What's better than staying in our PJs all weekend to binge-watch romantic comedies? Aside from inspiring us to wear elastic waistbands, down couch-friendly snacks and find a reason to believe in love again, rom-coms are notorious for launching the careers of young stars. Join Wonderwall.com as we check out the silly and sweet romantic movies that featured some of the biggest names in Hollywood before they were super-famous… starting with Emma Stone, an Academy Award-winning actress whose early career included a co-starring role in the adorable 2008 romantic comedy "The House Bunny." In the movie, Emma plays Natalie, a nerdy and somewhat oblivious member of the unpopular sorority Zeta Alpha Zeta who's determined to change her social standing as well as her sorority's future. Keep reading to find out who else had a role in a rom-com before becoming a major name in Hollywood…
Before his Academy Award-winning performance as Ray Charles in the biopic "Ray" in 2004 (and his No. 1 hit album "Unpredictable" in 2005), Jamie Foxx was an up-and-coming comedian with his own TV series ("The Jamie Foxx Show") and a co-starring role in the 1997 romantic comedy "Booty Call." In the film, Jamie played Bunz, a bad boy with stars in his eyes for a sexy lady named Lysterine (played by Vivica A. Fox).
In 2010, Melissa McCarthy (center) appeared in the romantic comedy "The Back-Up Plan" as Carol, a birthing coach and pregnancy support group leader. Although Melissa wasn't yet a household name, she was hilarious in the film, which co-starred Jennifer Lopez and Alex O'Loughlin.
Amy Adams made her Hollywood debut in the 1999 romantic comedy "Drop Dead Gorgeous" where she played Leslie Miller, a beautiful but dim-witted pageant contestant whose biggest priority seemed to be getting it on with her boyfriend.
Back in 1988 when (future) Academy Award-winning star Matt Damon was just 18 years old, he landed his first movie role in the rom-com classic "Mystic Pizza." In the film, Matt played Steamer (a lead character's little brother) and only had one scene. Still, the small role was enough to make Matt, who at the time was in college studying English, consider a career in Hollywood.
Although the 1998 movie "Overnight Delivery" co-starring Paul Rudd wasn't Reese Witherspoon's first movie role, it was her first romantic comedy (a genre she would later become known for) at a crucial time in her career where she was just beginning to land starring roles, but hadn't yet become an Academy Award-winning force in Hollywood. In the film, Reese played Ivy Miller, a dancer at a strip club who, despite her best efforts, falls for Paul's character, Wyatt Trips.
Speaking of Paul Rudd, the famous comedic star actually landed his first major movie role in the 1995 rom-com "Clueless" as Josh, the former step-brother and later love interest of Cher (played by Alicia Silverstone).
Although Jake Gyllenhaal had already headlined two movies ("October Sky" and "Donnie Darko"), he was years away from being considered one of the hottest leading men in Hollywood. In 2001, he starred in the romantic comedy "Bubble Boy" as Jimmy Livingston, a young man who lives in a hyper-sanitized bubble and heads off on a wild journey to find the woman he loves.
It's hard to believe there was a time in Hollywood history when Cameron Diaz wasn't an A-list celebrity. In 1996, Cameron starred in her third-ever movie, the rom-com "She's the One," as Heather — the ex-fiancée of one man (played by Edward Burns) and the mistress of his married brother (Michael McGlone).
Years before Jonah Hill slimmed down (thanks to a healthier lifestyle) and earned two Academy Award nominations, he was the snarky, dope-smoking roommate of Ben (played by Seth Rogen) in the 2007 romantic comedy "Knocked Up." Jonah also had a small role in another famous rom-com, the 2005 hit "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."
Four years before winning an Academy Award for her work in the drama "Girl, Interrupted," Angelina Jolie played Gina Malacici in the 1996 romantic comedy "Love is All There Is" co-starring Lainie Kazan and Nathaniel Marston (seen here). In the film, Gina is a modern-day Juliet of the Bronx, caught with her lover between their parents' bitter rivalry.
You're welcome for the picture and yes, that shirtless hunk is Channing Tatum in the 2006 romantic comedy "She's the Man," in which he played Duke, the roommate and love interest of Viola (played by Amanda Bynes), who pretended to be her twin brother, Sebastian. Later that year, Channing would go on to headline his first movie, the dance drama "Step Up," and launch his career as one of the sexiest leading men in Hollywood.
In 1997 — seven years before she won an Oscar — Charlize Theron appeared in the rom-com "Trial and Error" as Billie Tyler, a pretty and kind-hearted waitress who falls in love with a lawyer named Charlie Tuttle (played by Jeff Daniels). Although Charlie is engaged to be married to another woman, his relationship with Billie makes him rethink his decision, all while he tries to pull off one of the greatest courtroom charades of the century.
