New York City has a thriving film industry and plenty of Broadway actors move on to the silver screen, so it makes sense that many successful movie stars were born or grew up right next door in the Garden State. Check out this list of film actors from New Jersey!
Perhaps best known for his role as Patrick in the 2012 film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, this just-turned-24 year-old has plenty of talent and a bright career ahead of him. Other notable roles include Kevin in the 2011 drama We Need to Talk About Kevin, Donald in the 2015 romantic comedy Trainwreck, and The Flash in the 2016 superhero films Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. You can see this Wyckoff native in his next role as Credence in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November.
Born in Passaic, Saldana is most famous for her roles as Nyota Uhura in the most recent Star Trek films and Neytiri in the 2009 James Cameron Blockbuster Avatar, which still holds the record for the highest-grossing film of all time. Other major roles include Anamaria in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and Gamora in the 2014 Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy. She’s already achieved so much and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes
This pair has done so much hilarious comedy work that we had to mention them together. Smith was born in Red Bank and Mewes in Highlands, and the two may be most famous for their Jay & Silent Bob film series, mostly set in New Jersey! Smith has produced many other great comedies and also owns a comic book store in Red Bank called Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. Go check it out on your next vacation!
Passaic has also produced some male film talent. Paul Rudd has appeared in a plethora of movies, including Clueless (1995), Wet Hot American Summer (2001), the Anchorman films, The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Dinner for Schmucks (2010), and Ant-Man (2015). With so much work out there, it’s no wonder he earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year!
Everyone knows Meryl Streep, but did you know she was born in Summit, New Jersey? Streep has been called the greatest actress of her time and is known for her ability to take on diverse roles and accents with ease. A small sample of her impressive film portfolio includes The Iron Lady (2011), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Julie & Julia (2009), Into the Woods (2014), Mamma Mia! (2008), and most recently, Florence Foster Jenkins (2016). What a shining example of New Jersey talent!
Born in Englewood, New Jersey, Travolta rose to fame by starring in hit films Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Grease (1978). He continued his box office success with Pulp Fiction (1994) and Hairspray (2007). He’s been nominated for 2 Academy Awards!
With a career spanning almost 60 years, Neptune City native Jack Nicholson is a force to be reckoned with. He’s best known for his roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Terms of Endearment (1983), Batman (1989), A Few Good Men (1992), and The Shining (1980), although we would recommend any movie he’s starred in. He’s had the highest number of Oscar nominations (12) of any man and is one of only three actors to win 3 Academy Awards.
Like Nicholson, Devito also starred in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Terms of Endearment, and was also born in Neptune Township! Other film credits include Space Jam, Hercules, Matilda, and The Lorax, but he seems to do more work with his production company Jersey Films, which created Pulp Fiction and Freedom Writers.
This Montclair State University alum worked for Devito’s Jersey Films, starring in Pulp Fiction. Willis is best known for his role as John McClane in the Die Hard movies, but has also starred in Armageddon (1998) and Sixth Sense (1999) as well as in television.
Although born in Syracuse, New York, Cruise grew up in Glen Ridge, New Jersey and graduated from the local high school. With 3 Oscar nominations and a long list of film credits, Cruise is definitely among the most successful New Jerseyans. He is best known for his roles in Risky Business (1983), Top Gun (1986), A Few Good Men (1992), Interview with the Vampire (1994), and the Mission: Impossible series.
Rounding out our list is Millburn-raised Anne Hathaway. She rose to fame with the starring role in The Princess Diaries films, and has since starred in hits for both younger and older audiences including Ella Enchanted (2004), Brokeback Mountain (2005), The Devil Wears Prada (2006) (with fellow Jersey girl Meryl Streep), Bride Wars (2009), Alice in Wonderland (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and Les Miserables (2012). She has been nominated for 2 Academy Awards, and won one (Best Supporting Actress as Fantine in Les Miserables).
With so much talent, perhaps the Garden State should rename itself the Film State! We’re just joking (kind of…), but there are so many fantastic film actors from New Jersey, it might be next-to-impossible time-wise to see all of their excellent work.