Photo: Rob Latour/REX USA.
For some, being Juror No. 5 or Bored Checkout Girl is as good as it gets. For others, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it extra gig can be the first step on the road to fame. One minute you're the lifeless corpse being pulled out of a morgue drawer on some detective show. The next you're sinking your hands into cement on Hollywood Boulevard.
These movie stars are proof. Years before Die Hard fame, Bruce Willis was cooling his heels in a courtroom scene. Charlize Theron was a blood-soaked cult member, while War of the Worlds extra Channing Tatum didn't even make it past the cutting-room floor.
Click through to see your favorite actors in their earliest, most low-profile roles. Nice to know that being cast as Street Thug or Waiter isn't an impediment to future Oscar nods.
Eva Mendes in A Night at the Roxbury
Mendes played a busty bridesmaid hit on by groom Will Ferrell in this 1998 comedy. A dozen years later, the two would play husband and wife in The Other Guys.
Bruce Willis in The Verdict
This moving courtroom speech from 1982's The Verdict is remembered as one of Paul Newman's finest moments on film. But, if you can just steer your attention away from him, you might notice a square-jawed man with a full head of hair sitting in the third row. That, friends, is Bruce Willis, while future Saw star Tobin Bell is sitting just ahead of him. Kinda creepy, no?
Jason Segel in Can't Hardly Wait
Meet Watermelon Guy, a.k.a. Jason Segel, who wouldn't get his breakout role in Freaks & Geeks until a year after this 1998 teen comedy was released. Admittedly, this bit part came with more lines and screen time than your average extra gig, giving Segel the chance to cement his stoner-dude status.
Denzel Washington in Death Wish
Even Denzel can't get away with waving a knife at Charles Bronson. The two-time Oscar winner played one of three uncredited street thugs who get blown away in this legendary vigilante film from 1974. Love the 'fro, though.
Charlize Theron in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest
The Oscar winner had a non-speaking role as a cult member in this 1995 horror flick, an experience that left her a bit underwhelmed. "I was an extra and I only had to run through a field and scream," she recently told TV host Graham Norton. "I had to bring my own clothes. I was living from hand to mouth and had a brand new pair of Pumas and was really chuffed with myself and thought, ‘I’m in a movie, I’ll wear my new shoes.’ And, I got there and they just doused us in blood, which went all over my new sneakers. I was really upset about it, but not as upset as when I went to see the movie, and they had dubbed my scream, and I was like, 'Oh my god, am I that bad?'”
Brad Pitt in No Way Out
That beautiful blond creature hovering just behind Kevin Costner and delivering the most fake isn't-this-party-great laugh of all time? That's Brad Pitt. Proving that 1987 was a big year for the budding actor's background work, Pitt also played a partygoer in Less Than Zero and a waiter in No Man's Land.
Shailene Woodley in Replacing Dad
This 1999 TV movie about a woman done wrong by her cheating husband features an appearance by a bobbed little girl named Shailene Woodley. Watch her try to comfort a crying Mary McDonnell around the 13:30 mark.
Ben Affleck & Matt Damon in Field of Dreams
If you like Where's Waldo, you can try picking out Boston buds Ben Affleck and Matt Damon from the thousands of extras watching the Red Sox game in this scene from 1989's Field of Dreams.
Don Cheadle in Moving Violations
At the 1:30 mark, you'll see Cheadle in his less-than-glamorous film debut. The Oscar-nominated actor played a burger-joint employee in this 1985 box-office bomb.
Megan Fox in Bad Boys II
The strobe lights make it hard to tell, but, yes, that is a 17-year-old (!) Megan Fox playing a club dancer in the 2003 Will Smith and Martin Lawrence cop caper. Four years later, the film's director Michael Bay would cast her in Transformers, and the rest is history.
Lady Gaga in The Sopranos
Yep, little A.J. Soprano used to hang out with a teenaged Lady Gaga, or Stefani Germanotta, as she was known at the time of this 2001 episode from the show's third season.