Streampix Watch: Before They Were Stars

A pre-"Transformers" Megan Fox starred in "Crimes of Fashion" (Wire Image)

One of the fun things about exploring Streampix is catching movies with future stars, those who will go on to bigger and more prominent roles, whether it’s Johnny Depp losing his head in “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” Christian Bale as the murderous stock broker in “American Psycho” or Scarlett Johansson in a small, but unforgettable role in the Coen brothers’ 2001 feature “The Man Who Wasn’t There.” What follows is a list of 10 films where Hollywood icons made some of their earliest appearances.

Johnny Depp was just a lad of 21 when he was sucked into his bed and spewed skyward by Freddy  in a shower of blood in the first installment of Wes Craven’s 1984 horror classic, “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Within three years, he was cast in the TV series “21 Jump Street” and starring in John Waters’ 1990 movie, “Cry-Baby” (also on Streampix) before beginning a career-long collaboration with Tim Burton in his 1990 masterpiece, “Edward Scissorhands.”

Five years before London-born beauty Rachel Weisz earned an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the Streampix selection “The Constant Gardener,” she starred opposite Susan Lynch in the 2000 feature “Beautiful Creatures. The two play a pair of Scottish lasses who turn to a life of crime when they cover up the accidental killing of an abusive boyfriend and hatch a scheme to collect the ransom, only to be foiled by a corrupt detective and an old beau, who want in on the action.

Long before Christian Bale donned a toupee, aviator glasses and gained 40 pounds to play the con artist with the heart of gold Irving Rosenfeld in “American Hustle,” he was a far deadlier stock broker in Mary Harron’s adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis’ black comic novel, “American Psycho.” That represented a real grown-up role for the actor, who was first cast as the abandoned kid in Steven Spielberg’s 1987 epic, “Empire of the Sun.”

Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert, who went on to fame in TV’s hit series “24” as Kim, the much-beleaguered daughter of Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer, was 11 years old when she starred in the 1998 thriller “Airspeed,” as the young girl forced to land a jet after a severe storm knocks the crew unconscious, in a preview of the thrills that would soon await her.

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Demi Lovato had yet to make her mark as a Disney pop diva, but she was well on her way in the 2008 cable movie “Camp Rock,” where she played a shy kitchen worker with a great voice discovered by a pop teen idol in a part that found real life imitating art.

Chris Rock had just left the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 1993 after a rather uneventful three-year run and received some nice notices for his role as a crack addict in “New Jack City” when he starred in Tamra Davis’ “CB4” as the leader of a rap group that implodes when it’s discovered they’re just three middle-class kids posing as gangstas in this hip-hop spoof that predates Rock’s rise as a world-class stand-up comic. Look also for Khandi Alexander, who went on to star in “ER,” “CSI: Miami” and “Treme,” in a supporting role.

Megan Fox had yet to be “transformed” into a star when she first appeared in the 2004 made-for-TV movie, “Crimes of Fashion,” about a young fashion school student (Kale Cuoco) who inherits the family crime syndicate after her grandfather, a mob boss, dies, and tries to legitimize it.

Ben Affleck was just about to co-star with buddy Matt Damon in the breakthrough movie “Good Will Hunting,” which they also co-wrote (and won an Oscar) when he appeared in music video director Mark Pellington’s 1997 ensemble flick, “Going All the Way,” about two young Army veterans—one nerdy (Jeremy Davies) and one popular (Affleck)—who return from the Korean War to their home town only to discover their attitudes toward life and love have irrevocably changed. Based on Dan Wakefield’s 1970 novel about the ‘50s, it also starred Lesley Ann Warren, Rachel Weisz, Rose McGowan and Jill Clayburgh.

Political pundit and provocateur Bill Maher was just another comic when he appeared opposite the great Mr. T and Gary Busey in a small role in Joel Schumacher’s 1983 comedy “D.C. Cab” as Baba, the cabbie who composes synth music on the side to avoid “the big fear,” i.e. death. Others who made an appearance include Adam Baldwin, Paul Rodriguez and Marsha Warfield.

Scarlett Johansson plays Birdy Abundas, a piano prodigy and teenage daughter of a friend of Billy Bob Thornton in the Coen brothers 2001 black and white neo-noir, “The Man Who Wasn’t There.” Enthralled by her playing, Thornton drives her back from an unsuccessful attempt to impress a prospective piano teacher, and, in one of the movie’s mos memorable scenes, when she attempts to perform oral sex on him, the car swerves across the road and crashes. Better she should have remained a disembodied voice, like she does in Spike Jonze’s “Her.”

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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