Celebrities who are well-known and successful but who are never headlined by themselves are known as B-list actors. It’s possible for these actors to rise and shine, turning A list with just one exceptional performance as a solo headliner. There are plenty of celebrities who started as B-listers but rose in popularity and status to the A list. It might surprise you who is on the list of celebrities who hovered at the B-list status for years before coming into their own and achieving high status as superstars. Here are 20 of them.
1. Chris Hemsworth
According to CBR, Chris Hemsworth remained on the B list, appearing in a few television series on Australian TV, and three unremarkable movies. it wasn’t until the year 2011 that he came into his own as an A-list actor from his role in Marvel’s “Thor.” This was a breakthrough role that moved him up on the list and it was then that the roles began flowing in. He appeared in “Snow White and the Huntsman” “Ghostbusters,” “Rush,” and more.
2. James Franco
Actor James Franco did well enough appearing in supporting roles in some popular comedy films including “Freaks and Geeks,” “Whatever it Takes,” and quite a few others. He experienced a metamorphosis in his celebrity status in his outstanding performance as Harry Osborn in the “Spider-Man” Trilogy. It launched his career from B to A status and he’s one of the hottest commodities in the film industry. We’ve seen that Franco can make us laugh through comedic roles, but he is also a serious actor who can pull off almost any role.
3. Bryce Dallas Howard
Bryce Dallas Howard is the daughter of the great Ron Howard. Acting runs in her blood, but she remained on the B list until after her performance alongside Chris Pratt in the blockbuster film “Jurassic World.” This moved her status from B to A in a heartbeat. The beautiful actress was born to a successful father, but it was not a guarantee of her success in the film industry. It was on her to bring it home and establish herself as one of the top-rated actresses in the industry. Her chemistry with co-star Chris Pratt was a part of the magical effect of her performance in the film.
4. Sir Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart was a stage actor who spent years struggling with insecurities after going bald. He is a talented actor with success on stage in live performances and television series and films. He hovered on the B list until appearing in the Star Trek: generations and other films in the franchise that emerged from 1994 through 2002. The Queen of England knighted him in 2010, solidifying his status as an A-list celebrity who has appeared in numerous blockbuster films and has also appeared in the Marvel Universe films, according to his biography on IMBD.
5. Robert Downey Jr.
According to Brittanica.com, Robert Downey Jr. is another celebrity who achieved B status, then moved up on the scale. He’s currently one of the most popular actors on the A list. His career took an upturn beginning in 2001 when he became the recipient of a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor in a series or motion picture made for television. He was also recognized for his appearances on MTV and other comedy series and films, but he moved to a top position in the ranks in 2008 when he portrayed Tony Stark in the blockbuster hit film “Ironman.”
6. Zoe Saldana
Zoe has come a long way in her career. She achieved B-ranking for her performance in “Center Stage” as a ballet dancer. In her heart, she is a self-proclaimed geek. She spent years on the B list, achieving some level of notoriety, but she didn’t quite make the top tier until she became a member of the cast on “Avatar.” She went on to appear in starring roles in “Star Trek” and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has increased her wealth significantly. These roles also boosted her popularity among fans to unbelievable levels, firmly anchoring her position alongside other A-list stars. Her most notable films include “Avatar,” and the “Avengers” film franchises “End Game,” and “Infinity War”.
7. Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Dunst has been in show business for years. The Famous People reveals that Dunst was a child actor who appeared in nearly 100 television commercials. She didn’t receive recognition until her breakthrough as an actress in the film “Interview with the Vampire.” She was just 12 years old. Kirsten grew and matured into a seasoned veteran. She continued to act in various roles. Her big break was the role of Mary Jane in the “Spider-Man” franchise. This part moved her up to list from a B-rated actress to an A-lister with multiple MTV Movie Awards, Empire, and Saturn Awards.
8. Mark Ruffalo
Mark Ruffalo is another actor who spent years of his career as a B-list actor. It wasn’t until they cast him in the Hulk’s role that he achieved A-list status. It opened up new offers which flooded in after he delivered his impressive performance on the part. Ruffalo did well enough as a stage and screen actor in various supporting roles, but he never took the center stage until he delivered a stellar performance as the Hulk.
9. Jeremy Renner
The Modesto Bee was quick to share its sense of pride in the Modesto native Jeremy Renner, for his move from the B-list to the A. He spent years polishing his acting skills, appearing in various supporting roles for the first two decades of his career. He shifted gears with the starring role in the infamous “Dahmer.” He played the role so well that he was chosen to appear in the blockbuster film “The Hurt Locker,” which locked him in as an A-lister.
