35 actors who were in i-D before they were really, really, really famous

i-D has always been a cultural commentator, trendsetter and talent spotter. Over our 35 year history, we've featured a veritable feast of lads and lasses just before they hit the big time - when they were young, naive, innocent and brimming over with...

by i-D Staff and Felicity Kinsella
28 May 2015, 4:50pm

1. Rachel Weisz - The Boys Own Issue, No. 51, September 87
Before The Mummy, before Daniel Craig, before she was even an actress, Rachel Weisz had a short-lived stint as a model. In that time she bagged an i-D cover dressed up as a playboy bunny when she was just 17.

2. Keanu Reeves - The Sound Issue, No. 115, April 93
It was six years before The Matrix, and whilst preparing for his forthcoming film The Little Buddha, Keanu Reeves fell in love with Buddhism: "In the world that I'm in, you just want to talk to your friends, hang out, kick back; it's hard sometimes to see deeper things. All we want to do is be happy, have a sense of ease, comfort and joy. Most of us aren't looking for anything beyond that. We all want to pray to something, we all feel that something more is 'out there' sometimes. I know I do. And all this has helped me come into contact with that - an actual experience of it. And that is cool!"

Photography Stephen Hamel

3. Will Smith (and Jazzy Jeff) - The Hard Issue, No. 122, November 93
Before Willow and Jaden, there was Will. TV star, teen pop idol, the rapper your parents would approve of, back in '93 Will Smith was 24 years old and although he'd never had hardcore hip-hop credibility, why would he care when he was moving into movies? On The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, he tells us: "It was built around things I do and say, but more stupid, more like a cartoon. I'd never wear some of those hats that he would do for instance."

Photography Angela Hill

4. Drew Barrymore - The Pin-Up Issue, No. 138, March 95
We met Drew pre-Batman, when she was everyone's favorite Hollywood pin-up at age 19. The world knew her as this child star who was exposed to alcohol at nine, marijuana at ten, cocaine at twelve and a suicide attempt at 14. She peered over the edge but made it back and came out on top, stronger than ever. This is what she told us about her dad: "He's not done anything with his life. And yet I admire his freedom. He hasn't worn shoes in 40 years, he fucking doesn't even have a home. He doesn't give a flying shit about material possessions, and he's one of the worldliest people in the world. And fascinating and interesting. And I love that."

Photography Ellen von Unwerth. Styling Joe McKenna.

5. Kate Winslet - The Hot Issue, No. 165, June 97
Hot off Titanic, with an Academy Award nomination and a host of blockbuster offers up her sleeve, Kate Winslet popped by i-D Towers for her double page spread.

Photography Lorenzo Agius

6. Devon Aoki - The Next Issue, No. 168, September 97
Ok, so Devon's first and foremost a model with the face of a goddess, but she was also Sin City's deadly mute assassin. Here she is all baby-innocence and pillows, age 14 in i-D.

Photography Ellen von Unwerth. Styling Edward Enninful.

7. Chloë Sevigny (and Harmony Korine) - The Dynamic Issue, No. 194, January/February 00
After she had been declared Manhattan's It Girl in The New Yorker, he'd written Larry Clark's Kids, and they had been together for five years, Chloë told i-D about her club kid past: "I never actually was one because I had short hair and dressed like a boy. But I know all of them. I know Michael Alig and I knew Angel, the one who was murdered. He would never sell me drugs because he was saving them for the cute boys. The whole scene was really nasty though, there was a strict hierarchy and I was kind of at the bottom… When heroin started taking over it just got really gross. So many kids were dying. It just got really dark, the whole scene was kind of really evil. Before they had been these happy bubble gum kids out raving and then everybody was carrying knives and guns. One of my roommates passed away."

Photography Matt Jones

8. Natasha Lyonne - The White Issue, No. 203, November 00
Better known now as Nicky "just sit on her face" Nichols from Orange Is the New Black, Natasha first graced the pages of i-D when she was a 21-year-old "overachieving slacker." (In her own words)

Photography Shawn Mortensen. Styling Wendy Schecter.

