11 Actors Who Were The Lead In First-Ever Roles And Totally Nailed It

If you're an actor, getting the lead role signifies that you've succeeded in your chosen profession. Before getting their first starring role in a movie or television show, most actors work in small parts and supporting roles for years.
Many folks fantasize about receiving their big break straight away. While it doesn't happen very often, it is still conceivable. Look at these 15 performers, who were cast as leads in their debut film or television roles. And you'd be shocked where some of them started compared to where they are now. From Pirates of the Caribbean to Marvel to Harry Potter, there's no knowing where these stars may appear next.

1. Zendaya in ‘Shake It Up’

Source: Shake It Up

Zendaya originally intended to play in the WNBA, but she changed her mind and decided to pursue acting instead. She made her on-screen debut as Rocky Blue in the Disney Channel series Shake It Up. "I grew up around the California Shakespeare Theater, and that's when I understood that my true interest was in the performing arts," she said in an interview with Seventeen.

2. Rachel Zegler in 'West Side Story'

Source: West Side Story

For the role of Maria Vasquez in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of West Side Story, Rachel Zegler outperformed 30,000 other performers.
The procedure was incredibly stressful and excessively drawn out. It's uncommon for someone to audition for something like this for as long as I did—about two and a half weeks short of a year. Before being offered a role, I applied to the team five or six times. However, I spent most of January 2018 and January 2019 attending auditions. she said

3. Maisie Williams in ‘Game of Thrones’

Source: Game of Thrones’

As Arya in Game of Thrones, Maisie Williams' development was on display. She isn't, however, allowing that well-known franchise to deter her from forging a fresh route for herself. Her most recent appearances were Mary in The Owners in 2020 and Cammie MacCloud in Gen: Lock in 2021.
In addition to performing, Maisie founded Daisy Chain Productions, collaborated on the Daisie app, and serves as Contact's advisor and creative strategist. She also gave a TEDx presentation in 2019 about her experiences growing up in the spotlight and as an actress.

4. Gabourey Sidibe in 'Precious'

Source: Precious

Even though Gabourey Sidibe "didn't think she had any business going to the audition," she was given the lead in Precious, leading to her being nominated for an Oscar. She revealed to the Post-Gazette: "The main lesson I took away from this experience was that I had overestimated my abilities. I had imagined spending the rest of my life as a receptionist."

5. Cameron Diaz in 'The Mask'

Source: The Mask

After being discovered by casting director Fern Champion through Cameron Diaz's modeling agency, who worked in the same building as Champion, Diaz made her acting debut as Tina Carlyle in The Mask.
In my opinion, she was the sole candidate for the character following her first reading, director Chuck Russell told Variety. Then I noticed her and Jim Carrey's chemistry. After eight callbacks, including improvs with Jim, I persuaded the producers.

6. Emma Watson in ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’

Source: Harry Potter

After being seen from her school, Emma Watson gave eight auditions for the part of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. She stated to Interview Magazine, "They visited my school and requested permission to present a group of 20 kids between the ages of 9 and 12. I received a call three weeks after they snapped my picture in the school gym."

7. Rupert Grint in ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’

Source: Harry Potter

10-year-old Rupert Grint used rapping in his audition tape to stand out and secure the part of Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The song's lyrics were "Hello there, my name is Rupert Grint," and he claimed on Live With Regis and Kelly that "it was just information. I hope you enjoy it and don't think I'm terrible.

8. Auli’i Cravalho in ‘Moana’

Source: Moana

Only Auli'i on this list made their debut in animation instead of a live-action movie or television program. Despite having no professional acting or voiceover experience before her Moana audition, she was cast in the film.
She appeared in The Little Mermaid Live, and Ralph Breaks the Internet reprising her role as Moana. She later appeared in the TV shows Rise on NBC, Crush on Hulu, and All Together Now on Netflix. Additionally, she will appear in The Power and Hailey's On It!

9. Alaqua Cox in ‘Hawkeye’

Source: Hawkeye

Maya Lopez/Echo, a character who made her screen debut in Hawkeye and is slated to get her spinoff named Echo, was the first part Alaqua Cox ever secured. She told the Hollywood Reporter that a casting agent gave her a link to a Zoom session when she learned she had landed the job.
She stated: "I saw approximately 12 individuals doing the deaf clap, which involves waving both hands, including Kevin Feige, head of Marvel Studios. When I asked what was going on, they said, "Welcome to the Marvel family!""

10. Johnny Depp in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’

Source: A Nightmare on Elm Street

It's hardly surprising that Johnny Depp, who has no prior acting training, was able to land a prominent role in Nightmare on Elm Street since he was born to be an actor. Following the movie, he featured in the TV show 21 Jump Street and collaborated with Tim Burton on several movies.
We all know him best as Captain Jack Sparrow, but he regrettably wouldn't take up the position again if it were given. In addition to his acting career, Depp established Infinitum Nihil and the rock group Hollywood Vampires in 2015.

11. Josh Brolin in ‘The Goonies’

Source: The Goonies

He may be known most as Thanos from the Avengers films or Gurney Halleck from Dune. But did you know that Brolin made his cinematic debut as Brand in The Goonies? The actor's career hasn't slowed down in any manner since the film's 1985 debut.
Brolin also played Young Agent K in Men in Black III and Jonah Hex in the DC Jonah Hex film. Brother is a forthcoming movie in which he stars and produces, although there is no date for its release.
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