Top 10 Best Performances By Non-Actors

Actors without prior experience can bring a level of authenticity and unique perspective to their performances, resulting in some of the most powerful and memorable roles in film history.

· 7 min read
Three posters of different movies

The world of cinema has given rise to a number of new trends over the years, but one of the most exciting of them has been the emergence of non-actors in major film roles.

These individuals may not have formal training or experience in acting, but their unique talents and natural charisma have captured the attention of audiences and critics alike.

In this article, we will explore the top 10 best performances by non-actors in the latest films, showcasing the incredible range and talent that can be found outside of traditional acting circles.

Henry Golding - Crazy Rich Asians

A shirtless man holding a ring box with a ring inside

Henry Golding's performance in Crazy Rich Asians was nothing short of spectacular.

The British-Malaysian actor had never acted in a feature film before, but he won audiences over with his magnetic presence and effortless charm.

Golding plays Nick Young, a wealthy businessman from Singapore who falls in love with an American woman.

Golding's natural charisma and easy grace make him a joy to watch, and he is undoubtedly one of the breakout stars of the film.

Kevin Garnett - Uncut Gems

Two men talking to a man with a great height

NBA legend Kevin Garnett may not have been an actor in the traditional sense, but his performance in Uncut Gems was one of the most memorable of the year.

Garnett plays himself in the film, which tells the story of a jeweler and gambling addict who becomes obsessed with a rare gemstone.

Garnett brings a surprising level of depth and nuance to his role, and his scenes with Adam Sandler are some of the film's most intense and gripping moments.

Jameela Jamil - The Good Place

A woman with her hands together as a number of people sit on chairs around her

Jameela Jamil had never acted professionally before landing the role of Tahani in The Good Place, but you wouldn't know it from watching her on screen.

Jamil brings a natural warmth and humor to her character, a wealthy socialite who finds herself in the afterlife.

Jamil's performance is one of the highlights of the show, and she has earned widespread praise for her ability to infuse Tahani with both depth and levity.

Miyavi - Unbroken

An army man looking at a captive

Japanese musician Miyavi made his acting debut in Unbroken, and his performance as the sadistic prison guard known as "The Bird" was nothing short of chilling.

Miyavi brings a fierce intensity and physicality to his role, and he is utterly convincing as a man capable of unimaginable cruelty.

His scenes with Jack O'Connell, who plays the film's protagonist, are some of the most harrowing in the movie.

Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips

Three skinny men with rifles on a boat in the ocean

Barkhad Abdi had never acted before landing the role of the pirate leader in Captain Phillips, but he delivered one of the most impressive performances of the year.

Abdi brings a steely resolve and a palpable sense of danger to his role, and he is utterly convincing as a man driven to desperate measures by poverty and desperation.

His scenes with Tom Hanks, who plays the titular character, are some of the most intense and suspenseful in the movie.

Harry Styles - Dunkirk

An army man staring in the distance

One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles made his acting debut in Dunkirk, and he won over both fans and critics with his understated and nuanced performance.

Styles plays a young soldier caught up in the chaos of the evacuation of Dunkirk during World War II, and he brings a natural vulnerability and humanity to his role.

His scenes with Tom Hardy, who plays a fighter pilot, are some of the most gripping and intense in the movie.

Sharlto Copley - District 9

A man with an enlarged eye

Sharlto Copley's debut performance in District 9 was nothing short of extraordinary.

Copley had never acted before, but he landed the lead role in Neill Blomkamp's sci-fi masterpiece, and he delivered a stunning performance that earned him widespread critical acclaim.

Copley plays Wikus van de Merwe, a government agent tasked with evicting a group of extraterrestrial refugees from a Johannesburg slum.

As the film progresses, Wikus undergoes a dramatic transformation that tests his morals and humanity.

Copley's raw and emotional performance is the heart of the film, and it is one of the reasons why 'District 9' remains a beloved and iconic sci-fi classic.

Jacob Batalon - Spider-Man: Homecoming

Two boys in school

Jacob Batalon's breakout role in Spider-Man: Homecoming was a testament to the power of non-actors in major film roles.

Batalon plays Peter Parker's best friend, Ned, and his natural wit and charm make him a fan favorite.

Batalon's chemistry with Tom Holland, who plays Spider-Man, is one of the highlights of the film, and he brings a sense of joy and humor to every scene he is in.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse - Superbad

A boy with glasses and a backpack

Christopher Mintz-Plasse's performance as Fogell, aka "McLovin", in Superbad was a revelation.

Mintz-Plasse had never acted before landing the role, but he won audiences over with his awkward charm and natural comedic timing.

His scenes with Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, who play his best friends, are some of the funniest in the movie, and his deadpan delivery and distinctive look have made him an iconic character in the years since the film's release.

Hunter Schafer - Euphoria

A blonde girl

Hunter Schafer's performance as Jules in the HBO series Euphoria was one of the most talked-about of the year.

Schafer, a model, and trans activist, had never acted before landing the role, but she brought a natural authenticity and vulnerability to her portrayal of a teenage girl exploring her sexuality and gender identity.

Schafer's chemistry with co-star Zendaya, who plays the show's protagonist, Rue, is electric, and their scenes together are some of the most powerful in the series.

Schafer's nuanced performance has been widely praised for its depth and emotional resonance, and it has earned her numerous award nominations.

Wrapping Up!

The films and television shows listed here showcase the impressive abilities and versatility of non-actors in the entertainment industry.

They illustrate that talent and skill can be found in unexpected places. For example, Henry Golding's suave and charming portrayal as Nick Young in the hit film Crazy Rich Asians is proof that those without formal acting training can still excel in their craft.

Similarly, Jameela Jamil's performance as the hilarious and lovable Tahani in The Good Place demonstrates how non-actors can bring a fresh and unique perspective to their roles.

Kevin Garnett's portrayal of himself in the film Uncut Gems and Hunter Schafer's nuanced portrayal of a complex character in the show Euphoria are also a testament to the fact that non-actors can bring captivating and authentic energy to their performances.

In essence, this list serves as a reminder that some of the most memorable and impactful performances in film and television can come from those who are not formally trained, actors.

These non-actors can offer a refreshing and distinct perspective that resonates with audiences.

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Who are some actors who had no prior acting experience before their breakthrough role?

Some notable examples include Henry Golding in Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Garnett in Uncut Gems, and Sharlto Copley in District 9.

How do non-actors prepare for their roles in films?

Non-actors often receive extensive coaching and training from the film's director and other members of the production team. They may also study the script and work closely with their co-stars to develop their performances.

What are some benefits of casting non-actors in film roles?

Non-actors bring a natural authenticity and honesty to their performances that can be difficult for trained actors to replicate. They may also bring a unique perspective and life experience to their roles that add depth and complexity to the character.

Are there any risks involved in casting non-actors in major film roles?

There is always a risk that a non-actor may struggle with the demands of a major film role, especially if they are not used to the long hours and intense pressure of a film set. There is also a risk that their lack of acting experience may result in a performance that is unconvincing or wooden.

Have any non-actors gone on to have successful acting careers after their breakthrough role?

Yes, several non-actors have gone on to have successful acting careers after their breakthrough role. Examples include Barkhad Abdi, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Captain Phillips, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who has appeared in numerous films and television shows since his breakout role in Superbad.