Celebrities do not rise overnight. Well at least not real ones. The girls from the Hills and the now infamous Joe the Plumber may have gotten famous extremely quickly for apparently no reason, but most actual celebrities have to work tirelessly over years to get where they are now. That is why some of today's best actors have filmographies filled with some less than stellar film choices. The best, of course, are the ones who acted in projects that have no resemblance to anything they do today. Here are 8 of the best.
8- Laurence Fishburne- "Pee Wee's Playhouse"
These days Laurence is known primarily for offering horrible actors a blue or red pill, but back before he was the too cool for school Morpheus he appeared on Pee Wee's Playhouse as the, well, somewhat less cool Cowboy Curtis. With long black curls flowing from his oversized cowboy hat and an "only in the 80's" pastel splattered cowboy outfit, as Cowboy Curtis Laurence Fishburne managed to make the cowboy from the Village People look like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood rolled up into one. And the crowd he hung out with sure was different. I don't remember Chairy or Jambi the Genie ever dodging bullets in slow motion.
7- Johnny Depp- "Nightmare on Elm Street"
Johnny Depp has evolved from a teen heartthrob to an enigmatic actor and then finally to his current position of bona-fide movie star. But before all that he was just a struggling actor like everyone else trying to break into Hollywood. That's why he signed on to play one of the helpless victims of Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street, a role that takes only a little more talent than being an actor in a herpes treatment commercial. At least we can all probably look forward to Johnny Depp returning to the franchise in 2021 when Tim Burton reboots the series and of course cats Johnny as a quirky Freddy Krueger.
6- Leslie Nielsen- Everything Before "Airplane!"
Leslie Nielsen really broke into the comedy scene in 1980 with Airplane! And with it formed the type of role he would play for the rest of his life in parody movies. But he was actually a very active actor from 1950 on. So what the hell was Leslie doing for 30 years? Turns out he was actually a legitimate actor for the first three decades of his career, appearing in westerns, dramas, and even sci-fi films (a genre he should have mercifully parted ways with before 2001: A Space Travesty, which was in fact an actual travesty). Thank goodness Leslie came to his senses and kicked this serious acting nonsense to the ditch and embraced a late career as a professional idiot. The movies he's in now, like the Scary Movie franchise, may be a perversion of the kind of parody movies that used to actually be good, but at least he's sticking with what he does best.
5- Jennifer Aniston- "Leprechaun"
Before she got paid millions upon millions of dollars to dance around in a fountain on Friends, Jennifer Aniston was a young, good looking actress with limited acting ability. You know what that means: horror movie time! Yes, Jennifer became a part of the long Hollywood tradition of casting hot young women as the victim of whatever monster or killer is terrorizing this particular film. Unfortunately for Jennifer she chose Leprechaun, a punch line even as far as bad horror movies go. At least other actresses tend to have big scary guys with chainsaws or knives for hands to run from. Instead poor Jennifer had to run from a diminutive folk creature obsessed with getting his pot of gold back and easily distracted by any pair of shoes lobbed his way, which he instinctively had to shine. Yes, that's actually in the movie.
4- Mos Def- "The Cosby Mysteries"
Successful rapper and actor Mos Def may not seem like the kind of guy you'd expect to pal around with Bill Cosby, who has made it very clear how much he hates the raps, but believe it or not he did indeed get his start on Bill Cosby's show. What's that, you don't remember him? Maybe that's because he worked on the Cosby show that nobody remembers. It was called The Cosby Mysteries, and it only lasted a season. To show exactly how little sense this show made, Bill Cosby, the star of The Cosby Mysteries, played a guy named Guy Hanks. That's right, he wasn't even named Cosby! As though we were going to suspend our disbelief and accept him as anything but a sweater wearing, Jell-O pudding loving comedian who just so happens to solve mysteries this time around.
3- Bill Maher- "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death"
These days Bill Maher is one of the best known political comedians, and particularly known for not being afraid to take on big issues with a funny yet educated tone. On his show Real Time and in his new movie Religious, there is seldom an issue that comes up which Bill doesn't have an opinion on and that he won't share quite openly, even if it pisses a lot of people off. But back in the 80's he was just a regular old comic actor looking for work, which landed him in this movie with such a long title I'm not even going to type it out again. He plays a misogynistic, horny, hard-partying adventurer who leads an expectation into the dreaded avocado jungle. Take out the adventurer and you'd have a lot of people's opinion of Bill today.
2- Billy Bob Thornton- "Chopper Chicks in Zombietown"
In case you thought Armageddon was the most embarrassing blemish on Billy Bob's career, worry not, because Chopper Chicks in Zombietown takes the cake for that by the title alone. Brought to you by Troma entertainment, the cult production company that has produced such classics as The Toxic Avenger and Tales from the Crapper, Chopper Chicks in Zombietown is, as you might have guessed, a movie that features hot chicks, motorcycles and zombies. Wait a second, what was I thinking? This movie is way better than Armageddon. It could actually be the best thing Billy Bob has ever done. More motorcycles and zombies Billy Bob!
1- Benicio Del Toro- "Big Top Pee Wee"
Benicio is known as one of those actors who is oddly attractive to women. By normal standards he would be considered ugly, but somehow his exotic name and movie star status cancel that out and makes the ladies crazy about him. This was not the case early in his career when he showed up in Big Top Pee Wee as the Dog Faced Boy, complete with slathered on prosthetic make-up. It wouldn't be fair to call Benicio Del Toro dog faced, but it was a rather inspired casting choice. And no wonder he gets so many high profile acting gigs these days--including a return to the canine persuasion in upcoming remake of The Wolf Man. Big Top Pee Wee on your resume is a ticket into any movie you wanna be in. Well unless you're Paul Reubens, but that whole masturbating in a movie theater thing really messes up the equation.
Want some more example of crazy Hollywood choices? Check out these OMGLists: