I’m sure at some point we’ve all been watching a movie and suddenly you recognize a now popular actor in a small role or in some b-movie and you exclaim to yourself, “Wait, THEY are in THIS movie?!” It takes you by surprise, and then when the shock washes off you, you hop on IMDB just to be sure what you saw was real… and when it is, you can’t believe how far they’ve come. Or how terrible they were. Or how stupid their haircut was. Let’s move on.

In a way, it’s fun to uncover the early works of now famous actors; the films some of them want you to forget. Not all of them are ashamed of their early works and even if they are a little ashamed, they seem to have a good sense of humor about it. Just for the sake of fun or to make some of you dig through old movies to catch a glimpse of these actors in early roles, I went ahead and listed some. After all, you gotta get your start somewhere, right?

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George Clooney in Return to Horror High
A year before he starred in Return of the Killer Tomatoes, George Clooney was catching his film debut in another ‘Return’ title. His role in Return to Horror High is nothing major, playing an actor playing a security guard in a movie… in the movie. I wouldn’t call this a breakout performance, but he didn’t phone it in either. In the film, his character Oliver walks off set after landing a bigger role and meets his demise (or does he?). Something about Clooney’s character walking off set because he thinks he is too good for it just seems fitting.

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Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun
This one comes as no shock to anyone, since it’s not like it’s a big secret or anything. Her film debut in Leprechaun was quickly overshadowed by her role as Rachel in TV’s Friends a year later (even though Leprechaun was filmed two years prior to being released), which I’m sure is what people still remember her for. I can’t tell you what’s worse; this film or her acting in this film! Wakka Wakka!

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Leonardo DiCaprio in Critters 3
Leo was never seen as a child actor, even though he was in quite a films and television roles before hitting it big in theaters – and with teenage girl’s hearts – with Titanic. Which is probably a good thing, since we all know how child actors usually turn out when they grow up. Although if I had to guess how his career would have turned out, judging it based on this movie, I would not have guessed that he would go on to be one of the greatest and possibly most intense actors currently. So, the man who would go on to star in numerous Scorsese flicks and nearly steal almost every scene he is in as Calvin Candy in Django Unchained got his start in Critters 3; a film about tiny furball aliens from space that eat people. He truly is a man of many talents.

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Charlize Theron in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest
Before she would go on to steal the show from Tom Hardy as her character Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, which let’s point out that one does not simply steal the spotlight from Tom Hardy in anything, Ms. Theron got her start like most actors did in the 80’s and 90’s; in really bad horror films. However, if you blink you could miss her, since she plays a crucial, major role as ‘Eli’s Follower’, which is even more fortunate for her since it’s uncredited. In case you couldn’t tell, that “crucial, major” part was total sarcasm. And since I’m being honest, I’m gonna admit that I kinda like this movie. It’s cheesy fun. She does get a close up and then raped and killed my corn tentacles, which takes hentai to a whole new level.

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Adam Scott in Hellraiser: Bloodlines
When Adam Scott played Will Ferrell’s brother Derek in Step Brothers, it wasn’t the first time he played a world class d-bag. That credit goes to his role as Jacques in Hellraiser: Bloodline. Ugh, even that name reeks of some dude-bro, caked in too much Axe body spray and wears sunglasses upside down on the back of his head. I have to hand it to him, he pulls it off here. Such a dramatic difference between this and his character on Parks and Recreations.

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Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
This is another one that should come as no surprise, since there was a whole stink about it when the movie first was released on video. At the time this movie was filmed, two unknown actors named Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger starred in this movie, which was unfortunately shelved… until a few years later when both actors began seeing their rise in fame with A Time to Kill and Jerry Maguire. The film was immediately being prepared for a re-release when the actors agents (both were represented by the same company) threatened to sue the filmmakers, claiming it was exploiting their star’s new fame. Anyway, it came out and nobody cared. Say what you want about the film, but McConaughey is in full bonkers mode and it’s like the man is in a different movie than everyone else.

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Brad Pitt in Freddy’s Nightmares
The man whose private life is constantly exposed in trashy, weekly news magazines once starred in an episode of Freddy’s Nightmares. Episode 14 of the first season, called Black Tickets, Brad Pitt’s character Rick and his girlfriend are teenage lovers who leave Springwood. Their car stalls so they check into a hotel, but the hotel is run by sadistic hicks, so uh-oh, hijinks ensue! For being young and not having much under his belt at the time, his performance is honestly really good, but not his best. That honor goes his performance as Dick’s roommate Floyd from True Romance.

I know there are many, many more, like Johnny Depp’s debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street for example, but it may be too much for this list to contain. After all, we gotta save it for the sequel.