We live in a celebrity-obsessed world; I said it. I hate to break it to you, but if you don't think you're being influenced at all times by your favorite actors, musicians, TikTok stars, and/or politicians you're sorely mistaken. Thanks to social media—Instagram, in particular—we get to keep up with our favorite people well before they achieve massive stardom. For instance, Lizzo's flute, @SashaBeFluting, had a personal 'gram even before the singer won a Grammy; the fan account currently has over 330,000 followers. But just a decade ago, you couldn't wake up and immediately see what your favorite celebrities had done right before bed. So, to remind you just how far some of your favorite celebs have come since starting their careers, we rounded up the best celebrity headshots from before they were famous. And wow! They were young. We're talking fresh-out-of-mom-and-dad's-house-young. For some stars, it was just a few short years before they hit it big, while for others it would be decades before they were household names. One thing is for sure: Our favorite films and TV shows would not be the same without them. Swipe through to see a pre-Save The Last Dance Kerry Washington and what a teenage Rita Moreno looked like before snagging her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Anita in West Side Story. And just wait until you see baby Meryl—an icon even then. (That flowing hair would inspire Miranda Priestly's entire beauty department to go long and blonde!)
Moreno stole everyone's heart as Anita in West Side Story, but the young actress had been in show business for 11 years by then. After winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, her career was catapulted into a decades long career that led to roles in the 9 To 5 TV series, Sesame Street, and most recently on Jane The Virgin and Netflix's One Day At A Time.
Before she had political dreams, Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon had her heart set on the big screen. Nixon began her acting career in the after-school special scene and it wasn't until twenty years later in 1998 that she landed her role as Miranda Hobbs, our favorite badass lawyer.
The Spanish sensation was known abroad before hitting it big in the states with Vicki Christina Barcelona. You may have remembered her starring alongside Johnny Depp in Blow or with Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky in the early 2000s. Nowadays, Cruz has taken on bigger roles and collaborated with husband Javier Bardem.
Meryl now has an impressive 21 Oscar nominations, but back in 1976 she was just getting started. It was her 1979 role in Kramer vs Kramer that really put her on everyone's radar. Meryl continued to wow us as she swapped from TV to the silver screen effortlessly. Four decades later, people can rank their top five Meryl films at the drop of a hat.
Winona Ryder was born in Minnesota and moved with her parents to California when she was seven years old. The actress didn't get her first role in a major feature film until she was 15, when she appeared in Lucas in 1986.
Although it was his role as Gob Bluth in Arrested Development that launched Will's career, the Canadian actor had several guest roles on popular shows like The Sopranos and Sex and the City before his big break.
After attending SUNY Purchase, Stanley Tucci headed to Broadway and landed roles in major films like Prizzi’s Honor. Tucci received his first nomination for an Academy Award in 2010 for his chilling role in The Lovely Bones, but had been a household name long before then.
Macaulay Culkin shot his first film, Rocket Gibraltar, at the age of 8. The next year he gained comedic acclaim in Uncle Buck, and then, of course, Home Alone happened, which made him one of the biggest stars of the '90s.
Kerry Washington first started acting as a teenager in Manhattan, working with a theater group that used improv to tackle social issues. In 2001, Washington caught the world's attention in Save the Last Dance. Thanks to her award-winning performance on Scandal, the actress landed a spot on Forbes' 2018 list of the highest paid actresses in TV.
Even though she had minor roles in Horse Whisperer and Remember the Titans, Kate Bosworth didn't get her big break until Blue Crush in 2002, when the Los Angeles native was 19 years old. How does Bosworth feel about film's sequel buzz? "I would love to do it, I really would," she said on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. "That movie is still such an important part of my life and it really gave me a career in many ways."
Before audiences saw Joan Allen debut in films like Compromising Positions or Manhunter (made within a year of each other), the actress built a solid career on the stage, winning a Tony for Best Actress for her role in Burn This in 1988.
Frances McDormand garnered a lot of attention for her first major role in the 1984 film Blood Simple. But she gained much more than just an award-winning career from the film—McDormand and her husband of 35 years met on the set and married that same year.
