Plenty of celebrities have R-rated movies now. It’s not as big of a surprise today as it was decades ago. Back in the late ’60s the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which is now the MPA, was formed when different kinds of films began hitting the scene. From then on, films had ratings. With this strange dynamic, many upcoming child stars were beginning to appear in films that were rated inappropriate for them to even watch.
The stigma of actors doing rated-R movies slowly mounted, and could be seen as something to negatively affect their chances of doing more wholesome movies later in their career. But many actors found it hard to cross over into the mainstream without doing these more risqué films. Ever wondered which famous celebs appeared in these kinds of movies? Here are 26 famous celebrities and the first R-Rated films they starred in.
Leonardo DiCaprio: This Boy’s Life
Back in 1993, Leonardo DiCaprio starred in This Boy’s Life, which was his first R-rated role. It is actually his second role, his first being a quick appearance in Poison Ivy. But the role was very short-lived. He played Tobias Wolff, a writer, in the film which is about the childhood of the author who wandered around the country with his mother. It was an interesting role first rated R movie for DiCaprio, as he was playing opposite Hollywood veteran Robert De Niro, who played Wolff’s violent stepfather.
Kerri Washington: Our Song
Kerri Washington’s first rated R film was also her debut as an actress in a major film. She starred in Our song in 2000. The setting is Brooklyn for the film, and it centers on three best friends who are teenagers with their lives intertwined. Even though the movie was not the most appreciated movies of the 2000s, it did earn Kerry Washington some wonderful feedback from critics. She went on to star in Save the Last Dance.
Natalie Portman: Leon: The Professional
Natalie Portman starred in Leon in 1994. She played Matilda, who is orphaned after her whole family is murdered. She shows at such a young age that she is worthy of playing such a complicated role, having played this role at the very young age of 11 years old. Portman held her own playing along character’s life hitmen and the likes.
Elisabeth Moss: Separate Lives
During the filming of her first rated R movie, Separate Lives, Elisabeth Moss was only 12 years old. She starred alongside Jim Belushi and Linda Hamilton in this mystery film about multiple personalities. She got her start in acting with film Suburban Commando, which also starred Hulk Hogan.
Jennifer Lopez: My Family
Who thought that Jennifer Lopez would go from a professional dancer to an actress to a pop star, all in the span of just 10 years? She started as a “Fly Girl,” a background dancer for In Living Color. She went on to star in her first R rated movie called My Family in 1995. The film is the story of a three generational Mexican-American family. Lopez is the younger version of the matriarch Maria Sanchez. Sanchez is deported back to Mexico and has to find her way back across the border with her child.
Amy Adams: Cruel Intentions
One of seven children, Amy Adams had a tumultuous childhood that all seemed to make her an even better actor. Although she did not start her with a rated R movie, she did star in one early in her career, the sequel to Cruel Intentions. It was a direct to video movie, which starred Adams as the replacement for Sarah Michelle Gellar, as the lead character Kathryn Merteuil.
Selena Gomez: Spring Breakers
When she was ready to shed her goody-goody role as a Disney kid actor, Selena Gomez starred in her first rated R film called Spring Breakers. She apparently was ready to take on a more serious role and establish herself as a serious actor.
Zac Efron: The Paperboy
The Paperboy was a standout film for Zac Efron, who was also ready to shed his squeaky clean Disney image as well. He was the title character of the rated R film, who helps his brother, played by Mathew McConaughey, investigate a death row case. He also falls in love with an older woman.
Jennifer Lawrence: The Poker House
Jennifer Lawrence’s first rated R film was Winter’s Bone in many people’s minds, but it was actually The Poker House. She plays in this film about Lori Petty’s autobiographical story, alongside David Alan Grier.
Jodie Foster: Taxi Driver
A young 12 years old during production, Jodie Foster starred in the Martin Scorsese’s American class Taxi Driver. She plates a prostitute, and her sister Connie played her body double to handle the explicit scenes.
Amy Poehler: Wet Hot American Summer
The first rated R film that Amy Poehler starred in was Wet Hot American Summer in 2001. She starred alongside Paul Rudd and Elizabeth Banks, who were all basically unknown at the time.
Alexander Skarsgård: Zoolander
In Zoolander, Alexander Skarsgård plays male model Meekus, and he uses his real Swedish accent for the role. He got his start with acting back in his home country of Sweden.
Michael Fassbender: 300
Before Magneto in the X-Men series, Fassbender played Stelios in 300. It was a spin on the Battle of Thermopylae, and he played a brave warrior.
Ryan Gosling: The Believer
The Believer was Ryan Gosling’s first rated R film in 2001. He played a Jewish Nazi, and shaved his head, gained some weight and really committed to this complexly disturbed character.
Carey Mulligan: Public Enemy
While Carey Mulligan won an Oscar nomination for one of her very first films, An Education, back in 2009. That shaped up to be a big year for Mulligan, as she starred in her first rated R film called Public Enemies.
Scarlett Johansson: Just Cause
1995 marked the first appearance of Scarlett Johansson in a rated R film called Just Cause. The film was a serial killer thriller and also featured Sean Connery and Ed Harris.
Viola Davis: Out of Sight
In 1996, Viola Davis starred in her first rated R film called Out of Sight with a major role, although she had a minor role in the 1996 film The Substance of Fire. Out of Sight was a huge success and did wonderful things for Davis’ career.
Anne Hathaway: Havoc
After starring in two wholesome movies, Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted, Anne Hathaway shed her good girl image and starred in rated R film Havoc in 2005. She was in several nude scenes and lewd situations.
Vanessa Hudgens: Thirteen
Vanessa actually starred in a rated R film before her big break with Disney. She has a break cameo in Thirteen in 2003.
Abigail Breslin: Keane
In 2004, Abigail Breslin went on to star in her first feature film called Keane, which went on to be a Sundance hit. Breslin was just seven or eight years old while shooting the film.
Zooey Deschanel: Mumford
Mumford was the first R rated film that Zooey Deschanel starred in. When the film was released in 1999, Zooey was just 18 years old. It was her very first feature film.
Reese Witherspoon: S.F.W.
In 1994, Reese Witherspoon starred in her very first R rated film called S.F.W., which has a current score of 12 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. She starred in the film with Stephen Dorff.
Vin Diesel: Strays
Vin Diesel starred in, directed and wrote the film rated R he was in. Strays was released in 1997, in which Vin plays a New York City bouncer who is also a drug dealer. It wasn’t the best success, but did help Diesel make strides in his career.
Halle Berry: Jungle Fever
Halley Berry starred in her first rated R film with her role in Jungle Fever by Spike Lee in 1991. She starred opposite Samuel L. Jackson.
Bradley Cooper: Wet Hot American Summer
Wet Hot American Summer was also Bradley Cooper’s first R rated film. He went on to be an Oscar nominee later in his career.
Chris Pine: Confession
Chris Pine’s first rated R film was Confession, which was released in 2005, which was a thriller set in a Catholic school. This film was a big transition from his role directly before this film, which was The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.