Have you ever been watching something and suddenly found yourself going, wait a second, is that. . . ?, and then immediately rushing to double check with a Google search? It’s happened to all of us before—you’ll be watching something from forever ago, and then on another viewing, realize that your favorite character was actually played by your favorite actor of the moment.
If you’re looking for an excuse to pull out an old movie you’ve forgotten about, or re-binge a TV show, here are just some of the best actors you completely missed the first time around. It’s insane how crazy big some of these actors have since become!
Max Greenfield on Greek
Way before we got the Schmidt we know and love today, Max Greenfield popped up on a handful of episodes of ABC Family’s Greek, playing Calvin’s (Paul James) boyfriend—till he cheated. Ugh, Max, you’re so much better than that!
Kerry Washington in Save the Last Dance
Go find your old VHS copy of Save the Last Dance right now, because in it Kerry plays the sister of Sean Patrick Thomas. And yes, she breaks out some moves on the dance floor. What would Fitz/Jake say?
Adam Scott on Boy Meets World
Even back in the early 90s, Adam Scott had perfect hair. He played bully Griff Hawkings and told TV Line, “If I had known then that in 20 years the series would enjoy such a revival, I probably would have been more psyched about it.” Nothing says he can’t stop by Girl Meets World now, though.
Chris Pine in The Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement
That’s right: way before he was a singing Disney prince, Chris Pine was simply a plain old regular Disney prince—or, better yet, a Lord. There was a whole plot about how his dad was trying to steal the crown from Princess Mia, but everything turned out alright in the end. Princess Diaries 2 marked the first time Chris completely stole our hearts.
Andrew Lincoln in Love Actually
Every single year between January and November, I forget that Rick Grimes is in Love Actually, playing Mark, the man with the cards that make us swoon. Come December 1st, when I pop in the movie for the first time, it only takes about five minutes before I need to inform EVERYONE that this guy is also on Walking Dead. Every single year. How does this little casting choice not blow everyone’s mind?!
Paul Rudd in Romeo + Juliet
The facts are simple: Paul Rudd hasn’t aged in about twenty years. Back in ’96 he played the role of Paris—or Dave Paris—in the one Shakespeare movie we’ve all watched a thousand times (because ’96 was all about Leo and that hair).
Bradley Cooper on Alias
Way before Bradley was good friends with Jennifer Lawrence, he was good friends with Jennifer Garner. He played Sydney Bristow’s best friend, Will, for two seasons. That is, before Will went into the witness protection program. Those pesky spies!
Shailene Woodley on The O.C.
Oh gosh; a tiny little Shailene first popped up on the O.C. as Kaitlin Cooper, aka, Marissa’s younger sister. And OK, maybe Kaitlin needed to grow up, and Shailene was replaced by Willa Holland, but still, we’ll always have the fist season of the O.C. (And Kaitlin’s pony, China.)
Rose Leslie on Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey
It all depends on which show you binged first. So you either started watching GoT and went oh gosh, that’s housemaid Gwen! Or you started watching Downton and went, oh gosh, that’s fierce fighter Ygritte! Either way, it was confusing. And either way, it was sad when she left both shows.
Aubrey Plaza on 30 Rock
In a super quick “blink and you’ll miss it” moment, Aubrey plays a Page on 30 Rock, welcoming visitors into the studio. It’s also a very fitting role, since Aubrey actually was an NBC Page for a while.