They may be A-list stars now, but these celebrities got their starts in some spooky (and occasionally cheesy) horror flicks.

Before Jennifer Aniston became a household name due to her success with Friends, she appeared in the 1993 film Leprechaun. The actress reflected on the role during an October 2019 interview on SiriusXM’s The Howard Stern Show.

“I really thought I arrived when I did Leprechaun,” she explained. “It was with Warwick Davis, the guy from Willow was in it. It was a big deal!”

Aniston revisited the project during the early days of her relationship with Justin Theroux. (The pair announced their separation in February 2018 after two years of marriage.)

“I watched it like eight years ago with our mutual friend Justin Theroux for s—ts and giggles,” she told host Howard Stern. “We were dating. It was one of those things when I tried to get that remote out of his hand and there was just no having it. He was like, ‘No, no, no, no, this is happening.’ I just kept walking in and out, cringing.”

Despite her apparent embarrassment at the time, Aniston is happy she starred in the “cult classic” flick. “I really did think it was an amazing thing that I was in a movie,” she noted.

Of course, the California native soon after landed the iconic role of Rachel Green and has since starred in a slew of films and The Morning Show. She has also racked up plenty of accolades for her acting, including an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

Some celebrities had even more memorable experiences while working on horror films. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr., for instance, connected on the set of 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer and married in September 2002.

“By the end of the movie, I just wanted to be friends with her because I thought she was too skinny and I wanted to cook for her. Because that’s what my family does,” the actor exclusively told Us Weekly in April 2020. “And so, we started this weekly barbecue thing at her house, and me and my cousins would come over and cook food for her and her friends. And then we’d make sure everybody ate, and that was kind of how our friendship began.”

Scroll through the gallery below to see who braved the scary genre for the sake of their careers.

Jennifer Aniston

In one of her first film roles, Aniston played terrorized teen Tory Reding in 1993’s Leprechaun.

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Mischa Barton

After a few small roles, Barton got her first big break playing the terrifying vomiting ghost Kyra Collins in the 1999 Oscar-nominated film The Sixth Sense.


Drew Barrymore

Barrymore played a pyrokinetic little girl whose parents participated in a medical experiment trying to get their own telekinetic abilities in the 1984 film Firestarter, based on Stephen King‘s novel of the same name.

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Brad Pitt

Pitt played a high school student named Dwight Ingalls who became a murder suspect in the 1989 horror film Cutting Class.

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Michelle Williams

In 1995’s Species, Williams played the younger version of Natasha Henstridge‘s Sil.

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Renee Zellweger

Zellweger starred opposite Matthew McConaughey in the 1994 thriller Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.

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Kaley Cuoco

The Big Bang Theory star played the daughter of a mystery writer (played by Stephen Baldwin) who has been cloned and turned into a murderer in 1998’s Mr. Murder.


Freddie Prinze Jr.

In 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, four teens hit a man with their car and dump his body in the ocean. One year later, the friends — played by Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Ryan Phillippe — are haunted by the man they presumed to be dead.

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Mila Kunis

A young Kunis starred in the 1995 Piranha remake about a killer fish terrorizing the Lost River Lake Resort.


George Clooney

The actor played a police officer in the 1987 horror/comedy film Return to Horror High.


Jennifer Connelly

Connelly played a young girl whose supernatural ability to communicate with insects helped her solve a string of murders in 1985’s Phenomena.

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Johnny Depp

The actor played Glen Lantz in Wes Craven’s 1984 thriller A Nightmare on Elm Street.

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Jamie Lee Curtis

The original scream queen played Laurie Strode in 1978’s Halloween. In the film, Strode’s brother Michael Myers went on a killing spree after escaping from a mental institution.

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Katherine Heigl

The actress played a teenager named Jade in 1998’s Bride of Chucky.

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Sissy Spacek

As the star of 1976’s Carrie, Spacek’s character wreaked havoc on prom night after a prank went too far.

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Meg Ryan and Lori Loughlin

Long before Ryan and Loughlin starred in When Harry Met Sally and Full House, they appeared together on screen in 1983’s Amityville 3-D.

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Tom Hanks

Hanks had a small part in the 1980 flick He Knows You’re Alone, centered around a bride-to-be who is stalked by a serial killer.

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Kevin Bacon

Bacon played camp counselor Jack Burrell in the 1980 slasher film Friday the 13th. The movie went on to become a box office success, spawning nearly a dozen sequels throughout the next two decades.

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Patricia Arquette

The actress played Kristen Parker in 1987’s Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. After Freddy Krueger slashed Parker’s wrists in a dream, she was placed in a mental institution.

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Paris Hilton

The socialite was the second character to be slain in 2005’s House of Wax remake.

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Naomi Watts

Watts played Grace Rhodes in 1996’s Children of the Corn: The Gathering

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Sharon Stone

Stone played Lana Marcus in 1981’s Deadly Blessing. Set in Amish Country, the film focused on a woman whose husband was mysteriously killed by his own tractor.

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Ryan Gosling

In 1996’s Frankenstein and Me, Gosling plays Kenny, the fraidycat friend of monster-loving Earl Williams.


Bette Midler

In 1993’s Hocus Pocus, Midler played one of three witches resurrected when a virgin boy lit a magical candle.

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Chace Crawford

The Gossip Girl actor played a supernatural teen in 2006’s The Covenant. The film also starred Taylor Kitsch and Sebastian Stan.

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Eva Mendes and Jennifer Morrison

Morrison played a film student stalked by a fencing mask-clad psycho in the 2000 sequel Urban Legends: Final Cut. Mendes killed it as her totally doomed pal.

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Josh Henderson

Long before he was cast in the Dallas remake, the actor appeared in the 2003 gross-out flick Leeches!


Josh Bowman

In the 2010 movie Prowl, Peter (Bowman) and his pals were transported to an abandoned meatpacking factory where bloodthirsty vampires awaited.

courtesy of After Dark Films

Leighton Meester

Meester plays the daughter in a family of highly trained investigators who work undercover to unravel the truth about a ghost who has been haunting a local high school in the 2003 film Hangman’s Curse.


Julie Bowen

In the 1997 shockfest An American Werewolf in Paris, Bowen played a ditzy tourist who hooked up with the wrong guy only to be eaten by a werewolf.

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Kirsten Dunst

Dunst shared an on-screen kiss with Brad Pitt (and scored a Golden Globe nod!) for her role as scheming vampire Claudia in 1994’s Interview with the Vampire.

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Scarlett Johansson

The star appeared in the 2002 giant-spiders-run-amok flick Eight Legged Freaks.

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Chris Hemsworth

The Thor star played a college student victimized by zombies in 2011’s The Cabin in the Woods.

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Kelly Rowland

The Destiny’s Child songstress tried her hand at acting in the 2003 film Freddy vs. Jason.

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Dan Levy

Before he won over fans on the hilarious Schitt’s Creek, Levy portrayed an obsessed tech guru in 2012’s Cyberstalker.

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Elizabeth Olsen

The actress starred in the 2012 film Silent House as a woman who is terrorized in her family’s vacation home.

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Jada Pinkett Smith

The actress played a convict in 1995’s Demon Knight.

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Kristen Stewart

The Twilight star was still a child when she portrayed a young girl fending off burglars in 2002’s Panic Room.

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