9. Jason Schwartzman - The White Issue, No. 203, November 00
We first laid eyes on Jason Schwartzman when he was 20 years old and all he'd done was Rushmore. Who knew the star he'd become…well, we did. We asked where he'd like to be in ten years time: "I'd like to have my own brand of ginger ale and some good films under my belt."

Photography Shawn Mortensen

10. Scarlett Johansson - The Popular Issue, No. 214, October 01
Remember Ghost World? The hilariously sharp, acerbic stab at "youth" culture that starred Scarlett and Thora Birch? Of course you do. That's when we first talked a straight-talking 16-year-old ScarJo: "Well, why can't a fucking 16-year-old say 'cunt'?" and "So far I haven't done anything that I'm not proud of and I want to keep it that way. Although sometimes it can be embarrassing when little kids come up and say 'aren't you the girl from Home Alone 3?' I feel like saying to them, 'oh I've done so much more . Films that you wouldn't be allowed to see because they're fucking 'R' ratings."

Photography Ellen Stag

11. Orlando Bloom - The Together Issue, No. 216, January 02
Back in 2002, Orlando Bloom was 24 and just about to star in his breakout film role as Legolas in Lord of the Rings. Picked to appear in Peter Jackson's adaption of the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy just days before graduating from theatre school, and with his only previous film experience confined to a small part as a male prostitute in 1997s Wilde alongside Stephen Fry, he had no idea of the riches, fanboys and supermodels that would follow… "I got to dress up in funny clothes and run around New Zealand with a bow and arrow for 18 months, how bad could that be?"

Photography Alex Hoerner

12. Ryan Gosling - The Together Issue, No. 216, January 02
Ryan Gosling was 21 and fresh off of Young Hercules when we met him first in 2002. He went on to star in The Believer, a morally ambiguous feature about a troubled, intense Jewish teenager who leads a double life as part of a violent Nazi gang. When speaking of his influences, he told i-D: " One that was really important to me was the first R-rated movie I ever saw, Blue Velvet. I was really young but I had a deal with my local movie store that they wouldn't tell my folks. That film, man… I was 13 and… oh my God, seeing Dennis Hopper with that gas mask on. I watched that film and first of all it disturbed me to a point where I'm still not over it, and secondly it made me think 'I want to make movies'."

Photography Matt Jones. Styling Kate Young.

13. Liv Tyler - The Together Issue, No. 216, January 02
As she was set to play 3000-year-old elf Arwen in Lord of the Rings, Liv Tyler opens our interview with: "Aaagh! I just have to tell you something: I was walking down the street, right, coming home to do this interview, I walked past this guy who was smoking the biggest spliff in the whole world and I was engulfed in massive clouds of smoke so I think I might be stoned just from walking by him, okay?"

Photography Matt Jones. Styling Kate Young.

14. Christina Ricci - The Cruise Issue, No. 226, December 02
i-D first met Ms Ricci at 22, when she had swapped her princess of darkness act for a slice of the Hollywood pie. She told us the reasoning behind her persona as a potty mouth teen who wanted a rifle and thought incest was cool: "I became outrageous because I would sit in interviews and get really irritated by stupid questions. That's when I started saying crazy things. Eventually all the questions were like that because they wanted me to go off about something. I was a child being applauded for something so I would do it over and over until people stopped applauding. And it just became boring."

Photography Carter Smith. Fashion Director Edward Enninful.

15. Jena Malone - The Location Issue, No. 242, April 04
The Hunger Games star first graced our pages at 19, when she'd already made her name as a "former child star", and was just about to star alongside fellow former child star Macauley Culkin in Saved! and Ryan Gosling in The United States of Leyland. She told us about her "trailer trash" upbringing, her strong and beautiful lesbian mums, and this: "There's people who are really wonderful actors, but they allow those concepts to be sold and it sucks because they're just such false concepts. When you're capitalizing on the sexuality of a woman in her twenties and trying to sell that sexuality as youth and as something that teenagers should strive for, that is something I find detrimental. That's why I fight, because 22-year-olds are awkward and they're still very young in certain ways."

