6 Bizarre Early Roles of Academy Award Winning Actors

The Oscars are the most prestigious awards that share a name with a hobo that lives in a trash can. In honor of the the Academy Awards, we thought we’d celebrate the weird ass roles that gave us some of our favorite Academy Award winners.

1. Tom Hanks as a crazed Dungeons and Dragons player

When Tom Hanks first moved to New York City to pursue acting in 1979, Dungeons and Dragons hysteria was at an all-time high. While D&D is a lot more culturally accepted now, people used to believe that simply playing the game would make you go crazy.

Before winning back to back Oscars for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, one of Tom Hanks‘ first roles was in an anti-Dungeons and Dragons propaganda film called Mazes and MonstersHanks plays a college student who suffers a psychological breakdown and isn’t able to differentiate between reality and fantasy after playing the game and presumably drinking some Mountain Dew.

At one point Hanks’ character threatens to jump off the World Trade Center claiming, “I have spells. I’m going to fly” (do yourself a favor and watch the clip, truly the highlight of his career). We’d like to point out that his character is a Cleric who realistically wouldn’t learn any flying spells. It’s almost as if this TV movie was made by people who didn’t even play Dungeons and Dragons.

2. Sylvester Stallone as a softcore porn star

Shortly before filming Rocky, Sylvester Stallone took a part in a softcore porn film called The Party at Kitty and Stud’s. Stallone had recently been kicked out of his apartment and in his own words“It was either do that movie or rob someone because I was at the end—at the very end—of my rope.”

Stallone was paid $200 for two days work and The Party at Kitty and Stud’s was the Italian Stallion’s film debut. The movie centers on a New York couple, Kitty and Stud (played by Stallone), who attempt to spice up their sex life by inviting strangers over for a night of group sex. The orgy ends with Stallone’s character “servicing all the women.”

Years later, after the success of Rocky, the film was re-released under the name “Italian Stallion,” in an attempt to capitalize off Stallone’s fame and because every porn movie deserves to have a penis pun as its title.

3. Jennifer Lawrence as a mascot

In an interview promoting Silver Linings Playbook (for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress), Jennifer Lawrence revealed to Conan O’Brien that her big break was appearing in an episode of Monk as a school mascot.

At one point Lawrence even jumps on Monk’s back and pretends to eat his arm. While you can’t tell that it’s J-Law under the costume, her embarrassment upon seeing the clip is all the evidence we need.

4. Nicolas Cage as Nicolas Coppola

Today, Nicolas Cage is usually associate with overacting and cheesy movies (except National Treasure which is a goddamn national treasure), but audiences tend to forget Cage won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 1995 film Leaving Las Vegas.

Before that, Cage made his film debut as a fast food employee in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Cage’s character was only named “Brad’s Bud,” but more interestingly Cage was credited as “Nicolas Coppola.” Nicolas Cage is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and in order to avoid accusations of nepotism, he adopted the stage name “Nic Cage” (partially inspired by his favorite Marvel hero, Luke Cage). This was the first and only time Cage acted under his real name.

5. Ben Affleck as a baller

In 1992, Matt Damon wrote the original 40-page script for Good Will Hunting for a class at Harvard and asked friend Ben Affleck to act out some scenes with him. That same year, Affleck had a minor role as Basketball Player #10 in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie, not the show).

6. Sean Connery as a nude model

Sean Connery is now famous for roles like James Bond, Professor Henry Jones, and Jim Malone in The Untouchables (for which Connery won the Academy Award in 1987), but did you know he got his start as a nude model?

In 1951, Sean Connery posed naked for several art classes at the Edinburgh College of Art. One former student said the future knight “treated it just as a job and that he didn’t say very much.” In 2011, several of the art pieces featuring Connery and his “Walther PPK” were re-discovered and put on exhibit in Scotland. 

You can check out some of the more modest portraits online, but honestly we were disappointed that Connery wasn’t wearing his red one-piece from Zardoz.