Hollywood is a youth-obsessed industry. Everyone knows that most stars don't stay on top for long until the next generation swoops in to take their place. And although it may seem like these hot new young stars come out of nowhere (and sometimes they do), more often than not they toil for years in small roles until they're finally noticed. That's why so many of today's biggest movie stars got their starts in early '00s movies.
A few of these actors burst onto the scene as stars, making their debut as the lead in a blockbuster picture. But most of them popped up in films that you either have never heard of, you don't remember seeing them in, or in films where they appear so briefly that they didn't even receive an acting credit. And I'm talking big stars. I mean, it's hard to imagine now a world where Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper aren't massive celebrities, but you really don't have to go back that many years to find a time where that was the case. So take a look at this collection of early 2000s movies where 27 of today's biggest Hollywood movie stars made their feature film debuts.
1. Jennifer Lawrence - Garden Party (2008)
Four years before catapulting to fame as Katniss, J.Law had a supporting role in this indie drama.
2. Bradley Cooper - Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
Cooper's debut film role had him in a full-on sex scene with Michael Ian Black in this cult comedy; a role he reprised for Netflix's Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp last year.
3. Margot Robbie - Vigilante (2008)
The future Wolf of Wall Street star was just 18 when she featured in this indie film from her native Australia.
4. Channing Tatum - Coach Carter (2005)
His big break was in Step Up the following year, but this Samuel L. Jackson vehicle certainly wasn't a bad debut for Tatum either.
5. Anne Hathaway - The Princess Diaries (2001)
Talk about hitting the ground running, Hathaway was already a star in her first outing.
6. Tom Hiddleston - Unrelated (2007)
Well before Loki made him a household name, Hiddles was winning hearts alongside his sister Emma in this British drama.
7. Emma Stone - Superbad (2007)
Another example of a star being born in her first role, Stone seemed like a seasoned veteran in her debut.
8. Benedict Cumberbatch - To Kill a King (2003)
Cumberbatch was basically an extra in this British film, and his role was so minor that I literally couldn't find a single clip of him in the film; where he pops up in the background on occasion.
9. Elizabeth Banks - Shaft (2000)
Banks languished in the background but is still clearly visible in the scene above, which includes a bonus young Christian Bale (who got his start in the '80s).
10. Chris Pratt - Strangers With Candy (2005)
Pratt got his start from director Rae Dawn Chong, who discovered him as a waiter in Hawaii and put him in her short film, Cursed Part 3. But his feature debut wasn't until five years later, when he popped up in the prequel movie to the Comedy Central series of the same name.
11. Emily Blunt - My Summer Of Love (2004)
She already had some impressive TV and stage work under her belt, but the then 21-year-old caught her big break by starring in this British drama.
12. Chris Evans - The Newcomers (2000)
Long before he was a superhero, and even before Not Another Teen Movie, Evans appeared in this indie film alongside Kate Bosworth and the guy who played Lloyd Braun on Seinfeld.
13. Anna Kendrick - Camp (2003)
If you thought Pitch Perfect marked the first musical Kendrick starred in, think again.
14. Zac Efron - The Derby Stallion (2005)
Before High School Musical, a floppy-haired Efron had "the heart of a boy and the soul of a champion" in this sappy drama.
15. Kristen Stewart - The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas (2000)
Stewart's face is unseen in her film debut, but she gets to toss a ring on top of a crouching caveman. I'd call that a solid first appearance.
16. Seth Rogen - Donnie Darko (2001)
You probably watched this movie endlessly in college, but do you even remember Rogen being in it?
17. Emma Watson - Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
You may be familiar with this one.
18. Daniel Radcliffe - The Tailor Of Panama (2001)
Unlike Watson, Radcliffe had already done one film before Harry Potter; this Pierce Brosnan-starring, non-James Bond spy thriller.
19. Rachel McAdams - My Name Is Tanino (2002)
McAdams was topless for much of her debut in this Italian film, but thankfully she was able to keep her clothes on in her future breakout hits Mean Girls (2004) and Wedding Crashers (2005).
20. Dwayne Johnson - The Mummy Returns (2001)
Known only as his WWE persona "The Rock" in his first few films, everyone knows Johnson's name now as he has risen to become the biggest action star of the day.
21. Zoe Saldana - Center Stage (2000)
Before she was the queen of sci-fi, Saldana was trying to make it as a ballerina in this film.
22. Michael Fassbender - 300 (2006)
A memorable (and ripped) debut, Fassbender gets one of the best lines in the movie.
23. Jessica Chastain - Jolene (2008)
Talk about range. Chastain was 30-years-old playing a 15-year-old in this indie film, where she was the star.
24. Chris Hemsworth - Star Trek (2009)
It seems like Hemsworth has been around a lot longer than this, but portraying Captain Kirk's dad was his first role.
25. Chloë Grace Moretz - The Amityville Horror (2005)
Moretz is still young, but she was practically a baby a decade ago.
26. Tom Hardy - Black Hawk Down (2001)
Proof that Hardy was still working on weird accents even in his first role.
27. Shailene Woodley - Moola (2007)
The future YA star made her debut alongside Alec Baldwin's brother, Tom Cruise's cousin, and the guy who married Courtney Stodden. Talk about star power!
Some stars start out big and some go unnoticed for a while, but the point is they all start somewhere. And for so many of the biggest stars of today, that place was the early 2000s.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures; Medusa Film; Allumination Filmworks