13 Non-Actors Who Had One Job and Absolutely Nailed It

The jig is up, seasoned veterans. Anyone can act!
13 Non-Actors Who Had One Job and Absolutely Nailed It

Because of the now-gazillion making-of docs and interviews with actors talking about acting, we tend to believe that all great performances can only be delivered by seasoned vets. It’s an intriguing profession, and everyone’s interested in “their process.” But sometimes, while they’re delving into the mastery of their craft, sitting in front of their most recent movie’s poster, some completely unknown “non-actor” is out there taking their life’s work down a peg or two. Not in a malicious way or anything, just by kinda, sorta proving that any ol’ Joe can play make believe on camera.

Filmmakers try to capture as much realism as possible, and sometimes that means straying from the standard set of actors in a casting director’s catalog. They go right to the source, and if the “real person” they’ve snatched off the street can do more than just look the part, they can go from the stands to the big leagues real quick. Here are 13 non-actors who had one job and absolutely nailed it.

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The Senator who went toe to toe with Heath Ledger’s Joker.

CRACKED PATRICK LEAHY STOOD UP TO THE JOKER. THE DARK KNIGHT The man who tells the Joker, We're not intimidated by thugs is Patrick Leahy, the senior Senator from Vermont. As a hardcore Batman fan, he's had cameos in 5 Batman films, and even provided the voice for a character in Batman: The Animated Series.

Youtube / NBC 

This is like getting plucked out of the stands and scoring the game winning goal.

GRACKED QUVENZHANÉ WALLIS IS A NATURAL. R BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD At six years old, and with no prior acting experience, she expressed seriously complex emotions as Hushpuppy, and became the youngest Best Actress nominee in Oscars history.

Youtube / People 

A lesson in never letting disabilities hold you back.

GRACKED HAROLD RUSSELL WON AN OSCAR AS A DISABLED VETERAN. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES The WWII veteran who lost both hands was cast by director William Wyler in his film about veterans coming home from the war. In 1947, he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Mentalfloss / EW 

You sir, are the captain. Take the ship and all the awards, please.

GRACKED BARKHAD ABDI AS ABDUWALI MUSE. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Paul Greengrass looked in the Somali-American community of Minneapolis, and discovered the completely unknown limo driver. Abdi won everyone over with, I'm the captain now, won a BAFTA, and was nominated for an Oscar.

Games Radar / BBC 

Short Round was a tag along before and during Temple of Doom.

CRACKED KE HUY QUAN WAS JUST A TAG-ALONG. TEMPLE OF DOOM Не went with his brother to an open casting call, and was completely unprepared when they asked him to audition. Не met Spielberg the next day, and began shooting Temple of Doom 3 weeks later.

Youtube / BBC 

A non-actor local ended up “delivering” one of the most haunting lines ever.

GRACKED HERBERT 'COWBOY' COWARD WAS A THEME PARK EMPLOYEE. DELIVERANCE Burt Reynolds shot Gunsmoke at the Ghost Town theme park, where Coward worked as a cowboy. Reynolds recommended him for the role, and his line, He got a real purdy mouth, ain't he? haunts us all over 50 years later.

The Southern Voice

Looking back, this one makes a ton of sense.

GRACKED FELICIA SNOOP PEARSON WAS A REAL-LIFE GANGSTER. THE WIRE Before playing Snoop, she was an actual drug dealer who spent years in prison. Michael K. Williams met her at a nightclub, and suggested that she audition. Creators and fans widely consider her one of the most authentic parts of the show.

Youtube / HBO 

A local theater castmate recommended Gabourey Sidibe for Precious.

GRACKED GABOUREY SIDIBE WAS RESIGNED TO RECEPTION. PRECIOUS She was a psychology student and receptionist who performed in local theater years earlier. After her Best Actress Oscar nomination, she said, I wasn't an acting student, I never wanted to act. I thought I'd be a receptionist my whole life.

Post Gazette / NPR 

Darlene Cates got her big break from Sally Jessy Raphael.

CRACKED DARLENE CATES WENT FROM A DAYTIME TALK SHOW TO THE OSCARS. WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE? After seeing her on the Sally Jessy Raphael episode Too Heavy to Leave Their House, Peter Hedges wanted Cates to play Bonnie Grape. Depp called her performance without flaw, and DiCaprio called her the best acting mama I ever had.


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