Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were in Classic Movies and Shows

Josh Brolin In ‘The Goonies’

Unless you’re Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit or Joel Courtney in Super 8, chances are if you’re an actor, not everyone saw you in your earliest work, and you had to take some more minor roles in order to finally get noticed.

This collection shows a number of actors in some of their earliest acting gigs, and a lot of them popped up in classic movies or shows and you just didn’t realize who they were at the time. Some of these will mess with your mind, and make you want to go back and rewatch the films to catch their appearances.

You can check out the full gallery below which I believe was initially assembled over at Buzzfeed.

Seth Rogan In ‘Donnie Darko’

Adam Sandler In ‘The Cosby Show’

Hugh Laurie In ‘Friends’

Ryan Gosling In ‘Are You Afraid Of The Dark’

Stephen Colbert On ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’

Jessica Alba In ‘The Secret World Of Alex Mac’

Tobey Maguire In ‘The Wizard’

Steve Buscemi In ‘Pulp Fiction’

Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) In ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’

Jack Black & Giovanni Ribisi In ‘X-Files’

Andy Samberg In ‘Arrested Development’

Ron Jeremy In ‘Ghostbusters’

John Krasinski In ‘Jarhead’

Bret Mackenzie (Flight Of The Conchords) In Lord Of The Rings

Rainn Wilson (The Office) In ‘Almost Famous’

Miley Cyrus In ‘Big Fish’

Jane Lynch In ‘The Fugitive’

Jack Nicholson In ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’

Elijah Wood In ‘Back To The Future 2’

Jeff Goldblum In ‘Annie Hall’

George Clooney In ‘Rosanne’

Nicolas Cage In ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High’

Jake Gyllenhaal In ‘City Slickers’

Bill Paxton In ‘Terminator’


  • Doctor John Bishop

    A lot of these were cool, but Steve Buscemi In ‘Pulp Fiction’, Nicolas Cage In ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High’ and Jack Nicholson In ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ are already well known in my opinion.

  • Erin

    That’s usually my reaction to Jennifer Aniston too.

  • Cool list, but I wouldn’t count Buscemi in PULP FICTION, that was just a cameo after RESERVOIR DOGS, people already knew who he was.

    A good one would’ve been Jeff Goldblum in DEATH WISH instead of ANNIE HALL.

  • Pawlit

    I seriously burst out loughing seeing the photo of Bret from “Flight of the Conchords” in elf costume from LotR.
    But I guess it makes sense, they needed extras and there’s like 12 people total in New Zealand so it was bound to happen.

  • Jim Lahey

    Isn’t there usually a cut in an article this long? Haha I was wondering why my phone was taking forever to load up unreality.

  • Nox

    Let’s not forget Paul Rudd in friends

  • Wermine

    Watch True Romance and wonder all the actors in small roles.

  • dan1

    no Laurence Fishburne in Apocalypse Now?

  • dave

    Nathan Fillion in Saving Private Ryan…

    • spurs fan for life

      And Vin diesel

  • Darren Currie

    Check out The Outsiders…too many too name and all of them are real young.

  • ben

    you left out Jack Black sitting next to giovanni ribisi in the x files….

  • Cryder

    Was George Clooney on Rosanne before Return of the Killer Tomatoes?

  • Andy

    @ Dr. Kronner Good call on Jeff Goldblum in Death Wish. I recently watched that for the first time and almost shit when I saw him.

    It was also an interesting role that he took on, not very Jeff Goldblum-ish if you ask me…

  • Chris

    Not a classic film, but a surprising appearance.

    I was watching Home Alone 3 the other day, when who should I see?


    An absurdly young Scarlett Johansson.

  • callmevil

    Jennifer aniston appeared as a “guest starring” in an episode of Quantum Leap long before Friends ..

  • Nick D Pags

    Bill Paxton’s voice cannot be missed, it’s a dead giveaway.
    “Looks like this guy’s a few cans short of a six pack.”

  • Haley

    Hugh Laurie was a well established actor in England way before the friends cameo. Blackadder anyone?

  • dude

    zach braff in manhattan murder mystery (shitty role btw)
    scarlett johansson in home alone 3

  • Bob

    Bret in fucking LotR?!?! Wow, that one really got me.

  • ness

    Epic movie with lots of actors early in their career…Buckaroo BANZAI! and lectoids from the eigth dimension. Excellent gold blooming and lithgowing in that

  • Mijo

    Jack Black is also in Demolition Man

  • Jack Black’s earliest role, I think was in The Neverending Story Part 3.

  • paul

    Buscemi was in Reservoir Dogs, which came out a few years before Pulp Fiction…Jack Black was in a movie called airborne in 1993 with a young seth green…whoever made this list dont know crap about movies..

  • Wite Boy

    Joey from Friends was in Married With Children

  • Charlie

    Just to echo Haley: Hugh Laurie was famous before he was in Friends. He wasn’t House yet, but he was damn well Bertie Wooster.

  • Travis

    I’m watching “Galaxy Quest” right now and Rainn Wilson is in that as one of the alien people.

  • fnord

    Leonardo DiCaprio in Critters 3

  • jr

    Hugh Laurie was VERY successful & famous before Friends!

  • Reid

    Hugh Laurie also plays the dad in stuart little.

  • RT

    Vince Vaughn in Rudy.