What are the two things Adam Sandler, Denzel Washington, and Julianne Moore have in common? They are all accomplished actors and went to acting school. Just like any job, having some form of formal education can go a long way in guaranteeing success in the acting career. However, there are a few lucky/gifted individuals who didn’t have any acting training or even expectations but still somehow aced their first roles. Here are ten actors who landed leading roles without any previous acting experience.

1. Danny Trejo

Danny Trejo has played many monumental characters on TV. He was Machete on Spy Kids, Razor Charlie from Dusk Till Dawn, Tortuga in Breaking Bad, and Breacher in The Flash. However, he never attended acting school. As a matter of fact, Danny Trejo actually had a unique experience. Straight out of prison, Danny was asked to offer drug counseling on the set of The Runaway Train by American scriptwriter Edward Bunker. Next, he was assigned the role of training boxing on set. Before he knew it, Danny Trejo had landed the role of Navajas in Desperado.

2. Jason Statham

Jason Statham is a badass actor; he has a genuine shout of being the best action star! He is famous for his exceptional driving and fighting skills. Though choreographed, he knows how to bring his skills to life on the big screens.

While that is common knowledge, most people don’t know that Jason Statham was initially a knock-off jewelry seller, and his only skill was amateur diving. While going about his daily activities, a talent manager spotted Jason Statham, who introduced him to Guy Ritchie, a renowned director.

In his first movie, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, the iconic actor starred as a jewelry street vendor. Since then, Jason Statham has been featured in blockbuster films such as the Fast & Furious franchise, Spy, Homefront, Safe, The Meg, and The Mechanic.

3. Cameron Diaz

Because of her astonishing beauty, Cameron Diaz was quickly snatched up by Calvin Klein. She was featured in numerous campaigns and didn’t even give acting a chance. However, during the casting of The Mask, Cameron Diaz auditioned for a small role and luckily got to play Tina Carlyle, one of the main characters in the show.

She was only 21 years old and had no experience in acting or filming. The Mask became a huge hit, propelling Cameron Diaz’s career to greater heights. She eventually became one of the best actors of the 21st century.

4. Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp’s brilliant performance in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as Captain Jack Sparrow would make one think he was an astute acting student and attended the best colleges. However, that was never the case. Johnny Depp actually never envisioned himself as an actor.

During the audition for Nightmare on Elm Street, the actor accompanied his friend who was casting. Interestingly, Johnny Depp got the role, but his friend was denied it. He played Glen in this film, and everything else in his acting career fell into place.

5. Rupert Grint

Rupert Grint, famously known as Ronald Weasley, featured in the Harry Potter franchise with zero experience. This is quite surprising considering how perfectly Rupert played the witty character of John Weasley.

Unlike Emma Watson, who had just completed acting school, or Harry Potter, who was recommended to the directors by an agent, Rupert only participated in a few school plays. Confidently, he sent a tape of himself to the directors and was picked for this major role.

6. Barkhad Abdi

For those who have watched Captain Phillips, released in 2003, it is impossible to forget the lead pirate, Abduwali Muse. Played by Barkhad Abdi, this was the first time he had ever filmed a major movie. Initially, Abdi had produced several amateur music videos but was never featured in any of them.

Recalling his time on set, Barkhad Abdi was super nervous and had to be calmed down by Paul Greengrass, a legendary director and film producer. Despite the nervousness, Abdi delivered an impeccable performance and won the Best Supporting Actor in the Golden Globes and Academy Awards.

7. Hunter Schafer

Popularly known as Jules in Euphoria, Hunter Schafer was just a model in New York when she got called for the role. Her plans were to join a fashion school and focus on that career. However, when she stumbled upon a casting call on Instagram, she tried her luck and landed the role in Euphoria.

As it turns out, Hunter Schafer really loved the Euphoria script, and she established a solid relationship with Zendaya. As Euphoria garnered popularity, so did Hunter. This was a huge stepping stone to the career she has today.

8. Harry Styles

A lot of controversy surrounded Harry Styles entry into the film industry. However, the truth is that he had little acting experience; he had only made a small appearance in an episode of iCarly. In his role as Alex in Dunkirk, Harry Styles had beaten more than a thousand young men during the auditions.

Later on, director Christopher Nolan explained that Harry Styles got the role because he had an “old-fashioned face.” The director also commented on the actor’s humility despite being a famous pop star. This role kicked off Harry Styles career and has featured in movies like Don’t Worry Darling and Eternals.

9. Jameela Jamil

You may remember Jameela Jamil as the host of BBC Radio 1 and Channel 4’s T4. The UK radio presenter had no acting experience when she moved to LA. Actually, she wanted to be a screenwriter. However, her agent helped her land the role of Tahani in the TV show The Good Place. The film and Jameela Jamil became very popular, and ever since, she has been featured in other successful films like Marry Me and Love at First Sight.

10. Pamela Anderson

The famous Playboy model, Pamela Anderson, was a fitness instructor based in Vancouver. During a football game in 1989, she appeared on the Jumbotron rocking a Labatt’s beer t-shirt, which marked her rise to stardom.

Pamela Anderson was hired by the beer company and, in the same year, made her first appearance on the Playboy magazine cover. She immediately started getting acting gigs without any prior experience and was featured in the role of Lisa on Home Improvement. From there, her career took off to what it is today.

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Last Update: July 10, 2024