Streampix Watch: Before They Were Stars

by | October 23, 2013 at 1:59 PM | Awards Shows, Friday Night Lights, Golden Globes, Hannah Montana, Homeland, Lost, Oscars, Parenthood, Saturday Night Live, The Good Wife, XFINITY Streampix

Carrie draws on the wall (Showtime)

With the Golden Globes and Oscar races heating up, awards season is about to get underway, and what better way to survey the contenders than to check up on their early work, available on Streampix? Not all of the following 10 full-blown stars will be grabbing statues, but they all made early appearances in film and TV shows available on Xfinitytv.com’s streaming service, from past honorees like Claire Danes and Renee Zellweger to a surefire contender like Michael B. Jordan, getting kudos for his acclaimed performance in the critically praised “Fruitvale Station.”

Danes, who earned multiple Golden Globes and Emmys for her roles in both “My So-Called Life” (available on Streampix) and “Homeland,” appeared in Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s English language debut, “It’s All About Love,” a 2003 dream-like combination of apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy and romance with Joaquin Phoenix and Sean Penn. The story revolves around Phoenix’s attempt to replace his wife (Danes) with a clone.

Jordan, who is earning kudos for his role in “Fruitvale Station,” drew attention on “Friday Night Lights,” playing a major role as quarterback Vince Howard in that series’ final two seasons. Jordan also received recognition for his work in HBO’s “The Wire” and had a recurring role as Alex in the NBC show “Parenthood” (with all episodes available on Streampix). Upcoming roles include playing the grandson of Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” reboot, “Creed,” and Johnny Storm in “The Fantastic Four.”

Long before Miley Cyrus was wagging her tongue, twerking for the weekend and shedding her clothes to smash her “Wrecking Ball,” she was an innocent Disney teen ingénue for five years in the popular series, “Hannah Montana,” where her only crime was bringing mulleted dad Billy Ray “Achy Breaky Heart” back into the media spotlight.

Keri Russell won a Golden Globe for her title role in J.J. Abrams’ groundbreaking “coming of age” TV show, “Felicity” (which is available on Streampix), but check her out in the 2000 British-Irish production “Mad About Mambo,” where she is the love interest of a Catholic school soccer player (William Ash) who joins a dance class to improve his on-field moves, only to discover her boyfriend is a fierce competitor on a rival team.

Carrie Preston, who recently took home a Prime-Time Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role as neurotic attorney Elsbeth Tascioni in “The Good Wife” (available on Streampix), is married to actor Michael Emerson, who played Ben Linus on “Lost.” Although she never got to appear with him, she had a role on the show as his character’s mother in a flashback.

Johnny Knoxville may be more famous for his “Jackass: The Movie” stunts and role in the current “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa,” but one of his earliest roles was as a mechanic and self-styled sex guru in John Waters’ 2004 satire, “A Dirty Shame,” the last film directed by the notorious auteur, available in its uncut “neuter” version.

The X Factor” judge Demi Lovato is yet another Disney teen idol turned pop star, but you can catch her pre-rehab self in the wildly successful 2008 cable movie “Camp Rock,” playing opposite one-time real life boyfriend Joe Jonas as aspiring singer Mitchie Torres, who attends the title camp by helping out her mother as a food caterer because she can’t afford the tuition.

Prior to joining the “Saturday Night Live” cast in 1990 with fellow first-timers Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and David Spade, stand-up comic icon Chris Rock had a dramatic role as a crack addict in the 1991 movie “New Jack City” (available on Streampix). Even before that, he had minor roles in the ‘85 hip-hop movie “Krush Groove,” the ‘87 sequel “Beverly Hills Cop II” and Keenan Ivory Wayans’ ‘88 Blaxploitation satire “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” while also appearing in a bizarre ‘87 episode of “Miami Vice,” “Missing Hours,” which starred the singer James Brown as a UFO cult leader (?!), with the entire five seasons of the series currently available on Streampix.

Oscar winner Zellweger and Liv Tyler were both aspiring performers when they appeared in the 1995 movie, “Empire Records,” about the employees of an independent record store.  Zellweger was merely a year removed from her breakout role in the following year’s Cameron Crowe feature, “Jerry Maguire,” while Aerosmith singer Steve Tyler’s daughter was on just her third feature after bit parts in ‘94’s “Silent Fall” and director James Mangold’s ’95 debut, “Heavy.”