Submitted by bolshevik_rattlehead t3_125ex9f in movies

I’m watching Manhunter for the nth time and was thinking, William Peterson came out of nowhere—no cast credit, nothing—and did the excellent To Live and Die in LA, and then Manhunter the following year. And then just poof’ed away into bad police procedural television shows. These are two of my all time favorite movies, by two of my favorite directors, and they both feature a lead by this unknown dude.

Who else can you think of that appeared out of nowhere, had an amazing opening with a pair of excellent movies, and then just vanished?

John Cazale of course comes to mind, but he was never a lead, and his career ended due to his death.



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danimation88 t1_je3zldp wrote

Ke Huy Quan. Temple of doom and the goonies


[deleted] t1_je47a4v wrote

Natalie Portman with Leon the Professional and then Heat was a pretty strong debut.


bolshevik_rattlehead OP t1_je4b5k4 wrote

Two of my favorites. Pretty incredible she did both of those before she was 14 years old.


dackyprice t1_je6kf66 wrote

Just watched Leon for the first time last night and it was incredible…what a performance for such a young actori


NiklausMikhail t1_je7ryj5 wrote

That movie is amazing, but a lot of people only watch it to complaint about the movie's relationship


Adultghosttours t1_je7s4rk wrote

Well you can tell the director was... Very into it


NiklausMikhail t1_je7ukg7 wrote

Yeah, but that's the thing, if you judge a movie by its director's personal opinion, movies like Usual Suspects, Annie Hall or American beauty should be considered the same way, but a director's personal view or acts shouldn't change the quality of a movie, Clint Eastwood is a great director, not so much a great human being, I like the Prince of BelAir, Will Smith not so much right now


Medium-Bullfrog-2368 t1_je8uy2n wrote

For me, it’s often difficult to separate art from the artist. Because the art is usually a reflection of the artist in some form.


NiklausMikhail t1_je9xj0t wrote

Did you enjoyed The Passion of the Christ?


Tequilaforrealya t1_jedjrfj wrote

Heat has aged so well. It’s my favorite movie ever.


[deleted] t1_jedjv22 wrote

Me too. I saw it at the cinema when it first came out and have watched it at least once every couple of years since. A masterpiece.


Tequilaforrealya t1_jedkdsw wrote

It’s one of the few films I would call perfect. It really has no flaws. The movie completely absorbs you into its LA neon world. I can even just have it on in the background because I love the atmosphere so much. Michael Mann is a genius. Can’t wait for Heat 2. He better not cast Timothee Chalamat as Vincent Hannah. The dude has zero testosterone. Pacino was an absolute boss from the moment he takes you through the triple homicide crime scene all coke out lol.


uniquecannon t1_je40gen wrote

Julie Andrews came very close with Mary Poppins and Sound of Music. Although she might not fit the post because those were her 1st and 3rd major films roles, plus she was already established in Broadway


bolshevik_rattlehead OP t1_je40p2l wrote

I hadn’t thought much farther back, but that’s a great addition. Mary Poppins and Sound of Music were both huge hits, and those were ostensibly her first feature film roles. Crazy how so many pop up seemingly overnight and then just vanish a couple years later.


NoirPochette t1_je3y1z1 wrote

I argue Eddie Murphy. 48 Hrs and then Trading Places. What a start.


bolshevik_rattlehead OP t1_je3yara wrote

oh I like it, those are two great films, but Eddie didn’t really come out of nowhere, he was already a star. But definitely an awesome pair of first films


[deleted] t1_je4rjqg wrote



txa1265 t1_je5514b wrote

Um, how old were you in the early 80s?!?


WoodyMellow t1_je5ewf6 wrote

He was a huge TV star, then he was a huge movie star. let's move on shall we?


[deleted] t1_je5ms3i wrote



Khan4269 t1_je5q739 wrote

You're really going to die on this hill huh?

Eddie Murphy more or less was Saturday Night Live in the early 80's. Him being the biggest star on that iconic show is what led to him launching his movie career.


[deleted] t1_je5sli6 wrote



Theslootwhisperer t1_je5xgp9 wrote

"In Rolling Stone's February 2015 appraisal of all 141 SNL cast members to date, Murphy was ranked second (behind John Belushi). "It is customary (and accurate) to say that Eddie Murphy is the only reason SNL survived the five-year wilderness without Lorne Michaels", the magazine noted."


