TV and Movies·Updated on 30 Mar 202316 Times Non-Actors Were Cast In Major Roles And Totally Landed On Their Feet“I was destined for prison, shoplifting things I didn’t need."by Benjamin DzialdowskiBuzzFeed StaffFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink Acting academies and drama schools have produced some of the best actors, but sometimes, someone who's never acted before can step into a role and nail it. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Lionsgate Premiere So, here are 16 times non-actors have seamlessly taken up a role: 1. Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Muse in Captain Phillips Sony Pictures Releasing Barkhad was super inexperienced when he responded to an open casting call in Minneapolis, having directed a couple of music videos but never starred in anything. His audition clearly went well, and it was his quietly authoritative demeanour that won him the role of Muse. He spoke about the daunting prospect of being in a huge movie, alongside massive stars, and how the nervousness helped him become his character. Talking about his first day, he mentioned how Paul Greengrass coached him through the emotions:"[Paul] calmed me down. I remember on the first day, I was so nervous. He told me: 'Don't think about the whole movie, just think about today.'"Barkhad added that his character would have had these same feelings, "[Muse] was feeling exactly the same way as I was feeling. When he got there [to the ship] he doesn't want to mess up, he doesn't want to celebrate early."Barkhad's performance was incredible and won him nominations for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, while winning him a BAFTA in the same category! Here's one of the most iconic scene: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 2. Jennifer Hudson as Effie in Dreamgirls DreamWorks Pictures Jennifer made waves when she finished seventh on American Idol, but it wasn't just the public that noticed her talent, the casting directors of Dreamgirls did too. Even while she was on the show there were calls for her to play Effie, as she alluded to: “When I was on American Idol, I would see articles saying ‘Jennifer Hudson for Effie White,'” she remembers. “And I was like ‘Who’s Effie White?’ I didn’t even know who Effie White was. I knew the music, but never the storyline or the character.”So she went for a screen test, without really knowing what a screen test was, and impressed enough to get the role. She spoke about being new to the whole process, saying: “All of it was just a whole new experience for me. I felt as if I’m good because no one’s looking for me. You got all these megastars in it from Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Beyoncé Knowles, and Jamie Foxx — no one’s thinking about me. So I was able to do my work without having any pressure.”Jennifer's wonderful performance won her an Academy Award and a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress, as well as launching her into mega-stardom. Watch Jennifer's amazing performance: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 3. Hunter Schafer as Jules in Euphoria HBO Hunter had never acted when she got the role of Jules in the hit series Euphoria, and it wasn't even something she'd particularly intended to do:"I was modelling for about a year in New York and had my sights set on fashion school afterwards and then as I was getting ready and gearing up for fashion school I saw this casting call floating around on Instagram. It was for trans girls, who didn’t have to be experienced and it didn’t say Euphoria or anything but I was like, 'Huh.'”Despite not having a real interest in trying acting, she was called in for an audition, and the process just kept going. She was given an acting coach who showed her the ropes. She began to fall in love with the script and eventually got the role, describing the whole thing as the wildest experience. Soon she met Zendaya, with whom she'd have a strong relationship in the show, and they absolutely clicked, with Hunter saying: "We met after it had been cast and I think we got really lucky because we both love each other a lot and, you know, we feel like family and that makes it like the best work environment. It’s amazing." Euphoria garnered a huge following, and Hunter is now a well-known name, and has used her platform to promote equality and acceptance, and was named one of the "100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future" by Time magazine. Watch Hunter in this emotional scene: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 4. Henry Golding as Nick in Crazy Rich Asians Warner Bros. Pictures When Henry landed the leading role in Crazy Rich Asians, acting alongside stars such as Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, and Michelle Yeoh (to name a few), he had no acting experience. They had nailed down pretty much all of the cast, but getting the lead down proved tricky, so the director, Jon M. Chu, decided to expand the search to less-conventional avenues. Henry was found in a totally left-field way though, when an accountant who was working on the movie saw Henry hosting an awards show and thought his charm would work for Nick. The director started watching Henry's travel videos then got in touch with him via a mutual friend on Facebook, and the rest is history! Here's Nick talking about his family in Crazy Rich Asians View this video on YouTube youtube.com 5. Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fogell in Superbad Sony Pictures Releasing Chris has admitted that he didn't know what he was getting into, referring to the virality of his character in Superbad. This was his fledgling role, having only acted in school plays beforehand, and it was a character that would have a lasting impact. A 17-year-old Chris went along with some friends who were going to the audition and decided to have a go himself. He had no expectations, saying, "I don't know what they saw in me – I still don't know what they see in me – but yeah, they wanted me in the movie."When it got to auditioning with Jonah, Chris was improvising insults at him, something Jonah didn't like at all according to Seth Rogan: "Jonah immediately hated him, he was like, 'That was (messing) with my rhythm. I couldn’t perform with that guy.'"When Jonah said to producer Judd Apatow that he's not doing it with Chris, Judd replied "That’s exactly why we’re hiring him. It couldn’t be more perfect. The fact that it bothers you is exactly what we want. "The hire clearly worked, with Superbad becoming a comedy classic. Meanwhile, the role launched Chris' career, and shades of the uncool high-school nerd can be seen in many of his later roles. Here's the best of Fogell/McLovin: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 6. Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo in Roma Netflix Yalitza had never done any acting, nor did she even know what the film was when she was encouraged by her sister to go along to an audition for Roma. At the time, Yalitza was actually studying to become a preschool teacher, but took her sister's advice and went along to the audition. On the process, she said: "It was all, of course, new to me. So I just followed my sister’s advice, who basically said, 'Do everything that they ask you to do. Answer all the questions that they ask you.' I just let myself be taken along by the process."Even after she was cast, she was unaware of the movie, and the director, until she looked him up and realised the size of the role she would be undertaking, saying: "Once I looked it up, and I learned a little bit more about who he was, I realised he was this great master of the cinema."Yalitza was clearly up to the task because she played the role excellently, and Roma went on to win three Academy Awards, with Yalitza herself being nominated for Best Actress. Here's the rooftop scene: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 7. Sasha Lane as Star in American Honey Universal Pictures The story of Sasha's path into acting is incredible and unique. When she was 19, she took a week off from studying psychology to go and party down at Panama City Beach with her friends: “I wasn’t that into school; our trip was failing miserably, so I was like, ‘fuck it, let’s have fun.’ ”It was while she was dancing that she drew the attention of director Andrea Arnold, who sent her team over to approach Sasha. Her friends were initially wary of this out-of-the-blue proposition, with some questioning the legitimacy of the director, and others worrying that they may be trying to lure her into doing porn. Sasha had no expectations that anything would come with it, but she agreed to meet anyway, saying: "I remember thinking it wouldn’t ever happen. But Andrea and the crew came to my hotel that night. The next day, instead of going back to Texas with my friends, I moved my bags into her car. I said to her, 'If you kill me, my friends know where I am, so don’t try.'"Sasha went on to star in the film which sparked her acting career. Watch Sasha in action: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 8. Harry Styles as Alex in Dunkirk Warner Bros. Pictures There may well have been some scepticism when the pop star was cast in this epic wartime movie, as the famous singer had no acting experience (other than one episode of iCarly) before auditioning. Christopher Nolan actually came out to quash any claims that his fame got him the role, saying that Harry beat thousands of auditionees to land the role. According to the director, it was his "old-fashioned face" that made him right for the role. After auditioning thousands of young men in different combinations he said that Harry just "had it." Chris was very impressed by the way Harry worked, particularly having never acted before, saying: "Harry shied away from being a 'star' in it. He's a humble guy who didn't want attention. He enjoyed the idea of not carrying it; that he was part of an ensemble. Like the soldiers they played, the actors were all in it together and supported each other very well."The critics felt like Harry fit in well, with Chris Klimek saying "These include boy-band veteran Harry Styles as another terrified soldier; I mean it as praise when I say he doesn't stand out in the part except for being a little handsomer than anyone else."Harry has gone on to star in other major movies, including Eternals, My Policeman, and Don't Worry Darling. Here's Harry's scenes in Dunkirk: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 9. Channing Tatum as Duke in She's The Man Paramount Pictures The massive movie star didn't have the most conventional route into the industry. After working as an exotic dancer, he'd gotten on screen doing commercials for Mountain Dew, but hadn't broken into the TV or Movie scene when he auditioned for She's The Man. Apparently, it was Amanda Bynes who saw the star in him, and fought for him to be given a role, as she explained: "I totally fought for Channing [to get cast in] that movie because he wasn’t famous yet. He’d just done a Mountain Dew commercial and I was like, ‘This guy’s a star — every girl will love him!’ But [the producers] were like, ‘He’s so much older than all of you!’ And I was like, ‘It doesn’t matter! Trust me!'”Amanda was clearly spot on with her estimation, as Channing went on to become one of Hollywood's biggest stars. Watch Channing as Duke here: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 10. Jameela Jamil as Tahani in The Good Place NBC Jameela was known in the UK as the host of Channel 4's T4 and went on to become the first solo female host of BBC Radio 1 host in 2012. In 2016 the presenter moved to LA, with the intention of becoming a screenwriter – she'd previously been told there would be no work for her there because she was "too brown."When she arrived, however, her agent informed her that Parks and Rec writer, Michael Schur, was on the hunt for British actresses for a new comedy series. Despite having no acting experience, Jameela auditioned, and she managed to secure the role of Tahani in The Good Place. The show was of course a monumental success and elevated Jameela to global fame. Here's the best of Tahani: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 11. Rosario Dawson as Ruby in Kids Shining Excalibur Films Rosario's rise to stardom was far from conventional. When she was 15, a commercial shoot for Vibe was taking place outside of her parent's apartment in New York. Rosario wanted to catch the eye of one of the grips, because she fancied them, so she hung out on her front step looking at them. Eventually, the technician came over and asked if there were any available places where they could film, Rosario recalled what happened next: “They were shooting sounds that day on the commercial and this whole group of people suddenly turned and looked at me and I thought I was in trouble, and it ended up being a pre-production group from Kids that were scouting for locations.”Eventually, Kids director Larry Clark and writer Harmony Korine came over and asked her to come in for an audition to play Ruby:“Larry said he was making his first movie and would I be interested. And Harmony was jumping up and down, like, ‘Oh my God, I wrote this character for you without even realising. I didn't even know you. You're perfect for this character, you have to come in. You have to come in, you have to come in.’”Rosario went on to make her film debut as Ruby, which kickstarted her impressive career! Here's Rosario in Kids: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 12. Thomas Turgoose as Shaun Fields in This Is England Optimum Releasing Thomas has said that his life was "destined for prison" before his role in This is England. Thomas explained what he was doing before he landed the role when he was just 13, saying, “I was destined for prison. Shoplifting things I didn’t need. There was a hardware store in Grimsby that I used to steal spray paint from for no reason.”Everything changed when Thomas noticed a queue outside of a youth centre in Grimsby. The queue turned out to be for auditions for This is England, and Thomas decided to audition – in fact, he said he'd do the audition if they paid him £5. He landed the role of Shaun, one that would change his life forever. He's thankful for the opportunity director Shane Meadows gave him, saying “If I never met Shane that day who knows where I’d be.” Here's Shaun in This Is England: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 13. Abraham Attah as Agu in Beasts of No Nation Netflix Imagine just going for a kickabout at school, and next thing you know you're being cast as the lead in a movie... Well, that's what happened to Attah. Cary Fukunaga said that the boy was a street vendor at the time, who he spotted playing football at his school in Ghana, saying: "[He had] zero film experience, little education…but he became a somewhat professional actor, which was astounding to watch."According to Cary, Abraham learned quickly and became an actor and a leader to the other kids who he was acting with. He explained one particularly taxing shot they did, and how Abraham came into his own: “I watched him become a leader among these kids and make sure they stayed in focus and not f--- up the shot so they didn’t have to do it over again. I gave almost no direction to those kids. Abraham was driving that scene.” Watch a featurette about Abraham Attah as Agu in Beasts of No Nation here: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 14. Stu Rutherford as Stu in What We Do In The Shadows Madman Entertainment Who better to play Stu the IT guy than Stu the IT guy himself? What started off as a bit of a gag became one of the best characters. The casting itself was even somewhat of a joke, as they didn't really tell Stu how much of a part he was going to have, as co-director Jemaine Clement said: "When we wrote the script and made him a big part of it, we let him think he was going to be our IT guy and told him he'd just be in a little bit. Every day he'd go, ‘So when do I help with the computers?'"Stu was a part-time business analyst at the time and his colleagues at LanWorx were also confused by what he was doing for the movie, as he recalled: "They are a bit weirded out that this guy seems to pop in and pop out a lot. They've been asking ‘How big is your role?' I told them it was quite small. One of them said, ‘wait a minute, you're on the poster'."Stu's character became a fan favourite, and he was given the fifth credit in the film! Watch Stu doing his thing: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 15. Frank Silva as BOB in Twin Peaks ABC How Frank became the demonic killer in Twin Peaks is a particularly rare way of getting a role, and it happened by pure accident. Frank was initially a set director on the TV show, but once when they were shooting an episode, Frank's reflection was accidentally caught on camera. Being a director who’s keen to adapt and use these sorts of things, rather than editing them out, David Lynch decided to cast Frank as killer BOB. BOB became one of the show's most terrifying and creepy characters, and Frank's face would've haunted many a viewer, and all because he was caught in a shot one time. Here's BOB in Twin Peaks: View this video on YouTube youtube.com 16. Kathy C. An as BokHee in Grey's Anatomy ABC Despite her limited dialogue, BokHee became a staple of Grey’s Anatomy and was the longest-running supporting character. She brought the show the authenticity it is lauded for because in real-life Kathy C. Ann worked as a scrub nurse while she wasn't filming Grey's. Her actions as a nurse looked so natural because she did them professionally, thus the slight hand movements and actions she performed were faultless even to a trained eye. Watch Kathy C. Ann here: View this video on YouTube youtube.com What other times have non-actors impressed you? Let us know in the comments below!