It is fun to look back at a dated movie and recognize a name buried in the opening credits because she or he had yet to become a household name. Often times, we had seen those people in films and by the time we later knew their names, we forgot we had ever seen them before. Here’s a look at some movies you might have seen years ago and not noticed who was in them…
Joaquin Phoenix in Parenthood (1989)
In the role, Phoenix plays a porn-obsessed nephew to star Steve Martin. It was so early in his career that he was going by “Leaf Phoenix,” a name he chose to fit in with the nature-esque names of siblings River and Rain. It would be the last role in which he use the changed name.
Seth Rogen in Donnie Darko (2001)
Ten years after Gyllenhaal’s first film role, Rogen landed his first tim role as the title character’s classmate in Donnie Darko. Rogen previously had a role on the TV cult hit Freaks and Geeks.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in A River Runs Through It (1992)
He was six when he started his acting career, and ten when he had bit parts in Beethoven and A River Runs Through It in ’92. This was two years before playing the lead in Angels in the Outfield.
Zooey Deschanel in Almost Famous (2000)
Deschanel plays the main character’s older sister that gives him the records at the beginning of the film, introducing him to rock ‘n roll, and starting the whole story in motion. It was her second film role.
Elizabeth Banks in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy (2002, 2004, 2007)
Banks played secretary to JK Simmons’ hilarious boss of the newspaper where Peter Parker freelanced. She continued the small role through all three films even as she began earning staring roles by then, including Invincible with Mark Wahlberg in 2006.
William Daniels (aka “Mr. Feeny) in The Graduate (1967)
Bill Daniels may not be a household name by his real name, but surely by his most recognizable roll as the dependable teacher in Boy Meet’s World. Already present in TV movies and series’ for 15 years when The Graduate was released, Daniels played star Dustin Hoffman’s father.
Amy Adams in Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Three years and over a dozen roles went by between Adams being discovered on stage at Chanhassen Dinner Theater outside of Minneapolis and her role as a 1960’s nurse in the Speilberg/Dicaprio/Hanks hit. In the film, she is the young woman briefly engaged to Leo Dicaprio’s con-artist character until she discovers his suitcases full of cash.
Jack Black in Waterworld (1995)
Simply credited as “Pilot,” Black doesn’t even have a name in Waterworld, but had already racked up a number of credits by the time he took the nameless role. Black showed up in many hit films before becoming recognizable himself, includingThe Neverending Story III, The Cable Guy, Mars Attacks!, Bio Dome, The X-Files, and Enemy of the State.
Jennifer Lawrence on Monk (2006)
Though not a film role, the Oscar winner’s first role was in an episode of the acclaimed USA drama. It wasn’t a long road to fame as she was first nominated for an Oscar for Lead Actress for a film (Winter’s Bone) that was released just four years after this premiere appearance. She would later win the award for Silver Linings Playbook, which hit theaters six years after this small role on Monk.
Bradley Cooper on Inside The Actor’s Studio (multiple)
Though not a casting part at all, Cooper was a student at Actor’s Studio Drama School and has been spotted in the audience of students for many televised interviews, including Steven Speilberg, Sean Penn (above) and Robert Dinero. With the latter two, he even got ahold of the microphone to ask the guest speaker a question on the air.