Jamie Lee Curtis was on today’s Bonnie Hunt Show to hype the release of her 8 th children’s book "Big Words for Little People" an...

Screaming for Stardom: Actors Who Hit it Big with Horror

Jamie Lee Curtis was on today’s Bonnie Hunt Show to hype the release of her 8th children’s book "Big Words for Little People" and it looks like she’s doing her best to dissociate herself from her horror roots. “As you know I got my start in horror,” she began before launching into a discussion about the content of her new book, and how it encourages family values by teaching kids the meaning of big words like “respect” and “consequences”.

She then told a story of how a parent at a book signing told her that his little girl loved Halloween. Curtis’s reaction was complete shock as she dubbed the film “not at all appropriate” for kids that age. Jamie ended the interview with the statement that “now I can make films that make people smile” as Bonnie mentioned Curtis’s latest film Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008) is now available on DVD. Though Jamie Lee has come a long way since her horror days, she is just one of dozens of actors that got their start in show business by starring in horror films.

Tom Hanks “He Knows You’re Alone” (1980)
Though the title doesn’t offer much, in He Knows You’re Alone a jumpy bride is stalked by a serial killer who is obsessed with killing brides-to-be and anyone who happens to be around them. Tom Hanks plays the psych major boyfriend of the bride-to-be’s friend, and was originally supposed to be killed in the film, but filmmakers liked his performance so much they decided to let him live.

Jason Alexander “The Burning” (1981)
Before Jason Alexander played the lovable and neurotic George Costanza on Seinfeld he was just another teenage slasher victim in The Burning. In the film, a caretaker is horribly disfigured by a mean spirited prank orchestrated by the kids at a New York summer camp. The accident triggers his murderous rage and he goes after the teenagers who hurt him with a pair of shears. This film was also where writers Bob and Harvey Weinstein got their start and features a twenty-something Holly Hunter in the background.

Johnny Depp “Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
Johnny Depp appears as Glen Lantz, the boyfriend of Nancy Thompson who is terrorized by the spectral Freddy Krueger in her dreams. Despite Nancy’s warnings to stay awake, Glen is dragged down into his bed by Freddy followed by a geyser of blood. Depp would hit it big on the show 21 Jump Street three years later, a success that would lead to even bigger and more complex roles like Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Ed Wood (1994). Depp also appeared briefly in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) as a way of paying homage to his horror movie roots.

Kevin Bacon “Friday the 13th” (1984)
Bacon provided one of horror fans’ favorite death scenes in Friday the Thirteenth. Bacon plays Jack, a teenage camper who gets an arrow through the neck just as he’s trying to enjoy a clandestine smoke.

Patricia Arquette “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” (1987)
Before her hit show Medium, Patricia Arquette played Kristen Parker, a girl with the ability to draw other people into her dreams in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. She teams up with Heather Langenkamp (Nancy Thompson) from the first Nightmare on Elm Street, who has become a psychiatrist specializing in dream therapy to end Freddy’s reign of terror.

George Clooney “Return to Horror High” (1987)
George Clooney wasn’t always the bobble-headed sexpot he is today, no sir. He once played an actor/security guard in the B grade slasher Return to Horror High. The movie chronicles the making of a movie about a series of brutal murders that took place at Crippen High School in 1982 that is shooting on location at the school (confused yet?). Clooney walks off the set of the film after learning he’s been offered a better role in a TV series. He gets lost in the winding halls of the high school where he is summarily sliced and diced by the killer within the first fifteen minutes of the movie.

Vanna White “Graduation Day” (1981)
Before this lovely lady was turning letters on Wheel of Fortune, she was one of the many frightened teenagers trying to escape the wrath of a sweat-suit clad slasher wearing a fencing mask in Graduation Day. Laura, a high school track runner, dies from a sudden heart attack after finishing a 30-second 100-meter race. Her death triggers a rash of killings aimed at members of the school track team.

Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation” (1994).
In a mega-star double whammy Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger appeared opposite each other in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Zellweger plays Jenny, a high school girl out with her friends on prom night when their car breaks down in the Texas backwoods. They stumble upon the home of Leatherface and his deranged family including Vilmer, played by McConaughey.

Leslie Nelson “Prom Night” (1980)
High school seniors Kelly, Jude, Wendy, and Nick are responsible for the death of ten year old Robin Hammond, who they taunted and teased when they were twelve until she accidentally backed out of an open window. The four have put the past behind them and never told anyone about the horrible accident, but someone knows what they did and is out for revenge. Leslie Nelson plays the school principle father of Kim, the little dead girl’s sister. Prom Night also stars Jamie Lee Curtis, fresh off her success from Halloween.