Before They Were Stars: 5 Awesomely Random Roles From Our Favorite Actors Before They Hit It Big

For this week’s Top 5 Tuesday, we’re taking a trip down Memory Lane, with a brief detour down ’90s Nostalgia Boulevard. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our favorite actors were once unknowns (at least those who weren’t born to pop culture royalty, like Ivy Blue Carter), but if you look at the acting career of most big-name stars, you’ll find that at some point early on they were a victim/suspect/patient on ER or Law & Order, or in a beer commercial. Here’s a look at some of the best “OMG that’s him!?” moments from our favorite actors…

1. Leonardo DiCaprio on Growing Pains (1991-1992) – Before he wooed Kate Winslet in Titanic and traversed dreamscapes in Inception, DiCaprio had a recurring role on this sappy family sitcom. He played Luke Brower, a boy who was adopted by the Seaver family in the show’s seventh season. It’s weird to think that a three-time Oscar nominated actor who starred in the highest-grossing film in history (until Avatar surpassed it) could have had such humble beginnings as Alan Thicke’s adopted son. Oh, and by the way, in case the Growing Pains theme song isn’t already stuck in your head, it will be now.

2. Adam Scott on Boy Meets World (1994-1995) – You may have first become aware of Scott and his fantastic straight-man comedy skills when he joined the third season of Parks and Recreation as the awesomely awkward Ben Wyatt. Or maybe you know him from his short-lived, much-loved Starz comedy Party Down. Or did you see him in last month’s hilarious and heartfelt romantic comedy Friends with Kids? You probably don’t remember your first exposure to Adam Scott being his role as tough guy Griff Hawkins on Boy Meets World. (Scott also guest starred in an episode of Veronica Mars.) Isn’t it fun to go back and rewatch old shows and spot the now-famous people?! It’s my third-favorite hobby after eating and watching YouTube videos of Seth Gabel and Joshua Jackson set to Céline Dion songs.

3. Zac Efron on Firefly (2002) – Every time I watch this episode it blows my mind. I’ll never get used to Zac Efron being a part of the Whedonverse. My brain just can’t handle that level of crossover. Like the fact that John McCain was in Wedding Crashers. Efron has become a household name since starring in the lucrative High School Musical movies, but his first TV appearance was as a young Simon Tam in the Firefly episode “Safe.” If you don’t believe me, you can watch the scene here. Make sure you’re sitting down. And that you’re not drinking a beverage that you will involuntarily spit onto your computer screen.

4. Joshua Jackson in The Mighty Ducks (1992) – It’s really hard for me to think of Joshua Jackson as anyone but Peter Bishop because he really inhabits that role so well, but my first memory of him isn’t from Fringe. It isn’t even from Dawson’s Creek. No, my first memory of him is his role as the scrappy hockey prodigy Charlie Conway in one of the greatest underdog stories ever told: The Mighty Ducks. Since Jackson was born in Canada, it wasn’t a stretch for him to play a gifted young hockey player trained by Emilio Estevez. But who would have thought that little Charlie Conway would grow up to star in the greatest sci-fi show currently on television?

5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) – Gordon-Levitt had already made something of a name for himself with four seasons of the NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun when he co-starred in this teen romantic comedy with a young Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. Still, it wasn’t until the indie hit (500) Days of Summer, followed by a role in Christopher Nolan’s Inception that Gordon-Levitt really became a big name in Hollywood. His part in 10 Things as Cameron, the dweeby new kid who falls for the most popular girl in school, might still be my favorite role of his. He’s so good at the self-deprecating humor, the awkward teen bumbling, and his comic chemistry with co-star Ledger is so fun to watch. If you haven’t seen 10 Things since Gordon-Levitt came on your radar, I highly recommend you give it another try.

What do you say, pop culture fans? Did any of these come as a shock to you? What are your favorite random roles from stars early on in their careers? Did you know that Magnitude from Community is played by the same guy who was Lee Jordan in the Harry Potter movies? That’s not really relevant, but I thought I would share it anyway. Let us know what you think in the comments, or tweet us!

-Louise

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Posted on April 3, 2012, in Film, Television, Top 5 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You absolutely got it right when you said that Joshua Jackson stars in “the greatest sci-fi show currently on television.” Fringe is my UNIVERSE! The Mighty Ducks were an awesome trilogy of movies ….. but given the way that i look at Josh now ….. it just seems plain wrong to watch him when he was younger. And i do remember seeing Leonard DiCaprio on Growing Pains. He was so young. I look athim now and i think to myself …. does this man ever age?

  2. Jennifer Lawerence started off on The Bill Engvall Show on TBS which is weird to think about. And Megan Fox was on Hope & Faith which is even weirder to comprehend.

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