Some of the most unforgettable acting performances that have been seen on the silver screen have been delivered by non-actors. These ordinary people were plucked from obscurity and placed in some challenging acting roles where they were able to portray their roles with conviction and dedication. Here is a list of just a few non-actors who went from their regular lives into the thrill and glamour of Hollywood.
- Henry Golding as Nick Young in Crazy Rich Asians
Henry Golding was suggested for a leading role for the successful movie Crazy Rich Asians by an accountant working in a Malaysian film office. He was suggested to director Jon M. Chu, who checked out videos of the non-actor on Youtube where he hosted a travel show. This just shows how every opportunity can open doors, even if you have never acted before!
- Harold Russell as serviceman turned civilian Homer Parrish in The Best Years of Our Lives
Another non-actor who debuted on the silver screen is Harold Russell in The Best Years of Our Lives. He lost both his hands in World War II and afterwards used hooks for his hands. Harold Russell was real, compelling and natural on camera. He became one of only two non-actors to win an Oscar award.
- Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo in Roma
Yalitza Aparicio is another non-actor who has received an Oscar nomination for her acting debut. Yalitza Aparicio was a hardworking preschool teacher when she landed her first acting role in Roma, a film directed by Alfonso Cuarón.
- Darlene Cates as Bonnie in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Darlene Cates was a non-actor who got the part after the film’s screenwriter saw her on an episode of The Sally Jessy Raphael Show called ‘Too Heavy to Leave Their House’. Darlene Cates went from being a non-actor to starring in a TV movie, and some episodes of Touched by an Angel and Picket Fences. Sadly, she passed away in 2017 at the age of 69.