The Movie Waffler Eight Breakout Performances That Turned Actors Into Stars | The Movie Waffler

Eight Breakout Performances That Turned Actors Into Stars

manchester by the sea
To celebrate Lucas Hedges’ breathtaking role in Manchester by the Sea, available on Blu-Ray and DVD from 15th May, we take a look at some of Hollywood’s most respected actors and the roles that made them stars.

Every actor in Hollywood has a time where they’re in search of their ‘big break’. Some take longer than others, but it only takes one key role to thrust actors into stardom and make them a household name. For Chris Pratt, it took seven years on Parks and Recreation and a slate of small film roles to finally hit it big with his superhero character Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy. Lucas Hedges, on the other hand, only had 10 minor credits before he was invited to the Academy Awards after earning his nomination for Manchester by the Sea. But it's these breakthrough roles that turn an actor from just another among the crowd, to someone people strive to emulate.

Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea (2016)
manchester by the sea
When a movie is full of seasoned actors such as Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler, it can be a daunting task to share the screen with them and measure up. But 19 year-old Lucas Hedges did just that, in this critically adored drama. Hedges plays Patrick, who is put in the care of his uncle Lee after his father passes away unexpectedly.  Despite the depth and sadness of the plot, Hedges’ take on Patrick brings some much needed humour to the film. The constant banter between Patrick and Affleck’s Lee makes the film witty and inspiring, and Hedges’ ability to shift from an average teenager to a grieving boy makes him one of the most prominent young actors in Hollywood right now. 

Brie Larson – Room (2015)
Room is a brilliantly crafted film that tackles some of the most sensitive issues of our times, and one that needed a very grounded performance at its heart. Enter Brie Larson, who played the role of Ma, a woman who was kidnapped as a teenager and held captive for seven years in a confined room with her young boy, Jack, with seemingly no way out. With the growing anxiety that she and Jack will have to spend the rest of their lives in the tiny space, she hatches a plan to escape. Freedom comes at a cost, however, as acclimating to regular life proves more difficult than imagined. Larson’s breakout performance launched her into the elite A-List club, after scoring an Academy Award and global recognition for the role. Now poised to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Captain Marvel, Larson is finally getting the recognition she deserves after making the trip to Hollywood in 1998.

Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games (2012)
the hunger games
We’re not sure how many 26 year olds can say they have won an Oscar and been nominated for three more, but Jennifer Lawrence certainly can. She has The Hunger Games franchise, which grossed over two billion worldwide and made her the most sought after actress in Hollywood, to thank for that spring board. She played the girl on fire, Katniss Everdeen, for four films, bringing to life one of fiction's most beloved modern heroines. In a dystopian future, Katniss finds herself in a life-threatening situation with little hope of her coming out alive. With a love triangle thrown into the mix, the series follows her journey through the games and beyond, making her someone every girl can look up to. While Lawrence now has her pick of available roles, this smash-hit young adult franchise propelled her to become a household name worldwide.

Andrew Garfield – The Social Network (2010)
the social network
We don’t know about you, but we were definitely rooting and feeling for Andrew Garfield’s Eduardo Saverin at the end of this social media-themed classic. The Social Network follows the creation of the biggest social media site in existence – Facebook - and while Mark Zuckerberg may be the most known creator of the site, this film highlights those who also helped create the multi-billion dollar business. Garfield plays the best friend of Zuckerberg, a man who helped build Facebook and was eventually double-crossed in a move that would lead to a million dollar lawsuit. It’s hard not to feel bad for the guy whose best friend stabs him in the back and costs him millions of dollars. Plus, Garfield’s portrayal of the young entrepreneur helped create empathy for a character that had been hung out to dry by his partners.  The film would skyrocket Garfield’s career, landing him the huge role of Spider-Man for two franchise films, this year’s epic scale drama Silence, directed by the renowned Martin Scorsese, and Hacksaw Ridge, which would earn him an Academy Award nomination.

Matt Damon/Ben Affleck – Good Will Hunting (1997)
good will hunting
“Do you like apples?” One of the most iconic lines in film history comes courtesy of this film, which was written by and starred Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. It would start their careers as two of Hollywood’s leading men, with nonstop roles since. Will Hunting, played by Damon, is a struggling janitor at M.I.T. who has a gift for mathematics. When he solves a near-impossible problem, a professor takes notice, but he has a lot of emotional baggage to come to terms with before he can flourish. Few can forget the Oscar acceptance speech by Damon and Affleck as the young men were caught completely off guard by their dramatic win. Affleck would later take home another Academy Award for his film Argo and now stars as Batman in the DC Comics Franchise, while Damon has since been nominated for his roles in Invictus and The Martian. Not only have their careers lasted the test of time but so has their friendship, one of the strongest in Hollywood, all thanks to the bond they formed working on this heart wrenching film. “How’d you like them apples?!”

Leonardo DiCaprio – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
what's eating gilbert grape
There was a reason everyone was rooting for Leo to win the Oscar in 2016, having been nominated over two decades earlier for his work in this film. DiCaprio plays Arnie Grape, an autistic teenager who has outlived doctors' expectations. His brother, Gilbert, played by Johnny Depp, may be the lead of this film but it is DiCaprio’s brilliant performance that gave the film such depth and soul. His delicate take on Arnie’s condition helped create an endearing bond with the audience. Most likely bringing tears to your eyes throughout, the heart-warming tale of the Grape family has managed to stand the test of time. DiCaprio has continued to bring a unique and powerful performance with each role he has had since, many of which also helped catapult him into becoming one of Hollywood’s most beloved big-screen performers.

Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
guardians of the galaxy
There can’t have been many people who weren’t surprised when it was announced that the incredibly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise was centering its next multi-million dollar super-hero movie around sitcom actor Chris Pratt. Becoming known to fans of Amy Poehler’s political comedy Parks and Recreation as Andy, a loveable slacker with a beer-gut who resembles a five year-old boy trapped inside a grown man’s body. To go from that to Starlord, an intergalactic scoundrel with abs of steel who’s charged with saving the universe along with a rag-tag bunch of outlaws in Guardians of the Galaxy was some leap, and propelled him into super-stardom. He did continue his work on the sitcom after GOTG was released but was notably much more ripped, with little explanation made. He’s now a household name with his pick of Hollywood’s biggest film roles, including the Jurassic World franchise and Passengers alongside another star on this list, Jennifer Lawrence.

Al Pacino – The Godfather (1972)
the godfather
Arguably the most celebrated movie in cinematic history, this film set Al Pacino on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats. The film follows Michael, the son of New York Mafia king Vito Corleone, as he is reluctantly given a place in his family’s business. With tragedy and drama plaguing the Corleones, Michael is faced with the hardship of protecting his family and the business. It’s known that Martin Sheen was the studio’s preferred choice to take the role, as he was already a big name, but director Francis Ford Coppola demanded Pacino get the part, and the rest is history. After his stellar breakout performance in this role, Pacino would go on to reprise Michael in the following two films in the series. Since then he’s continued to impress in countless other films, having earned seven Oscar nominations and one win.

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is available on digital download from May 8th and on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand from May 15th.