Indie films vary from the popular blockbusters that fill our local cinemas in that tiny production firms and individual financiers often obtain their budgets. Although many may debate which art form is superior, both major blockbusters and smaller independent films have their advantages. Indie films may lack the spectacular special effects of the Marvel or the "Fast and Furious" franchise, whose recent film, "Fast X," reportedly had a $300 million budget. Still, they have an opportunity to focus on appealing to a niche audience through unconventional subject matter and inventive storytelling.
Many of today's stars began their careers in indie films. While many of them have since shifted to mainstream cinema and never looked back, others still have the desire to revisit their beginnings, try something new, and demonstrate their flexibility as an actor. Here are four actors who have succeeded in both major blockbuster movies and indie films.
Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation, 2003)
Scarlett Johansson began her acting career by enrolling in Lee Strasberg's acting workshops. Charlotte, in the 2003 independent film "Lost in Translation," was one of her first roles.
The film was about a neglected young woman (Johansson) and an aging movie star (Bill Murray) who forged an improbable friendship after meeting in Tokyo. Scarlett Johansson received the BAFTA for Best Actress in a Leading Role and the Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for her performance.
Oscar Isaac in “The Card Counter” (2021)
Early in the 2010s, Isaac's breakthrough films were "Drive" and "Inside Llewyn Davis." Since then, he has been in blockbuster series like "Star Wars," "Dune," and the Marvel Cinematic Universe's "Moon Knight." The New York Times named him fourteenth among the twenty-five finest performers of this century in 2020. Even if he can write his own ticket, he continues to flex his acting abilities in smaller films such as Paul Schrader's heady and addictive "The Card Counter." Isaac is the epitome of a celebrity who refuses to set boundaries for himself.
John Travolta in "Pulp Fiction" (1994)
Before Quentin Tarantino cast him as Vincent Vega in his magnum work, John Travolta was more recognized for disco dancing and the hand jive than as a serious actor. Produced for about $8 million and produced by the Weinsteins, the film won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and inspired decades of terrible Halloween costumes.
Christian Bale in Batman Begins (2005)
Given his Oscar and comic book fanbases, it's easy to overlook Christian Bale's highly acclaimed independent background. Before Christopher Nolan and Bruce Wayne came calling, his biggest roles were as a psychotic serial killer/music lover/businessman in "American Psycho" and as Trevor Reznik in "The Machinist," for which he maintained a weight of 120 pounds.
In 2005's "Batman Begins," he regained all that weight and more to suit the physique of the muscular vigilante Batman. This film catapulted Christian Bale to superstardom and started one of the most acclaimed film franchises ever.