Four Indie Actors Who’ve Gone Mainstream
Independent films have become a starting place for young actors trying to make it in mainstream Hollywood. Three of the following actors emerged from indie films with thriving mainstream careers, while one of them started out in the mainstream and ended up with a flourishing indie resume.
This young actress broke into the mainstream in the prequel X-Men: First Class (2011), but she became an overnight sensation when she was cast as Katniss in the screen adaptation of The Hunger Games. However, Lawrence started out in independent films like The Burning Plain (2008), Like Crazy (2011) and Winter’s Bone (2010), for which she received an Oscar nomination. This final film captivated everyone’s attention and put Lawrence on Hollywood’s radar.
This sarcastic star wowed critics and indie audiences with her terrifying turn in the tense drama Hard Candy (2005). Other indies like The Tracey Fragments (2007) followed before her big, Oscar-nominated break in Juno (2007). This film, as well as the ensemble dramedy Smart People (2008) and the roller derby tale Whip It (2009) made Page the crossover queen. It was her role in Inception (2010) which pushed Page completely into the mainstream. Since then, she’s been sticking to crossover films like To Rome with Love (2012), which toe the line between indie and mainstream.
This actor started out mainstream, fell into indies and emerged with big-budget blockbusters to his name. As a teen, Gordon-Levitt starred in well-known hits like Angels in the Outfield (1994) and the TV show 3rd Rock from the Sun. In his twenties, he began making acclaimed independent films like Brick (2005) and Havoc (2005). It was (500) Days of Summer (2009) which pushed him back into the spotlight. Since then, he’s been starring in blockbuster after blockbuster, including Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Later this year, he’ll star in the thrillers Premium Rush and Looper.
Not all actors completely ignore indies once they’ve made it big. Michelle Williams is an excellent example. Williams became famous for her role on the hit teen TV drama Dawson’s Creek. Around that time, she starred in films like Dick (1999). Williams soon fell into the indie scene, and that’s where she’s stayed for the past decade. Her roles in smaller films like Brokeback Mountain (2005), Blue Valentine (2010) and My Week With Marilyn (2011) all earned her Oscar nominations. She also had celebrated roles in films like Wendy and Lucy (2008), not to mention her newest, Take This Waltz (2012). Williams will dip her toes back into the mainstream pool as Glinda in Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013), but she’s still an indie darling.
In an age where it’s hard to define an independent film, and so many small films end up with large releases, it’s a huge advantage for an actor to have experience in both indie and mainstream endeavors. These four actors are proof.