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Why These Horror Movie Actors Look So Familiar

There are a lot of actors who might owe their name recognition to the horror movie genre. Jamie Lee Curtis became a bona fide scream queen thanks to her unforgettable role as Laurie Strode in Halloween. Linda Blair might always be known as Regan in The Exorcist. Even actors with well-established careers like Anthony Hopkins, Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates, and Jeff Goldblum might forever be associated with their horror movie roles that got under audiences' skin.

In the case of these stars, working in the scream business has certainly helped to give their careers a boost, but they've also got plenty of other work to speak of. If you've seen them on-screen in their various fright flicks and wonder why their faces ring a bell, it's because you've probably seen them before in other movies and television shows. Here's a look at why these horror movies actors look so familiar.  

Gabe from Us

Prior to becoming the hilarious husband Gabe (and the not so funny Abraham, Gabe's tethered doppelganger) for Jordan Peele's Us, Winston Duke had already become a household name. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will easily recognize Duke for his turn as the hulking but humorous M'Baku in Marvel's Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.

Prior to his MCU debut, Duke had been making moves on the small screen. He starred as the Brotherhood drug boss Dominic a.k.a. Mini in the fourth season of Person of Interest and also appeared as an electrokinetic journalist named Zahir Zakaria in The Messengers. Modern Family viewers might even recognize him as Dwight, the football player with whom Alex strikes up a short-lived relationship in season 8. Duke will return to his role as M'Baku for Avengers: Endgame — his was one of the Wakandan characters who survived Thanos' fateful snap in Infinity War, after all — and will also soon be seen in Peter Berg's upcoming crime thriller Wonderland. Duke has also signed on to portray street fighter-turned-MMA star Kimbo Slice in the biographical sports drama Backyard Legend.

Pennywise from It

Bill Skarsgård enjoyed quite a career breakout when he put on that eerie clown makeup to become Pennywise for Andy Muschietti's 2017 adaptation of Stephen King's It. However, thanks to his famous family and quite a few notable screen roles preceding It, he may have already been known to some film fans long before he invaded everyone's nightmares with his sinister smile.

Skarsgård is the son of actor Stellan Skarsgård (known for his turn in the MCU as Dr. Erik Selvig) and brother to Alexander Skarsgård (recognizable as Eric Northman in True Blood). He got his start on screen at the turn of the millennium, when he appeared in several Swedish productions as well as the 2012 British adaptation of Anna Karenina. Things began to really accelerate for Skarsgård once he earned a regular role as Roman Godfrey in Hemlock Grove and appeared in the third installment of the Divergent film series, Allegiant. He capitalized on that career trajectory by nabbing his instantly iconic clown role, as well as a part in the 2017 action vehicle Atomic Blonde. After playing Pennywise, Skarsgård quickly doubled down on his Stephen King cred by starring as the creepy kid in Hulu's Castle Rock. He also appeared in Deadpool 2 as Zeitgeist and will return to the role got under everyone's skin (including his own) for It: Chapter Two.

Princess Ahmanet from The Mummy

Sofia Boutella's career was already on the uptick by the time she became the mysterious Princess Ahmanet in Universal's 2017 version of The Mummy. The French-Algerian actress, who began her show business career as a dancer and appeared in several music videos for artists like Madonna and Michael Jackson, got her cinematic start in the 2012 dance drama StreetDance 2, but soon moved into broader blockbuster fare.

She starred as Gazelle the prosthetic-wearing assassin in 2014's Kingsman: The Secret Service and later appeared as the alien ally Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond. She also starred in Atomic Blonde as French agent Delphine Lasalle, so her action credentials were already established before she signed on for The Mummy. Since then, she has starred in HBO's divisive adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 and coupled her past and present professional interests by appearing in 30 Seconds to Mars' music video for "Rescue Me." Boutella was most recently seen on the big screen in Drew Pearce's Hotel Artemis, and is next slated to appear in Amazon's upcoming romantic comedy series Modern Love.

Peter from Hereditary

For audiences who grew up on Nickelodeon shows in the mid 2000s, Alex Wolff may always be known as one-half of the band he formed with his elder — and slightly more famous — brother, Nat. The two co-starred in the soundtrack of the musical comedy series The Naked Brothers Band before moving on to their solo adventures in Hollywood.