Before Heath Ledger's untimely death at 28 in 2008, he'd earned a reputation as one of the greatest actors of his generation. But nearly a decade earlier, he got his big break in Hollywood in the 1999 romantic comedy "10 Things I Hate About You." In the film, Heath played Patrick Verona, a high school bad boy who ends up falling for brainy and headstrong Katarina (played by Julia Stiles).
Long before Octavia Spencer earned an Academy Award for best supporting actress for her work in 2011's "The Help," she took on the role of Cynthia in the 1999 romantic comedy "Never Been Kissed" starring Drew Barrymore as Josie Geller. Cynthia was a co-worker, support system and confidante to Josie — a journalist who went undercover at a local high school to get the scoop on a story while pretending to be a student.
Another alum of the 1999 romantic comedy "Never Been Kissed" is one of our favorite Hollywood bad boys, James Franco. In the film (which marked James' first big-screen role), he played Jason — one of the so-called "cool" kids who bully the nerds, including star Drew Barrymore (as Josie Geller). His role was so small that if you blink, you might miss him. (Hard to believe, we know.)
One of the best things to appear in the 2004 romantic comedy "Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement" was a hunky young actor named Chris Pine (who we now know as a major Hollywood star). He played Nicholas Devereaux, a young descendant of the Genovian royal family who tries to trick Princess Mia (played by Anne Hathaway) into falling for him, but instead finds he's fallen in love with her.
In 2004, "Once Upon a Time" alum Ginnifer Goodwin (right) was still a young actress making a name for herself in Hollywood when she landed the part of Cathy Feely in the romantic comedy "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton," which co-starred Kate Bosworth (left) as Rosalee — a young waitress who entered a contest to go on a date with a famous movie star and won.
Bradley Cooper's first big-screen Hollywood role came in 2001 in the raunchy rom-com "Wet Hot American Summer," in which he played Ben, a counselor at Camp Firewood who was the secretly gay boyfriend of fellow camp counselor Susie (played by Amy Poehler). The hilarious summertime flick set in the early 1980s also starred Janeane Garofalo (center) as camp director Beth and Michael Ian Black (right) as McKinley, Ben's lover, plus a slew of other comedy stars. Sadly, though Bradley delighted fans when he reprised the role on Netflix's 2015 reboot, "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp," he didn't come back for the 2017 series "Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later." He's just too busy now — and booked solid (probably for the rest of his life).
Beautiful Halle Berry has a long history in Hollywood going all the way back to 1989 when she appeared on the television series "Living Dolls." It wasn't until 1991 that Halle transitioned into the movie star we know her as today when she acted in several hit films, including the romantic comedy "Strictly Business" (seen here), in which she played Natalie, a club promoter and the love interest of Waymon (played by Joseph C. Phillips).
Mila Kunis was cast as Jackie on "That '70s Show" in 1998 and while fans were enamored with her character, it would be years before Mila rose in the ranks to become a major Hollywood star (thanks to her killer role in the 2010 film "Black Swan"). In 2001, she appeared in the romantic comedy "Get Over It" as Basin, the best friend of Kelly (played by Kirsten Dunst). The film, a modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," also featured another up-and-coming A-lister: Zoe Saldana.
Handsome Ryan Reynolds is hardly recognizable in the 1999 romantic comedy "Coming Soon." In the movie, Ryan plays Henry Lipschitz — a young man unable to satisfy a sexually curious young woman named Stream (played by Bonnie Root) who really just wants to find release (hence the title). Fun fact: Ashton Kutcher also made his debut film appearance in the same movie!
Today, Keira Knightley is considered a big Hollywood star, but in 2002, the young actress (seen here with Parminder Nagra) was still working her way to the top when she landed the role of Jules Paxton in the soccer-meets-cultural-confusion romantic comedy "Bend It Like Beckham." The film became a major hit and led Keira to other starring movie roles, including her famous "Pirates of the Caribbean" character, Elizabeth Swann.
If you've long wondered why Steve McGarrett (played by Alex O'Loughlin) from "Hawaii Five-0" looks so dang familiar, it's likely you first caught a glimpse of the handsome Australian actor in the 2010 romantic comedy "The Back-Up Plan." Alex starred as Stan, the near-perfect guy who takes on the enormous responsibility of sticking by his new girlfriend (played by Jennifer Lopez), who was artificially inseminated with multiples the day they met. Another fun fact: Alex also had a tiny role in the 2006 rom-com "The Holiday" as one-half of a kissing couple.
It turns out there was another Kate in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," and we're not talking about star Kate Hudson. "Bad Moms" star Kathryn Hahn (seen here with "Lose a Guy" co-star Bebe Neuwirth) played Michelle, the close friend and colleague of Andie (Kate's character) who helped her while also dealing with her own hilarious romantic entanglements. The film marked Kathryn's first major movie role.