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    17 Nonactors Who Shocked Everyone With Absolutely Brilliant Performances

    They were discovered, then they delivered.

    We recently did a post where people told us the performances by nonactors that absolutely blew them away.

    BuzzFeed

    Well, our BuzzFeed Community filled the comments with even more fascinating and incredible performances by nonactors, and you are going to want to see these:

    1. Gabourey Sidibe as Precious in Precious

    Lionsgate

    "Gabourey was a psychology student when she decided to skip class one day to go to a casting call for a Lee Daniels movie. She ended up winning the lead role and was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards."

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    2. Eric Cantona as Paul de Foix in Elizabeth

    Patrick Hertzog / Getty Images, Gramercy

    "The fiery football (soccer) legend of France and Manchester United played the French Ambassador in the film. Critics were genuinely surprised that he turned in a pretty decent performance."

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    3. N!xau as Xi in The Gods Must Be Crazy

    20th Century Fox

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    N!xau was a Namibian bush farmer who had A) only seen three white people in his entire life, and B) never seen a settlement larger than the village huts of his people when he was discovered by South African director Jamie Uys. His lively performance helped the movie become an absolutely massive worldwide success. He went on to star in the 1989 sequel as well.

    4. Rosario Dawson as Ruby in Kids

    Shining Excalibur Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

    "Rosario Dawson was literally discovered hanging on the stoop outside her home with her friends."

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    Chloë Sevigny (who played Jennie, on the phone above) was also a nonactor who made her debut in the movie after meeting screenwriter Harmony Korine in Washington Square Park.

    5. David Berman as David Phillips on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

    CBS

    "David was the show's head researcher who stood in for a bit part as an assistant coroner. He was such a good fit with the rest of the cast that he became a reoccurring character, then a series lead by the 10th season."

    irishcowgirl

    6. Björk as Selma in Dancer in the Dark

    Fine Line

    "She was absolutely incredible in that film and won a ton of awards (including Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival), but never acted again. The film's director, Lars Von Trier, said that because she didn't know how to act, she lived every scene herself and that's why it's so raw and real. Only film to ever make me cry, I wept through the credits."

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    Björk is an Icelandic musician who has been nominated for 15 Grammy Awards. A song she co-wrote and performed for Dancer in the Dark, "I've Seen It All," was nominated for Best Song at the 2000 Academy Awards.

    7. Yuen Qiu as the Landlady of Pig Sty Alley in Kung Fu Hustle

    Columbia

    "She was spotted during her friend's screen test smoking a cigarette with a sarcastic expression on her face, which won her the part. She was brilliant in the movie."

    buzzmoam

    8. R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket

    Warner Bros.

    R. Lee was a career Marine and drill instructor who became a technical adviser on military films like Apocalypse Now (which he briefly appeared in). He was working as technical adviser on Full Metal Jacket when he impressed director Stanley Kubrick so much that he was cast as a drill instructor who unleashes many memorable tirades. His performance earned him a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture at the Golden Globes.

    9. Zain Al Rafeea as Zain El Hajj in Capernaum

    Mooz Films, Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

    "He was a 12-year-old illiterate refugee living in the slums of Beirut whose own experiences shaped the film. He won many awards and the film was Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. Since filming, he's been given refugee status in Norway, and had his first day in school and his first bed ever!"

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    "The way he was able to portray such a complex character at such a young age with no acting skills is truly amazing. His performance made me ugly cry through the whole movie."

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    10. Charmian Carr as Liesl von Trapp in The Sound of Music

    20th Century Fox

    "Charmian was a philosophy major when she decided to audition for the role and ended up getting the part! She never acted again, but the role is iconic."

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    11. Max Pomeranc as Josh Waitzkin in Searching for Bobby Fischer

    Paramount

    "He was 8 years old and one of the country's top 100 chess players in his age group when he was cast as a chess prodigy. He had no acting experience, but was amazing!"

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    12. Catherine Scorsese as Tommy's mother in Goodfellas

    Warner Bros.

    Martin Scorsese cast his mother, Catherine — a nonactor who'd worked in the garment industry — in a good-sized role as Joe Pesci's mother. As it turns out, her casting may have saved the film. An initial screening was a disaster because people found the film too violent. They liked the heart of the relationship between Pesci and his mother, though, so Scorsese re-edited the film, toning down the violence and playing up the mother/son relationship, and the rest is history!

    13. Keisha Castle-Hughes as Paikea Apirana in Whale Rider

    Newmarket Films

    "Keisha won the role after the film's casting director visited her school looking for a Maori girl who could play the main character. She ended up — at the age of 13 — becoming the youngest Best Actress nominee in Academy Awards history (until that point). Also, all of the extras in that film were local people who actually lived in the town where they were filming."

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    Keisha is still an actor today, and notably potrayed Obara Sand on Game of Thrones.

    14. Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fogell aka "McLovin" in Superbad

    Sony

    "He had no film experience at all, so he had to use an iPhone pic as his headshot for the audition."

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    15. Wolfgang Bodison as Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson, USMC in A Few Good Men

    Columbia Pictures

    "He was working as an assistant to Rob Reiner, who asked him to read for the part although Bodison had never acted in his life."

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    Wolfgang went on to act in a dozen more feature films.

    16. Jeanne Calment as herself in Vincent and Me

    "Jeanne was the last surviving person to have known Van Gogh in real life, and acted in this movie (about Vincent Van Gogh) at the age of 114, becoming the oldest person ever to appear in a motion picture. She’s also in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest confirmed human life span in history, dying in 1997 at the age of 122 years, 164 days."

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    17. Hiep Thi Le as Le Ly in Heaven and Earth

    Warner Bros.

    "She was a college student who went to an open casting call for the film, just for fun, and ended up being cast by director Oliver Stone in the lead role opposite Tommy Lee Jones. She was absolutely astounding in it and I never understood why she never got more attention for it."

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    Hiep Thi Le — who was 9 when she fled Vietnam with her mother — appeared in a number of other films, like Cruel Intentions. She died of stomach cancer in 2017 at the age of 46.

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