As the film industry has dramatically evolved over the past few decades, and there has been plenty of space for rocky and young talents to shine, the competition is thus getting fiercer than ever before. It takes a new face a lot of pain and practice to deliver impeccable performances and leave a mark in the audience’s heart. Like any other career, an actor matures gradually over time, starting from minor, unnoticeable roles and making his way up to the major characters that have a more important voice in the movie.
However, this pathway doesn’t apply to all famous acting stars. Some actresses and actors are cultured enough to make a big hit and rise to the top ranks with their debut movie roles. Some may deem it a stroke of luck, but we believe hard work forever pays. If those emerging actors didn’t nail their roles, the audience wouldn’t have sat up and paid attention to their abilities.
To make it more specific, we’ve compiled a list of 14 actors who stunned the world with their very first movies or TV shows. We bet you’ll extremely enjoy their screen performance. Scroll down and check them out now.
#1 Emma Watson
There’s no better way to kick off this list than Emma Watson. She earned the starring role of Hermione in the Harry Potter series after 8 auditions. Her first movie helped Watson carve her name on the Hollywood map as it’s the highest-grossing film of 2001, also earning he critical acclaim. She snagged a Young Artist Award for her performance and went on to star in the remaining Harry Potter films, as well as numerous other films.
#2 Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyong’o began her acting career in Kenya at a very young age. She moved to the US and studied at Yale University to pursue her acting master’s degree, which she obtained in 2012. Yet, her first film role was still a surprise after a lot of training at school.
Just a few weeks before graduating, she won her first role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. In 2014, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her excellent performance.
#3 Anna Paquin
The New Zealand-born actress had her first role in “The Piano” when she was 9 years old. Just two years after, she won the Best Supporting Actress Award for the performance and became the second-youngest Oscar winner in history. Since then, she has appeared in numerous films and television shows, including a starring part in HBO’s thriller True Blood.
#4 Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz co-starred in The Mask with Jim Carrey in 1994. Though Diaz was a model at the time of her casting, the movie’s director and studio were all convinced that she was a perfect choice for the role after eight auditions. Diaz rose to fame right after the film’s success.
#5 Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson competed on American Idol in 2004 but did not win. However, in 2006, she played Effie in the film Dreamgirls, which earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and numerous other accolades. She was the youngest African-American to win an Oscar in a competitive acting category. Her subsequent rise in the music and acting industries after that was incredible.
#6 Edward Norton
Primal Fear was Edward Norton’s first film role, and it earned him a nomination for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor after beating out 2,000 other actors for the part. So far, he has appeared in a bunch of films and has been nominated for three Oscars. Still, it’s undeniable that his debut was very successful.
#7 Mark Hamill
Mark Hamill was cast as the main character in Star Wars, and this role was a huge, unexpected success. After that, he returned with the two movies ‘2 sequels’ and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in 2015. The fact that he has remained in this role for decades speaks volumes about his gigantic impact. And for many people, he will always be known as the beloved Luke Skywalker.
#8 HoYeon Jung
HoYeon Jung first appeared as an actress in Squid Game, a popular Korean sitcom that became Netflix’s most-watched series ever. Her acting debut in the series has made her the most followed Korean actress on Instagram since and brought her the chance to sign with major US agency CAA for her future acting career.
#9 Barbra Streisand
From the beginning, Barbra Streisand starred in the Broadway production of Funny Gir, and subsequently in the film version in 1967. This is a biography of entertainer Fanny Brice, that propelled Streisand to the top of Hollywood’s elite. Her larger-than-life character and performance have captivated audiences for generations. Her debut delighted audiences and reviewers alike, and she even shared the 1968 Oscar for Best Actress with Katharine Hepburn.
#10 Maisie Williams
Maisie Williams played Arya Stark in the movie Game of Thrones when she was 12 years old. Her character was a big hit and one of the show’s key protagonists throughout its entire run. It brought her a lot of praise and awards, which is deemed her most successful role by far.
#11 Rachel Zegler
Rachel Zegler was one of 30,000 actresses who applied for the role of Maria in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake. After months of auditions, Zegler, who was a high school student at the time, got the role and made her way up to become a star. She even won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for this excellent performance. After filming, she signed with the famous agency ICM Partners and will soon play the title role of Disney’s live-action Snow White.
#12 Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman has a background in theater and television before landing his first film character. In Die Hard, he played the famous villain Hans Gruber alongside Bruce Willis. Though he played many famous roles afterward, notably Snape in the Harry Potter series, many people still remember him for his debut role.
#13 Sophie Turner
Sophie Turner auditioned for the role of Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones while still in high school. It was her debut role in front of the camera, and it earned her international applause and great acclaim from movie critics. Since then, she has appeared in many other films, including the X-Men franchise as Dark Phoenix.
#14 Hailee Steinfeld
Last but not least, Hailee Steinfeld started her film career path with a major role as Mattie Ross in True Grit when she was 13 years old. She was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film. She has proceeded to perform in many films since then, but True Grit is unquestionably one of her most notable.