After graduating from Yale University in 1991, the Maryland-born actor found success with his first film, Primal Fear, in 1996 for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.
Chris Noth has had a successful television career for almost 40 years, playing notable characters on hit shows like Sex and the City and The Good Wife. But his first big role was in the '90s as Detective Mike Logan on Law and Order.
Andre Braugher began his career with a part in the 1989 film Glory, but his breakout role—for which he won an Emmy—was as Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street in 1990.
When a then-19-year-old Alexis auditioned for Gilmore Girls, she had no prior experience on screen. Despite her inexperience, there was something about her that made Warner Bros. cast her as one half of the Gilmore duo. "She just jumped off the screen, you know. Those blue eyes," casting director Julie Mossberg described in an interview with Vanity Fair.
After earning a spot in the National Youth Music Theatre, due to a grant from the Prince's Trust, Idris Elba worked in various odd jobs in his home city of London while auditioning. The actor's first TV role was for the soap opera Family Affairs in 1997. He later became more prominent thanks to his part on HBO's The Wire.
Her daughters, Rainey and Margaret Qualley, may be some of Hollywood’s newest stars (Margaret made her on-screen debut in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood this year), but not too long ago it was Andie Macdowell who was rising up in the industry. Macdowell landed her first role in the 1984 film Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.
Allison Williams may be the daughter of newscaster Brian Williams, but she still had to pay her dues in Hollywood. After growing up in Connecticut and working with an improv troupe at Yale University, Williams was cast in her breakout role as Marnie Michaels in HBO's Girls in 2010.
The actress found success in her home country of Australia with roles like For Love Alone and Flirting (which she costarred in with her best friend Nicole Kidman) in the late '80s. The actress moved to Los Angeles in 1993, but didn't attain her movie star status until her role in Mulholland Drive in 2001.
Sam Rockwell began acting in high school in 1989 when he shot his first film, an indie project called Clownhouse. It wasn't until 1994 that the actor returned to film—in the meantime, he was picking up minor roles in television and commercials—with a role in The Search for One-eye Jimmy.
A graduate from the Tisch School of the Arts, Philip Seymour Hoffman made his first film debut in Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole in 1991. The turning point in his career was when he starred in Boogie Nights in 1997.
Robert Downey Jr.'s first film was Pound, a film written and directed by his father, when he was 5 years old in 1970. He went on to be one of the biggest actors and heartthrobs of the '80s and became a cast member of Saturday Night Live.
The Brooklyn-born actress got her first role on camera on the soap opera As the World Turns. After, Tomei went on to star in off-Broadway plays, sitcoms, and small films. It wasn't until the actress appeared in the 1992 comedy My Cousin Vinny that her true star power was recognized and she won the 1993 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Born in Connecticut, Mol moved to New York as a teenager to attend the The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Her first role was in the Spike Lee film, Girl 6, in 1996. She followed it up with small roles in major pictures but didn't rise to prominence until HBO's Boardwalk Empire in 2010.
Alec Baldwin made his first appearance on TV in the '80s with roles on shows like The Doctors and Knots Landing. Later, the comedic actor transitioned to film and snagged parts in major films like Beetlejuice in 1988.
Parisian actress Catherine Deneuve made her on-screen debut in 1957 in The Twilight Girls. Her breakout role in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg in 1964 led to critical acclaim and a storied career throughout the '60s and onward.
She may be most familiar to you these days as Cora Crawley from Downton Abbey, but Elizabeth McGovern's career spans almost four decades, starting with her first feature film role in Robert Redford's Ordinary People in 1980.
After growing up in the industry—her father was a director and her mother was actress Maureen O'Sullivan—Mia Farrow began acting in minor film roles in 1959. Her first lead role was in Roman Polanski's 1968 film, Rosemary's Baby.
Bridgette Bardot first began modeling when she was 15 years old and shot her first film, Crazy for Love, in France in 1952. The following year, she debuted on the American screen, costarring with Kirk Douglas in Act of Love. It was this film that helped turn her into a sex symbol throughout the '50s and '60s.