After his stint as a child star, Wolff continued to appear on TV shows like Monk and HBO's In Treatment before appearing in a few little-seen comedy films like The Sitter, A Birder's Guide to Everything, and Hair Brained. Things started to pick up for Wolff when he landed roles in back-to-back sequels My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, but it was his turn as Peter in Hereditary that really proved the musician/actor could successfully break out of his child star shell. Wolff will next be seen in another Jumanji movie as well as the upcoming comedy film Bad Education and the crime drama Castle in the Ground.

Georgina from Get Out

Before becoming the body-snatched Georgina in Jordan Peele's Get Out, Betty Gabriel was still working her way into the big time, with notable screen turns in The Purge: Election Year and the television drama Good Girls Revolt. The Juilliard graduate has a background in animal science and dance, and got her first film role in 2011's indie drama In Memoriam. Since Get Out, she's been able to expand her portfolio quite a bit, with film roles in the sequel Unfriended: Dark Web and the crime drama Abducted.

Fans of HBO's Westworld may also recognize her as Maling, an extraction officer who works on the ground with the Delos security squad. Gabriel went on to star in the second season of Starz's Counterpart as FBI agent Naya Temple, a woman who is hired to track down Indigo agents from another dimension. In addition to several forthcoming film roles, Gabriel will soon re-team with Peele for an episode of his reboot of The Twilight Zone for CBS All Access.

Thomasin from The Witch

Anya Taylor-Joy's career was still in its infancy when she nabbed the leading role in Robert Eggers' period horror film The Witch, but the film turned out to be a massive success, thanks in no small part to her harrowing turn as the oppressed eldest daughter of a colonial zealot. Since then, Taylor-Joy has had no trouble securing great roles within and outside of the horror genre. Perhaps most memorably, she starred as the kidnapped teenager Casey Cooke, who bears the scars (literally and figuratively) of prior abuse in M. Night Shayamalan's celebrated thriller Split. She returned to the role in Shyamalan's not-so-celebrated sequel Glass.

Taylor-Joy also starred as Cassandra in BBC One's Greek mythological series Atlantis and appeared in Netflix's Barack Obama biopic Barry. She went on to lead up the indie crime comedy Thoroughbreds in 2017 and headlined the BBC's mini-series adaptation of The Miniaturist. Things aren't slowing down for her one bit, either — Taylor-Joy will soon be seen in the silver screen adaptation of Marvel's The New Mutants as Magik. She's also quickly becoming a company woman for Netflix, lending her vocals to its upcoming animated series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and starring in its Cold War-era limited series The Queen's Gambit as a chess prodigy named Beth Harmon.

Rachel Creed from Pet Sematary

She might not be a household name, but film and TV fans will definitely recognize Amy Seimetz's work before becoming Rachel Creed for the new adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Sematary. Most prominently, Seimetz co-created and starred in Starz's anthology drama series The Girlfriend Experience, and has gotten behind the lens on other projects like Atlanta.

She's also starred in a number of other well-known horror movies, including You're Next and A Horrible Way to Die from Adam Wingard, Ti West's The Sacrament, and even Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant. TV audiences might also remember her brief turn as the terrible mother Danette Lutz in The Killing's third and fourth seasons and as Eleven's aunt Becky Ives in Stranger Things 2. She's also become something of a festival darling thanks to her performances in indies like Joe Swanberg's Alexander the Last, Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture, and David Robert Mitchell's Myth of the American Sleepover, not to mention her directorial debut Sun Don't Shine.

Lorraine Warren from The Conjuring

The Conjuring film universe has given Vera Farmiga her first full-on franchise, but movie and television fans have almost definitely seen her work before. After appearing as a supporting actress in films and shows for a decade, Farmiga broke into the mainstream by starring as the conflicted therapist Madolyn in Martin Scorsese's The Departed in 2006. By then, she'd already established a foothold in the action-crime genre with credits like The Manchurian Candidate and Breaking and Entering, but The Departed made her a household name. Three years later, she also became an awards season contender for her portrayal of Alex Goran in Jason Reitman's celebrated dramedy Up in the Air.

