Stars Who Got Their Start At Sundance
Some actors get lucky—they’re spotted by famous directors or land network television gigs right after they move to Hollywood. Most, though, have to work at it, so we’re grateful for indie movies and film festivals like Sundance. Thanks to the critics and audiences of Sundances past, we have these now-famous actors and actresses that worked their way out of obscurity and onto the big screen.
Abigail Breslin - Yes, she was the cute little girl from "Signs" long before her Sundance smash performance as Olive in "Little Miss Sunshine," but the dark family comedy is the film that made her a star. "Little Miss Sunshine" premiered in 2006 at the festival and went on to garner two Oscar nominations--including one for the pint-sized starlet. Now 16, expect to see Breslin looking all grown up in "The Call" and "Ender's Game" this year.
America Ferrera - Before she was "Ugly Betty" and before she was a member of "The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants," Ferrera was the much-buzzed about star of the indie film "Real Women Have Curves." Now at 28, she's made guest appearances on "The Good Wife" and lent her voice talents to the Dreamworks film "How to Train Your Dragon."
Amy Adams - Her first role as the peppy cheerleader in the criminally underrated "Drop Dead Gorgeous," may have gone unnoticed, but her role as the naive, pregnant wife of Benjamin McKenzie's character in the indie film "Junebug" scored the now 38-year-old the Special Jury Prize for Acting at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and her first (of four) Oscar nominations.
Evan Rachel Wood - The mom-to-be had a few memorable roles under her belt on television (on the drama "Once and Again") and film (she played the younger version of Nicole Kidman's character in "Practical Magic") before her turn as an out of control teen in the film "Thirteen." But it was that performance that had audiences and critics talking. Since "Thirteen"'s debut at Sundance in 2003, the 25-year-old has had high-profile relationships with Marilyn Manson and Jamie Bell (to whom she is now married) and has starred in films like "Across The Universe" and shows like "True Blood."
Jennifer Lawrence - Ah, yes. The Girl on Fire and two-time Oscar nominated actress Lawrence got her start in the super depressing "Winter's Bone." After a whirlwind showing at Sundance in 2010, the 22-year-old went on to snag her first Oscar nomination.
Gabourey Sidibe - Sidibe came out of nowhere with her most well-known role in "Precious." She was attending college when a few friends convinced her to audition, and the rest is history. After showing at Sundance in 2009, the film picked up funding by both Tyler Perry and Oprah. One Oscar nomination (and countless other critical recognitions) later, the 29-year-old is now working on the Showtime cancer comedy "The Big C."
Melissa Leo - You might only know her as the lady that dropped an F-bomb during her Oscar's speech, but Leo should be on your radar for a few more reasons. She's been working steadily since the '80s (she had an arc on "All My Children") and '90s ("Homicide: Life on The Street"), but it was 2008s "Frozen River," a Sundance favorite that year, that truly launched the 52-year-old's career.
Nikki Reed - Yep! The girl from the "Twilight" franchise got her start in the indie film circuit! No only did she co-star in "Thirteen" with Evan Rachel Wood, but she also helped co-pen the script, based loosely on her own life. Not bad for the then 15-year-old. Now, at 24, the actress is focusing less on her writing career and more on her acting abilities.
Owen Wilson - Believe it or not, but the guy most people know from "Frat Pack" films like "Wedding Crashers" and "Zoolander" began his career as a filmmaker. With his brothers Luke (yes, the dreamy guy from "Old School") and Andrew, Wilson teamed up with now A-list director Wes Anderson to make the Sundance favorite "Bottle Rocket." The 44-year-old has made a successful return to the kind of indie films that got him his start with "Midnight in Paris" and his continued partnership with Anderson.