Many major film stars of today didn't start out at the top. In fact, a good portion of them cut their aspiring young actor teeth in less then successful or well recieved horror films. You've gotta pay your dues and before you can make 5 million a picture, sometimes you gotta battle evil tomatoes, cross dressing human skin mask wearing maniacs, or furry little mutant critters. Here are some of the more shocking and interesting early roles of todays superstars....
Naomi Watts - Children of the Corn IV : The Gathering
By 1996, Watts had already starred in Tank Girl, among a couple of other films, but that didn't spare her from squaring off against demon children in the straight to video fourth installment of the Children of the Corn franchise. Watts plays Grace Rhodes, a young medical student in a race against time to find out why all the town kids are getting very sick and becoming very evil. The movie was Watts' first foray into horror, a genre which she would return to in films like The Ring and the upcoming remake of The Birds.
Kevin Bacon - Friday the 13th
Between his first film role in Animal House and his breakthrough role in Footloose, Kevin Bacon took a trip to Camp Crystal Lake. Bacon played camp counselor Jack, who famously got a spear jammed through his throat by Mrs. Voorhees. Who's laughing now, Pam.
Jason Alexander - The Burning
Before George Costanza and before losing his hair, Alexander made his acting debut in The Burning, as horny camp counselor Dave ; a man even less equipped to win "the contest" then Costanza himself. Sadly, Dave wasn't even significant enough to warrant a death scene. The Burning also marked the debut of Holly Hunter, who was not given a line, a word, or even a peep to utter in the entire film.
Jennifer Aniston - Leprechaun
After several cancelled television shows and the performance in the critically panned Leprechaun, Aniston nearly considered giving up acting for good. Two years later, she auditioned for and won the part of Rachel in Friends. Never give up, young ones.
Johnny Depp - A Nightmare on Elm Street
It's quite surprising to discover that many folks are still shocked to find out that the teen wearing the belly shirt that gets sucked into his bed by Freddy is in fact Johnny Depp. Story goes that Depp, who was originally pursuing a career in music, was convinced by friend Nicolas Cage to pursue acting and attend the Elm Street audition, which gave birth to one of the most successful careers in Hollywood history. Depp, proving that he has no shame in acknowleding what made him a star, (and proving that he's the coolest man in show biz), appeared seven years later in a brief cameo as "guy on tv" in Freddy's Dead : The Final Nightmare, albeit under the name Oprah Noodlemantra.
George Clooney - Return to Horror High/Return of the Killer Tomatoes!
Would you believe me if I told you there is a film where George Clooney is killed off within the first 15 minutes?! Well, that film is 1987's Return to Horror High. Not even Clooney is safe from b-movie fatalities. The next year, he starred in another sequel, Return of the Killer Tomatoes which pitted Clooney against savage tomatoes. I bet these are two films he's not so proud of. But alas, everyone's gotta pay their dues. And besides, neither of these are embarassing as donning the Batman nipple suit, are they?
Brad Pitt - Cutting Class
Two years before his breakout role in Thelma & Louise, which solidified him as the sex symbol he is today, young Pitt played the role of Dwight, a student on the run from a serial killer in Cutting Class, a role which he is allegedly embarassed in tackling. He was paid a measely $12,000 for the film (he now makes around 30 million a picture). It should come as no surprise that the dvd covers for Cutting Class (seen above) all feature a massive picture of Pitt on them, in an obvious attempt to cash in one his later success. Pitt also starred in the Freddy's Nightmares episode Black Tickets
Renee Zellwegger/Matthew McConaughey - Texas Chainsaw Massacre : The Next Generation
Both Zellwegger and McConaughey went on to huge success shortly after this film was made and both put up a fight in an attempt to prevent the film from ever being seen. Not only was this attempt futile but, as you can see above, the two were featured prominently on the dvd cover. Most fans consider this the worst of the Chainsaw franchise, and obviously the two actors agree. Despite the fine performances they turn in that are the highlights of the film, it's a truly terrible movie that the two will never live down.
Leonardo DiCaprio - Critters 3
Critters 3 marks the first film appeareance of then 17 year old DiCaprio, although it was not his first theatrical film appeareance as the movie went straight to video. From starring alongside a furry mutant alien critter to starring alongside the likes of Jack Nicholson and working for Martin Scorsese, Leo has come a long long way. In fact this may be DiCaprio's only film role that wasn't nominated for awards.
These aren't the only stars to appear in horror films before their major success. Viggo Mortensen in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Billy Bob Thornton in Chopper Chicks in Zombietown, Patricia Arquette in Elm Street 3 : Dream Warriors, John Travolta in The Devil's Rain, and Tom Hanks in He Knows You're Alone are all fine examples. Horror films continue to be the starting point for Hollywood's A-listers and the best way to get their names out there.