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Trivia: Best Debut Performances

Updated on November 15, 2016
Sam Dreiberg profile image

A young software engineer passionate about being a writer, sharing thoughts, and spreading knowledge.

I was watching "True Grit" with a bunch of friends on last weekend. And impressed by the performance of Hailee Steinfeld, we started discussing the best debut performances ever. There were many opinions, many views. And unfortunately, there was no agreement on one single name.

So I take this opportunity to discuss with you. So hop in and let me know who, according to you, delivered the best debut performance ever. I will also add those options in the poll at the end of the article and put them up for vote.


Who can you opt for?

  1. Debut performance in a lead role. For instance, Edward Norton in Primal Fear.
  2. Someone who did a few cameos here and there, but introduced himself/herself with this role. For instance, Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)

Here is my list of top 5 debut performances. You can add yours in the comments. I would add your recommendations in the poll.

Edward Norton in Primal Fear (1996)

Edward Norton in Primal Fear
Edward Norton in Primal Fear

Edward Norton killed it in his debut performance. When the movie was released, everybody expected Richard Gere to take the limelight. But Norton was no less and produced a performance as good as that of Gere, if not better.

Norton won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)

Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)
Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)

Steinfeld began acting at the age of eight, initially appearing in several short filmsbut her breakthrough came when she was chosen out of 15,000 girls for the role of Mattie Ross in True Grit at the age of 13. And boy, she grabbed it with both hands. She looked at such ease, delivery dialogues like she was born into this role.

The role earned Steinfeld a nomination at the 83rd Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941)

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941)
Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941)

Orson Welles directed a number of high-profile stage productions. But he always desired to get onto the big screen. After several failed attempts, Welles landed Citizen Kane in 1941 and introduced himself with a bang.

Orson won a Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay and was also nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Director.

Lupita Nyong'o in 12 Years A Slave (2014)

Lupita Nyong'o in 12 Years A Slave (2014)
Lupita Nyong'o in 12 Years A Slave (2014)

To win an Oscar for your debut performance speaks for itself. Lupita Nyong'o did a few cameos before but "12 Years A Slave" was her first significant role. Her commitment to the role was exemplary and performance was full of grit.

The role landed Lupita the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Natalie Portman in Leon: The Professional (1994)

Natalie Portman in Leon: The Professional (1994)
Natalie Portman in Leon: The Professional (1994)

A striking debut by Natalie Portman. If a book on "How to make a perfect debut" is ever written, this 13-year old will definitely get a chapter dedicated to her.

Natalie won Community Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

What is the best debut performance according to you?

See results

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