16. Kate Bosworth - The Drama Queen Issue, No. 243, May 04
It had been two years since Blue Crush and Kate Bosworth was rumored to be dating Orlando Bloom when we caught up in 2004: "I kind of don't like to talk about it, because it's just my relationship and I want to keep it that way. It's like this for me: as an actor you give so much of yourself on screen, there's such a huge array of emotions. Everyone sees so many different sides to you. So the people in my life are something that I want to keep safe and separate. Love included."

Photography Matt Jones. Styling Jessica Paster.

17. Marion Cotillard - The Passionate Issue, No. 244, June 04
Before La Vie en Rose, Inception or The Dark Knight Rises, Marion was in a cute French film called Love Me If You Dare. She told us: "I won't do an American movie because it's an American movie. Ever. The only good reason is because it's vital to do. I would have the feeling to betray first myself and second the audience. You can't do that. I mean, some people do, but I won't ever do that."

Photography Dennis Schoenberg.

18. Daniel Craig - The Unique Issue, No. 248, October 04
Before he was Bond, we caught up with Mr Craig about his rumored love affair with Kate Moss: "If you go and hang out with people who are very famous, then at some point someone's going to point a camera at you. If it gets intrusive then it's something that makes me fucking mad. If you're more likely to get recognized because you've suddenly appeared in a snapshot in Hello than you are if you've done 15 movies, it's quite scary," before confirming: "We're just good friends, it's tomorrow's chip paper and the truth is always very different from what you read."

Photography Steve Smith. Styling Richard Simpson.

19. Jared Leto - The Masculine Issue, No. 251, February 05
Courting controversy as the HIV-positive, transgender drug addict Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, when we met Jared back in 05, he was also dragging homophobic furor in his wake as Colin Farrell's lover in Alexander. When we asked if he'd always wanted to be an actor, he said: "Fuck no. I'm lucky that I'm not in prison right now to be quite honest with you. My brother and I were hitchhiking across the States doing odd jobs. We were doing demolition derby for a while. Worked at a slaughterhouse, never ate meat again. We both got arrested and I got out first and showed up in Los Angeles and was homeless and slept on the beach. I was a very bad kid."

Photography Matt Jones. Styling Cher Coulter.

20. Michael Pitt - The Name Issue, No. 258, September 05
Post The Dreamers, pre-Funny Games and when he was still dating Jamie Bochert, Michael Pitt told us his views on success: "I just want something on a smaller level. Class has been a big thing in my choices. If you're in the working class and you get through and succeed, it's so confusing because people think you're trashy your entire life. For whatever reason, you might think that you're jipped or you might be fine with it but you accept the environment you're given. But to go from people always having that idea of you to people suddenly being interested in you - it's a really weird feeling. If I had to explain it, it's like you're out in battle and you gotta reach the end of a field. You're with all your friends and you run and get to the end of the field but nobody else is there. You made it, and you're like, happy, but like, none of your friends are there. It's really weird."

Photography Matt Jones

21. Emile Hirsch - The Nationality Issue, No. 259, October 05
Ten years ago. Emile Hirsch was 20-years-old and was just about to star as wild child skater Jay Adams in Lords of Dogtown. This is what he said then about fame: "You've got to be super careful or you'll end up either a retarded arrogant airhead, a dick, or so rich that all of a sudden you're too good for everyone around you. I've got to keep perspective. I've got to look at it continuously like I'm trying to learn, I'm trying to live my life. If you try to be cool then you're fucked!"

Photography Matt Jones. Styling Jennifer Johnson.

22. Joseph Gordon-Levitt - The Scratch & Sniff Issue, No. 266, May 06
We first spoke to heartthrob Joseph Gordon-Levitt when he was 25-years-old and starring in the audacious teenage noir Brick: "A lot of people choose their projects based on things other than whether they like the script or not. They choose it based on money, power and politics. My advantage is that I've been through all that, and it doesn't impress me when big powerful people throw a script at you and go, 'It doesn't matter if it's no good, it's a fucking fifty million dollar movie!' Maybe I was impressed by that sort of thing when I was thirteen. But I've been working since I was six. What's important to me now is that it feels good."

