For Love Alone (1986)
Naomi Ellen Watts moved to Australia aged 14 (she was born in England to British parents, and grew up in Wales), and landed her first small movie role four years later in this Aussie drama.
A passion for acting had been burning in the young Watts ever since she saw Fame in 1980 – no doubt a passion she shared with her high school classmate Nicole Kidman. In For Love Alone , Watts plays the girlfriend of a character called Leo, and only appears on screen very briefly.
Star Wattage: Fledgling.
Brides Of Christ (1991)
Watts took a break from acting after For Love Alone , opting to become a professional runway model. She travelled to Japan, but after four months her efforts were still going unrewarded. Watts would later describe it as one of the worst times of her life.
After working as both a shop assistant and an assistant at a fashion magazine, drama classes reignited Watt’s passion for acting. Which is when she landed this award-winning mini-series, playing Frances, a student at a Sydney convent school. Six episodes were filmed, and a young Russell Crowe once guest starred.
Star Wattage: Burgeoning.
Home And Away (1991)
Watts may have been Brit-born, but she confirmed her newfound Australian identity by appearing in one of the country’s biggest soap operas.
As Julie Gibson, she pitched up for a fleeting four episodes. Her appearance was so fleeting, in fact, that if you happened to miss a few episodes of the surf-and-sea soap back in the early ‘90s, you’ll never have even known that she made an appearance at all. Not even YouTube has a clip, and that’s saying something.
Star Wattage: Minimal.
Watts was reunited with high school buddy Nicole Kidman in this indie coming-of-ager, which also starred a young Thandie Newton.
Directed by John Duigan, it’s the second in his planned autobiographical trilogy, which began with 1987’s The Year My Voice Broke . Watts is the friend of a girl who becomes the romantic object of desire for young Danny Embling. But as the budding teen romance flourishes, the youngsters come up against confusing racial politics.
Star Wattage: Growing by the day.
A period comedy directed by Joe Dante, John Goodman is the star in this loving tribute to William Castle. The plot follows a film marketer who releases a kitschy horror movie during the Cuban Missiles Crisis.
Watts crops up as 'Shopping Cart Starlet' in a case of film-within-film cleverness. Her film shows on a TV, which means you have mere minutes to catch a glimpse of her before she’s gone again. With her coiffed 'do and impeccable styling, though, she looks every bit the star in the making.
Star Wattage: Diluted.
Gross Misconduct (1993)
Watts graduates to a lead role at last, playing Jennifer Carter, an attractive young college student who takes a liking to her liberal arts professor, Justin Thorne (Jimmy Smits).
When she seduces him, he succumbs to her charms. But then Jennifer accuses the professor of rape, and we soon learn that she has a rather odd relationship with her father...
At just 25 years old, Ms Watts' screen prowess is unmistakable. This girl's going places.
Star Wattage: Fierce.
The Custodian (1993)
Watts it back down near the bottom of the cast list again, playing second fiddle to the likes of Hugo Weaving. He’s Detective Church, a rather mean policeman who likes to use his power to intimidate and corrupt.
But Detective Sergeant James Quinlan (Anthony LaPaglia) is having none of it, and decides to expose the corruption that’s turning his department into a minefield of clashing egos.
Our favourite blonde bombshell barely figures into the plot - but at least she has a nice big necklace to make up for it.
Star Wattage: Resting.
Tank Girl (1995)
Making the gradual transition from Australian to US films, Watts grabs a plum role in this wacky, colourful comic book adaptation.
Directed by Rachel Talalay, Lori Petty stars at the titular Tank Girl, while Watts dyes her hair dark and slips into futuristic togs to play her accomplice Jet Girl. Together, the pair navigate a dystopian earth in the year 2033. Watts uses her Aussie accent for the role.
Star Wattage: Boosted by cult batteries.
Children Of The Corn: The Gathering (1996)
Fourth in the increasingly interminable Children Of The Corn film series, and an obligatory cheapie horror credit on Watts’ fledgling CV.
When Grace Rhodes (Watts) returns to her home town, she discovers that the children are all acting strangely – including her young sister.
Tragically, they’re all under the command of a murdered child preacher named Josiah who’s seeking revenge from beyond the grave. Silly sequel, but a good trial run for Watts’ ‘scared face’. That’ll come in handy later.
Star Wattage: She’s the only one acting.
Watts shares air with Darth Vader himself – or, alright, James Earl Jones. He’s an old clockmaker who suffers racism attacks in the 1940s. When one of his hecklers turns up deader than a dodo, the clockmaker is put on trial for murder.
But the case gets really interesting when family man David Parkin (Kevin Kilner) comes forward and admits to having committed the crime himself in defence.
A still-dark-haired Watts merely adds eye candy support as Parkin's young wife.
Star Wattage: Glimmering in the background.