They’re known now for Oscar-worthy performances and blockbusters, but they all had humble horror beginnings.

It’s true that starting out as a young actor is rough, but many of our favorite famous faces paid their dues by running from axe-wielding maniacs and hiding from killer leprechauns (we’re looking at you, Jennifer Aniston!) before hitting it big in Hollywood. Here we take a look back at some surprising early roles from Hollywood’s present-day heavy hitters.

1) Johnny Depp in A Nightmare on Elm Street

Though Depp has starred in dozens of critically acclaimed films and has a film career spanning over three decades, his first major film role came as Glen Lantz (“the boyfriend”) in horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street. Sadly, his character did not make it to any sequels as he met his untimely (and very, very bloody) death in the film.

2) Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween

Ah, the original Scream Queen! Her star turn in the original Halloween (and several sequels), as well as roles in The Fog, Prom Night, and Terror Train, have cemented Curtis as one of the all-time horror greats. But we’ll always have a special place in our hearts for her portrayal of Laurie Strode who took on the worst babysitting gig imaginable.

3) Paul Rudd in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

He’s dominating the silver screen this summer in Ant-Man, but his first major film role came as Tommy Doyle, the grown-up version of the boy Jamie Lee Curtis babysat in the beloved original. The film barely broke even at the box office and is the lowest-rated Halloween film on Rotten Tomatoes, but we’re sure Rudd isn’t too heartbroken.

4) George Clooney in Return to Horror High

Though known now for high-profile romances and major films, Clooney’s early career brought many less-than-memorable roles, including playing a cop who meets his untimely demise in 1987’s Return to Horror High. The film, a campy horror-comedy hybrid, is fun to watch if only to see Clooney’s mullet in all its glory.

5) Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun

This film has become a cult favorite among horror fans and Friends fans alike — and the perfect movie for Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations! It was Aniston’s first role and came only a year before her most well-known role as Rachel Green on Friends. Though Aniston only starred in the original (but did survive!), the series went on to feature seven movies. Our favorite aside from the original is Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood, for obvious reasons. 

6) Rooney and Kate Mara in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary

This sister duo is now lauded for their acting chops, including Kate’s upcoming role in this summer’s Fantastic Four as Sue Storm, but they tested the acting waters in the forgettable final Urban Legends direct-to-video release. Rooney’s appearance in the film is brief, but Kate was at the helm in this 2005 slasher film. A few years later, Rooney starred in a reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street, but didn’t have kind things to say about the film. She was quoted as saying: “Sometimes you don’t want to get something, but you do a really good job and you get in anyway. That’s kind of [what happened] with A Nightmare on Elm Street – I didn’t even really want it. And then I went in [to audition], and I was like, ‘F**k. I definitely got that.’ ” Ouch, Rooney.

7) Brad Pitt in Cutting Class

Pitt was breaking hearts as early as 1989 in his first major film role. He played Dwight (“the boyfriend” — can we see a theme here?) trying to save his girlfriend from a crazy high school outcast who was in love with her. Spoiler alert: he survives and manages to save his girlfriend. Thank goodness for that!

8) Tom Hanks in He Knows You’re Alone

Hanks is, by far, one of the most beloved American actors and many people won’t remember his small role in this 1980 slasher flick. It’s rumored that his character was supposed to be killed off but the filmmakers loved him and didn’t want to kill him off (aww!). It’s his first film role and also likely the last time he wore a bandanna around his neck for fashion’s sake.

9) Sharon Stone in Deadly Blessing

Horror champion Wes Craven has not received great reviews for this 1981 movie, but one memorable scene has a young Sharon Stone swallowing a spider during an unfortunate nightmare (yummy?). Thankfully, both Stone and Craven went on to much better films.

10) Kevin Bacon in Friday the 13th

No film list is complete without a mention of Kevin Bacon (I’m fairly certain there are more than 6 degrees to him in this list alone). In this classic, Bacon plays a teenage hottie (add him to the list!) who meets a very bloody ending via an arrow through the neck. Why do the cute ones always have to die? Thanks Mrs. Voorhies!

What are some of your favorite early horror roles not mentioned here?

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