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 February 20

by Carolina

Reese Witherspoon

Credit:
Catherine Bauknight/ZUMAPRESS

Wildflower (1991)

“I was such a novice,” the Oscar winner recalled at the AFI Awards in 2017 of her second movie. Thankfully she found a “mentor” in the film’s director, Diane Keaton: “She taught me to always be an original, just like her.”

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Ben Affleck

Daddy (1991)

After she was Wonder Woman and before he was Batman (or an Oscar winner), Affleck starred with Lynda Carter in this Danielle Steel adaptation. “We had a great time together, and I adore him,” Carter told KQED in 2014.

Jason Momoa

Credit:
Lifetime Television/Everett

Tempted (2003)

The Game of Thrones actor made quite the impression on his costar Lainie Kazan in this film where he played a love interest for Virginia Madsen. “I knew it was gonna happen for him!” Kazan told Gay City News in 2019. “He took my breath away.”

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Hilary Swank

Credit:
A&E Network

Cries Unheard: The Donna Yaklich Story (1994)

Swank honed her talent for playing real-life characters — which led to Oscar wins for Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and Million Dollar Baby (2004) — as Patty Anzlovar, whose abusive, steroid-addicted stepfather was killed by his wife. “There’s not a lot of original, unique fictional stories,” she explained to the L.A. Times in 2010.

Hilary Swank

Credit:
Hallmark Entertainment/Everett

Dying to Belong (1997)

A few years later, Swank returned to the network for this cautionary tale about college hazing.

Zac Efron

Credit:
Granada Entertainment /Everett

Miracle Run (2004)

Before shooting hoops as Troy Bolton in High School Musical, Efron picked up a Young Artist Award nomination for his portrayal of a boy with autism who loved to run.

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Taraji P. Henson

Credit:
Lifetime /Everett

Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story (2011)

Four years before Empire, Henson earned an Emmy nomination for this true story of a mom who rescued her abducted son from South Korea. “I don’t chase awards,” she said on the red carpet at the awards show. “I just did it because I was passionate about the story.”

Kristen Bell

Credit:
Mike Robe Prods/Columbia/Kobal/Shutterstock

Gracie’s Choice (2004)

The New York Times wrote that Bell was “too pretty” but had “moral power” as Gracie, a teen raising her four siblings after their addict mom goes to jail.

Mark Ruffalo

Credit:
Everett

On the 2nd Day of Christmas (1997)

The Avengers star, who has said he went on 600 auditions before his big-screen breakthrough in You Can Count on Me in 2000, played a mall security guard who falls in love with a thief (Mary Stuart Masterson).

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Elliot Page

Credit:
A&E Network

Going for Broke (2003)

Page began acting at age 10 and was 16 when they played the daughter of a gambling addict (Delta Burke). Four years later they became an Oscar nominee for Juno.

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Kristen Stewart

Credit:
A&E Network

Speak (2004)

Four years before teens everywhere began screaming for Stewart in Twilight, the actress played a teen who survived unspeakable trauma.

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Camilla Luddington

Credit:
Jack Zeman / Lifetime/ Everett

William & Kate (2011)

Prior to winning hearts as Dr. Jo Karev on Grey’s Anatomy, Luddington stepped into the well-heeled shoes of Kate Middleton in a retelling of her royal love story with Prince William (Nico Evers-Swindell).

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