays today. In fact, a Metacritic article says: “Coming from television, where he already had a part in the first TV adaptation of Parenthood, Critters 3 would be the young actor’s first shot at a role on the big screen. Perhaps the experience was traumatic, since DiCaprio has never returned to the science-fiction/horror/comedy genre.”
Despite the films less-than-favorable reviews, The Telegraph writes that it did help him land a part playing Toby in This Boy’s Life. He’s certainly come a long way since then. DiCaprio’s now one of Hollywood’s favorite stars and has played in one blockbuster success after another, including The Wolf of Wall Street, The Great Gatsby, Inception, Shutter Island, and Body of Lies.
4. John Travolta
When Travolta first started acting he was receiving bit parts as extras in shows and made-for-TV movies. Technically, his first role in a horror film was in the low-budget 1975 movie The Devil’s Rain, in which he plays Danny, according to IMDb. However, his first noteworthy role in a scary movie occurred in the 1976 film Carrie, which is based on a Stephen King novel. Travolta played Billy Nolan, one of poor Carrie’s tormentors.
During a Rolling Stone interview, Travolta said it took a lot of imagination to play Nolan. “Carrie? A first movie break. The guy is a punk, but I wanted to work with Brian De Palma; I knew the picture itself would be interesting, attract a lot of attention. And it was a small part; I didn’t think I’d get much noticed in it,” Travolta told Rolling Stone. Only two years after debuting in the horror film, Travolta starred in Grease. He’s been a Hollywood regular ever since, starring in films such as Pulp Fiction, Old Dogs, and Hairspray.
5. Jamie Lee Curtis
According to Business Insider, Curtis is nicknamed the “Scream Queen” for her early roles in scary movies. She played a few minor parts in several TV shows, but her big break didn’t come until 1978, when she landed a role in Halloween. She plays Laurie Strode in the slasher film, which is about Michael Myers, a sadistic killer who returns to Haddonfield to go on a killing spree after being institutionalized for 15 years. After Halloween, Curtis stuck with the horror genre and went on to star in other scary flicks, such as The Fog, Prom Night, and Terror Train.
According to Retro Slashers, Curtis continued to choose these movies because it showcased her talent. “In a horror film, you start out usually very normal, like a normal person, and then you end up being a terrorized individual. So you have all this range to play; you go from sad to happy, crying, hysterical — your smarts come back in; determination, bravery. And all those things come into a horror film if you’re the person who inevitably gets terrorized. So it enables you to show your stuff in a very broad sense,” Retro Slashers reported her saying in the documentary Fear on Film: Inside the Fog.
6. Johnny Depp
Depp’s very first role was in the 1984 film A Nightmare on Elm Street. Interestingly, a People article states that Nicolas Cage, who was friends with Depp’s then-wife, introduced him to an agent who helped him get the role of Glen Lantz in the slasher film. The movie is about the infamous Freddy Krueger, who torments people while they’re sleeping.
Shortly after, Depp landed several other roles, including Private Resort and Platoon. In 1990, Depp caught another big break when he got the lead in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands. Over the years, Depp’s been in one noteworthy role after another, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland, and The Tourist. Who knew one horror film could help launch such a successful career?
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