All the while, she was also busy establishing herself in the horror genre by starring in 2009's suspense thriller Orphan and The Conjuring. The latter spawned an entire saga anchored by her portrayal of the real-life paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren, including appearances in The Conjuring 2, The Nun, and Annabelle Comes Home. Farmiga was also celebrated with a Primetime Emmy nomination for her work as Norma in A&E's creepy Bates Motel series, and continues to strengthen her résumé with films like The Many Saints of Newark and Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Judy Warren from Annabelle Comes Home

She may still be young, but actress Mckenna Grace has already put together an impressive filmography. Before becoming Judy, the daughter of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, for Annabelle Comes Home, Grace had already arrived as one of Hollywood's busiest child stars, previously seen opposite Chris Evans in 2017's Gifted and as the younger version of Tonya Harding in I, Tonya. She's also an alum of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having portrayed the younger version of Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel.

TV is where she's been the busiest, though. Vampire Diaries fans might recognize her as the flashback version of Caroline Forbes, and daytime soap fans should remember her as little Faith Newman on The Young and the Restless. She also made key appearances on the short-lived CSI: Cyber spinoff and as the younger version of Emma Swan in ABC's Once Upon a Time, and landed a recurring role as first daughter Penny Kirkman in Designated Survivor. Grace also starred as the troubled child version of Theodora Crain in Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House, and she's scored guest roles in Young Sheldon and Fuller House, too. Grace might have a reason to fear things that go bump in the night in the Conjuring spinoff, but she doesn't have to worry one bit about her still-nascent career trajectory.

Karen Barclay from Child's Play

She's relatively new to horror with Child's Play, but Aubrey Plaza has had more than a decade of success in show business. The dry-witted actress is best known for her role as April Ludgate in NBC's Parks and Recreation, which showed off her ability to deadpan and break the fourth wall with ease. Before that breakout, she'd gotten to learn from the best with guest roles in shows like 30 Rock and UCB Comedy Originals and the films Funny People and Mystery Team. Just as her star started to rise, she appeared among the eclectic cast for Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a film which would launch her real-life friendship with Anna Kendrick. Their connection became a topic of many celebratory blogs and inspiration for the two to work together again in Life After Beth and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.

Plaza has also appeared in several respectable, albeit little-seen comedies including Damsels in Distress, Safety Not Guaranteed, and 10 Years, and she got the chance to carry a film on her own with 2013's The To Do List. Her signature deep tones could be heard voicing the title character in 2014's Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever, and Plaza has mostly remained faithful to the comedy genre in her career since then. However, she has begun experimenting with other genres, like the dark comedy Ingrid Goes West and TV's Legion, which features her in a role which was genderbent just for her.

Andy Barclay from Child's Play

Before he became the newest tyke to be tormented by that menacing little Chucky doll, Gabriel Bateman had already established some credentials in the horror genre thanks to his appearances in Annabelle and Lights Out. The latter thriller was an especially important addition to his filmography, as he enjoyed second billing in the film, which centered on his own terrifying visions.

Bateman has also established quite a career on the small screen, arriving as a scene-stealing guest star in Grey's Anatomy before earning a regular role in Kevin Williamson's short-lived investigative series Stalker. He's also dabbled in sitcoms, with a few guest spots in Your Family or Mine and a leading role in Amazon Prime's The Dangerous Book for Boys, but he seems drawn to twisty TV dramas: count CBS's American Gothic, Cinemax's Outcast, and ABC's Wicked City among the shows that he's earned regular roles in. Things seem to be continuing nicely for Bateman's still-young career, too, as he earned a starring role in Netflix's Benji, voices one of the central characters in Playmobil: The Movie, and will continue expanding his portfolio with appearances in the historical drama Robert the Bruce and Syfy's AI drama film Cipher.

Mark from Midsommer

No, Will Poulter is not the inspiration for Sid from Toy Story, no matter how much he looks like the deranged animated kid (although he is willing to accept those comparisons and once dressed up like Sid for Halloween). However, he probably still looks very familiar to TV and film fans because he's been very busy with both mediums throughout his career. The actor first broke through as Eustace Scrubb in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. He then put to use all of his comedy experience from his British sketch show School of Comedy with a role as the fake brother in We're the Millers. And Poulter really started to reach mainstream status after he nabbed the role of Gally in the film adaptations of James Dashner's Maze Runner books.

