Stars in Rewind is a feature that looks at what our favorite movie stars were doing before they were our favorite movie stars. You can find it here every other Monday.
We've all got to start somewhere.
You don't just wake up one morning, put on a tux, drive to the Kodak Theater and waltz up on stage to receive your little golden Oscar statuette without a long history of bit parts, embarrassing roles and forgotten work littering your past. Would Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Melissa Leo and Christian Bale prefer that we forget some of the early building blocks that have led them to their current station in life? Probably. However, their status as Academy Award-winning thespians will surely cushion the blow of us taking a tour of their earliest work.
First, let's take a look at the acting debut of Melissa Leo, who took home Best Supporting Actress for her work in 'The Fighter'. The time? 1985. The show? The long-running daytime soap opera, 'All My Children.' The role? Linda Warner, who, in the scene below, exchanges nasty verbal barbs with Nina Cortlandt before the two of them trade blows in an epic (for daytime TV) catfight. This may not be the most honest, truthful work she's come to be known for, but it's soapy histrionics at their very best.
Check out that clip, as well as the debut work from Firth, Portman and Bale after the jump!
Before he was a go-to heart-throb for British romantic comedies, the ideal romantic lead for adaptations of austere 19th century novels and an Oscar-winner for 'The King's Speech', Colin Firth was the second lead in 1984's 'Another Country,' where he played Tommy Judd, a Marxist student who befriends his openly gay classmate, Guy Bennett (Rupert Everett).
An adaptation of an acclaimed play (which was itself loosely based on the early life of Soviet spy/British traitor Guy Burgess), 'Another Country' features Firth already doing what he does best: being ridiculously, awesomely British in every sense of the word. As young as Firth looks, his one-of-a-kind voice sounds the same as it always has.
Although Natalie Portman will forever be known for her Oscar winning performance as Nina Sayers in 'Black Swan', she played another Nina back in 1994. Although that was the year of her breakthrough performance in Luc Besson's action classic 'The Professional,' the thirty-minute student film 'Developing' was finished first, making it her official debut.
Rarely seen -- and unavailable on DVD or VHS -- the short features Portman battling puberty while trying to come to terms with her mother's breast cancer. Even at 13, you can already see the beginning of Portman's quiet, understated style, which would be so beautifully and horrifyingly subverted in 'Black Swan.'
Finally, we arrive at Batman himself, Christian Bale, now an Oscar winner for his work in 'The Fighter.' For a lot of movie fans, Bale seemingly appeared out of nowhere in the late '90s and early '00s with incredible work in films like 'Velvet Goldmine' and 'American Psycho,' but his career stretches back much further than that.
Before his breakthrough performance in Steven Spielberg's 'Empire of the Sun,' a 12-year-old Bale had a supporting turn in the TV miniseries 'Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna' as Alexei Nikolaevich, the only son of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, who was killed alongside the rest of his family during the Russian Revolution of 1917. Alexei was a hemophiliac, proving that Bale's attraction to strained, sickly and incredibly thin characters has a very early origin.