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Oscar-Winning Actresses Who Began Their Careers In Horror Movies

March 10, 2020 1.3k votes 109 voters 5.9k views19 items

List RulesVote up the terrifying turns that are the most surprising.

Every career starts somewhere. Before the esteemed actresses on this list became Oscar darlings, they got their start in the horror, suspense, and thriller genres. In some cases, even if it wasn't their very first film, it was the first time many of them were noticed, propelling them from those roles to greater glory. 

Many have reflected on their time making these movies fondly, and the films themselves have enjoyed a resurgence due to the fame of the actresses that took part in them. Now that they have a second life, will you check them out? 

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  • Charlize Theron
    Photo: Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest / Dimension Films/Miramax Films

    Oscar-Winning Performance: Aileen Wuornos - Monster (Best Actress, 2004) 

    Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest is the second sequel to Stephen King's Children of the Corn, but this movie bears no real relation the original. In it, two brothers from rural Nebraska (where the cult of evil kids originated) are adopted into a Chicago family. One of the brothers restarts the cult in the Windy City and summons its god, He Who Walks Behind the Rows, to do his evil bidding. Theron has a non-speaking role as one of the cult's followers.

    • Films Acted In: Prometheus, The Italian Job, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Devil's Advocate, Hancock
    • Birthplace: South Africa, Benoni, Gauteng
    • Nationality: United States of America, South Africa
    • Height: 1.77
    • Parents: Gerda Jacoba Aletta Maritz, Charles Jacobus Theron
    • Children: Jackson Theron
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  • Renée Zellweger
    Photo: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation / Sony Pictures

    Oscar-Winning Performances: Judy Garland - Judy (Best Actress, 2020); Ruby Thewes - Cold Mountain (Best Supporting Actress, 2004)

    Before she won for Judy, Zellweger starred in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation as Jenny, one of four teens who make a detour down a wooded back road and end up in the company of the chainsaw-wielding, skin-wearing legend that is Leatherface. Zellweger didn't speak much about her role in the film until 2016, but now says: 

    I was so grateful, and I was so excited. I had done a little bit here, a little bit there, but nobody had ever trusted me with a role before to carry a film... How we pulled that off, I have no idea. I’m sure none of it was legal... But what an experience. It was kamikaze filmmaking.

    • Films Acted In: Dazed and Confused, Jerry Maguire, Chicago, Cinderella Man, Bridget Jones's Diary
    • Birthplace: Texas, USA, Katy
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Height: 1.63
    • Parents: Kjellfrid Irene Andreassen, Emil Erich Zellweger
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  • Jennifer Connelly
    Photo: Phenomena / Titanus

    Oscar-Winning Performance: Alicia Nash - A Beautiful Mind (Best Supporting Actress, 2002)

    Italian horror director Dario Argento cast Jennifer Connelly as Jennifer Corvino, the daughter of an American actress, in Phenomena. When she arrives at a girl's school in Switzerland, she practices telepathy on insects and helps her professor and his trained chimp solve a mystery. 

    • Films Acted In: A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream, Labyrinth, Hulk, Once Upon a Time in America
    • Birthplace: Cairo, New York, United States of America
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Height: 5'6"
    • Parents: Eileen Connelly, Gerard Connelly
    • Children: Kai Dugan, Agnes Lark Bettany, Stellan Bettany
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  • Julianne Moore
    Photo: Tales from the Darkside: The Movie / Paramount Pictures

    Oscar-Winning Performance: Alice Howland - Still Alice (Best Actress, 2015)

    In 1990, Julianne Moore starred in the horror anthology Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, in the short "Lot 249." In the story, Moore plays Susan, the snobby girlfriend of Lee (Robert Sedgwick). The two cheat and frame a fellow student (Steve Buscemi) at their college, only to end up the victims of a resurrected mummy.

    • Films Acted In: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, The Big Lebowski, Boogie Nights, Children of Men
    • Birthplace: Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA
    • Nationality: United States of America, United Kingdom
    • Height: 5'2"
    • Parents: Anne Love Smith, Peter Moore Smith
    • Children: Liv Freundlich, Caleb Freundlich
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