Poulter also added some prestige to his profile by starring as Bridger in Alejandro G. Inarritu's The Revenant and as Krauss in Katheryn Bigelow's Detroit. If there was any doubt left that Will Poulter's star is still very much on the rise, he was also a scene-stealer in Netflix's interactive Black Mirror movie, Bandersnatch. Clearly, Poulter is not beholden to any one genre, and yet, starring in a creepy cult film still seems right in his wheelhouse somehow.

Little boy in Doctor Sleep

Mike Flanagan's adaptation of the sequel to Stephen King's The Shining, Doctor Sleep, reunites him with young Jacob Tremblay after the two worked together in 2016's Before I Wake. That horror film featured him as an orphaned boy whose dreams had very unsettling consequences for the waking world, and he was stunningly upsetting in the role. Before that film, Tremblay already captivated audiences with his turn as little Jack in the critically acclaimed adaptation of Room, and he continued to show off his skills for heart-wrenching dramas in Wonder and The Book of Henry.

Tremblay has also continued to hold his own with suspense thrillers, with his appearances in Shut In and The Predator. Most recently, he appeared as the ambitious and tyrannical Oliver Foley in an episode of Jordan Peele's The Twilight Zone reboot. As accomplished and mature as he is, though, Jacob Tremblay is still just a kid and has worked in the family-friendly genre as well, voicing the eponymous character in Amazon Prime's Pete the Cat series and earning more adventurous roles in the edgy comedy Good Boys and animated films like The Kid: An Animated Adventure and Kim Pagel's next 3D adventure.

Haley from Crawl

Among all the rain, darkness, and grime of Crawl (in which an unfortunate young woman named Haley fights off a hurricane, flooding, and, uh, bloodthirsty alligators), viewers might find themselves wondering why they recognize the young actress carrying the movie. That's Kaya Scodelario, a rising English star who has already starred in two blockbuster franchises. Her first big role: extremely troubled teen Effy Stonem on the controversial sex-and-drug-laced British soap Skins. 

After supporting roles in Moon and Clash of the Titans, she landed the major part of Teresa in The Maze Runner, the 2014 film adaptation of the popular YA novel. Scodelario reprised the role in the other two entries in the Maze Runner trilogy while also joining the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as seafaring astrologer orphan Carina Smyth in the series' fifth entry, Dead Men Tell No Tales. More recently, Scodelario appeared in Netflix's Ted Bundy biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile as Carole Ann Boone, the serial killer's wife.

Alex from Ready or Not

Before he portrayed Alex, the groom to Samara Weaving's Grace in the Ryan Murphy-penned wedding day horror thriller Ready or Not, Mark O'Brien paid his acting dues on Canadian television. He was a main cast member on the popular, long-running detective dramedy Republic of Doyle (and its spinoff, Diary of a Deadly P.I.) portraying Des Courtney, the scion of a prominent family laying low as a graffiti artist and employee of the show's central sleuthing service. O'Brien made brief appearances on other northern favorites, including Murdoch Mysteries and This Hour Has 22 Minutes, before breaking into stateside entertainment. He portrayed Max Miner throughout Amazon's literary adaptation The Last Tycoon and programmer Tom Rendon on AMC's Halt and Catch Fire. Earlier in 2019, he showed up in the seedy thriller Bad Times at the El Royale as a 1950s bank robber (although his face was concealed under a mask), and he currently co-stars on Showtime's crime drama City on a Hill.

Nicole from 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

If when watching 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, the underwater shark thriller sequel to 2017's 47 Meters Down, the face of the actress who plays the likely doomed character Nicole looks familiar, it's not because of some previous appearance in a movie or TV show. That's Sistine Rose Stallone, and 47 Meters Down: Uncaged represents the actress's first-ever on-screen acting work. If she seems recognizable to you, then you're probably a fan of entertainment news shows and awards ceremonies. Stallone has frequently appeared at events and on red carpets alongside her father, big time Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone

Sistine is the 21-year-old daughter (and fifth offspring overall) of Rocky/Rambo, and her mother is model Jennifer Flavin. Her most prominent public appearance came in 2017 as Miss Golden Globe, an onstage position at the Golden Globe Awards given to the rising star children of established Hollywood royalty. And because she's the daughter of a movie star and a model, Sistine Stallone is considered by many to be quite the conventionally attractive human being, as evidenced by her one million-plus Instagram followers.