Special Report

Movie Roles That Launched Hollywood's Biggest Stars

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

16. Margot Robbie
> Breakout film: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
> Role: Naomi Lapaglia
> Recent blockbuster: Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Margot Robbie has become one of the most bankable stars in movies, with Oscar-nominated credits such as “I, Tonya” and “Bombshell.” Her breakout role was as Naomi Lapaglia, the wife of a high-powered Wall Street stockbroker played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the Martin Scorsese-directed hit “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Source: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

17. Michael B. Jordan
> Breakout film: Fruitvale Station (2013)
> Role: Oscar Grant
> Recent blockbuster: Black Panther (2018)

Michael B. Jordan built a strong television acting résumé with shows such as “The Wire,” “Friday Night Lights,” and “Parenthood.” Jordan then turned to the big screen to play the doomed Oscar Grant, who was killed by transit police at Fruitvale Station in San Francisco. Charlotte O’Sullivan of the London Evening Standard said, “Jordan doesn’t beg for our sympathy and is all the more magnetic as a result.” Jordan has gone on to appear in two sequels of the Rocky boxing series, “Creed” and “Creed II,” and was one of the stars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster “Black Panther.”

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing

18. Michelle Rodriguez
> Breakout film: Girlfight (2000)
> Role: Diana Guzman
> Recent blockbuster: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Texas native Michelle Rodriguez first turned heads playing a boxer in the indie hit “Girlfight” (2000), a role for which she beat out 350 other actors. She then took on the role of Letty Ortiz in 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious.” She’s remained loyal to the franchise, appearing in five of its films to date, including “The Fate of the Furious,” which grossed $226 million at the domestic box office, the 10th highest grossing film of 2017. Rodriguez will return to the role of Letty in the upcoming “F9.” Rodriguez has also starred in movies ranging from James Cameron-directed blockbuster “Avatar” (2009) to genre flick “Machete Kills” (2013).

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

19. Robert De Niro
> Breakout film: Mean Streets (1973)
> Role: Johnny Boy
> Recent blockbuster: Joker (2019)

Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese have collaborated on 10 films, some of which have dealt with the chaos and violence in America’s streets. The first of their pairings that addressed this theme was “Mean Streets,” in which De Niro plays an off-kilter small-time hoodlum. De Niro would go on to win two Best Actor Oscars (“The Godfather: Part II,” “Raging Bull”). He’s received eight Academy Award nominations in total.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

20. Robert Downey Jr.
> Breakout film: Less Than Zero (1987)
> Role: Julian
> Recent blockbuster: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Despite an entertainment career plagued by drug problems, Robert Downey Jr. has managed to garner two Oscar nominations for his performances in “Chaplin” and “Tropic Thunder.” Critics took notice of his performance as an LA rich kid with drug issues in the film “Less Than Zero” in 1987. Downey Jr. has carved a niche in action films as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. His most recent appearance in a blockbuster was “Avengers: Endgame.”

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