NoirPochette t1_je3yhi7 wrote

I answered the title lol. Probably you should have been a bit more detailed in the title lol

It's hard to say vanished unless they died because everyone still does a lot of film. Like if you check everyone's filmography, they just continue to do stuff even if it is not critically acclaimed


bolshevik_rattlehead OP t1_je3ys9s wrote

Heh, yeah I’m probably being hyperbolic. Mostly thinking about actors leading good films and then just suddenly not.


GrumbleCake_ t1_je6x2bj wrote

And the guy was like 21 years old at the time. Incredible


mnombo t1_je41mwz wrote

Edward norton


bolshevik_rattlehead OP t1_je41v69 wrote

Wow you’re right. You win. Although he’s maintained a great career, that’s gotta be in the top debuts of all time. I was blown away the first time I saw Primal Fear.


bshaddo t1_je52dx1 wrote

Primal Fear, The People vs Larry Flint, and Everyone Says I Love You. All good-to-great performances, all before he had a film credit to his name.


WoodyMellow t1_je5ei71 wrote

What? You just named three film credits...


bshaddo t1_je5kadv wrote

All released after they were filmed.


Key-Training-9303 t1_je6btjs wrote

Like most films


CutterJohn t1_je88p73 wrote

The point is their release date was after norton had finished acting in all three of them. As in he did all the acting work for those three films, then they released. So he got those roles based solely on how the studio saw him as an actor, with no fame or name recognition attached.


Corrosive-Knights t1_je4dv3h wrote

Not just a “one-two” punch debut in films but a “one-two-three” punch before sadly passing away too early: James Dean.

All three of his films, East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant are considered classics of 1950’s cinema and his acting in each of the three is spectacular.

What might have he done had he not died in a car accident?


MarketCrache t1_je40avm wrote

Jet Li's Hollywood career. It's basically down to having a poor talent agent.


bolshevik_rattlehead OP t1_je40hko wrote

I agree. As a kid I’d never heard of him until Lethal Weapon 4 and I thought he was the most badass dude I’d ever seen. Then I saw Black Mask, which was awesome. And then it just seemed like it was nothing but crap after crap 😢


Dottsterisk t1_je4kdch wrote

To be fair, Jet Li was not the greatest actor, especially working in English, so they developed lots of films that just revolved around his martial arts skills and showmanship.

His agent made sure he struck while the iron was hot, at least.


BeginningAppeal8599 t1_je4sijp wrote

As a kid I didn't care for that, I was enamored by his walk and martial arts.

But his acting and cinematography of Once Upon a Time in China is terrific.


VemberK t1_je5lhx6 wrote

I dunno, Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave were pretty awesome :)


MRintheKEYS t1_je6no9o wrote

I liked Romeo Must Die and I thought Kiss of the Dragon was really good.


garrisontweed t1_je70xfn wrote

Same for Chow Yun Fat.I like The Corrupter,but did nothing at the Box Office,same for The Replacement Killers which is Hollywood Movie designed around His HK Films.


MarketCrache t1_je7bcbl wrote

I really enjoyed "The One" but no one is mentioning it...


Sethor t1_je478ff wrote

Christoph Waltz


patschpatsch t1_je4dlze wrote

Yes and no. He was an actor in Germany/Austria loooong before QT introduced him to the world.

I for one am German and know him from a German/Austrian show called „Kommissar Rex“ about a German Shephard that helps the police solve cases (yup, that show was hugely successful). And in one episode Waltz place a crazy puppet-maker who dresses up women as dolls and kills them when they don‘t comply. Gave me nightmares as a small kid


Mixitwitdarelish t1_je4nuo7 wrote

>I for one am German and know him from a German/Austrian show called „Kommissar Rex“ about a German Shephard that helps the police solve cases (yup, that show was hugely successful).

Well duh of course it was that rules


patschpatsch t1_je4pqyi wrote

It was awesome! Basically Columbo with a dog. It was the only day in the week I was allowed to stay up late as a kid


hiricinee t1_je4n52g wrote

Obviously an asterisk next to that one, but for his American films the idea that he basically just showed up twice and won two Oscars is pretty remarkable.


reachedmylimit t1_je41n6s wrote

Teresa Wright. The Little Foxes in 1941 and Mrs. Miniver in 1942. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for both films and won the Oscar for Mrs. Miniver in 1943. She was nominated for Best Actress in 1943 as well, for Pride of the Yankees. She was the only person ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for all of her first three films.


bolshevik_rattlehead OP t1_je41zpm wrote

Incredible. I’m not familiar with the name, but gosh with a resume like that, it’s sad that we don’t all know that story.


