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9 Actors You Didn’t Know Started in Theater

theater actors
YouTube

They can’t all get their start in Levi’s commercials – a lot of actors started their careers in theater, leaving behind no hilarious commercials for us to laugh at. What a bunch of jerks. Here they are, nine people who would rather “do ‘The Crucible’ than sell corn flakes. Pfffffft. Well, at least we can enjoy footage of their early stage roles thanks to YouTube.

1. Robert Pattinson

The ‘Twilight’ hunk and on-again-off-again Mr. Kristen Stewart started off acting in amateur theatre with the Barnes Theatre Company. His first role was as an unnamed “Cuban Dancer” in ‘Guys and Dolls,’ and he went on to play Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes.’ His big break was when he was scouted by an agent for his role as seducer Alec D’Urberville in ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles.’

2. Andrew Garfield

andrew garfield
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

He’s now the hottest young actor around, starring opposite Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan in ‘Never Let Me Go’ and taking up the part of the newest ‘Spiderman.’

But back in 2004, Garfield started his acting career as Billy in ‘Kes’ at the Manchester Royal Exchange. Always the heart-throb, the following year he played the ultimate crush — Romeo, in a production of ‘Romeo and Juliet.’

3. Lea Michele

Given that she has a voice made for show tunes, it may not actually be that surprising to learn that the ‘Glee’ star began her career back in 1995, aged 9, as a replacement for the role of Young Cosette in the Broadway musical ‘Les Miserables.’ She also appeared in the original Broadway cast of ‘Ragtime’ and more recently she starred as Wendla in ‘Spring Awakening.’

4. Kristen Bell

Kristen’s debut into acting was as the (hugely integral) dual role of a banana and a tree in a suburban Detroit production of ‘Raggedy Ann and Andy.’ She also appeared in the short- lived Broadway musical ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ and had a grand total of four lines as Susanna Walcott  in Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible.’

5. Sarah Jessica Parker

Before ‘Sex and the City,’ or even ‘Square Pegs,’ Sarah Jessica Parker worked her way up through the ranks to have the lead role in the Broadway revival of ‘Annie.’

6. Hugh Jackman

You probably know Wolverine’s fondness for song and dance now thanks to his Tony hosting duties and award-winning turn in ‘The Boy From Oz.’ But before ‘X-Men,’ Jackman starred  in the West End musical ‘Oklahoma,’ where he belted out the number “People Will Say We’re in Love.” We’ll get to hear Wolverine sing again in the film adaptation of ‘Les Miserables.’

7. Michelle Williams

michelle williams
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

Most of Michelle Williams’ life has been devoted to film but we discovered that before she had even been in front of a camera she was treading the boards of her local Christian Youth Theatre performing in musicals such as ‘Annie’ and ‘The Sound of Music.’

A critically acclaimed screen actress who found fame in films such as ‘Blue Valentine’ and ‘My Week with Marilyn,’ it’s only a matter of time before she returns to theater and scores a Tony Award.

8. Natalie Portman

Before she hit the big screen in ‘The Professional,’ Natalie Portman was going to theater camp (this is her performance from one such camp above) and was an understudy for the lead role (along with Britney Spears) in the Off-Broadway musical ‘Ruthless.’ Laura Bell Bundy, who went on to star in the ‘Legally Blonde’ musical, is the actress who can claim having that two-some as her understudies.

9. Gwyneth Paltrow

gwyneth paltrow
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Gwyneth’s mother Blythe Danner had no idea of the chain reaction she would spark when she introduced her daughter to the stage in 1990 at the acclaimed Williamstown Theater Festival. A year later, Paltrow was starring in films like ‘Shout’ and ‘Hook.’

Despite starring in theatrical films like  ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and the film adaptation of the play ‘Proof,’ Paltrow has yet to return the stage. And despite turns in the ‘Iron Man’ movies and ‘Avengers,’ she’s so successful that she doesn’t even have to act anymore if she doesn’t want to — she can just mail around a douchey newsletter about drinking kale juice and making time for yourself. Well done.

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