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Before They Were Famous

Some of the best and biggest actors working today started their careers in all sorts of SFX-y stuff. We reveal skeletons in their closets...

We’re concentrating on actors who went on to big movie or Hollywood TV careers here, so as much it would be fun to publish that image of Martin Clunes looking a complete twonk in Doctor Who again (oh, what the hell, here's a link anyway ), he’s not quite in the right league. And we’ve avoided a couple of the more famous ones (Johnny Depp in Nightmare On Elm Street , Courteney Cox in Masters Of The Universe ) for hopefully some more amusingly obscure ones.

1. Amy Adams Smallville

“Craving” saw a plump Amy downing Kryptonite-tainted health drinks to lose weight before developing a taste for roadkill deer and human fat. And somehow, despite wearing a double-chinned fatsuit before turning into a rampant Krypto-freak, she’s still adorable. How does she do it?

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2. Charlize Theron

Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest

She doesn’t get much to do, to be honest: she listens to a sermon from a shouty preacher who doesn’t even realise that the book of the Bible he’s talking about is “Revelation”, not “Revelations” (bet that faux pas wasn’t in the original Stephen King story), and then she’s killed in a flurry of plant action. Don’t worry, love, you’ll be a serious actress one day.

Another actor also made his movie debut in this piece of nonsense: Buffy ’s Nicholas Brendon has a blink-and-you-miss-him cameo. Oh well, not everybody can win an Oscar in eight years...


3. Ryan Gosling Young Hercules

This dedication to “serious” acting may have something to do with the fact that Gosling spent from 1998-9 in New Zealand in a pair of leather trousers pretending to be the son of Zeus – surely enough to drive any actor insane. Young Hercules was aimed at younger viewers of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and featured the (rather scrawny, if you ask us) Gosling as a youthful version of Kevin Sorbo’s Herc, do-gooding and saving lives while training in an academy.

And yes, it’s as bad as you think it is.

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4. Heath Ledger Roar

Created by American Gothic ’s Shaun Cassidy, who should probably have known better, this Hercules and Xena wannabe saw Heath Ledger making the move from life in Home & Away ’s Summer Bay to life in Ireland circa 400AD. Ledger played a young prince named Conor, destined to reunite his broken land after invasion by the nasty Romans (what did they ever do for them, eh? Apart from the roads, that is. And the sewage systems. And the... etc).

You’ll no doubt be shocked to hear that the show was pants, and on its original broadcast in 1997 it did so badly in the ratings that not all of its 13 episodes were even aired. However, before he knew it Ledger was starring in the film 10 Things I Hate About You and the rest of his career was history.

(For the record, Ledger’s co-stars haven’t done too badly either: Vera Farmiga nabbed an Oscar nom last year for appearing alongside George Clooney in Up In The Air , while Sebastian Roche has been plenty busy on everything from Odyssey 5 to 24 to Fringe .)
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5. Hilary Swank Buffy The Vampire Slayer

She wasn’t the only Oscar-winner to pop up in this much-maligned movie, either: check out Ben Affleck being menaced by a vampire during a basketball game... (We know it’s dubbed, but you don’t need to hear the dialogue anyway. It’s terrible.)

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6. Cory Monteith Tons of stuff

Attention fellow Glee -watchers! (We know you’re out there, stop pretending you don’t watch it just because it contains people singing ’n’ stuff.) Betcha didn’t know that the dorky Finn Hudson is a veritable sci-fi and fantasy veteran, did you?

He’s turned up in a ton of stuff – no singing involved, thankfully – including an intriguing notation on the IMDb as a “Frat Cowboy” in the Smallville episode “Thirst” (our minds, they boggle). Add to that roles in Stargate SG-1 (as the young Cameron in the show’s 200th episode), Stargate Atlantis , Flash Gordon and a starring role in Kyle XY and... well, could he be the new Mark Sheppard, turning up in every show under the sun?

Our favourite guest-star spot, however, was in the early Supernatural episode “Wendigo”, in which he’s nommed by the titular monster. Yay!

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7 & 8. Carey Mulligan & Andrew Garfield

Doctor Who

You all know about this one, of course, but we couldn’t not mention dear Ms Mulligan because we love her so much. “Blink”’s Sally Sparrow was one of the most likeable guest-stars ever to show up on the series, old or new, and if Mulligan hadn’t buggered off to Hollywood and found herself nominated for Oscars left, right and bloody centre, we’d like to think that there would have been a spin-off series.

Selfish bint. Harumph.

Okay, so that didn’t happen. But our future Spider-Man – aka Andrew Garfield – also showed his face in “Daleks In Manhattan”, so now we’re gleefully envisioning a universe in which it was the Doctor who accidentally triggered his spider-powers due to his sonic screwdriver leaking spidey particles or something. Just think of the possibilities: Spider-Man versus the Cybermen. Spider-Man versus Davros. The Doctor versus The Green Goblin... Oooh, did your mouth just start watering? Ours did.

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9, 10, 11…  Lots of people The X-Files

If you’ve ever sat down with your X-Files boxsets and decided to watch the show from the beginning again, chances are you spent most of your time going, “Don’t I know him? Haven’t I seen her before? Wait a minute... that little boy looks like Shia LaBeouf!” We’ve done it too, so you’re not alone.

The X-Files ran for nine seasons and spanned two countries – Vancouver, Canada for the first few years; Los Angeles for the rest – so it’s hardly surprising that some of the huge guest cast might have gone on to bigger things. LaBeouf, for instance, played a poorly kid in ‘The Goldberg Variation”. Seth Green turned up in the show’s second episode as a stoner who takes Mulder to a secret Air Force base. Desperate Housewives ’ Felicity Huffman was one of the scientists trapped on an Arctic research station with a parasite on the loose that was driving everybody homicidal. And the list goes on...

Saving Private Ryan ’s Giovanni Ribisi (you may also know him as Phoebe’s weird brother in Friends ) was a teenager with an affinity for lightning in “DPO”, which also guest-starred Jack Black. Lucy Liu turned up in the otherwise rather dull episode “Hell Money”, while Luke Wilson had a blast wearing a set of goofy teeth as a Sheriff in fan-fave “Bad Blood”. And let’s not forget the Green Lantern himself, Ryan Reynolds, who comes a cropper at the hands of two high-school witches in “Syzygy”.

Did we miss anyone? Let us know...

Text by Jayne Nelson