IdidntchooseR t1_je49vww wrote

Niece in Shadow of a Doubt


SpideyFan914 t1_je52po0 wrote

Brilliant movie! This was also super early in her career, 1943 and her fourth movie after the others listed.

Then Casanova Brown (her first less-acclaimed film), then Best Picture-winner and #1 highest-grossing film of the decade The Best Years of Our Lives.

I've only seen Shadow and Best Years, but both are masterpieces.


nowhereman136 t1_je4h6nq wrote

Mike Myers first 4 movies were Wayne's World, Axe Murderer, Wayne's World 2, and Austin Powers. The middle one didn't quite take the world by storm like the other 3 but still a decent movie.


The_ZombyWoof t1_je5gk22 wrote

Am I the only one who liked So I Married An Axe Murderer?

"I think most Scottish cuisine is based on a dare." is the truest line ever spoken in cinema history.


Saganists t1_je6jng6 wrote

It’s one of my favorite comedies and I think one of his best.


ToddMccATL t1_jea3dle wrote

No, I loved it, it was a sweet sweet taste of what he may have done if Chris Farley hadn't died and left Myers to do Shrek (yeah yeah, he had the Austin Powers movies i there, too).


RSquared t1_je5r7q2 wrote

Though he'd been on SNL for a decade prior.


nowhereman136 t1_je5s30c wrote

He was on snl for just 3 years before Wayne's World came out


RSquared t1_je5slgb wrote

Huh, he joined later than I thought. That's still enough time to make the character popular enough to spawn a movie, though :P


DeLarge93 t1_je4c5s7 wrote

Not saying it’s the greatest of all time but a recent amazing one-two punch would be Rachel Sennot, Shiva Baby and Bodies, Bodies, Bodies - she plays two roles completely opposite from one another and carries each film


arashikage t1_je4qw8e wrote

Lou Diamond Phillips- if you ignore the handful of bit parts where his characters don't even have names, his first two movies are La Bamba and Stand and Deliver. Oh, and his third movie is Young Guns. Pretty hot start to a career.


accord281 t1_je4reld wrote

Jim Carrey had a great 1994 with Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb & Dumber. Though he didn't exactly vanish after.


stevencastle t1_je62jen wrote

He had roles before then though, Earth Girls Are Easy, the Dead Pool. Once Bitten


Successful-Plan114 t1_je3zsga wrote

Brendan Fraser.
Encino Man followed by School Ties.
From non talkative caveman comedy to a private school drama flick.
Not too shabby.


bolshevik_rattlehead OP t1_je40c4i wrote

Haha great. And then twenty years of nothingness to an Academy Award. What a story.


Small-Explorer7025 t1_je415e9 wrote

Um, A Quiet American, George of the Jungle, The Mummy(ies), Crash. Are you high?


bolshevik_rattlehead OP t1_je41dzv wrote

The Quiet American was over twenty years ago. I’m not sure anything he did between that and The Whale was any good. Unless you’re one of those Crash fans, in which case more power to ya.


Small-Explorer7025 t1_je41x7u wrote

You listed 2 movies and excluded all else. Crash won the best picture Oscar, despite what I think of it. You replied 20 years of nothingness since School Ties. You are being disingenuous in your replies. Bad form.


AlphaScar t1_je4bq56 wrote

Although I was first introduced to Ol’Petersen as Grissom, it wasn’t until I watched the TV movie adaptation of the Peter Benchley novel “Beast” (also called Beast) that I actually saw how great he was. He literally turned what should’ve been a crap “made for TV” movie into something I’ve watched many, many times and still continue to enjoy. If you liked Jaws and enjoy sea monster-ish films, I highly recommend it. It terrified me as a child and still does today but any sea monster-ish film does. Just the thought of Architeuthis dux gets me shivering.

To answer your question however, I think Stephen Dorff had an excellent start to his career and, in all honesty, I don’t think he was a bad actor. I just think he got put in big budget films in roles that weren’t quite for him. He was awesome in Space Truckers (highly recommend that as a guilty pleasure too).


chzie t1_je55g2x wrote

John Cazale I think should still count.


