When it comes to well-known actors who once appeared in horror films, many will likely point to the obvious choices: Kevin Bacon in 1980's Friday the 13th, Johnny Depp in 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street, George Clooney in 1988's Return of the Killer Tomatoes! and even Jennifer Aniston in 1993's Leprechaun. In all these cases, the films evolved into franchises, spawning further films as those actors went on to be famous while ensuring that their one-time presence in them would forever be part of the various series' charm.
Whether they involve haunted houses, unstoppable slashers, supernatural forces or man-eating monsters, horror films are a frequent gateway for actors to attempt breaking into Hollywood early in their careers. With that in mind, this article will be taking a look at 25 actors who were once a part of horror franchises.
Going forward, we'll stick with three rules, the first being that each of the franchises included in this list must have begun with a theatrical release; the second being that the franchise must consist of at least three films; and the final being that iconic horror veterans, like Robert Englund, Lance Henriksen, Brad Dourif and more, will be excluded by virtue of their high appearance rate.
While many horror aficionados may know a number of these, this list is intended for those who haven’t seen these films in recent years and may be surprised to remember or even learn for the first time that these actors were in them at all…
23. Matthew McConaughey & Renee Zellweger
The Franchise: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Roles: Psychotic Vilmer Sawyer and innocent Jenny, respectively, in 1994's Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.
Why You Forgot: In 1974, Tobe Hooper unleashed Leatherface and his family upon the world, creating a horror icon who went on to resurface in a total of six more films with another on the way next year.
By 1994, the franchise had begun running out of steam, with The Next Generation - then called The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre - being put on ice for a further three years before being thawed out for the rest of the world in an attempt to capitalize on the fame McConaughey and Zellweger had found in the interim.
With the movie itself easily being one of the worst that the franchise has had to offer and a far cry from the memorable status of Hooper's original, it's no surprise that their roles in it have long since been buried by their individual work that eventually followed.