Can You Guess All These Actors’ First Roles?



By: Ian Fortey

6 Min Quiz

Image: NBC

About This Quiz

Everyone has to start somewhere. Huge actors like Robert Downey Jr., Tom Cruise or Scarlett Johansson can draw multimillion-dollar salaries for their work these days, but what about back when they started? The fun thing about the early roles of actors is that we don't often know about a lot of them. Many stars like Tom Hanks and Jennifer Aniston did lesser-known parts until their breakout role. So there's a good chance you missed that actor's first role entirely. 

Of course, sometimes an actor like Emma Watson is big right out of the gate with a movie like "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," but it doesn't always work like that. Sometimes you have to dig to find out that Morgan Freeman's first role was in a 1964 movie called "The Pawnbroker" or that Joaquin Phoenix got his start in the TV show "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." Did you know that Matt Damon's first movie was way before "Good Will Hunting"? You'll get a chance to show us if you know his actual debut later. 

If you feel like you have the chops to figure out some first roles of the biggest names in Hollywood, why not take the quiz and see?

Before he was in "Black Panther," on what show was Chadwick Boseman's first role?

Chadwick Boseman's first role was a very odd one. He was on "All My Children" as a character named Reggie Porter Montgomery and then he was fired within the week for complaining about issues with how his character was being portrayed. He was replaced by his future "Black Panther" co-star Michael B. Jordan.


Which actor's first film role was in the movie "Go?"

Melissa McCarthy had a small but memorable role in the movie "Go" back in 1999. This was a full 12 years before what was arguably her very memorable breakout film role as Megan in the movie "Bridesmaids."


Which actor made their big screen debut in a movie called "Carbon Copy?"

Though he'd done some TV work before, Denzel Washington's first big-screen theatrical release was "Carbon Copy." In the movie, he plays the illegitimate son of a white businessman. It's not very easy to find these days due to some rather insensitive racial content.


Which star made their debut in "A Nightmare on Elm Street?"

Word is that Johnny Depp wasn't even looking to be in the movie, he just showed up to accompany his buddy Jackie Earle Haley to the audition. Haley, ironically, would play Freddy Kreuger in the remake years later in 2010.


Everyone knows Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones now, but where did he start his career?

Cole and his brother Dylan have done a lot of work together, but the two of them started their careers as very young children on "Grace Under Fire." Their first movie role was opposite Adam Sandler in "Big Daddy."


Outside of wrestling, do you know where Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's first role was?

The Rock had a ton of experience as a performer thanks to his career in the WWE, but it was "That '70s Show" on which he made his first appearance outside of the ring. He played a character named Rocky Johnson, who is actually his real-life father.


Emma Watson's first role was in which of these?

Unlike many actors, Emma Watson hit a home run her first time at bat when she starred in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." She'd had no other film or TV work prior to landing what would be one of the biggest film franchises in history.


Long before he voiced Rocket Raccoon, what was Bradley Cooper's first role?

Bradley Cooper's first role was on the show "Sex and the City." It was the fourth episode of the second season and he played a character named Jake, who was never heard from again. He went on to star in a number of TV shows over the years from "Nip/Tuck" to "Alias" to "Kitchen Confidential."


Whose first credit is the TV show "Undeclared?"

Kevin Hart was a guest star in a handful of episodes of the Judd Apatow comedy "Undeclared," the follow-up to his previous show "Freaks and Geeks." Both shows had incredible casts of comedians, yet both were summarily canceled fairly early in their run.


Do you know which film Matt Damon first appeared in?

Way back in 1988, Matt Damon had his first role in the movie "Mystic Pizza." Word is that his good friend Ben Affleck also auditioned for a role in the movie but didn't manage to get it. His career seems OK now, though.


Who had their first credited role as a character named Glen on "The New Lassie?"

Leonardo DiCaprio had been on an episode of "Romper Room and Friends" as just a child, but his first credited role was on "The New Lassie." He'd go on to have a bigger role in "Growing Pains' as the character Luke and his film debut in "Critters 3."


Elijah Wood has been acting for most of his life. What did he start in?

Aside from a Paula Abdul video, Elijah Wood's first role was in the movie "Back to the Future II." He has a brief role as a little boy who watches Michael J. Fox's character play an arcade game then makes fun of it for being too old.


Long before "Deadpool," Ryan Reynolds was on a Canadian TV show called what?

Ryan Reynolds got his start on the show "Fifteen" back in 1991 as a character named Billy Simpson. He actually was 15 years old at the time, so the casting worked out pretty well compared to some teen dramas.


Whose first role was in the movie "City Slickers?"

Way back in 1991, Jake Gyllenhaal had a role in "City Slickers" as Billy Crystal's son. It would be another 10 years before he had his breakout role in the trippy sci-fi movie "Donnie Darko" opposite Drew Barrymore and Patrick Swayze.


Do you know what movie Ed Norton got his start in?

Ed Norton started his Hollywood career with a bang in "Primal Fear." Thanks to a twist ending, his performance was a major standout that got him an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actor.


"Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe starred in which of these?

Before he made history as Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe played a young David Copperfield in a TV mini-series. it was based on the Charles Dickens novel, which is actually named "The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account)."


