The Rising Stars Of ’80s: Celebrities Who Changed Hollywood And Made History


Tom Cruise – Top Gun

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Tom Cruise is one of the highest-paid actors in the world. Playing the role of Ethan Hunt in the mega-famous Mission: Impossible franchise has certainly helped him a lot in that regard. But the three-time Golden Globe winner will also have his early beginnings in the ’80s to thank for his success.
Cruise gained recognition as a young, handsome, and promising actor after playing lead roles in “Risky Business” and “Top Gun.” He made another addition to the Mission Impossible franchise in 2018 by releasing the movie “Mission Impossible—Fallout.”

Demi Moore – St. Elmo’s Fire

The ’80s was a very lucrative period for Demi Moore. Why? She was one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood during that time. Thanks to her incredible acting talent and gorgeous looks, Moore was able to establish herself as one of the leading female symbols in the 80s

After making her movie debut in 1981, she gained major attention by starring in movies like “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “About Last Night.” But it was with the 1990 movie “Ghost” that she truly made a statement as it became the highest-grossing film that year. She’s still going strong in the 21st century, having appeared in the 2020 movie “Songbird.”

Tiffani Amber Thiessen – Saved by the Bell

A young Tiffani Amber Thiessen started her showbiz career as a model in the ‘80s. Thanks to her attractive features, she quickly found success in that career path and eventually became Miss Junior America in 1987. Her modeling fame helped her land her first television role on the NBC sitcom “Saved by the Bell.”

She played the role of Kelly Kapowski on the series, and although she’s starred in several other series since then, it undoubtedly remains one of her most popular characters to date. To the delight of “Saved by the Bell” fans, she reprised her role as Kelly Kapowski in the 2020 revival of the series.

Julia Roberts – Steel Magnolias

It’s hard not to love Julia Roberts. She’s undoubtedly one of the most prominent actresses of her generation, and that’s saying a lot, since the ‘80s and ‘90s were filled with emerging stars. Roberts started to experience major fame at the beginning of the “90s with her iconic role in “Pretty Woman.”

But it wouldn’t be fair to not make mention of truly impressive late ‘80s movies she starred in—“Steel Magnolias” and “Mystic Pizza,” anyone? As a testament to her prowess, not only has she aged like fine wine, she’s continued to star in major projects, such as the 2021 series “Gaslit.”

Nicole Kidman – Dead Calm

There’s no denying Nicole Kidman’s affluence. Not many actresses can boast of being listed by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world twice or being ranked as one of the greatest actors of the 21st century by The New York Times. Clearly, Kidman wasn’t as influential in the ‘80s as she was in the 21st century, but she wasn’t entirely off the grid either.

Her most notable film during that period was the thriller “Dead Calm”, which also starred “Jurassic Park” star Sam Neil. Despite her success, she’s rarely gotten off her busy schedule—in 2021, she appeared in a mini-series titled “Nine Perfect Strangers.”

Johnny Depp – 21 Jump Street

Long before he became the world-renowned Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Johnny Depp had already established himself as a leading man and teen idol on the ‘80s series “21 Jump Street.” Depp is mostly known for his unusual roles and he got into that act as soon as possible.

After “21 Jump Street,” he rarely took mediocre roles and only opted to portray special characters. That decision has paid off, as it’s given him a reputation as one of the most talented actors in the industry. He delivered an equally unique performance as Eugene Smith in the 2020 movie “Minamata.”

Winona Ryder – Beetlejuice

Winona Ryder is now known across the world for playing the character of Joyce Byers in the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Most of the people who recently discovered her might not know that she was also prominent in the “80s. She only fell off the radar for a while after she took a break from movies in the early ‘00s.

A younger Ryder became popular in the late ‘80s after starring in the fantasy comedy “Beetlejuice.” Following her career resurgence with “Stranger Things,” she seems keen on remaining popular. She was in a 2020 short video titled “Cadillac: How Do You Drive with Scissorhands?”

Don Johnson – Miami Vice

Of the several fictional crime series that were rampant during the ’80s, “Miami Vice” was one of the most popular. As the star of the show, Don Johnson gained massive popularity as a Hollywood star. Not only that, he also won some accolades, bagging a Golden Globe award for his efforts.

Although he vacated the role of James “Sonny” Crockett as early as 1989, he has by no means left the movie scene. He’s since starred in several popular flicks, including “Django Unchained.” He bagged the role of Rick Noble in a series titled “Kenan” in 2021.

Matt Dillon – Little Darlings

Teen idols were a thing even in the ’80s. The older generation also had young stars they were crushing on during their teenage years. Matt Dillion was one of such stars. By playing the high-school stud in teenage movies like “Little Darlings” and “My Bodyguard”, he raised his profile as a talented and very promising star.

Thankfully, Dillion didn’t fail to meet his high expectations over the course of his career. He continued to impress in more mature roles, bagging an Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination in the process. In 2021, he starred in the movie “Land of Dreams.”

Mel Gibson – Mad Max

Like several Hollywood legends today, Mel Gibson also got his start to fame in the roaring ’80s. Who would ever forget Max Rockatansky, the wild character he played in the apocalyptic franchise “Mad Max.” The movie catapulted Gibson to stardom, but that was only the beginning for him, as he went ahead to achieve massive success as a director.

“Braveheart,” “The Passion of Christ,” and “Apocalypto” are just some of the critically acclaimed blockbusters he’s directed in his lifetime. Although Gibson suffered a slump at one point in his career, he’s bounced back. He starred in “Boss Level” in 2021.

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