Hollywood has a special way of letting audiences know when a new talent is about to amaze them: the “introducing” credit.
The credit denotes that an actor is making his or her film debut in a leading role, and it was more common in the old days than it is now.
Occasionally it’s done as a joke with established stars. Steven Soderbergh put “introducing Julia Roberts” in the credits of “Ocean’s 11” (2001) and did it again with Daniel Craig in this year’s “Logan Lucky.”
Often it’s given to child actors, like Brandon de Wilde in “Shane” (1953) or Millicent Simmonds, the 14-year-old from Bountiful starring in Todd Haynes’ new movie “Wonderstruck” (opening Friday in Utah theaters).
In honor of Simmonds’ acclaimed debut in “Wonderstruck,” here (in chronological order) are seven notable performances that earned their unknown actors the “introducing” credit:
1. Ingrid Bergman, “Intermezzo: A Love Story” (1939)
Producer David Selznick brought Bergman to America, and the first thing he cast her in was a remake of a movie she made back home in Sweden. Bergman played Anita, an accompanist to a concert violinist (Leslie Howard) who sacrifices his marriage to be with her — until she rejects him out of guilt over breaking up his family.
2. Paul Newman, “The Silver Chalice” (1954)
Newman made his big-screen debut in this biblical epic, as a Greek sculptor tasked with making a cast of the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper. Newman hated the movie so much that when it premiered on TV in 1966, he took out an ad in the trade paper Variety apologizing for his performance and begging people not to watch. (The move backfired, and ratings were high.)
3. Warren Beatty, “Splendor in the Grass” (1961)
Natalie Wood was a movie veteran when she starred in this Elia Kazan-directed drama as a sensitive high-schooler in love with the football hero in a Kansas town in 1928. Her handsome co-star, Beatty, was making his movie debut as the quarterback under pressure to live up to his father’s ambitions.
4. Robert Redford, “War Hunt” (1962)
Redford got his movie break playing a naive private assigned to a U.S. Army unit during the Korean War who runs up against a psychotic soldier (John Saxon) who seems to be fighting his own war. On the set, Redford befriended a castmate, Sydney Pollack — who went on to direct him in seven movies, including “Jeremiah Johnson,” “The Way We Were” and “Out of Africa.”
5. Sue Lyon, “Lolita” (1962)
Lyon was 14 when Stanley Kubrick cast her as the title nymphet of Vladimir Nabokov’s still-controversial novel, two years older than the character was in the book. After “Lolita,” Lyon had a turbulent personal life, marrying five times (once to a man in prison for murder), and left showbiz in 1980 after having no roles as big as the one in her debut.
6. Peter O’Toole, “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962)
T.E. Lawrence, the British adventurer who united the Arab tribes to battle the Turks during World War I, was actually the fourth movie role in O’Toole’s career. But his portrayal in David Lean’s epic was the one that made him an international star.
7. Cameron Diaz, “The Mask” (1994)
Diaz had five years’ experience as a fashion model when, at 21, she auditioned for the role of a sultry jazz singer who romances Jim Carrey’s outrageous alter ego. Since then, she’s raised her star power substantially — and gave voice to the love interest of another green guy: Shrek.