Emma Stone got her start on TV in what?

Emma Stone's first film role was in the comedy "Superbad," but she had acting credits prior to that on TV. Her first role was on "The New Patridge Family," in which she played Laurie Partridge. Susan Dey played that role on the original series.


In which film did Natalie Portman first appear?

Natalie Portman had a big role in the movie "Leon: The Professional" at a very young age. In the film, she plays a 12-year-old girl whose family has been killed. She forms a relationship with a hitman so she can learn his trade to get revenge.


Do you remember what Tom Hanks' first role was?

Surprisingly, Tom Hanks's first role was in the slasher horror flick "He Knows You're Alone." The movie was a bit of a knockoff of "Halloween" and features a movie theater scene that was later ripped off in the movie "Scream 2."


Which of these actors made their big screen debut in "Animal House?"

Before "Tremors" or "Footloose," Kevin Bacon was playing an awful frat brother named Chip Diller in "National Lampoon's Animal House." Most people remember the film for John Belushi, but Bacon did have a few minutes of screen time in there as well.


Who got their start on "Baywatch?"

Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa, started his acting career as a regular on "Baywatch." Born in Hawaii, before he got into acting, Momoa was all about biology. He went to school for marine biology and then wildlife biology back in the day.


Samuel L. Jackson has nearly 200 acting credits. What's his first?

Sam Jackson's first credit goes all the way back to 1973 and the blaxploitation movie "Together for Days." Jackson was still a student at Morehouse College when he made the movie, which was shot in Atlanta.


Do you know which actor was on the big screen for the first time in the movie "Vigilante?"

Margot Robbie made her feature film debut in 2008's low-budget Australian action film "Vigilante." There's an Audi R8 used in the movie that was apparently the only one in all of Australia at the time, and it was a thorn in the side of the filmmakers since bystanders would enter shots to get a look at it.


Even though he was uncredited, what was the first film role of Harrison Ford?

Harrison Ford started acting in 1966 with "Dead Heat On a Merry-Go-Round." He played a bellhop pager in the movie, which starred James Coburn. If you look closely at Ford's nametag in the movie, it says, "Thornton Wild."


Keanu Reeves was on a TV show before he landed any film roles. What was the show?

Keanu Reeves grew up in Canada and his TV debut was on the Canadian show "Hangin' In." The show was a comedy about a drop-in youth center in Toronto, and Reeves had a brief appearance as a client in one episode.


What was the first role we saw Meryl Streep in?

Meryl Streep had a credit from 1976 in which her voice was heard in the movie "Everybody Rides the Carousel." Her first real role, however, was in a made-for-TV movie called "The Deadliest Season." It was about a hockey player who accidentally kills another player on the ice.


"Center Stage" was the feature film debut of which of these actors?

After a couple of TV guest spots, Zoe Saldana made her film debut in "Center Stage," a movie about a group of dancers at a ballet academy. The movie was a bit of a failure since it only made back $26 million worldwide of a $29 million budget.


"Law and Order: SVU" star Mariska Hargitay made her film debut in which of these?

Mariska Hargitay got her start in film being terrorized by monsters in "Ghoulies." She took an unusual path to fame since her father was actor and Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay while her mother was legendary bombshell actress Jayne Mansfield.


On what TV show would you have first seen Chris Pratt?

Before Chris Pratt was guarding the galaxy or even in "Parks and Recreation," he showed up in an obscure show called "The Huntress" that was about a mother and daughter team of bounty hunters. It was on for a single season in 2001.


Whose first role was in something called "The Substance of Fire?"

Viola Davis's first role was in the 1996 film "The Substance of Fire," in which she played a nurse. The film was based on a play, and both the Broadway production and the subsequent movie starred Sarah Jessica Parker in a lead role.


Not counting shorts, what was Donald Glover's first scripted TV role?

Donald Glover was part of the award-winning writing staff on "30 Rock," which is what he parlayed into several appearances as an actor on the show as well. He was in four episodes over the show's run but not as the same character each time.


"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" is where Will Smith started on TV. What was his first film?

Will Smith had a small role in the movie "Where the Day Takes You" at the beginning of his career. Thanks to his TV roles, he exploded pretty quickly in the world of film and his fourth film role was in the hit "Bad Boys," which he followed with "Independence Day."


Which famous actress had her first uncredited role as a dancer in "Mac and Me?"

Though her first major film role was in the movie "Leprechaun," it was several years earlier when Jennifer Aniston appeared in the McDonald's dance sequence in the movie "Mac and Me." If you've never seen "Mac and Me," check out any interview Paul Rudd has done with Conan O'Brien. He always brings a clip as a joke.


What was the name of the first movie George Clooney ever appeared in?

The movie "Grizzly" was about a killer bear and George Clooney's first film role was in a very small part as the bear's victim in the sequel. The movie was so bad it was never actually released, but it still counts as Clooney's first.


Do you know what Helen Mirren's first credited role in a movie was?

Helen Mirren had a very minor role in the 1966 movie "Press for Time" before her first credited role in the film "Herostratus" as "Advert Woman." The movie would be pretty much a forgotten relic of British cinema if not for Mirren's involvement.


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