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Famous actors who started their careers in HORROR movies

Beautiful, talented, they started their great Hollywood careers in better or worse horror films.

Gracja Grzegorczyk-Tokarska

29 May 2023

Famous actors who started their careers in HORROR movies

For some, it was even a screen debut, which meant that novice actors were noticed and cast in much more serious roles. You can also mention situations when it was only a role in a horror movie that allowed actors and actresses to show that they have talent. Who is on the list below, see for yourself.

Brad Pitt (Cutting Class)

Brad Pitt Cutting Class

Today, Brad Pitt is perceived not only as a real Hollywood hunk, but also as a talented actor and producer. However, when he started his career, he was an angry, sexually frustrated teenager trying to survive an attack in high school in a rather unserious 1980s horror film. This is a production that has all the things that show that four years in an American high school is not idyllic . So there are sinister teachers, a perverted principal, creepy bodyguards, mean athletes and cheerleaders, and then there’s a vicious killer. Of course, the whole thing comes across as a rather silly slasher, which Scream from 1996 is said to be based on, although some say it’s a direct parody of it.

Despite this, the production marked a turning point in Pitt’s career and has been cited as his first major acting breakthrough. In addition, he began dating an actress he starred with on set, which ended in an engagement… and then a quick end to this tumultuous romance.

Naomi Watts (Children of the Corn: The Gathering)

Naomi Watts Children of the Corn: The Gathering

Grace, played by Naomi Watts, returns to her hometown in Nebraska to care for her mother June, who suffers from agoraphobia. Unfortunately, she’s not the only one returning to Grand Island, as something evil lurks in the cornfields again. This time it’s Josiah, a gifted preacher whose growth was stunted by his guardians so he could keep his powers intact. Later, after he had murdered his guardians, he was buried alive by the townspeople. When the children of Grand Island, including Grace’s siblings, fall ill with a mysterious fever and fall under the spell of a returning preacher, they find that he is ready to return to his earthly form.

Unfortunately, this is not the most successful performance when it comes to the then young actress. It should be noted that in 1996 she had already made her debut and several less significant productions. Unfortunately, Watts comes across very unnaturally, barely raising her voice throughout the movie whether she’s terrified or not. It’s hard to really blame her. The script does not give her much to play, apart from the obvious, such as confronting the fact that she abandoned her daughter. Naomi Watts’ Grace could be an attractively played heroine, but all she’s good for is uncovering a conspiracy over which she barely has any influence.

Jennifer Aniston (Leprechaun)

Jennifer Aniston Leprechaun

The actress is known primarily for her role as Rachel in Friends, but fans and not only remember that she began her career alongside Wawrick Davis in the 1993 production of Leprechaun. It turns out that this actor was the reason why Aniston decided to star in a horror movie. Although the franchise continued for a few installments, the actress decided not to return to her role.

It should be remembered that the 1993 film, based on the story of a deadly leprechaun (a character from Irish folklore) who defends gold in North Dakota, was supposed to start a brand built around an antagonist like Hellraiser or Freddy from A Nightmare on Elm Street. In accordance with the formula of horror films from the 80s and early 90s, Aniston played the role of the so-called final girl. At that time, various horror productions were successful, based on even more twisted ideas than the murderous symbol of Ireland. The production turned out to be a total flop, both financially and artistically. The reviews were overwhelmingly negative, but a year later Aniston managed to get the role that brought her fame.

Kevin Bacon (Friday the 13th)

Kevin Bacon Friday the 13th

Kevin Bacon is a heavyweight actor with many iconic roles in almost every genre, from horror to historical dramas to superhero movies. His career, however, blossomed when he appeared in the cult horror film as one of the victims of the murderous Pamela Voorhees. However, viewers remember his character mainly as the one who ended up with an arrow in the larynx.

An interesting fact is that the character he plays has been identified under several different names. In the original film, he is just Jack. In the 1987 book by Simon Hawke, he appears as Jack Kendall. The Internet Movie Database, on the other hand, describes the character as Jack Burrell.

The technique used in Kevin Bacon’s death scene also transformed Tom Savini’s special effects “mage” into a horror icon. To achieve this effect, a life-size cast of Kevin Bacon’s body was made. Only the head was sticking out from under the mattress. Under the bed, Tom Savini and his assistant Taso Stavrakis attached a blood bag to a test tube and pushed an arrowhead up through the neck of the prosthesis. Savini worked on the arrow while Taso held the blood bag. The end result, however, turned out to be so “beautiful” that today it is one of the hallmarks of the history of gore cinema.

Matthew McConaughey (The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre)

Matthew McConaughey The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Every generation gets the Texas Chainsaw Massacre it deserves. The production by director Tobe Hooper and screenwriter Kim Henkel resonated loudly in a country that was not yet ready to come to terms with the gruesome defeat of the Vietnam War. The fall of Saigon came just six months after the film premiered on October 1, 1974. Add to that the oil crisis due to the OPEC oil embargo, the spectacular implosion of the Nixon presidency, and the grim death of 1960s idealism. Leatherface and the Sawyer clan were an all-American family gone mad. It’s the perfect metaphor for those times. Unfortunately, the next installment is as far from the original as possible.

