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Meet (and re-meet) the Avengers In Focus By Richard Crouse May 2, 2012 Metro Canada

3122126-the_avengers_concept_art-wideThe Avengers stars a group of actors who were well known before they donned the capes and mechanical suits of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Hulk.

Of them, Robert Downey Jr. was the best known, while the Chrises, Evans and Hemsworth were talented up-and-comers and Mark Ruffalo was the Oscar-nominated indie king.

With the film breaking box office records in its worldwide release, it’s fair to say each of these actors will now go from superheroes to superstars.

But what about before they could leap tall buildings in a single bound? (I know that was Superman, but you get my point!) Here are some movies that helped shape this quartet of actors into stars.

Robert Downey Jr.

Despite saying, “I know very little about acting. I’m just an incredibly gifted faker,” Downey has developed into what Esquire called “the second best actor in the world.”

Ten years ago, however, Downey was better known for his extracurricular activities than his films. His committed, loopy performances made him a star at a young age and netted him an Oscar nomination for playing Charlie Chaplin, but drugs and alcohol sidelined him until 2001 when, clean and sober, he rebuilt his career.

MUST SEES: Less Than Zero, Natural Born Killers, Chaplin, Good Night & Good Luck, Richard III.

Chris Evans

Evans played a superhero in Fantastic Four and its sequel, but it took Captain America to make him an A-list star.

He’s flip-flopped between mainstream fare like Not Another Teen Movie and edgier films like The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, to “show some layers. I’m not just a superhero-action guy.”

MUST SEES: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Puncture, Fierce People.

Chris Hemsworth

Hemsworth made his American debut as George Kirk, father to the icon character James T. in the reboot of Star Trek.

Already a soap (Home and Away) and reality show (Dancing with the Stars) star in Australia, the muscle bound performer beat out dozens of actors to win the role of Thor, including his own brother Liam Hemsworth.

MUST SEES: Cabin in the Woods, A Perfect Getaway.

Mark Ruffalo

Early comparisons to Marlon Brando earned Ruffalo roles in an interesting array of films. Playing Laura Linney’s slacker brother in You Can Count on Me made him a star and indie film darling.

MUST SEES: My Life Without Me, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Shutter Island, The Kids Are All Right.

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