6. Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins (1964)
It is sad to think that Julie Andrews’ role and “Mary Poppins” as we know her may never have happened. First of all, Andrews’ eyes were set out on another role – that of Eliza Doolittle in the adaptation of “My Fair Lady,” a part she had already performed on Broadway. Unfortunately for her, and luckily for us, the part went to Audrey Hepburn.
But the obstacles didn’t stop there. At the time of the production talks, Andrews was pregnant and so didn’t want to take on the role’s responsibilities. However, Walt Disney wanted her to play the part so badly that he agreed to wait until she was able to act in the film. And what a great choice that was, considering the success of the film, as well as Andrews’ Oscar win for Best Actress.
7. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Lupita Nyong’o took a victorious win for Best Supporting Actress at the 2014 Oscars. Having graduated from the Yale School of Drama and having had several minor roles in productions, Nyong’o landed the part of Patsey in “12 Years a Slave,” a harshly treated slave girl, and gave an outstanding performance.
Although the actress had previously appeared on television shows, this was her first film role – and a great one at that, as it allowed her to really show off her acting skills. The actress went on to star in other big-budget films including “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “The Jungle Book,” as well as landing the lead for the upcoming “Black Panther,” ready to stun us with her superpowers.
8. Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God (1986)
Despite having lost most of her hearing as a baby, this handicap didn’t stop Marlee Matlin from not only becoming a great actress, but from winning an Oscar for her film debut. Like a few of the actors/actresses on this list, Matlin also began her career in the theatre, and was chosen for the adaptation for one of her theatrical performances in “Children of a Lesser God.”
The film is a romantic drama that follows James Leeds (William Hurt), who starts his job as a teacher in a school for the deaf where he meets Sarah (Matlin), a deaf teacher working at the school. The romance develops despite obstacles due to Sarah’s emotional state, complicated by her relationship with her mother (Piper Laurie).
9. Timothy Hutton, Ordinary People (1980)
In comparison to the female actresses who have won Oscars for their debut film, the number of male actors who share the same honour is considerably smaller. One of such, however, is Timothy Hutton, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his first role in “Ordinary People.”
Despite only having taken minor television parts, Hutton scooped the lead part of Conrad in the film, with a heartfelt and sincere performance as a teenager struggling to deal with his older brother’s death.
10. Haing S.Ngor, The Killing Fields (1984)
Only the second man on this list, Haing S. Ngor won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his debut, “The Killing Fields.” Aside from being a man, Ngor is also the first Asian actor to achieve this honour, as well as first non-professional actor.
What helped his performance was the fact that like his character in the film, Dith Pran, who is a Cambodian refugee and photojournalist, Ngor also went through the terrifying experience of imprisonment in a concentration camp where he lost his wife, under the power of Khmer Rouge. Ngor also became a refugee after escaping from the country to the United States in 1979 after the fall of the regime. In “The Killing Fields,” Ngor gives a powerful performance that is very close to home.