Much like a beautiful butterfly beings its life as a slimy larva, so must famed actresses kick off their careers with less-than-award worthy fluff that may not be the most eye-catching entry on an IMDb page.
With Shark Night 3D hitting theaters over the weekend, we took a look back at some of the more notable names who got their start in genre fare—and survived. Could Shark Night star Sarah Paxton could be the next Julia Roberts? The potential is there.
Angelina Jolie in Cyborg 2
Before rising to the top of the female action star pack with movies like Tomb Raider, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Salt, Jolie starred in the not-really-a-sequle-OK-we’ll-call-it-a-sequel Cyborg 2. Alongside a quintessentially-’80s cast (including Jack Palance and Elias Koteas of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame), Jolie’s debut role saw her as an assassin robot in the year 2047, who goes on the run after escaping from her training facility. Which is why she looks so angry.
Naomi Watts in Tank Girl
If you want to make it big in the states, prepare to knock out a few oddball pictures in your native country. That’s how Naomi Watts did it, co-starring in the Australian post-apocalyptic comic book movie Tank Girl before moving stateside. In the movie she plays Jet Girl, partner in crime to the titular character who quests to find a group of secret Kangaroo super soldiers. Yup.
Julianne Moore in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie
Often mistaken for the third film in the Creepshow franchise, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is another horror anthology written by horror novelists directed by a horror director. So, scary. Julianne Moore makes an early career appearance as a college student pissed off the wrong kid (in this case, young Steve Buscemi). He re-animates a few mummies to take care of her.
Charlize Theron in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest
Theron doesn’t get any lines in her big screen debut, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. As a nameless follower of the He Who Walks Behind the Rows cult, Theron goes unheard from in the franchise’s final theatrical installment—but she does get to die at the hands of a giant corn monster. Someone saw that and thought, “Oscar potential.”
Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun
One of Anison’s first roles saw her going head-to-head with Warwick Davis (Willow in Willow) as a pesky leprechaun with a vendetta against humanity. Glamorous? No. Lucky? Well, she’s been working ever since, so don’t underestimate the power of co-starring with a mythical, Irish dwarf.
Katherine Heigl in Bride of Chucky
Heigl is one of the lucky, working actresses who segued from child performer to leading lady with out too much trouble. To do so, she had to take the work she could get—and that meant starring alongside two murderous dolls in the fourth entry of the Child’s Play franchise, Bride of Chucky.
Renee Zellweger in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
With last year’s dumped release of the paranormal thriller Case 39, Zellweger may be in need of another kooky B-movie to rejuvenate her career. Why not a return to the franchise that made this career possible? One of Zellweger’s earliest roles (along with Matthew McConaughey) was in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (aka The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre), which showed off the actresses’ vocal powers nearly a decade before her Oscar win for the musical Chicago. To be fair, she was screaming, but it’s practically the same.
Nicole Kidman in Watch the Shadows Dance
Watch the Shadows Dance is the Nicole Kidman ninja movie you never knew you needed. In the movie, a karate student defends himself after witnessing a murder committed by his sensei—and Kidman’s along for the ride. Perhaps Kidman isn’t particularly proud of her work in the film, as you can barely find traces of its existence, even on the Internet.