If you love movies, you probably recognize the faces of hundreds of A-list stars, who are the “It” celebrities of the moment. Before they were on magazine covers and garnering awards, however, they were often unknown in their very first movie role. Some of these debut films have gone on to become classics while others have been totally forgotten or underrated. Here are some brilliantly underrated debut movies that launched A-list stars and proved that they had the talent and potential to become huge successes.

John Travolta in “Carrie”
John Travolta got his start in the 1976 classic horror film, “Carrie”. Although Stephen King’s book was already a classic, it was Travolta who perfected the role of bad-boy heartthrob, Billy Nolan, in this adaptation. In the movie, Travolta’s character starts off as an intimidating bully who eventually develops a romantic interest in protagonist Carrie White (Sissy Spacek). Travolta went on to become a beloved star in hits like Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Pulp Fiction.

Tina Fey in “Mean Girls”
Tina Fey is one of the most recognizable faces in comedy. Before she was the iconic Liz Lemon on “30 Rock” or Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live”, however, Fey made her film debut in the 2004 hit, “Mean Girls”. She not only wrote the script, but she also acted in it, playing the classic ‘cool mom’. Fey’s comedic timing was spot-on and she was able to turn a seemingly silly high school movie into a classic.

Halle Berry in “Jungle Fever”
This may have been the movie that first brought Halle Berry to the attention of the public. In 1991’s “Jungle Fever,” Berry plays Wanita, a neighborhood girl struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine. While she only had a few lines in the movie, her intensity and nuanced performance quickly made her a star. Ever since then, she has delivered amazing performances in films like Monster’s Ball, The Call and Catwoman.

Leonardo DiCaprio in “This Boy’s Life”
At only fifteen years old, Leonardo DiCaprio nailed the role of Toby Wolff in the 1993 drama “This Boy’s Life”. The movie explores the strained relationship between teenage Toby and his abusive stepfather, a brilliant performance by Robert De Niro. DiCaprio was a natural in the role and held his own opposite De Niro. He went on to superstar roles in films like Titanic, The Aviator, and The Revenant.

Uma Thurman in “Dangerous Liaisons”
Another A-list star who made her debut in a classic was Uma Thurman, in the 1988 film, “Dangerous Liaisons”. Thurman played young Cecile de Volanges, a naive teenager caught in a love triangle between wildly manipulative characters. Just 16 years old at the time, Thurman’s performance was mesmerizing. From that debut to her roles in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, Thurman has become a much-loved actress.

Matt Damon in “Mystic Pizza”
“Mystic Pizza” may not be a well-known movie, but it was the big-screen debut of Matt Damon which makes it worth seeing. Damon plays a goofy college student who works in a pizza parlor with his two female friends. The movie looks at what it’s like to be a young adult in a small town and Damon’s character is charming and naive. The movie also launched the careers of co-stars Julia Roberts and Annabeth Gish.

Jennifer Aniston in “Leprechaun”
Jennifer Aniston’s career was made when she was cast as Rachel in Friends, but her first credited role was in the 1993 horror movie, “Leprechaun”. Aniston made quite an impression as a feisty teenager, who is abducted by the evil leprechaun and traded for a pot of gold. She manages to break free and defeat the creature with a golden four-leaf clover. Aniston’s talent as a comedic actress was obvious in this film and there was no stopping her after that.

Jack Nicholson in “The Cry Baby Killer”
Jack Nicholson may be one of the most famous actors in the world, but before he achieved A-list status, he made his film debut in “The Cry Baby Killer”. Nicholson plays Jimmy Wallace, a misunderstood teenager who is falsely accused of killing another teen. It’s an interesting film for fans who want to see Nicholson at the start of his career, before all the award-winning accolades of his later films.

Sigourney Weaver in “Annie Hall”
Sigourney Weaver is undoubtedly most famous for Alien, but she made her film debut in the 1977 classic, “Annie Hall”. While she only had a small part in the movie, Weaver stands out as Alvy Singer’s friend, who makes a joke about her career choices and his diagnosis of “Scatterbrained Entrepreneurial Syndrome”. It may have only taken a few minutes of screen time, but her performance was enough to make her an instant star.

The A-list stars of today were once unknown and unproven. Before they became icons, however, many of them managed to shine in their very first movie roles and prove that they had what it takes to become the stars we now know and love. The films listed above are all wonderful debuts from A-list actors and should be given the recognition they deserve.

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