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12 A-List Actors That Appeared in 2000s Horror Movies

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By Jitin Gambhir

A-List Actors: In the late 90s, teen slasher films dominated the horror genre. However, the 2000s brought about interesting changes. The rise of American remakes of Japanese films like The Grudge and The Ring, alongside more hardcore films like Saw and Hostel, shook things up. The found footage phenomenon also took hold, and even the ridiculousness of Snakes on a Plane couldn’t stop new and established actors from appearing in horror movies. Many A-Listers appeared in horror films before going on to become some of Hollywood’s top performers.

One such performer is Octavia Spencer, who appeared as Nurse Daniels in Rob Zombie’s Halloween II in 2009. Spencer had been in Hollywood for about 12 years, playing bit parts in films like A Time to Kill, Spider-Man, and Beauty Shop. However, her big break came in 2011 when she portrayed Minny Jackson in The Help, earning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Since then, she’s become a tremendous character actor, being nominated for her roles in Hidden Figures and The Shape of Water.

12 A-List Actors That Appeared in 2000s Horror Movies

Amy Adams also got her start in horror, appearing in the horror-comedy Psycho Beach Party in 2000. Even then, Adams’ trademark charm was evident, as she made sure everyone on set was having a good time. Adams has since gone on to earn six Academy Award nominations and recently appeared in Disenchanted for Disney+.

Seth Rogen had a bit part as high school bully Ricky Danforth in the 2001 sci-fi thriller Donnie Darko. However, his big break came in 2007’s Knocked Up, and he’s since become one of Hollywood’s most renowned artists, even making the transition to directing. Rogen can currently be seen in the Apple TV+ comedy Platonic.

Andre Braugher appeared in the Stephen King adaptation, The Mist, in 2007, playing the role of Brent Norton. Braugher became well-known for his role of Captain Raymond Holt in the long-running comedy series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. During his career, he’s been nominated for more than 40 awards and recently appeared in the 2022 film, She Said.

Scarlett Johansson appeared in the horror-comedy Eight Legged Freaks in 2002, way before her MCU days. The film wasn’t Oscar material, but it did showcase Johansson’s depth as an actor. She’s set to star in the upcoming Wes Anderson film, Asteroid City, and is also currently filming the Apple TV+ movie, Project Artemis.

Ryan Reynolds portrayed George Lutz in the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror. However, his big break came in 2016’s Deadpool, which won him a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor in a Comedy. He’s set to play the role again in Deadpool 3, slated for late 2024.

Chloë Grace Moretz had a breakthrough year in 2010, appearing in both Let Me In and Kick-Ass. It was her role as Abby, a child vampire, in Let Me In that garnered her critical acclaim. Moretz has since won several awards and appeared in such films as Hugo, Carrie, and The Equalizer. She can currently be seen in the Amazon Prime sci-fi drama, The Peripheral.

Chris Hemsworth appeared in The Cabin in the Woods in 2012, just a year after hitting it big with Thor. Hemsworth’s blockbuster career has continued with his roles in the MCU and the action-thriller Extraction.

Nicole Kidman starred in the gothic horror film, The Others, in 2001, giving a commanding performance that garnered her several award nominations. Kidman has since gone on to join the DCU as Queen Atlanna in Aquaman and has appeared in the MAX series, Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers.

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Reese Witherspoon appeared in American Psycho in 2000, portraying Evelyn Williams, the fiancée of Patrick Bateman. Witherspoon’s big break came the next year with Legally Blonde. She’s since become a powerhouse in Hollywood, producing and starring in many successful films and TV shows.

In conclusion, these A-Listers all got their start in horror films and went on to become some of Hollywood’s top performers.

After being dominated by teen slasher films in the mid to late ’90s, the horror genre went through some interesting times in the 2000s. We saw the rise of popular American remakes of Japanese films like The Grudgeand The Ringwhile also giving way to more hardcore films like Sawand Hostel. The found footage phenomenon took hold, and we were treated to the ridiculousness that was Snakes on a Plane.


Still, that didn’t stop new and established actors from appearing in horror films. Whether they were looking to catch a break, or flex some of their already-earned star power, these A-Listers all appeared in horror films before going on to be regarded as some of Hollywood’s top performers.

