Breakout Actors of the 1990s


A number of up-and-coming actors turned into major movie stars during the 1990s. Some of these stars include Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Johnny Depp, all who continue to be major draws at the box office. Some of the stars that emerged in the '90s saw their movie careers fade as new movie trends emerged in the 21st century. Other stars simply did not survive that wild partying lifestyle that often accompanies stardom.

Sarah Jessica Parker

  • Born March 25, 1965 in Nelsonville, Ohio, Sarah Jessica Parker studied singing and ballet in her youth. She began her professional acting career in the theater. Her family relocated to New Jersey so that she could appear in the Broadway production of “The Innocents.” She also appeared in “The Sound of Music” and landed the lead in “Annie.” By the '90s, she landed the role of Carrie Bradshaw in HBO's “Sex and the City," which also led to other film roles.

River Phoenix

  • River Phoenix was born in Madras, Oregon in 1970. He began acting at 10, working in varied television series, with his movie debut in the 1985 science-fiction film “Explorers." He also appeared in several other successful movies in the ‘80s including “Stand By Me,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and “Running on Empty” for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Phoenix broke out of his childhood film career with his role as a gay hustler in the 1991 film “My Private Idaho" for which he received many accolades. He died during filming of "Dark Blood" in 1993.

Wesley Snipes

  • Wesley Snipes grew up in New York City's South Bronx, even though he was born July 31, 1962 in Orlando, Florida. He attended the renown High School for the Performing Arts in New York City. Snipe’s goal at the time was to pursue a career in musical theater. While his first movie role was in “Wildcats” in 1986, he found his niche in the ‘90s appearing in a series of action films starting with "New Jack City" in 1991. Some of his other ‘90s films include “Jungle Fever,” Passenger 57” and “Blade.”

Daniel Day-Lewis

  • Born the son of England's poet laureate Cecil-Day Lewis April 29, 1957 in London, Daniel Day Lewis studied acting at the Bristol Old Vic School. His first role -- uncredited -- was in 1971's “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.” During the ‘70s and ‘80s Lewis focused on a theater career working with his former school and the Royal Shakespeare theater companies. He appeared in several films in the '80s, most notably in “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “My Left Foot,” for which he won an Academy Award. Daniel Day-Lewis became a major box office star in the ‘90s with movies "Last of the Mohicans," "The Age of Innocence," “The Name of the Father” and “The Crucible.”

Mike Myers and Jim Carrey

  • Mike Myers and Jim Carrey emerged as major comedy stars in the ‘90s. Mike Myers attracted notice when he joined “Saturday Night Live” in 1989, leaving the show in the mid ‘90s to focus on a movie career. One of his first successful movie hits was “Wayne’s World” with Dana Carvey. Myers followed that up with “Austin Powers” in 1997. Jim Carrey began his acting career in the 1990s filming the television comedy series “In Living Color.” Carrey, like Myers, used his television success as a jump-start for his movie career. Carrey made a number of comedy movies in the ‘90s including “Dumb and Dumber,” "Liar, Liar," "The Mask," "The Truman Show" and two "Ace Ventura" movies.

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