Most actors have rough gigs early in their careers. Sometimes the only way to get your foot in the door of blockbuster heroism is doing a commercial for herpes medication. You might not find these roles on their resumes, but unfortunately, YouTube is a thing, so these actors will never completely escape their pasts. Like how ...
Ryan Reynolds Was An Indian In Ordinary Magic
Ryan Reynolds has become an A-lister thanks to his massive success playing Deadpool in ... well, just about all of his movies. But not in 1993's Ordinary Magic, in which he plays a boy raised in India by an activist father, and he's basically a white teenage Gandhi. Here he is standing up in class to gurusplain to his teacher in a painful attempt at an Indian accent.
When his dad dies, he's forced to move in with his aunt in Canada, where he's oh so hilariously at odds with his white peers. In one scene, he gets served turkey but refuses because he's a vegan, like the great Indian gurus. The trailer alone is a veritable showcase of the Maharishi's inner strength and spiritual superiority. It's a well-known fact that enlightenment lets you hold your breath for longer.
And of course, they don't mess with such earthly activities as dancing with girls.
Jeff Goldblum Was A Gross Rapist In Death Wish
Nearly 20 years before Jeff Goldblum captured our hearts and pants in Jurassic Park, he had the distinct honor of being "Freak #1" in Death Wish. Behold the great Ian Malcolm thugging around in a grocery store and sexually harassing a cashier.
The '70s had some weird opinions on what constituted menacing gang behavior.
Having completed their errands, he and his gang soon get distracted by Charles Bronson's wife and daughter, and follow them home, where they rob, beat, and rape the women. Warning: This clip includes some extremely un-Goldblummy language.
Don Cheadle Got Beat Up By A Child In A Karate Kid Knockoff
Don Cheadle is one of the most versatile actors of our generation. He can transition seamlessly from '70s porn star to Rwanda's Oskar Schindler, and that's the kind of range that gets you into the Avengers. But before Cheadle became the War Machine we all know and love, he got his ass kicked by a nine-year-old.
It was a short-lived TV series called Sidekicks, a crime drama about a young boy named Ernie Lee, who uses the ancient martial arts secrets of his family to protect himself and others on the mean streets of '80s LA. In one episode, Cheadle plays a gang leader who attempts to rob the Platonic ideal of a grandpa when Lee intervenes. Complete with a cutoff leather vest, fingerless gloves, and a hanging cross earring, Cheadle soon finds out that he and the rest of the Village People are messing with the wrong third-grader.
"Better put him in the costume from Enter The Dragon just to be sure."
Ernie lays into the gang with roundhouse kicks and wacky antics, but Cheadle is taken out early in the fight by a single kick and is left cowering on the pavement, silently willing Paul Thomas Anderson to call him already.
Joaquin Phoenix Was A Bloodthirsty Superboy
In "Little Hercules," an episode of the late '80s Superman spinoff Superboy, Joaquin Phoenix tries to impress a girl by breaking the activation codes to a Navy submarine, but instead he accidentally activates them. Who among us hasn't been there, right? Phoenix and a young Clark Kent are then tasked with stopping the submarine before it can cause mass destruction. Before saving the world, however, Phoenix drifts off into a daydream about having Superboy's powers, in which he casually murders a couple of cartoonish street toughs after they throw him 20 feet into a dumpster for no reason.
After he emerges in Superboy's costume, his first line of business is to laser-eye one of the bullies right in the junk, melting him.
The second bully gets blown into a vending machine, and after seeing one friend die a horrible death and another take a pane of glass to the butthole, the third bully runs away. Phoenix then surveys the scene with satisfaction and lets out an evil laugh, because he knows that someday this ridiculousness is going to get him a Mara.
Brad Pitt Was Two Completely Different Characters On Growing Pains
Before he made it big, Brad Pitt did some stints on the '80s sitcom Growing Pains. There's no shame in that in and of itself. Hell, a recurring role on the Thicke/Cameron masterpiece was also Leonardo DiCaprio's big break. But Pitt's first bit part on the show must have required some serious teeth-gritting. His character, a love interest of the nerdy Seaver daughter, is primarily notable for speaking about four octaves higher than Pitt and hopping around like a caffeinated chicken.
They must have been really hurting for talent, because the performance impressed Growing Pains casting directors so much they brought him back the next season in a different role. This time, he played a fictional rock star with two first names who seems to have a distinctly un-rock-star-like amount of time to chat with an autograph-seeking Dr. Seaver.
In the grand tradition of '80s and '90s sitcoms, they assumed audiences wouldn't notice the casting shuffle, and they were probably right.
Scarlett Johansson Starred In My Brother The Pig
Before Scarlett Johansson became an icon, she was in a low-rent fantasy comedy called My Brother The Pig. In the movie, which also features Judge Reinhold and Eva Mendes, Johansson plays the sister of a boy named George, who gets magically transformed into a farm animal after he accidentally drips snack food onto some ancient crystals that have been passed down for generations. You know, that classic trope.
After a brief panic, George, Scarlett, Eva, and some non-famous kid head south of the border to try to turn George back into a boy who only acts like a pig. (Incidentally, Pig George is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, who also did the voice of every cartoon character you've ever heard.) One of Mendes' mystical elders returns George to his original disgusting form through some vague ethnic witchcraft, and the movie ends predictably: The siblings become closer, the parents are none the wiser, and everyone sails off into the sunset to marry various Ryans.
For more, check out Great Performances From People Who Weren't Actors:
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