'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984)
Depp had come to Hollywood to be a rock musician, not an actor, but new pal Nicolas Cage changed his mind and helped him earn some cash on the side by landing him a role as a teen victim in the first Freddy Krueger movie. In Wes Craven's innovative horror classic, the 21-year-old plays the heroine's boyfriend, Glen. He doesn't get to do much except die gruesomely, slain in his nightmare by being sucked into his mattress, but thus begins a distinguished film career. A few years later, after Edward Scissorhands had made him a movie star, Depp would repay the favor to the franchise that gave him his start by appearing in a cameo (under the stage name Oprah Noodlemantra) in 1991's Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, as an anti-drug spokesman on a TV commercial.