Although Vilmer in the fourth installment of the franchise was not Lord Matthew’s first film role, it was undoubtedly the first of the more expressive performances that allowed him to show a much wider acting skills than in his earlier roles. He was originally going to play one of the other characters, but that character was cut from the script. After the audition, director Kim Henkel asked him if he knew anyone who might be right for the role of Vilmer. McConaughey proposed to some of his friends and left. Fortunately, before he could leave, he came back and asked if he could audition himself.

Amy Adams (Psycho Beach Party)

Amy Adams Psycho Beach Party

A six-time Oscar nominee, Adams is one of Hollywood’s brightest stars. The talented actress acts in both movies and TV shows. Few people remember, however, that she put on a two-piece pink bikini, avoiding a serial killer in the horror comedy Psycho Beach Party, in which she proved that she cannot be denied versatility.

Psycho Beach Party is a crazy party mix of several genres: psychological thriller from the 50s, beach movies from the 60s, and of course slashers reigning in the 70s and 80s. The story centers on Chicklet Forrest, a 16-year-old tomboy who desperately wants to be part of a group of beach surfers in Malibu. She is a typical American except for one small problem: her personality is divided into countless pieces.

It is true that in this case we are in the land of slashers, but the director Robert Lee King did not show much in this matter, because all the murders “take place” off-screen, so the viewer does not have the opportunity to experience the tension typical of this genre. One thing is for sure, every person who is not a beautiful surfer can be afraid for their life.

Leonardo DiCaprio (Critters 3)

Leonardo DiCaprio Critters 3

Debuting in a feature film that is a direct sequel to a straight-to-video horror movie about carnivorous aliens may not be the best idea to start your career. Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio, who went on to star for the likes of Tarantino and Scorsese, began his acting career with this rather forgotten horror film.

The original production from 1986 turned out to be a considerable financial success and today has cult status. The sequel did not do so well, but it had many advantages, which made it a cult work itself over the years. Unfortunately, the next installment is the opposite of what we’ve seen so far. According to fans and critics, this is the worst part of the entire series. However, this is not the fault of the young DiCaprio, who was just taking his first steps in the film industry.

Critters 3 changes the setting from the small town of Grover’s Bend from the previous parts to the metropolitan Los Angeles. The aliens arrive in L.A. after laying eggs in a car at a rest stop, unbeknownst to the family traveling in it. It turns out that the hunter – Charlie MacFadden – is on their tail. However, when the family returns to their apartment, the eggs hatch and the carnage begins.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Josh, the stepson of an unethical building owner. However, he is not the main character of the whole story, because this role goes to Anna, who during the events starts an affair with him.

Tom Hanks (He Knows You're Alone)

Tom Hanks He Knows You're Alone

Multiple Oscar-winner Tom Hanks, like many of his colleagues in the industry, made his first steps on the set of the 1980s slasher. Hanks’ feature film debut was as psychologist Elliot in He Knows You’re Alone. Released in theaters in the late 1980s, the film is about a bride-to-be who is stalked by a murderer on her wedding weekend.

Budgeted at $250,000, the production grossed just under $750,000 in its opening weekend. While the film was criticized, fans of 1980s slasher movies could enjoy some really good acting and likable characters, which is rare for this genre. Interestingly, the production was inspired by the success of Halloween directed by John Carpenter.

Although Hanks’ performance is limited to only two scenes, the filmmakers were so impressed with his charisma that they decided to change the script.

Jennifer Connelly (Phenomena)

Jennifer Connelly Phenomena

Many people see Jennifer Connelly as an extremely talented actress, but few people know that she is a “graduate” of the so-called school of horror according to Dario Argento. Her performance in Phenomena by this Italian director was her debut in a leading film role and only the second in the career of the later Oscar winner for A Beautiful Mind. The then 15-year-old Connelly agreed to star in the shocking work typical of the Italian master. The production tells the story of a serial killer who slaughters at an academy for girls. The mystery must be solved by Jennifer, who has the ability to communicate with insects.

Unfortunately, critics were not impressed with the performance of the actress, stating that the award for best actor should go to the chimpanzee. Connelly has been repeatedly accused of not trying to act at all, which is evident on screen, and the terrible dialogue does not help her. It turns out that the actress is still ashamed of her performance today, because unlike the rest of the cast, she did not appear on the special Blu-ray edition of the film, in which the creators and actors told anecdotes from the time when the production was created.

Michelle Williams (Species, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later)

Michelle Williams Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

The actress with more than one Oscar nomination, according to some, first appeared as an actor in the popular teen series Dawson’s Creek, but that’s not entirely true. It turns out that Williams became famous as a result of her role in the forgotten 1995 sci-fi blockbuster Species. For the next few years, she played mainly in TV movies, before appearing in the seventh installment of the Michael Myers slasher series. The actress played the role of Molly Cartwell, whose romantic plans with John (Josh Hartnett) are interrupted by a masked serial killer. It is worth noting that Molly ultimately survived the night, becoming one of the few heroes who managed to do so.


Gracja Grzegorczyk-Tokarska

Chociaż docenia żelazny kanon kina, bardziej interesuje ją poszukiwanie takich filmów, które są już niepopularne i zapomniane. Wielka fanka kina klasy Z oraz Sherlocka Holmesa. Na co dzień uczestniczka seminarium doktoranckiego (Kulturoznawstwo), która marzy by zostać żoną Davida Lyncha.

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