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Top 10 Movies That Made An Actress A Household Name

VO: Matthew Wende WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Nathan Sharp Before these movies came out, the actresses on this list were pretty much unheard of! WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Movies That Made Actors a Household Name! But what will take the top spot on our list? Will it be Kate Winslet, Sigourney Weaver, or Julia Roberts? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to Jacob Koopmann for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Movies+That+Made+An+Actor/Actress+A+Household+Name

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So, this is the Big Time. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten movies that made an actress a household name.

For this list, we’ll be looking at various movies that are responsible for catapulting now-notable actress into the mainstream. The actress may have appeared in other films before, but it’s these flicks that are really their breakthrough. We’ll be basing our choices on a variety of factors, including the present-day fame of said actress, the popularity of the movie in question, and the impact it had on the actress’ career.

#10: “Basic Instinct” (1992)

Sharon Stone

It’s not easy to go from relative unknown to international sex symbol, but Sharon Stone managed to pull it off. Stone initially established herself alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Total Recall,” as the movie made $260 million and was considered another Schwarzenegger classic. However, her career skyrocketed in 1992 with the release of “Basic Instinct” in which she played the ever-seductive Catherine Tramell. The movie was a massive financial success, Stone’s performance was lauded, and she received her first Golden Globe nomination. She also became a world-renowned sex symbol, mostly due to the famous (or perhaps infamous) interrogation scene.

#9: “Girl, Interrupted” (1999)

Angelina Jolie

In the late 1990s, Jolie had made quite a name for herself on television. She had won two consecutive Golden Globe awards for her roles in the TV movies “George Wallace” and “Gia,” but it was “Girl, Interrupted” that served as her breakthrough into film and the mainstream. While Winona Ryder had hoped that the movie would revitalize her career, Jolie stole the show, winning an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actors Guild award. While it wasn’t a huge box office smash, it introduced film lovers to the bombshell that is Angelina Jolie.

#8: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore shot to stardom and became one of the ‘80s’ most notable child stars after she appeared in Spielberg’s classic “E.T.” when she was seven years old. She plays Gertie, the youngest and snarkiest child of the family who takes a liking to the alien. The movie was a runaway success, and Barrymore became one of Hollywood’s most cherished actresses, despite her young age. Like many child actors, her career and personal life later suffered due to substance abuse and behavioral problems, but she luckily recovered and is still going strong to this day.

#7: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015)

Daisy Ridley

Not too many actresses can say that they went from complete unknown to starring in a $2 billion movie, but Daisy Ridley sure can. Ridley began her career small, appearing in supermarket commercials and TV shows like “Youngers” and “Silent Witness.” However, she won the life lottery five times over when she was cast as Rey in “The Force Awakens,” a movie that went on to gross over $2 billion worldwide, making it the third-highest grossing movie of all time as of 2018. Hey Daisy, we think it’s safe to say that you don’t need to do commercials anymore.

#6: “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (2001)

Emma Watson

While the first “Harry Potter” undoubtedly made stars of all three of its child actors, Emma Watson is arguably the biggest breakthrough. Watson has starred in other blockbusters since “Harry Potter” has ended, including the $1.2 billion-making “Beauty and the Beast.” Meanwhile, Daniel Radcliffe has focused on smaller, more independent movies in the mid-2010s and Rupert Grint has focused on the small screen and other side projects. Watson was immediately praised for her role as the wickedly intelligent Hermione, and her popularity only continued to grow. Luckily, the curse of the child actor never affected Watson, and she quickly became one of Hollywood’s most cherished leading ladies.

#5: “The Hunger Games” (2012)

Jennifer Lawrence

There’s nothing like starring in an extremely popular young adult series to get your career going. Lawrence initially came steamrolling into Hollywood through her role in “Winter’s Bone,” a performance that earned her first Academy Award nomination. She then appeared as Mystique in “X-Men: First Class,” but it was her role as Katniss Everdeen that shot her to international stardom. She was suddenly the lead in a major Hollywood blockbuster, and she became the most successful action heroine at the time, with the movie grossing nearly $700 million. From that point on, Lawrence was one of Hollywood’s most sought-after and successful leading actresses, winning an Academy Award, a BAFTA, and three Golden Globes.

#4: “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013)

Margot Robbie

Robbie’s acting career began rather modestly, as she appeared on the Australian soap opera “Neighbours” and the ABC production “Pan Am,” which was cancelled after one season. She also appeared alongside Rachel McAdams in “About Time,” but she finally broke through in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” a movie which took in nearly $400 million at the box office. Robbie was praised for her acting, screen presence, and Brooklyn accent, and she was quickly regarded as one of Hollywood’s sexiest and most talented bombshells.

#3: “Titanic” (1997)

Kate Winslet

There’s nothing like starring in the highest-grossing movie of all time (at the time) when you’re only 22 to get your career started. Winslet had a few notable roles before her breakthrough – she starred in the acclaimed Peter Jackson film “Heavenly Creatures,” Kenneth Branagh’s ambitious “Hamlet,” and the 1995 adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility.” However, it was her role as Rose DeWitt Bukater in “Titanic” that finally catapulted her to superstardom. The movie took in nearly $2 billion during its initial run, and Winslet earned herself an Academy Award nomination. “Titanic” helped launch the careers of both Winslet and DiCaprio, with both remaining two of the most acclaimed performers in Hollywood today.

#2: “Pretty Woman” (1990)

Julia Roberts

While Julia Roberts’ acting career has waned in the early 21st century, she was once one of the hottest and highest paid actresses around. Her career blossomed throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, as she appeared in a ton of popular movies, including “Notting Hill,” “Erin Brockovich,” and “Ocean’s Eleven.” Her acting career began in the late 80s, and she earned her first Golden Globe for her role in “Steel Magnolias.” However, she became a bonafide movie star after starring in “Pretty Woman,” a movie that has grossed $460 million world-wide and earned Roberts her second Golden Globe win and first Oscar nomination. It was all uphill from there.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Brie Larson

“Room” (2015)

Ellen Page

“Juno” (2007)

Jodie Foster

“Taxi Driver” (1976)

#1: “Alien” (1979)

Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver went from obscurity to starring in one of the all-time great movies, and she is now regarded as a horror/science fiction icon. Weaver originally began her career on stage before being cast as Ellen Ripley in “Alien,” a role that went on to change both movie history and Weaver’s career. The character of Ellen Ripley was praised for challenging the role of women in horror and sci-fi movies, and she is now regarded as one of cinema’s greatest heroines. Not bad for your first major movie role.

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