Photography Matthias

23. Ellen Page - The Horror Issue, No. 267, June/July 06
Now an LGBT icon, we first spoke to Ellen Page when she was only 19 and played the slightly deranged teen temptress-turned avenging angel in Hard Candy: "I find it interesting that this film is perceived as sooo unbelievably controversial! I think it's because men don't often see themselves violated on screen. Violence towards women is just a constant in the media, but a man getting violated, now that's controversial!"

Photography Matt Jones. Styling Stacey Battat.

24. Lindsay Lohan - The Wealth Issue, No. 269, September 06
We first met Lindsay in 2006, when she had more column inches than Kim Kardashian, and was pop culture's new pin-up. After stubbing out a Parliament Light (a night time habit only) she told us: "You know, a friend of mine just asked me, 'What is it about the night time that you like?' First of all, it's the only time I have off. And I'm a night owl to begin with - I have complete insomnia. But the night is so much more serene to me. It's the only time I have to think, to just sit in my room and write and collect all my thoughts from the day. Maybe that's why I'm so into vampires, the night-owl of it all."

Photography Matt Jones. Styling Rachel Zoe.

25. Danny Dyer - The Tissue Issue, No. 275, April 07
We met Danny Dyer, the realest actor coming atcha straight outta Canning Town, back in 07, when he told us the problem with his cute but also sort of hard, sex appeal was that: "It turns women into men around me. They'll just come up and grab my bollocks and tell me what they want to do to me. The worst one was in a pub the other day, when this bird comes up to me and says 'I want to sit on your face and rubbish you.' Out of the blue. I was like 'hello, I'm Danny. Shall we get that one out of the way first?'"

Photography Alasdair McLellan

26. Rose McGowan - The Out of the Blue Issue. No. 277, June 07
i-D first met Rose McGowan in 2004, but it was in 2007 - when she was cast in Tarantino's blood and guts thriller Grindhouse - that she gave us her juiciest interview yet. And it wasn't even about Marilyn Manson, it was about her upbringing in evangelical commune Children of God - the same one Joaquin and River Phoenix grew up in: "I remember everything from the age of 3 but none of their doctrine. I remember burning a lot of Bibles so I must not have liked it. But really what I got from it was that you aren't allowed to be imperfect. When I was really little I had this wart on my hand and someone took an X-acto blade to it, spilling blood everywhere, and then sent me toddling off. I used to pray, 'dear God, please don't give me misaligned features'. I knew it wouldn't be tolerated. I forgot to ask to be tall. But I think I turned out all right."

Photography Matt Jones. Styling George Kotsiopoulos.

27. Paz de la Huerta - The i-Disco Issue, No. 294, December 08
Before Paz was the hot mess in a designer dress in one of Lana del Rey's homemade videos, she was the star of two films by arthouse film directors Gaspar Noé and Jim Jarmusch. She told us this about her youth: "When I was in my teens I was on a real road to destruction. It was a matter of life and death for me. In order to live I had to work out a lot of shit. But I've always had it in me. When I was young too, I was constantly overcoming obstacles. I feel like I've done a lot of healing and a lot of exploring, especially in the last four years. I'm at a turning point now where I've realized that I'm the one that's in charge of the choices I make. I've been to a lot of therapy and had a lot of teachers along the way. I thank God for all of the teachers that have come my way. You can really learn from everybody around you. I mean, anybody. They call the people who aren't nice to you ubugurus."

Photography Matt Black. Styling Tina Chai.

28. Robert Pattinson - The Resourceful Issue, No. 299, May 09
Remember when Robert Pattinson was just the hot boy that died in the fourth Harry Potter movie? We met him back then, when he was just 23, before he became vampire mega-hunk in the Twilight saga and Mr FKA Twigs.

Photography Matt Jones

29. Evan Rachel Wood - The F.U.N. Issue, No. 301, Summer 09
With a career that has been a showcase of L'enfants terrible and lusty Lolitas - hyper-sexualized teens in varying states of disrepair - Evan is the embodiment of precocity. Of her breakout role in Thirteen, she said: "That was my life," she says of the destructive mother/daughter conflict at the heart of the movie. "I was that character—sad, lonely and hated myself, didn't know where I fit. Issues with mom... I was starting to break away and it was getting weird. Just a bad, dark time. And I did that movie and I realized I'm not the only one! Oh my god, I'm not crazy. This happens to girls! So it got me to chill-out and just start being myself and being happy."

