Believe it or not, but stars aren’t born into the world of fame and fortune; rather, they make their way into this world by working strange and sometimes degrading jobs. Like most of us, celebrities don’t always know from a young age what they want to be when they grow up, and while some move to Los Angeles in the hopes of making it in the show business, others find their way to Hollywood entirely coincidentally. Steve Buscemi, for example, was an FDNY firefighter before he stumbled upon his big break in Hollywood, and Danny DeVito worked as a hairdresser before he realized he belonged in the entertainment industry. We’re here to examine the wildest dreams and aspirations of the stars (before they were stars), and the surprising jobs they had on their way to the top.
47. Steve Buscemi
When your breakthrough role is in a Tarantino film, your career is bound to be a success, and so was the case for actor Steve Buscemi. He embarked on his acting career in Quentin Tarantino’s film Reservoir Dogs (1992), and that’s when he started making a name for himself in the industry. