Independent film has long been a place for actors to get their start, but it seems now more than ever, these films are not only garnering critical acclaim, but creating big-name, box-office drawing stars in their wake. Take, for example, Jeremy Renner. Before his turn in 2008's The Hurt Locker, he was a complete unknown. Fast-forward two years after that, and the Oscar-winning film made the man a bit of Oscar bait himself! And his star has only continued to rise with the career-cementing roles that he skillfully chose afterwards. So it's no surprise that the leading man has racked up quite the impressive resume since, including his take-over of the epically awesome Bourne franchise. It's a big job--filling the shoes that Matt Damon filled so well in the past three films--and we have high expectations for The Bourne Legacy AND Renner because of it.
It's no easy task making a name for yourself on the independent film circuit. In fact, it's probably a bigger challenge than anywhere else in the industry. The indie scene is chock-a-block with films just waiting for audiences--and many of them are very good (and getting better every year). It's all about having an eye for a good script, and trusting in a good director to make things happen. And even then, expecting big-name stardom after an indie vehicle or two is completely pie-in-the-sky thinking. But it does happen, and continues to happen, as indie films become a bigger force within the industry.
But Renner isn't the only actor in the past 20 years to make a name for himself with a lead role in an indie film. Quite the contrary--a bevy of A-Listers (and A-Listers to-be) have made big splashes on the scene thanks to their roles in these films. And it's no doubt that these smaller films will continue to churn out incredible talent year after year.
So we've compiled a list of some of our favorite star-making roles from the past twenty years; we think you'll be surprised and delighted by the actors that really made it from their time in indies. So check it out, below!
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