10. Ryan Reynolds
According to Through The Clutter, Ryan Reynolds achieved B list status with supporting roles in films like “Harold and Kumar Go Whitecastle” in 2004. His rise to the A list began when he appeared in a remake of “The Amityville Horror,” and went on to appeal in the Marvel Universe in the role of “Deadpool.” He was legitimately on his way when he appeared in “Van Wilder,” but remained on the B list with a few unsuccessful roles in “X-Men.” It was his performance as “Deadpool” as the star of the films that moved him up on the list. He’s one of the most recognizable actors on the planet, now known for his sarcastic sense of humor and an ability to switch from comedy to drama, making it look easy.
11. Paul Rudd
Paul Rudd was born in Kansas, the son of British ex-pats who moved to the US. He’s been in the acting business for years, but he’s had his share of ups and downs in his long and storied profession. Rudd was an awkward kid in high school, but he had a passion for acting and become successful when he landed a place in the cast of the television sitcom “Sisters.” He achieved moderate success with his various supporting comedy roles, but his status changed dramatically when he was cast in the starring role for “Ant-Man,” followed by “Ant-Man and Wasp.” This is where he moved from the B to the A list.
12. Chris Evans
Chris Evans turned the corner from the B-list to the A in his role in “Captain America,’ and the first and second “Avengers” films. The Marvel Cinematic universe helped to make him one of the most well-known and beloved celebrity personalities. He’s now one of the most famous actors in Hollywood. His endorsement of an envoy for the “Live Smarter for a Better World” campaign is a positive activity that further enhances the public’s appreciation of his dedication to improving the lives of others.
13. Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow is a unique example of how an actress can work her way up from B-list status to a lifelong recognition of A-list no matter what she does with her career. She’s a Golden Globe, Screen Actor Guild, Acadamy, and Primetime Emmy Award Winner. She’s been in the business for decades, but she made the jump between the lists in 1995 after appearing in “Seven.” This was followed by a slew of amazing staring roles and performances in films such as “Shakespeare in Love,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Sliding Doors,” and “Shallow Hal.” She cut back on her acting engagements but she’s still a favorite, appearing as Pepper Potts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, teeming with other A-listers.
14. Tom Hiddleston
Tom Hiddleston was relatively unknown by the masses although he stayed busy as a British actor. He appeared in “A Streetcar Named Desire” as a stage actor, then advanced to a television role in 2001 in “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.” His first film part was in the 2007 film “Unrelated,” but his big break came when he won the part of Loki in the blockbuster film “Thor” in 2011. Since then he has been a recurring part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe lineup of films, cementing his spot as an A-lister, according to IMDB.
15. Hugh Jackman
Actor Hugh Jackman began his acting career as a novice from Sydney, Australia. After years of taking small roles, he grabbed the brass ring when he landed the role of Wolverine/Logan in 2000, with the “X-Men.” The franchise became among the biggest blockbusters and he set the tone for fame as one of the most popular characters in the Marvel superhero universe. This opened up many other roles for him as a leading man. His repertoire includes action-superhero roles, romance and romantic comedies, fantasy dramas such as “The Fountain” in 2006, “Kate and Leopold,” “Van Helsing,” “Prisoners,” “The Greatest Showman,” and the list goes on. Hugh Jackman is not only on the A-list of celebrities, he is also a mega-star.
16. Emma Stone
Hollywood Reporter confirms Emma Stone’s status as an A-list celebrity. The Arizona native got her first big break as an actress when she was cast in the film “Superbad.” She turned the corner in her career with this film, catapulting her to fame and making her a top choice for more juicy roles. She’s adaptable to either comedy or drama, securing an Oscar nomination for “Birdman” with a starring role in “Magic in the Moonlight.”
17. Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt, like Bryce Dallas Howard, turned the corner from B list to the A-list in his appearance in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It was his appeal by the time “Jurassic World” came along that helped to give Howard an extra bump into superstardom. Pratt is one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood these days.
18. Shailene Woodley
Woodley is a young actress in her early twenties, but she has already achieved the status of superstar. Her role in “The Fault in Our Stars,” based on a popular novel, was viewed as an outstanding performance, but it was her role in the Divergent Series that helped her turn the corner and move to the top tier of celebrity status. Her lead in the “Divergent” series overshadowed her previous victories.
19. Margot Robbie
Margot Robbie became a famous actress in her breakout role in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but this was just the beginning for her. She also appeared in multiple projects with famous A-listers that helped to boost her popularity and move her up in status. What pushed her over the top was her role in “Suicide Squad” in the role of Harley Quinn.
20. Eddie Redmayne
Eddie Redmayne’s appearance in “Les Miserables” as a co-star, gave his career a push to the B level. He showed what he could do and audiences were beginning to take note of his acting ability. It’ when he took the leading role in “The Theory of Everything” that he emerged with new respect and appreciation from colleagues, fans, and critics. He’s one of the hottest commodities in film and we’re waiting to see what he’s going to do next.
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