Canmore-Skate t1_je70gfs wrote

He is the answer to about fourteen percent of the threads here


kerouacrimbaud t1_je4zdv5 wrote

Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia and then Doctor Zhivago (altho idk if that was actually his second film).


Khan4269 t1_je5qh1w wrote

I almost answered Peter O'Toole with Lawrence of Arabia and Beckett and looked him up and was suprised to learn he had actually been in a few movies prior to those.


Pattifan t1_je5whly wrote

Timothy Hutton's first three movies were:

  1. Ordinary People (Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor)
  2. Taps
  3. Daniel

That's a pretty good start.


Jobrien7613 t1_je8r7mr wrote

Ed Norton came out swinging.

He was nominated for Primal Fear and then People vs Larry Flint before nominated again for American History X.

2 Oscar nods in first 3 films is pretty good.


TxMKIV t1_je9dja4 wrote

I gotta go with Al Pacino

The Panic in Needle Park in 1971 and The Godfather in 1972.


[deleted] t1_je3yqtv wrote



orangemaroon25 t1_je4srd3 wrote

When he was literally the face of the franchise on that procedural that lasted for 20 seasons I don't think that's vanishing.


TheKing6198 t1_je54ckk wrote

Now convicted J.Majors.


StreetMysticCosmic t1_je58f3n wrote

Convicted? Damn the law works fast these days, didn't they arrest him like half a week ago?


Khan4269 t1_je5p7hs wrote

Marlon Brando...the Men and a Streetcar Named Desire and also revolutionized acting in the process.


CaptainDildobrain t1_je650o3 wrote

Audrey Hepburn had her first starring role in Roman Holiday and then following it up with Sabrina.

Kate Winslet with Heavenly Creatures and then was nominated for an Oscar for Sense and Sensibility.

Glenn Close with World According to Garp and then The Big Chill.

Barbara Streisand with Funny Girl and Hello, Dolly!


Receding_dreamer t1_je7bdnk wrote

To live and die in LA and Man Hunter was to William Peterson what rain man was to Cruise and to what seven was to brad pit or even DiCaprio In Gilbert Grape. Strange he diluted the way he did.


SonnyBurnett189 t1_je7ucem wrote

I think about this often as well, because I love Miami Vice, Michael Mann’s movies, and have been getting into Friedkin’s movies recently, why didn’t Peterson do more of these kind of movies?


FitChocolate1421 t1_je8gvfu wrote

Without a doubt, Linda Hamilton in the two Terminator movies!


MacGyver_1138 t1_je9cali wrote

Any of the big child actors will probably fit this well, somewhat by default. McCauley Caulkin and Haley Joel Osment both immediately came to my mind. Someone mentioned Natalie Portman in the thread as well.


Content_Ad_8952 t1_jeafgmj wrote

Bruce Lee. His first two movies were The Big Boss and Fist of Fury. Both of them broke box office records in Hong Kong when they were released and they are considered Kung Fu classics


Deep-Temperature-958 t1_jebmk90 wrote

Edward Norton debuted with Primal Fear - then had roles with Woody Allen and in The People v. Larry Flynt - followed right thereafter by American History X, Rounders, and Fight Club. Pretty much an impeccable run.


Here_there21 t1_je5acu3 wrote

Jonathan Majors, I mean his film debut was that black film in like 2020 and then klabam! MCU, The Harder They Fall, and Creed 3. Unfortunately it was short lived because of the recent domestic abuse issue but it still is really fucking impressive.


Here_there21 t1_je5aqt9 wrote

Update: So the black film I'm talking about is "The Last Black Man in San Francisco and it was released in 2019. I'm not racist.


ItalianPolock1 t1_je5n8gf wrote

Nicolas Cage : The Rock , Con Air and Face/Off


bone-in_donuts t1_je44lv8 wrote

Little Bitch Hanky did 1953’s Climb ‘Em if you Got ‘Em and then immediately did Puberty’s Arrow, then was throat-slashed at the premiere for the latter.


TappyMauvendaise t1_je40q11 wrote

Tom Hanks. 93-94


draxenato t1_je44ngh wrote

how is that an opening one-two ? hanks had been an established actor for over ten years by then


TappyMauvendaise t1_je6gtrs wrote

He had been in movies, yes, but the one-two-punch of Philadelphia and Forrest Gump really “put him on the map” if you will.


draxenato t1_je6lu0a wrote

Nah, it was Splash and Bachelor Party in the early 80s.