Monday, August 16, 2010

Top Seven Actors We Never Saw Coming

7) Hilary Swank
Two-time best actress Oscar winner, Swank is known for her roles in Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby. She's also won two Golden Globes and was nominated for a third. But how did we meet her? Her first big role was "Danielle" on the kitchy Camp Wilder. After a quick and merciful cancellation, Swank went on to star in The Next Karate Kid, the movie that would ruin the Karate Kid franchise forever, until 2010 when it was somehow ruined a second time. Her last role before Boys Don't Cry was as Carly Reynolds on 90210, a character so disliked that she only lasted 16 episodes before producers cut her. A year later, she had an Oscar.

Hilary Swank, telling her agent to please stop.

6) George Clooney
Clooney was a TV star before he made the jump to film - a jump few thought he should make. When he left ER, the consensus was that he was pulling a David Caruso. Instead, he pulled down hit after hit after hit. He won his Oscar for Syriana, but was also nominated for Up in the Air, Michael Clayton, and as a writer AND director for Good Night, and Good Luck. Not to mention playing the title character in the Oceans Eleven franchise. But Clooney didn't come directly from ER. Oddly enough, his first big role was on an early 1980s hospital dram-com called, well, E/R. After that, Clooney played small but recurring roles on The Facts of Life, Roseanne, and Sisters, as well as horrifically bad shows like Baby Talk and Bodies of Evidence. In other words, he is what Scott Baio could have been.

George Clooney, learning the facts of mullets.

5) Jamie Foxx
After a small role in Roc, Foxx was part of the non-Wayans replacement cast on In Living Color. Even that didn't launch him to stardom, as he followed up with occasional cameos on Moesha, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, and other shows white people never watched. He finally landed his own show, which lasted an astonishing 100 episodes. And suddenly, he won a best actor Oscar for Ray, the same year he was also nominated for best supporting actor in Collateral. And there's also his song that reached #2 on the Billboard charts. Though Ron Howard was in that video, so white people watched it.

Yup, looks like an Oscar winner.

4) Laurence Fishburne
 Best known as Morpheus from the Matrix (and the father of a porn star), Fishburne is an Emmy Award winning, Oscar nominated actor who was also in Mystic River, Othello, and the Tuskeegee Airmen. All a few years after he played Cowboy Curtis on Pee-wee's Playhouse. Which, coincidentally, is the name of his daughter's next film.

"Hi, Larry, this is your dignity calling. We have to talk..."

3) Will Smith
His hokey hip-hop single "Parents Just Don't Understand" led to his role in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." His role in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" led to him being one of the top ten highest grossing box office stars of all-time. Thanks mainly to Independence Day, Men in Black, I am Legend, and Bad Boys, his movies have grossed over 5 billion dollars worldwide. That's a slightly different path than fellow 1980s artist "Too Short," who ended up in porn. Maybe he knows Larry Fishburne's daughter.

Even Will Smith's parents just don't understand how this happened.

2) Don Cheadle
When you think Don Cheadle, you think an amazingly accomplished actor. From dramatic roles in Hotel Rwanda and Crash to comic roles in Oceans Eleven and Iron Man, Cheadle is known for his range. He's not known for being the hotel manager on the ill-fated Golden Girls spin-off, Golden Palace. Which was a true crash.

Don Cheadle, researching for his eventual role in Hotel Rwanda.

1) Leonardo DiCaprio
When a sit-com adds a random character, that typically means they're done. That's what Leo DiCaprio was for Growing Pains, when Jesus started making too many demands on Kirk Cameron's time. Cameron became an evangelist, Jeremy Miller left the business, Tracey Gold drank herself to jail, Andrew Koenig killed himself, and Leonardo DiCaprio became one of the most sought after and respected actors in the world. What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Basketball Diaries, Romeo and Juliet, and Titanic were all within five years of Growing Pains. Maybe Kirk Cameron prayed for him.

"Which one of these is not like the others..."


  1. So true! How about music artists we never saw coming? Check out where Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas got her was a Disney Channel show called Kids Incorporated (oh, and Mario Lopez was a recurring extra on there as well)!
    Hope to see you in November!

  2. What I don't understand is why some of them are STILL stars. Both Clooney and DiCaprio can't act their way out of a wet paper bag.

  3. I agree with JamiSings, but you have to admit, Clooney was pretty bad ass in the Oceans trilogy.

  4. Of all of those, Swank is the most "Never saw coming" -- only because she had such a small resume before winning her Oscar (DiCaprio would be second in the resume vs. nomination/universal acclaim ratio). All the rest had MANY years moving up the opportunity chain before becoming a mega-star. Fishburne's big break, actually, was as an 18-year old in "Apocalypse Now" -- more than a decade before Pee Wee.


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