Hollywood actors

10 Hollywood Actors Who Made Their Breakthrough In A Coen Brothers Movie

As for the films of Joel and Ethan Coen, they are beloved by moviegoers for the absurd narratives in seemingly grounded situations and the historical periods in which they are set. But, above all, the brothers know how to turn their talent into great performances, whether they are seasoned actors or newcomers.

RELATED: The Coen Brothers: Their 5 Best Comedies & 5 Best Dramas, Ranked

Although the directing duo have worked with the likes of George Clooney and Josh Brolin on several occasions, they often trusted strangers, and they often directed the entire film. From future Han Solo to several MCU alumni, these actors have all made their breakthrough in a Coen bros. movie.

ten Marcia Harden


It was almost as if Marcia Harden had won the lottery, because her role as Verna Bernbaum in Miller crossing was the actor’s first-ever role in a film. Since then, Harden has had a stellar career perfectly balancing Oscar-level drama films with huge blockbuster hits.

To play the psychotic Mrs. Carmody in Mist to a doctor in Robin Williams’ comedy Flubber, Harden bounces across genres even more than the Coen brothers, and she’s now best known for her portrayal of Grace Trevelyan Gray in the fifty shades series.

9 Pierre Stormare


Fargo-Peter Stormare smokes in car

Since Fargo, Stormare has gotten regular work mostly because of his distinctive looks and how menacing he can be. Although he tends to be typecast when it comes to most of his roles, they’re all extensions of his role as Gaear Grimsrud in the classic thriller.

Whether it’s a comic version of a gangster in 22 jump street, his term of office Prison Break as a mob leader, or literally playing Satan in Constantine, it’s because of Fargo. But, he also continued to work on low-budget independent films, as his performance in A dancer in the night is unlike anything he’s ever done.


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8 Michael Stuhlbarg


Not only is it one of the directors’ darkest films, but A serious man is also one of the most underrated Coen Brothers films. Having such a niche concept about a Jewish man questioning his faith and having essentially no star power behind it, the movie did surprisingly well.

RELATED: The Coen Brothers: 10 Funniest & Memorable Characters

The success is mainly due to the performance of Hollywood newcomer and lead actor of the film, Michael Stuhlbarg. Since then, he’s had major roles in Steven Spielberg’s films, featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and his career has come full circle, as he also starred in the Coen Brothers TV adaptation. Fargo.


seven Tara Reid


By the 1990s, Tara Reid hadn’t been in many movies and she only got commercial gigs. But, in 1998, he was given a major role in the cult comedy The great Lebowski.

After showing off her Bunny Lebowski skills, her career totally took off and she became the go-to actress for brotherly comedies like American pie and Van Wilder. Although she is no longer as tall as she once was, she has become the face of the Sharknado series, as Reid starred in all six films.


6 Scarlett Johansson


Although Scarlet Johansson is one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars after playing Black Widow in the avengers movies and is a certified action star thanks to Lucy and ghost in the shell, It has not always been the case.

She was early direct TV movies, including home alone 3, but it is after his role in The man who wasn’t there a giant tribute to black cinema of the 40s, when she started to really get the industry’s attention on her. She even returned to collaborate again with the director duo in Hi Caesar.


5 Frances McDormand


No one has worked with the Coen brothers more than Frances McDormand, and it’s not just because she’s married to Joel Coen; McDormand has been with them since the very beginning, as she starred in their directorial debut, single blood. Although the actress got her big break in the noir masterpiece, the Coen brothers arguably wouldn’t have had the success they did without McDormand’s performance either.


4 Hailee Steinfeld


It’s amazing that Hailee Steinfeld was only 13 when she starred in The real courage in 2010, as her performance was Oscar-caliber.

RELATED: 10 Best Coen Brothers Movies, According To IMDb

As the Coen brothers are known for their strong female characters, although Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon starred in the film, Steinfeld is really the western’s lead actor. Since then, Steinfeld has continued to direct films in The Edge of Seventeen, Pitch Perfect, and she’ll be inducted into the MCU later this year, as she’ll star in the upcoming Hawkeye movie.




3 Steve Buscemi


It looks like Steve Buscemi has been around for decades and decades at this point, but, before he starred in Miller crossing as Mink, he had a few tiny TV and film roles that had hardly any lines of dialogue.

Although reservoir dogs arguably did more for the actor’s career, Buscemi starred in both Miller crossing and Fink Barton before Tarantino’s classic. Buscemi is one of the Coens’ most frequent collaborators, as the actor starred in five of the brothers’ films, including Fargo and the cult classic The Great LebowskI.


2 Alden Ehrenreich


Now in his thirties, Alden Ehrenreich had been looking for his big break in Hollywood for years, but he finally earned it after starring in Hi Caesar.

Although the actor received a lot of backlash for his role in Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ehrenreich gave it his all in the Coen brothers’ film. It says a lot when, in an ensemble cast that includes George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johannson and many more, Ehrenreich gave the best performance of the lot, especially since he was so unknown to the era.


1 John Goodman


John Goodman in The Big Lebowski

Even before his main role in Roseane in 1988, John Goodman played the villain in the underrated criminal Raising Arizona in 1987. The first glimpse of Goldman’s magic that audiences ever saw was when the actor screamed as he emerged from the ground in the very unique prison escape, and, since then, it’s only good times when Goodman is on screen.

The actor throws himself into every role he plays, whether he’s a conspiracy theorist in 10 Cloverfield Lane or a bowler with anger issues in The great Lebowski, and fans are still hoping for a sequel to Raising Arizona.

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Split image of The Usual Suspects and Tim Curry characters in Clue


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