20 Celebrities' First R-Rated Movie Roles

Selena Gomez, Ashley BensonSelena Gomez and Ashley Benson appeared in their first R-rated movie with last month’s ‘Spring Breakers.’

If you’re under 17, you can’t see R-rated movies without an adult, but there are no rules about acting in them.

Some of the industry’s most famous faces starred in some very adult movies at a young age while others were a little more patient.

2013: Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson - 'Spring Breakers'

Disney sweetheart Gomez and ABC Family star Benson were surprising additions to director Harmony Korine's lurid tale of guns and sex in sun-soaked Florida, Spring Breakers. For both young actresses their decision to take part was based on doing something different and more adult.

2012: Zac Efron - 'The Paperboy'

Efron appeared in 2012's The Paperboy as the film's title character who falls for an older woman while helping his brother, a journalist, investigate a case involving a death row inmate. The Disney star did 10 movies before committing to his R-rated feature.

2008: Jennifer Lawrence - 'The Poker House'

Some might guess Winter's Bone was Lawrence's first R-rated role, but it's actually The Poker House that claims the distinction. She plays a young girl growing up in Iowa in Lori Petty's semi-autobiographical story. Petty wrote the film along with David Alan Grier, of all people.

2005: Anne Hathaway - 'Havoc'

Hathaway wasted little time shedding her Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted image by appearing in the critically-panned Havoc in 2005. Her character has several nude scenes and talks tough while hanging out with gang members and drug dealers in inner-city LA.

2005: Ellen Page - 'Hard Candy'

For Ellen Page, Hard Candy was her coming out party. She gives an unsettling performance as a teen who turns the tables on a sexual predator, played by Patrick Wilson. She was 18 at the time, but looked about 13 thanks in part to that short haircut.

2003: Vanessa Hudgens, Evan Rachel Wood, Nikki Reed - 'Thirteen'

In Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke's directorial debut, she cast three future stars in Hudgens, Wood, and Reed (who wrote the film). Hudgens' role is small, while Wood and Reed discover drugs, sex, and larceny as two 13-year-olds trying to grow up too fast.

2002: James Franco - 'Deuces Wild'

Another Spring Breakers star, Franco, made his R-rated debut in 2002's Deuces Wild, as a Brooklyn greaser named Tino Verona. The Palo Alto native pulled off the New Yorker attitude but the movie remains one of his more obscure projects.

2001: Ryan Gosling - 'The Believer'

Gosling turned heads in a major way with his first R-rated role, as a conflicted Jewish Nazi in 2001'sThe Believer. Shedding his Tiger Beat image, Gosling shaved his head, bulked up, and issued several violent beatings while delivering an acclaimed multi-layered performance.

2001: Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper - 'Wet Hot American Summer'

In 2001, Wet Hot American Summer starred some seriously funny young actors. Two of them were going R for the first time, Poehler and Cooper. They share several scenes as the movie's summer camp talent show producers, but Cooper's character is most remembered for a very weird makeout session with Michael Ian Black.

1999: Jessica Alba - 'Idle Hands'

In 1999, Alba was an unknown TV actress breaking into feature film work with a scantily-clad horror role like so many other young actresses do early in their careers. But she stood out like a lone tulip in a bed of dirt in the film and was on her way to stardom.

1996: Luke and Owen Wilson - 'Bottle Rocket'

The Wilson brothers starred in Wes Anderson's first feature, Bottle Rocket, which Owen also co-wrote, in 1996. The two play best friends who devise a scheme to rob a factory, but the real story is the film's smart casual humour and Owen's great performance as Dignan.

1995: Scarlett Johansson - 'Just Cause'

In 1995, a 10-year-old Scarlett Johansson appeared in the frightening serial killer thriller Just Cause alongside Sean Connery and a menacing Ed Harris, who kidnaps the youngster near the end. Scarlett must have liked the intensity because her next two roles were rated R as well (Manny & Lo, If Lucy Fell).

1994: Natalie Portman - 'Leon: The Professional'

Some kids are just born to act and Portman shows some very grown-up chops as an 11-year-old in 1994's Leon. Her role as Mathilda finds her orphaned after her family is murdered, facing down a psychotic Gary Oldman, and finding love again in the form of a French hitman played by Jean Reno.

1993: Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Renee Zelwegger - 'Dazed and Confused'

Dazed jump-started the careers of three Hollywood mainstays in McConaughey, Affleck, and Zelwegger, who barely appears in the film but you can see her at left walking by Don, Wooderson, Pink, and Mitch (she also holds the funnel for Parker Posey at the beer blast).

1991: Halle Berry - 'Jungle Fever'

Halle Berry's first R-rated role came in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever in 1991. She and Samuel L. Jackson play a charming crackhead couple who swig from 40 ounce bottles and argue hilariously.

1988: Julia Roberts, Matt Damon - 'Mystic Pizza'

Megastars Roberts and Damon made their first appearances in an R feature in the coming-of-age film, Mystic Pizza. Upon its release, Roger Ebert said the film 'may someday become known for the movie stars it showcased back before they became stars.' Smart dude.

1982: Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage, Eric Stoltz - 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High'

Like Dazed and Confused in the '90s, Fast Times was the seminal high school flick of the '80s. Eventual Best Actor Oscar winners Penn and Cage tackled their first R film along with Stoltz. The latter two have tiny roles, but Penn's Jeff Spicoli is a Hollywood stoner icon.

1978: Meryl Streep - 'The Deer Hunter'

Meryl Streep had an impressive R-rated debut on the silver screen, starring as Linda in Michael Cimino's Best Picture-winning The Deer Hunter in 1978. She was 28 at the time having moved into film late after a successful stage career.

1976: Jodie Foster - 'Taxi Driver'

Foster, who was 12 during filming, plays a prostitute in Martin Scorsese's American classic Taxi Driver. To work around the more explicit scenes in the film, her sister Connie (who was 19), was used as a body double.

1974: Jeff Goldblum, Denzel Washington - 'Death Wish'

Death Wish is remembered as Charles Bronson's signature film, but it also starred two up-and-comers as New York City thugs. Washington has a small scene, but Goldblum has an especially crucial role as one of the young hoods who terrorize Bronson's family.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.