Acting, like almost every skill, requires time and patience. Naturally, actors get better as they mature, both literally and in terms of practice. However, there are a select few performers who break the mold. While most young actors have yet to hit their peak, some can stand against their scene counterparts.

RELATED: 10 Great Performances From Child Actors

These young actors seemingly came fully formed, already able to access the emotional depths that can take years to develop. Whether adept in their physical mannerisms, skillful timing, or effective line reading, these young actors gave performances well beyond their years.

1 Kirsten Dunst — 'The Virgin Suicides' (1999)

Image via Paramount Pictures

The first collaboration between Kirsten Dunst and Sofia Coppola, one of their most applauded to this day, remains The Virgin Suicides. After showing herself to be one of the top child actors of the 1990s through films like Interview With the Vampire and Little Women, Dunst used The Virgin Suicides as a vehicle to highlight her dramatic competency.

Only 16 at the time of her casting, Dunst displayed a melancholic knowing that is essential to her character. While her other performances in 1999 movies, the comedies Dick and Drop Dead Gorgeous, show off Dunst's comic chops, The Virgin Suicides offers an insight into the formidable adult actor she would turn into throughout the 21st century.

2 Jesse Eisenberg — 'Roger Dodger' (2002)

roger_dodger_campbell scott and jesse eisenberg

Some actors are ready right out of the box, and Jesse Eisenberg was one of them. Even in his acting debut, the brilliant comedy Roger Dodger, Eisenberg displays the acuity and quick line delivery skills he would later become famed for, notably in his Oscar-nominated performance in The Social Network.

However, unlike The Social Network, in Roger Dodger, Eisenberg shows off an innocence that he would often effectively juxtapose with more scathing wit later in his career. Nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor at 19 years old, the role would be similar and prognostic of many of Eisenberg's future parts.

3 Rosanna Arquette — 'Baby It's You' (1983)

rosanna_arquette_in baby its you

A fiery actor, few were as instinctive and fully formed at such a young age as Rosanna Arquette. Belonging to the famous Arquette acting tree, Rosanna was perhaps the most naturally talented and electric screen presence of them all. Her first starring role, Arquette, boasted her inherent ability in John Sayles's Baby It's You at the age of 24.

RELATED: The 36 Best 80s Movies That Time Forgot

Coming off an Emmy nomination for The Executioner's Song, Baby it's You saw Arquette gain further acclaim, including a Boston Society of Film Critics Awards nomination for Best Actress. Arquette would garner additional adulation as the decade went on, notably in the films Desperately Seeking Susan and Martin Scorsese'sAfter Hours and New York Stories.

4 Erika Christensen — 'Traffic' (2000)

Erika Christensen in Traffic
Image via Focus Features

While her career since may not have played out as some would have hoped, Erika Christensen's performance in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic is one of the best by a leading young actor this century. As the endangered drug addict daughter of a prominent judge, Christensen would receive numerous awards, including an MTV Movie Award for Breakthrough Female Performance.

Among the elite cast of Traffic, including Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro, and Don Cheadle, Christensen still manages to stand out. Versatile and convincing, her performance was only her second-ever movie role at just 18 years old. Recently, Soderbergh once again cast Christensen in a supporting role in his film Kimi.

5 Juliette Lewis — 'Strange Days' (1995)

Strange-Days-1995_juliette lewis and michael wincott

One of the "it girls" of the '90s, Juliette Lewis, was a heroine of '90s independent film culture. Starting in 1991 with her Oscar-nominated role in Cape Fear, Lewis would go on a four-year run that would be better than many others' whole decade. Working with directors including Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, and Kathryn Bigelow, Lewis would finish that streak with Strange Days.

RELATED: Best Cyberpunk Movies, from The Matrix to Ghost in a Shell

A prophetic vision of the future of technological and cultural uprising, Strange Days was misunderstood upon release and was a box office bomb. Alongside great performances from Angela Bassett and Ralph Fiennes, Lewis brings the same unhinged energy that she did to Natural Born Killers. At only 22 years old, Lewis offers a key role in an overlooked cyberpunk extravaganza of hate and carnal bloodshed.

6 Sarah Polley — 'The Sweet Hereafter' (1997)

The-Sweet-Hereafter Sarah-Polley

Now a hailed filmmaker, notably writing and directing the Oscar-nominated Women Talking, Sarah Polley was also once one of the most prodigious actors of her generation. Perhaps her best performance ever, Polley shined as part of the ensemble of Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter. Deemed one of the greatest Canadian films ever crafted, Polley plays one of the film's essential parts at 18 years old.

Nominated for multiple awards, Polley was singled out for giving a "powerful, subtle performance." Polley would not claw for mainstream stardom, although she easily could have, having been cast as Penny Lane in Almost Famous before dropping the role: she opted for more low-budget projects before retiring from acting in 2010.

7 Alanna Ubach — 'Denise Calls Up' (1995)

alanna_ubach_in denise calls up

One of the lost '90s independent comedy dramas, Denise Calls Up is the perfect encapsulation of '90s dating in the age of technology. A comedy of errors with sharp acting and a good perspective, Alanna Ubach plays the titular Denise. While most of the principal cast were already fixtures of the independent film scene, Ubach was a fresh face at just 20 years old.

Ubach shows off polished comedic timing in a role that demands quirkiness, which she offers without protest. More recently, Ubach seems to be finally getting her deserved notoriety after supporting roles in the recent hit television shows Euphoria and The Flight Attendant.

8 Reese Witherspoon — 'Election' (1999)

Election Reese Witherspoon

Depending on where you stand, Election's Tracy Flick is either a case example of the necessary cunning a young woman needs to succeed or a pitiless teen who hides behind a veil of innocent precociousness. Either way, these deep-seated reactions to a fictional character are a testament to the performance of a 23-year-old Reese Witherspoon.

Flick has been the subject of much contention: she was once viewed as a straight villain, but as times changed, so too has her reputation. In addition, Witherspoon's performance garnered significant flattery, including a Golden Globe nomination, and was ranked 45th on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Film Performances of All Time list.

9 John Travolta — 'Saturday Night Fever' (1977)

John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever

A phenomenon upon release, Saturday Night Fever, along with the following year's Grease, catapulted a 23-year-old John Travolta into one of the most famous movie stars on the planet. Every graceful pace on the floor of the discotheque, every lithe jolt and thrust that would make audiences blush and envy in equal measure, turned Travolta into an instant superstar.

RELATED: 'Saturday Night Fever' and 7 Other Film Soundtracks That Are as Iconic as the Movies They're From

Unlike other star-making movies, Saturday Night Fever is not a saturated agreeable studio flick. This bold, stylish, and often dark tale is one of the best of 1977. Likewise, Travolta's turn is not just one built on attractiveness and a couple of disco fingers. Travolta is instead superb in his role, one of the youngest Oscar-nominated lead performances ever.

10 Carey Mulligan — 'An Education' (2009)

Image via Sony Pictures Classics

One of if not the greatest actresses of her generation, Carey Mulligan, was off to the races almost as soon as her career began. At age 24, Mulligan achieved her breakout, appearing in the films The Greatest, Brothers, Public Enemies, and An Education in 2009, the last of which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Mulligan's classy performance demonstrates a rare blend of intelligence and instinct not often in the arsenal of a young actor. Although the film circles a bright, forward-thinking young person, Mulligan keeps her character three-dimensional. Her first of likely many Academy Award nominations, An Education was only a milestone of greater things to come for Mulligan.

KEEP READING: 10 Great Movies Featuring Famous Actors Before Their Big Breaks