If you were an actor trying to make it big in the mid-2000s, chances are you made a stop on The Sopranos. The landmark HBO series—which ended debuted 20 years ago—featured a huge ensemble, with even more guest stars than there were dead bodies.
Showrunner David Chase and his team certainly knew how to scout new talent. Even some guest stars who had seconds-long cameos ended up becoming more famous years after their stint on The Sopranos—some becoming more famous than the regular Sopranos cast members themselves. Check out 15 notable blink-and-you'll-miss-it roles that helped propel these actors to stardom.
Today, Will Arnett makes his living playing over-the-top, goofy characters on shows like Arrested Development. But on The Sopranos, Arnett played it serious during two episodes in 2002, playing the husband of an undercover FBI agent who befriends Adriana.
Back before he was the man behind Hamilton, Lin-Manuel was a young, scrappy, and hungry actor trying to put his name out there. In 2007, he had a brief cameo as a hotel bellman who won't give Tony and Pauly a straight answer.
At just 15 years old, a pre-fame Lady Gaga played one of A.J.'s classmates. Her character hung out at A.J.'s high school pool and laughed while they tossed their teacher's office supplies into the water. The cameo is especially tough to miss because she's a brunette, long before she adopted her signature blonde hairstyle.
Michael B. Jordan
Most TV snobs know Michael B. Jordan got his start on another acclaimed HBO drama: The Wire. But before that, he had a quick appearance on The Sopranos, too, as a Newark bully in a flashback scene involving a young Tony.
Michael K. Williams
Another Wire star who had a brief turn on The Sopranos is Michael K. Williams. Back in the show's third season, he plays Ray Ray, a hospitable but crime-connected guy who lets Jackie Jr. crash with him when he's in a jam. It wasn't a long way from Omar, the role that would jumpstart his career.
Further proving HBO stars stay in the family, Veep's Tony Hale had a brief moment on The Sopranos, as well, playing a nurse who administers chemotherapy to Uncle Junior. It was a non-speaking role, but hey, everyone starts somewhere.
The comedian and former Daily Show correspondent also showed up in a hospital scene on The Sopranos, caring for Phil Leotardo after a heart attack scare.
Before he creeped out Netflix watchers everywhere as Doug Stamper on House of Cards, Michael Kelly played an FBI agent bent on taking down Tony Soprano—and then, later, Middle Eastern terrorists.
You might know her as "the mother" from How I Met Your Mother, or from her heart-wrenching role as a mom with cancer in the second season of Fargo. But a decade ago, she was playing Catherine, one of Johnny Sack's daughters.
Milioti's costar on Fargo, Bokeem Woodbine had a career-making turn as Mike Milligan on the FX series. But he was no slouch on The Sopranos, either, stealing multiple scenes as Massive Genius, a rapper who has unfinished business with Hesh.
Paul Dano is now busy in high-prestige movies like 12 Years a Slave and Love & Mercy. But when he was starting out, he played Patrick Whalen, A.J.'s friend, who grills him about his dad's mob connections. He also rocks a truly unfortunate bowl cut.
She's spent the last several years playing no-nonsense Bailey on Grey's Anatomy, but Chandra Wilson's character on The Sopranos didn't have such an even temperament. She played Evelyn Greenwood, a woman who clashes with Janice at an anger management class.
Wilson isn't the only Shondaland resident to stop by The Sopranos. Guillermo Diaz, who plays the damaged hacker Huck on Scandal, had a brief role as a salesperson at a plant nursery, trying to get Tony to stop buying illegal weed-killers.
Mike Epps has had a long and hilarious career as a stand-up comedian and comic actor, and starred in the sitcom Uncle Buck in 2016. In one of his first-ever acting credits, he even brought humor to an otherwise scary scene on The Sopranos. He played a gay man who stole A.J's science teacher's car with his partner, and had to face the wrath of Pauly and Big Pussy.
Calling Matthew Weiner an "actor" is a little bit of a stretch. Weiner was a writer and executive producer on The Sopranos, and ended up creating a little show you may have heard of: Mad Men. But while he was on the writing staff, he popped up as Manny Safier, a mob expert and television talking head who would practically taunt Tony when he turned on the TV.
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