In life, we’ve all got to start somewhere. This is no different for the biggest stars in Hollywood. Sure, they would have loved to start their careers by jumping right into the role of leading man (or woman) in a feature film, that simply doesn’t happen very often. As a result, they need to take the smalls roles they are given as they earn the trust of major directors and studio execs. However, most of the time, these roles can be a little embarrassing in retrospect.
Although these roles weren’t always the very first for these huge stars, they definitively took them as a way to get their careers started, since nothing else was available. While we’re sure some of these stars aren’t extremely angry or embarrassed about their early work, they are definitely roles that wouldn’t ever be considered today. So without further ado let’s look at 10 embarrassing early roles for some of today’s biggest actors and actresses.
10. Channing Tatum – G.I Joe: Rise of the Cobra
This was one of the first leading roles for Channing Tatum, and to be honest he did alright in the film. However, despite his okay performance, the movie was painfully average — at best. While some of the stars on this list might be grateful for these fairly acting opportunities, not Tatum. He has gone on record saying he hated that movie.
He signed a multi-film deal as a young actor, but when his career took off, he didn’t necessarily want to continue making the G.I. Joe film. But he signed a contract, so he had to. While he is still probably thankful for this role, he definitely would have liked to explore different opportunities and/or not make this film at all.
9. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – The Tooth Fairy
There is no bigger or more famous star than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Hollywood right now. He started his career in entertainment in a very unconventional way, as he was one of the WWE’s biggest stars of the 2000s and then made the jump to Hollywood.
Fast forward to 2017, and he is one of the highest paid actors around and is doing everything from comedies to action, TV shows to dramas. However, one of his first major roles was in a family film called The Tooth Fairy. Yes, the badass former pro wrestler played a role where he has to wear a dress that was adorned with fairy wings. Not cool.
8. Emma Stone – The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
Emma Stone is currently one of the most talented actresses of her generation and is one of the highest paid as well. She has a very wide range of acting roles in her repertoire and has won just about every award under the sun, including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her role in La La Land.
However, before her film career took off after Superbad (2007) and Zombieland (2009), she had a variety of small television roles. One of the most embarrassing is likely that time she played the voice of London Tipton’s pet dog in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. That’s right, one of the best actresses on the planet once voiced a dog on a Disney show.
7. Scarlett Johansson – Home Alone 3
Scarlett Johansson is without a doubt one of the sexiest and most talented actresses on the planet. She has had a number of different roles throughout her career and was even a talented actress on Broadway before making it big in Hollywood. She’s also been an excellent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Black Widow.
However, one early role she would likely want us to forget was a minor appearance in Home Alone 3 in 1997. The first Home Alone was great, the sequel as “meh,” but by the third iteration it was largely seen as overkill. Home Alone 3 is generally regarded as a pretty terrible movie, so we are pretty sure Johansson wants to distance herself from this film as much as possible.
6. Jack Gleeson – Batman Begins
While you might not know the name Jack Gleeson, you most certainly know his face. If you have watched Game of Thrones (and who doesn’t?), you know him as King Joffrey Baratheon, the evil king who was a product of Lannister incest. While this was his best known role, it wasn’t his first.
He actually appeared as a boy in Batman Begins, whom Batman has to save. While this isn’t an overly embarrassing role compared to many others on this list, it is still strange seeing King Joffrey needing to be saved by Batman. Also, don’t expect to see much more of Gleeson in Hollywood, as he has said he wants to retire from acting now that his Game of Thrones work concluded. He now owns a theater company in his native Ireland.
5. Paul Rudd – Gen-Y Cops
This is a strange one in every sense of the word. Paul Rudd is a talented comedic actor, who also has enough range to take up more serious roles as well. He is best known for his roles in films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Ant-Man. But before all of those, Rudd appeared in a very strange film — at least, for him.
He starred in a Hong Kong sci-fi action film called Gen-Y Cops, which was about as cheesy as a plate full of cheddar. He played an American character named Ian, an FBI agent who attempts to catch the bad guys and save the day. This is a classic example of a role that you would only take as you are trying to gain footing in the movie business. What a stinker! Also, what’s with that hair, Paul?
4. Ryan Gosling – Breaker High
Ryan Gosling can do no wrong. He broke out in a big way in the classic romantic drama The Notebook (2004), but has proven to be capable of so much more, like drama (Half Nelson), rom-com (Crazy, Stupid, Love), crime thriller (Drive), sci-fi (Blade Runner 2049), and even musicals (La La Land). All things considering, he is one of the best and most revered actors of this era and everything he does seems to be a hit.
However, go back in time about 20 years, the Canadian actor was taking much different roles. One of his first was that of a suave teenager on a show called Breaker High, which focused on students who went to high school on a cruise ship. The show was quite cringy, even for one aimed at pre-teens. After all that Gosling has done in his career since then, he likely won’t be pointing to this role as a highlight. Fun fact: he also appeared in spooky Canadian series like Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps as a teen.
3. Jennifer Lawrence – The Bill Engvall Show
J-Law is one of the best actresses on the planet and despite still being in her late-20s, she has already won a ton of award (including an Oscar for Best Actress in 2012) and her films have grossed billions of dollars. However, her first major roles didn’t come in the movies, but on television. And the role she played was one that she might be a little embarrassed to remember today.
From 2007 to 2009, Lawrence played the teen daughter to Bill Engvall’s character on The Bill Engvall Show, a TBS sitcom about a family counselor who can barely understand his own family. This show was, without a doubt, marketed to rednecks, as Engvall was one of the most recognizable redneck comedians on the planet (“Here’s your sign.”) Could you ever imagine Lawrence in this sort of role now? We can’t either.
2. Leonardo DiCaprio – Critters 3
Leonardo DiCaprio has been one of the best actors on the planet for decades, dating back to his breakout role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? DiCaprio seems to truly transform into his characters, especially as he obsessed with winning that coveted Best Actor award. He finally won it thanks to his performance in 2015’s The Revenant, although it’s hardly his first notable award — he owns a score of Golden Globes and BAFTA awards as well.
However, his film career got off to a rough start thanks to his role in Critters 3. It was DiCaprio’s film debut and we are glad he didn’t get discouraged with how horrible his debut film was. It actually is one of the few films to get a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as seemingly no one enjoyed this film. He has more than made up for it since with a number of memorable roles in iconic films. But he is likely still pretty embarrassed about this trainwreck.
1. Jon Hamm – The Big Date
While this wasn’t a traditional acting role (it was technically a game show), we couldn’t not include this gem. Before Jon Hamm was the slick, smooth, and confident Don Draper on Mad Men, he was a creepy contestant on a dating show called The Big Date.
The short-lived TV show ran for less than a year, and is actually Hamm’s first credit as an actor. He sported a dorky haircut and was a far cry from the suave character he would play later. This one is quite embarrassing and every time it is brought up to Hamm, you can see the regret on his face. Luckily he still managed to turn himself into a successful sex symbol of a movie star!