I saw them before they were big stars and knew they had "it"

The title doesn’t quite tell the whole point to this thread, but I hope it caught your attention enough to look further.

Using IMDB’s Name search I have found some people whose very first credited performance is one that I saw before they were well enough known to be considered “stars.”

Tommy Lee Jones
Reese Witherspoon
Jeff Goldblum
Andy Griffith

There are quite a few others whose first “significant” role was one I saw and had the feeling that he or she was going to go far. People like Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, Johnny Depp, Patricia Arquette, and numbers of others had done some small part in a TV show or were uncredited in some cheapo movie before their appearance became known to me.

The point to this thread is to see how many “first appearances” of people who have gone on to become Big Names we can account for as having been seen early on in these people’s careers.

In my case (of the ones I have given IMDB links for) I may have seen more recent things they did before I actually saw that first credited role, but I did see them well before their names were considered star material. So it’s not a requirement, for this thread’s sake, that the very first time you saw them was in their very first credited role.

Whose names can you add to the list of “I saw them before they were stars” types?

If you did see their very first role, and want to do so, please give us a link to their IMDB credits so the rest of us can compare notes with you.

Did any of you see those folks I mentioned above in their first roles?

I’m sorry, but I just have to ask… you saw Andy Griffith’s first performance, before he was famous? On what, a cave wall?

Jenna Jameson

He was basically unknown except for some comedy albums and singles before he was in A Face in the Crowd (1957)

The fact that he got to be a big name even before the TV shows doesn’t refute what I say about seeing his first performance before he was a star. I can see how the terminology is shaky on this one.

Over the years I “spotted” the following on their first major outings in the media, and tipped them for bigger and better:

Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Kylie Minogue (mainly because she was gorgeous)
Isla Fisher (ditto)
The Ting Tings
M.I.A.

I thought Arnold Vosloo had “it,” but I was wrong.
OTOH, I thought Jim Carrey was destined for the ash heap of syndicated TV, but I was wrong about that too.

I remember watching Shelly Long doing TV ads in Chicago for a furniture chain and thinking, “She’s cute and perky; she would make a good sit-com star.”

OTOH, I thought Carrey had a lot of talent when I saw him in The Duck Factory, though he veered off into dumb comedy. Now, though, it looks like he’s going back to the type of thing that made his Skip so good in that show.

The first time I watched Gattaca, I saw Jude Law’s performance and knew that he was going to be huge. Same goes for Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted.

I saw Switchfoot back in the 90s, when they were an oddball, surf-rock influenced indie band with Christian leanings. They were fantastic then - clever arrangements, some sick jazz-influenced guitar and drum work, and exceptionally catchy melodies. For a Christian band, they were no slouches in the lyrics department either, with few “ahhhhhwww praaaaaise god” songs. “Amy was a fighter/ She cut like Cassius Clay” is still one of my favorite lyricisms of all time.

Anyway, they made it big a few years ago, with a couple of singles played endlessly on Top 40 radio until people got sick of them. Sadly, their major label work was a huge disappointment for me - gone were the clever arrangements and artful guitar lines, replaced by bland arena rock riffage.

Brad Pitt - small role in Thelma & Louise. I wasn’t surprised he made it big.

While it wasn’t his *first *role, I saw Michael Emerson on stage in The Iceman Cometh in April of 1999 (and met him at dinner after the show. We were seated next to each other at a restaurant. Really nice guy.) He caught my attention so much that I sought out the Off-Broadway play Give Me Your Answer, Do! specifically to see him in November 1999. A couple years after that I began noticing him in various TV shows, most notably as a creepy serial killer on “The Practice.” I was so happy to see him become a big star with “LOST.”

Three brothers, back in the 1960s, with the surname of Chapin: Harry, Tom, and Steve. Actually I had a bit closer connection: one of my best high school friends was the college roommate of the guy who costarred with Tom as the fathers in a student performance of The Fantasticks; though I’m sure Tom doesn’t remember the occasion, I did meet him at a couple of parties.

I was overwhelmed with the need to get Angelina some chapstick.

We saw Glenn Close on Broadway in the early 1980s, because she was in a class with my wife at William and Mary, and she sure had it.

I got to see Michelle Trachtenberg act when she was quite young, and she had so much more charisma than anyone else on that set I knew she’d do well.

I saw Patrick Stewart (ST:TNG, The X-Men, etc.), Jonathan Pryce (Brazil, Pirates of the Caribbean) and Juliet Stevenson (Truly, Madly, Deeply and Bend It Like Beckham), all on the London stage in late 1985, in separate performances. They may have been well-known to the British theatre crowd of the day, but they were new to me, and I was very impressed.

I saw Eddie Izzard’s first ever public performances. In fact, he and I used to write and perform comedy sketch shows together when we were students. I can’t say I knew he would be a star then, because he was years away from evolving the unique ‘style’ that eventually led to his fame. But I knew he had the drive, determination and self-belief to get to the top.

I saw many other current stars of British comedy when they were just starting out, doing small gigs in tiny pub rooms, including Paul Merton, Jack Dee and Jo Brand.

Going back a bit into ancient history, I was among the first to hear ‘In The Air Tonight’ when Phil Collins released it as his first solo effort. I said to my friends that I thought it would get to number one, at a time when this seemed a very unlikely forecast. I also said I thought PC would probably be able to build up a good solo career. This also seemed highly unlikely. Most people didn’t know who he was, and even the ones who did know just thought of him as ‘the drummer with the really long beard from Genesis who took over the singing when Gabriel quit’.

That’s bound to comfort the people who cast Angelina in The Bone Collector, Pushing Tin, Gia, and Hackers, to name a few. :slight_smile:

Barbra Streisand and (later) Bette Midler in the NYC gay bathhouses in the 60s.
Simon & Garfunkel in some coffeehouse in the Village.
Bernadette Peters in *Dames at Sea, *in 1968.
Harvey Fierstein in some drag show, I think in the 70s.

After watching Kenneth Branaugh’s Much Ado About Nothing, I was miffed that every cast member shown on the poster received star billing – except for the stunning brunette who played the role of Hero. I don’t think that Kate Beckinsale has to deal with that kind of exclusion anymore.