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12 Octavia Spencer – Halloween 2 (2009)

A nurse with blood on her shirt
The Weinstein Company

 

 

Octavia Spencer had been around Hollywood for about 12 years before she appeared in Rob Zombie’s Halloween II in 2009 as Nurse Daniels. Playing bit parts in such films as A Time to Kill, Spider-Manand Beauty Shopshe’d built an impressive resume up until then. Her big break wouldn’t come until 2011, though, when she portrayed Minny Jackson in The Helpa role that landed her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Since then, she’s been nominated for her roles in Hidden Figuresand The Shape of Waterand has become a tremendous character actor. On December 8th, 2022, she was honored with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and is set to lead a true-crime series, Lost Women of Highway 20for MAX and Discovery ID.

11 Amy Adams – Psycho Beach Party (2000)

A woman on a beach looking sad
Strand

 

In what was only her second appearance on the big screen, Amy Adams appeared in the horror-comedy, Psycho Beach Partyin 2000. Starring alongside the likes of Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under), and Nicholas Brendan (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), she brought what would become her trademark charm to the set, eager to make sure everyone was having a good time. Speaking with the film’s Prop Master, Peter Clines, who has since gone on to become a successful New York Times best-selling authorhe told MovieWeb:

“I remember once, we were on stage, and I was having an absolutely crappy day… she walked over and just started singing Smash Mouth’s ‘All-Star’ to me with this big smile on her face. The whole song. It was just ridiculous and sweet, and cheered me up right on the spot.”

Adams has since gone on to earn six Academy Award nominations, and recently appeared in Disenchanted for Disney+, and is set to star in the upcoming comedy, Nightbitch.

10 Seth Rogen – Donnie Darko (2001)

Two high school students
Pandora Cinema
Newmarket Films

 

Making his first appearance in theaters, Seth Rogen had a bit part in the 2001 sci-fi psychological thriller, Donnie Darkowhere he portrayed high school bully, Ricky Danforth. From there he’d appear in such films as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundyand The 40-Year-Old Virginbut his big break would come when he’d star in the 2007 comedy, Knocked Upalongside Katherine Heigl.

He’s since become one of Hollywood’s most renowned artists, earning five Emmy nominations, three Golden Globe nominations, and has even made the transition into directing. He can currently be seen in the Apple TV+ comedy, Platonicwhich premiered on May 24th, 2023.

9 Andre Braugher – The Mist (2007)

A man wearing protective glasses
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Dimension Films
The Weinstein Company

 

A Hollywood mainstay since 1989, Andre Braugher appeared in the Stephen King adaptation, The Mistin 2007. Portraying the role of Brent Norton, he’d be killed off-screen by the evil, Lovecraftian monsters lurking in the eerie mist that’s surrounding the small town of Bridgton, Maine. An excellent character actor, it would take another six years before Braugher became well-known for his role of Captain Raymond Holt in the long-running comedy series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

During his career, he’s been nominated for more than 40 awards, taking home 12 trophies from various organizations, and recently appeared in the 2022 film, She Saidchronicling the investigation that exposed the decades of abuse and sexual misconduct of disgraced Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein.

8 Scarlett Johansson – Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

A girl in a bath towel looking scared
Warner Bros. Pictures

 

Long before joining the MCU as Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson appeared in the 2002 horror-comedy, Eight Legged Freaksas Ashley Parker. The film, about a small mining town overrun with giant, mutated spiders, certainly wasn’t Oscar material, but it did showcase Johansson’s depth as an actor.

It would lead to her being cast in the critically acclaimed movie, Lost in Translationa year later, followed by the equally acclaimed, Girl with a Pearl Earring. Besides kicking butt in the MCU, Johansson can be seen in the upcoming Wes Anderson film, Asteroid Cityand is also currently filming the Apple TV+ movie, Project Artemis. As for Black Widow? It looks as if she’s done with that role for the time being.

7 Ryan Reynolds – The Amityville Horror (2005)

A man looking angry
MGM Distribution Co.

 

Like Scarlett Johansson before him, Ryan Reynolds would eventually join the MCU as Wade Wilson, but 11 years before that he portrayed George Lutz in the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror. While the film received mostly negative reviews, it did give Reynolds a chance to show off his chops as a leading man, and from there he’s go on to star in such films as Waiting…, Just Friendsand Chaos Theory.

In 2009, he appeared as Weapon XI in X-Men Origins: Wolverinebut it wasn’t until 2016 that he’d reprise the role in Deadpoolwhich won him a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor in a Comedy. He’s set to play the role again in Deadpool 3which is slated for a late 2024 release.

