Six Of The Best: Scene Stealing Debuts

It’s a well-trodden path in the film industry: A talented child goes to stage school; earns a part in a small movie; then works their way up. By the time they’re in their teens their CV is longer than most will achieve in a lifetime – and they’re only just getting started. See Jennifer Lawrence, Dakota Fanning, Ansel Elgort, Liam Hemsworth and Daniel Radcliffe for reference. However some take a little longer to blossom, such as 32 year-old Alexander Black, who steals the show as Tom Hanks’ affable, quick-witted sidekick/taxi driver Yousef, in A Hologram For The King. Black, who is a stand-up comedian by trade, beat thousands to earn his first co-leading man credit – and as the film attests, he has truly found his niche on the big screen.  To mark the release of A Hologram For The King on  DVD from 19th September, we have compiled a list of very well-known names who, like Black, have taken a little longer to find the road to success.

Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)

dd86b_bridesmaids-toilet sceneOne of the hottest comedy actors of the moment, Melissa McCarthy is surprisingly new to the big screen. Having cut her teeth in TV institution Gilmore Girls from 2000 – 2007, McCarthy went on to star in Mike & Molly (2010 – 2016), which earned her a Primetime Emmy for Lead Actress. However it was 2011’s smash hit comedy Bridesmaids that catapulted her into the mainstream. As wise-cracking tomboy Megan, McCarthy was the antithesis to characters like Rose Byrne’s prim and proper Helen; introducing audiences to her unique brand of self-deprecating, dry comedy along the way.

Kristen Wiig (Knocked Up)

knocked-upAnother from the illustrious cast of Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig’s silver screen career started out in Judd Apatow’s 2007 comedy Knocked Up, playing her first significant film role at the age of 34. In the role of Jill, Wiig had enough to work with to show off her impeccable comic timing, which undoubtedly proved a springboard for her career. One of the main players during a hugely successful era on Saturday Night Live (whose alumni includes Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) followed, before major roles in Bridesmaids, Girl Most Likely and The Martian, amongst numerous other credits cemented her position in the elusive club of Hollywood’s bankable film actresses.

Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)

12-years-a-slavePerhaps the most sensational example of a scene stealing debut is Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Academy Award for her debut film role of Patsey in Steve McQueen’s 2012 film 12 Years A Slave. Born in Mexico to Kenyan parents, Nyong’o is the first Mexican and Kenyan actress to ever win an Oscar – an exceptional feat given her relative inexperience. Since her incredible debut, Nyong’o’s career has sky rocketed, with roles in one of the biggest franchises of all time, Star Wars (The Force Awakens in 2015 and Star Wars: VIII in 2017) and 2016’s beautiful re-imagining of The Jungle Book to her name.

Steve Carrell (Bruce Almighty)

bruce-almightyAnother late starter, like Alexander Black, Steve Carrell was a comedian before turning his hand to TV and then film work. A long-term regular on Saturday Night Live – where Carrell met his comedy partner in crime and 30 Rock co-star, Tina Fey – Carrell’s breakthrough role came in 2003’s Bruce Almighty, playing the role of Evan Baxter alongside Jim Carrey. This was a role Carrell later reprised – and perhaps might rather forget owing to the film’s scant box office performance – in 2007’s Evan Almighty. 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy saw Carrell play weatherman Brick Tamland. With his big screen career gathering momentum Carrell went on to play further comedy roles in hits such as The 40 Year Old Virgin and Date Night, as well as showing his versatility in dramas such as Little Miss Sunshine and The Way Way Back, before he earned an Oscar nomination through his stunning, shape-shifting performance as John Du Pont in Foxcatcher.

Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

hurt-lockerWhilst far from being his first film role, Jeremy Renner’s performance in Kathryn Bigelow’s multiple award-winning, powerful 2008 drama The Hurt Locker signified a turning point in his career; making Hollywood sit up and take notice. His performance as Staff Sergeant William James earned him a leading actor Academy Award nomination, and was swiftly followed by a further Oscar nomination – this time for his supporting role in Ben Affleck’s 2010 film, The Town. Renner’s star rose so quickly that in 2010 The Hollywood Reporter named him as one of a crop of young male actors who were “pushing – or being pushed” into taking over Hollywood and becoming ‘the new A-list’. It seems they weren’t far wrong.

Alan Rickman (Die Hard)

die hardThe late Alan Rickman was a stalwart of both British and US cinema. However it took him longer than some to make the leap from small to big screen – and leap he did, with a storming performance as Hans Gruber in 1988’s Die Hard at the tender age of 42. Rickman’s screen credits from that moment forth are too numerous to mention, but he will of course be remembered for his performance as the mysterious Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series; amongst his incredibly diverse filmography which included Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Sense and Sensibility and Love, Actually.

John McArthur
Latest posts by (see all)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.