Photography Terry Richardson. Styling Leslie Lessin.

30. Jack O'Connell - The P.Y.T. Issue, No. 302, Pre-Fall 09
Before Starred Up, before '71, before he was Angelina Jolie's protégée in Unbroken, Jack O'Connell was teenage tearaway Cook in the breeding ground for hot British talent, Skins. When we asked him what advice would he pass on to friends and family in times of The Credit Crunch, he said: "Do one, the country's a mess."

Photography Boo George. Styling Max Pearmain.

31. Jamie Dornan - The Flesh and Blood Issue, No. 304, Winter 09
Before he was the brooding, billionaire sex deviant in 50 Shades of Grey, Jamie was making his name as a model. Here he is back in 09 frolicking naked in the freshly cut grass with Lara Stone.

Photography Alasdair McLellan. Fashion Director Edward Enninful.

32. Andrew Garfield - The Lights, Camera, Action Issue, No. 319, Summer 12
i-D caught Andrew just before he was catapulted to super stardom for his role in the 3D remake of The Amazing Spider-Man, when he told us: "I hate actor interviews, I have to say. It takes a lot to be here right now. I feel indulgent. But saying that I always used to like reading actor interviews! So I get why we have to do it. I feel that way about actors that I admire. Phil Hoffman, De Niro, Daniel Day-Lewis, Meryl Streep... I guess being on the other side of it is really fucking weird. I hope I never find it not weird, because if you get used to it you're not human anymore. You become someone else's idea. I know myself. I know I'm a moron. I know I have sleepless nights. I know I get anxious about things. I know I have huge fears about things. I know I have problems. I know that I'm a good person. But in the same breath, I don't want anyone to know about me. It doesn't fucking matter. I want to serve the character. I don't want to serve myself."

Photography Alasdair McLellan. Styling Elgar Johnson.

33. Léa Seydoux - The Lights, Camera, Action Issue, No. 319, Summer 12
We caught Léa Seydoux before Blue is the Warmest Color even began shooting and was still going to be called Blue is a Hot Color: "I have to immerse myself in the director's culture, I have to feel his culture, that's the first step towards the character. Not research, but something more organic, you have to be completely involved through culture. Sometimes you can't but I try to be that way."

Photography Alasdair McLellan. Styling Jane Howe.

34. Garrett Hedlund - The Just Kids Issue, No. 320, Pre-Fall 12
He was just about to step onto the screen bare-ass naked in On The Road when i-D first crossed paths with Garrett Hedlund. This is what he told us when we asked if he worried about growing old too quickly: "A lot of times I worry, 'Did I miss this?' or, 'Was this the right girl at the right time?' or, 'If I'd never left the farm, would I be happier?' I also wonder whether flying around the world and seeing all these wonderful things will mean I'll never reach satisfaction in life because I'll always know the grass is always greener?"

Photography Matthew Brookes

35. Emilia Clarke - The Q+A Issue, No. 324, Spring 13
Ok, so Emilia Clarke is big now, but that's just with Game of Thrones under her belt. We predict Emilia's going to be really, really, really big. Here's what the Dothraki Queen told us two years ago, at the end of Season 3, after we showed her Westeros Craft: "THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!! All the man hours! As if people care this much... it's wonderful! Geek's the way forward, man. Ipso facto, 100%! If someone called me a geek, I'd be so insanely complimented." 

Photography Sam Hessamian. Styling Michael Tucker.

Rose McGowan
Harmony Korine
ellen page
Natasha Lyonne
chloe sevigny
Will Smith
daniel craig
Ryan Gosling
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Robert Pattinson
Drew Barrymore
Jared Leto
Liv Tyler
Orlando bloom
lindsay lohan
Scarlett Johansson
Jena Malone
Jason Schwartzman
Danny Dyer
keanu reeves
kate winslet
Evan Rachel Wood
Kate Bosworth
Marion Cotillard
emilia clarke
paz de la huerta
Léa Seydoux
Christina Ricci
Rachel Weisz
andrew garfield
Jamie Dornan
Michael Pitt
Garrett Hedlund
jack o'connell
devon aoki
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