• Jennifer Lawrence in 'Winter's Bone'. (Roadside Attractions)Source: Roadside Attractions
Before they were famous...
Jeremy Cassar

6 Sep 2016 - 12:28 PM  UPDATED 9 Sep 2016 - 12:09 PM

Often, fame is so sudden and pervasive that the star whose achieved it may as well have exploded out of thin air and into the limelight. We often forget that our favourite Tinseltown folk (and Mel Gibson) started somewhere, and luckily SBS On Demand houses a bunch of these early forays into thespianism.


Jennifer Lawrence: Winter's Bone (2011)

After a string of bit parts and straight-to-video yawns, J-Law’s first proper outing as leading lady left a deep footprint in the rural Ozarks' snow. Young Lawrence plays Ree, a 17-year-old stuck in a methamphetamine-ravaged town with a mentally ill mother and a brother five years her junior (Isaiah Stone). There she navigates a trail after the death of her father, negotiating a meth-addicted uncle (John Hawkes), a local drug lord (Ronnie Hall) and an unsettlingly suspicious community along the way. J-Law snagged her first Oscar nomination for the difficult role.

Read SBS Movies' review here.

Mel Gibson: Tim (1979)

Mel puts in a fantastic performance as a mentally challenged gardener who wears tight tees and short shorts and is plonked in the middle of a rather unsettling love story with a woman a good number of years his senior (Piper Laurie).

Riddled with tragedy yet still attempting to move with an undercurrent of levity, Tim is a little tonally askew, yet none of this is a deal breaker thanks to Mel’s accomplished turn in the year that saw the release of a little movie called Mad Max.

Read SBS Movies' review here.

Guy Pearce: Dating the Enemy (1996)

When the casting announcements for L.A. Confidential came out in 1997, we couldn’t believe that the Aussie soap actor who’d just starred in a body-swap comedy landed one of the leads.

Now, we can’t believe that such an actor of enviable talent was ever in a body-swap comedy with Claudia Karvan. Sure, the sub-genre sparked by Freaky Friday is always entertaining, and there’s no denying DtE is a fun film, but if anyone at the time said Guy would end up in Christopher Nolan masterpiece, Memento, we would have laughed for a good 72 hours.

Watch The Movie Show's review here.

Michael Fassbender: Fish Tank (2009)

So astonishing (and even more seedy) was Fassbender’s moustachioed dropkick, that it wasn’t until well into his subsequent fame before we realised it was the same guy.

Set on an English council housing estate, and around a neglected 15-year-old girl who dreams of entering a dancing competition, the film involves one of the most uncomfortable sex scenes put to screen involving her and Fassbender. Fantastic performances all around, and a pretty brilliant film, but that particular scene still gives us the shivers.

Read SBS Movies' review here.

Alex Dimitriades: Head On (1998)

Hands down one of the bravest performances on the big screen, Head On explores the complex desires of a sex-crazed youngster. Dimitriades’ Ari negotiates his homosexuality within a repressive familial atmosphere. A repression that sees him engaging in passionate sex with a sumo wrestler, and a particularly unsettling scene involving a homeless man.

The original writer Christos Tsiolkas went to pretty disturbing places, but underneath all the rampant sex lies a range of important themes.

Read SBS Movies' review here.

Abbie Cornish: Somersault (2004)

Written and directed by Cate Shortland, we would recommend Somersault to anyone who wants to see an Aussie star in the making. Cornish’s performance is captivating. Read SBS Movies' review here.

SBS On Demand: Cate Shortland double bill
A celebration of one of Australia's distinctive female directors, whose films are available now at SBS On Demand.


Lena Dunham: Tiny Furniture (2010)

Besides the film serving as a self-conscious millennial indie tale - college grad tries to work out what to do with her life - Dunham used Tiny Furniture to play with a persona and comic voice that would eventually headline the hit show Girls.

Read SBS Movies' review here.

Brie Larson: Short Term 12 (2013)

The winner of last year's best actress Oscar put in an equally impressive performance as an authority in a group home for at-risk youths. The fondness and care Larson’s Grace has for her troubled students is unsurprising considering the issues in her own life, and critics universally lauded the young budding star as one to watch. Bring tissues.

Read SBS Movies' review here.

more on the guide
15 or so 80s references we demand to see in the second season of 'Stranger Things'
When it comes to 80s nostalgia, you can never have enough. Even when you think you've had enough, that's not enough.
13 TV shows adapted from films that the world forgot about
The history of adapting films into TV series is a rich one, full of glorious artistic wonders - except for these.
SBS On Demand: Sumptuous epics movie collection
To celebrate the flamboyant drama 'Versailles' gracing our screens this month on SBS, we've selected some of the most extravagant period movies available at SBS On Demand.
Live your best life with these inspirational SBS On Demand memes
Crucial life lessons...