“Sawyer, you listen to me, and you listen hard. Two hundred people, two hundred jobs, two hundred thousand dollars, five weeks of grind and blood and sweat depend upon you. It's the lives of all these people who've worked with you. You've got to go on, and you've got to give and give and give. They've got to like you. Got to. Do you understand? You can't fall down. You can't because your future's in it, my future and everything all of us have is staked on you. All right, now I'm through, but you keep your feet on the ground and your head on those shoulders of yours and go out, and Sawyer, you're going out a youngster but you've got to come back a star!” – Julian Marsh,
Over my years of watching movies I have sometimes taken a special notice of a performance from an actor or actress I have never seen before. Sometimes those people have gone on to become household names in later films; sometimes they have not. I honestly gave up a long time ago in trying to figure out why some of them made it and some didn’t.
Obviously, just about every movie I have watched features someone I have never seen before, so I needed to come up with some ground rules to limit the number of films in this category.
1. The person has to be a reasonably well known name today.
2. They have to have been relatively unknown when I first saw them (i.e. Sandra Bullock in Love Potion #9).
3. The film I first saw them in cannot be the one that made them a star (i.e. Tom Cruise in Risky Business).
4. Even if the film didn’t make them a star, it cannot have been a blockbuster (i.e. Eliza Dushku in True Lies).
5. I cannot have first seen them on a TV show (i.e. Anne Hathaway on Get Real).
6. I cannot have forgotten them from that first sighting (i.e. Jim Carrey as the rock star in The Dead Pool).
7. The movie cannot be so bad that I would not recommend it (i.e. Johnny Depp in Private Resort).
8. “First movie” is the first one I saw them in, not the first one they ever acted in (i.e. I’ve now seen Tom Cruise’s 1981 debut movie Taps, but that was years after I had seen him in Risky Business).
Even with these restrictions, I still came up with 20 films from my own movie collection. I will list the names of the performers now and I will add the links to the reviews of the first movies I saw them in as I post those reviews.
By the way, the first film that I saw both Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire in is probably not the one you are thinking of.
Amy Adams – Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
Christian Bale – Empire of the Sun (1987)
Sandra Bullock – Love Potion #9 (1992) (posted October 9, 2011)
Kevin Costner – American Flyers (1985) (posted August 24, 2012)
Penelope Cruz – Belle Epoque (1992)
Leonardo DiCaprio – What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Robert Downey, Jr. – Back to School (1986)
Katherine Heigl – My Father the Hero (1994)
Angelina Jolie – Hackers (1995)
Nicole Kidman – Dead Calm (1989)
Jude Law – Gattaca (1997)
Matthew McConaughey – Lone Star (1996)
Carey Mulligan – Pride & Prejudice (2005) (posted February 11, 2012)
Keanu Reeves – The Night Before (1988)
Charlize Theron – 2 Days in the Valley (1996)
Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh – Dead Again (1991)
Julia Roberts and Matt Damon – Mystic PIzza (1988)
Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire – S.F.W. (1994)
Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith, and Ray Liotta – Something Wild (1986)
Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Forrest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, and Judge Reinhold – Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
On to the reviews…