Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

Over the years, we have seen some actor make terrific big screen debuts - with some being awarded with major gongs.

The two most talked about debut actors at the moment come in the form of Lupita Nyong'o and Barkhad Abdi, who are both in the Oscar mix for their work in 12 Years A Slave and Captain Phillips.

So we take a look at some of the best debut performances over the years.

- Julie Andrews - Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins remains one of the most iconic and much loved movies of all time - hard to believe is was Julie Andrews first big screen outing.

Andrews made a name for herself in theatre, before making the transition to the big screen in the 1964 Disney film: which was an adaptation of the book by P. L. Travers.

Mary Poppins is widely regarded as one of the greatest children's film of all time, with a truly memorable performance from Andrews.

This was a graceful and charming performance from Andrews, which showed off both her acting and singing abilities.

The movie was a box office smash and went on to win five Oscars; including a Best Actress gong for Andrews.

She would go on to enjoy a hugely successful career with The Sound of Music, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Victor Victoria under her belt.

- Natalie Portman - Leon

Natalie Portman is one of the most versatile actresses of her generation, and she kicked off her varied career in 1995 with Leon.

Leon saw Luc Besson in the director's chair, while Jean Reno and Gary Oldman starred alongside Portman in the film. Portman took on the role of a young girl who teams up with a hitman after her parents are killed in a police raid.

Portman delivers a performance that you absolutely cannot take your eyes off for one second; she really does have bags of confidence from the word go.

Portman has a great chemistry with Reno, and this central relationship is really what pushes this film forward.

Since then, Portman has moved from mainstream projects such as Star Wars and Thor, to smaller projects such as Garden Stare and Brothers.

She scooped her first Best Actress Oscar for her terrific central performance in Black Swan.

- Alan Rickman - Die Hard

Alan Rickman has had an acting career that has spanned in excess of over thirty years.

Rickman kicked off his career in 1978, but it wasn't until ten years later that he made his big screen debut... and it was Die Hard that was his debut.

Die Hard is a fast paced, high-octane movie that is a lot of fun from start to finish. In this one film, two iconic characters were created in the form of John McClane and Hans Gruber.

Rickman has always been fantastic at playing a villain, and Gruber really is one of the best.

It is a charismatic performance from Rickman as he finds the perfect balance between suave and chilling.

- Ed Norton - Primal Fear

Edward Norton has delivered some terrific performances during his career, and he kicked that off with Primal Fear.

Primal Fear was a big screen adaptation of the novel by William Diehl, and saw Norton team up with Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and director Gregory Hoblit.

Norton took on the role of Aaron, an altar boy who is accused of murdering a priest.

Norton delivers a truly chilling performance in the role of Aaron, immediately showing what a great acting talent that he was.

The actor has gone on to have a great career with the likes of Fight Club, American History X, and Frida under his belt.

- Anna Paquin - The Piano

Anna Paquin made her big screen debut back in 1993, as she starred in Jane Campion's The Piano.

The movie saw her star alongside Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, and Sam Neill, and follows a woman and her daughter who travel to New Zealand for an arranged marriage.

This is a melancholic film that explores themes of passion and despair, and sees the whole cast on top form.

At the tender age of eleven, Paquin delivered a terrific performance: a performance that earnt her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. She is the second youngest winner in Oscar history.

Since this success, Paquin has moved between film and TV projects with the likes of X-Men, Amistad and True Blood under her belt.

- Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years A Slave

Lupita Nyong'o is set to be one of the breakout stars of 2014, with her fantastic performance in 12 Years A Slave.

12 Years A Slave is an adaptation of Solomon Northups's memoir, and sees Steve McQueen return to the director's chair.

Nyong'o takes on the role of Patsey, a slave who suffers physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her 'owner'.

12 Years A Slave is a mighty and powerful movie - if really is filmmaking of the highest order - with all of the cast on top form.

It is stunning to think that this is Nyong'o's big screen debut as she delivers an incredibly powerful and moving performance.

She has been in the mix at the Baftas and Golden Globes, and is in the running for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

- Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips

Barkhad Abdi is another debut actor who has been whipping up a storm in recent month.

Abdi stars in Paul Greengrass' Captain Phillips, and plays the leader of the Somali pirates who hijack an American container ship.

Tom Hanks takes on the title role, in what is a great performance from the double Oscar winner... but the inexperience Abdi was more than a match for him.

The tense relationship between Phillips and Muse is really what drives the film forward, as they both battle to get the upper hand and understand one another.

This is a first acting role for Abdi, after attending an open audition for the film. He has just scooped the Best Supporting Actor Bafta, and is in the mix for the Oscar.

We will see if Lupita Nyong'o and Barkhad Abdi triumph at the Oscars on 2nd March.


by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
find me on and follow me on


Tagged in



  1. by Becca 20th Feb 2014 10:07

    Lupita Nyong'o delivered some a terrific first performance - she really does deserve to win the Oscar.

  2. by Laura 20th Feb 2014 10:07

    Lupita Nyong'o gives a wonderful performance in 12 Years A Slave and she really should have won the Bafta at the weekend for her work. Fingers crossed for the Oscar.

  3. by Gemma 20th Feb 2014 10:08

    I didn't know that Mary Poppins was Julie Andrews' first role - bravo!!