Related: Ryan Reynolds is Not Allowed to Improvise in Deadpool 3 Due to Writers Strike

6 Chloë Grace Moretz – Let Me In (2010)

A young girl looking concerned
Overture Films

 

2010 was a breakthrough year for young Chloë Grace Moretzwho was featured in both Let Me Inand Kick-Assthe two roles that pretty much launched her career. In Let Me In (a remake of the Swedish film, Let the Right One In) she portrays Abby, a child vampire that develops a relationship with 12-year-old Owen. It’s rare that a Hollywood remake receives any acclaim, but Let Me In was the exception.

Praised for her dramatic performance, Moretz would become a force to be reckoned with, winning several awards and appearing in such films as Hugo, Carrieand The Equalizer. She can currently be seen in the Amazon Prime sci-fi drama, The Peripheralwhich was recently renewed for a second season. Even though she’s been around for a while, at only 26, it really does feel as if her career is just getting started.

5 Chris Hemsworth – The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

A group of people looking concerned
Lionsgate

 

After hitting it big thanks to his portrayal of the God of Thunder in the 2011 blockbuster, Thor, Chris Hemsworth would go on to star in four films in 2012, with The Cabin in the Woods being just one of them. Portraying Curt Vaughn, Hemsworth would eventually die after trying to jump a ravine on a motorcycle, but his blockbuster career would continue.

He’s been a staple in the MCU ever since, and has also recently appeared in the action-thriller, Extractionwhere he’ll reprise his role of Tyler Rake in the upcoming sequel on Netflix.

4 Nicole Kidman – The Others (2001)

A woman crying
Dimension Films

 

Already Hollywood royalty by this point, Nicole Kidman starred in the gothic horror film, The Othersin 2001. Portraying Grace Stewart, Kidman gave a commanding performance that garnered her several award nominations, and furthered her career as a Hollywood mainstay. She’s since gone on to join the DCU as Queen Atlanna in Aquamanand has appeared in the MAX series, Big Little Liesand Nine Perfect Strangers over on Hulu. She’s also set to star in the upcoming Paramount+ spy series, Special Ops: Lioness.

3 Reese Witherspoon – American Psycho (2000)

A young woman looking puzzled
Lionsgate Films

 

After becoming noticed for her roles in Cruel Intentionsand Electionboth in 1999, Reese Witherspoon appeared in American Psycho in 2000. Portraying Evelyn Williams, the fiancée of Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), her role was minor in the film, but she’d be catapulted into stardom the next year with the hit movie, Legally Blonde.

She’d appear in several romantic comedies thereafter, as well as being featured in dramatic roles in films such as Wild, Walk the Line (for which she received an Oscar), and the MAX series, Big Little Lies, along with the aforementioned Nicole Kidman. She’s also become a successful producer, and can currently be seen on the Apple TV+ hit, The Morning Showwhich has already been renewed for a fourth season.

Related: Every Reese Witherspoon Rom-Com, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes Score

2 Cillian Murphy – 28 Days Later (2002)

A man on a bridge looking worried
Fox Searchlight Pictures

 

First introduced to American audiences in the 2002 hit, 28 Days Later, Cillian Murphy has since gone on to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. He portrayed Jim in the movie, a bicycle courier who wakes up from a coma only to discover the world overrun with the Rage virus.

The film was a critical smash, and would propel Murphy into stardom, where he’d go on to appear as Scarecrow in Batman BeginsRobert Capa in Sunshine (a sci-fi film that doesn’t get nearly enough love), and Thomas Shelby in the acclaimed drama series, Peaky Blinders. He’s set to star next as J. Robert Oppenheimer in the Christopher Nolan three-hour epic, Oppenheimerwhich hits theaters on July 21st, 2023, and recently received a surprising R-rating.

1 Idris Elba – Prom Night (2008)

A detective looking concerned
Sony Pictures Releasing

 

Before appearing in action films such as Thorand Pacific Rim, Idris Elba made an appearance in Prom Nighta reboot of the horror series that started off all the way back in 1980. Portraying Detective Winn, Elba had a substantial role in the film, even being the one to shoot the killer in the end, and console the final girl. Though it was blasted by critics, Elba would do okay for himself.

He’d go on to join the MCU as Heimdall, the DCU as Bloodsport, and play troubled Detective Chief Inspector, John Luther, in the British crime thriller, Luther. He can next be seen in the thriller miniseries, Hijackwhich hits Apple TV+ on June 28th, 2023.

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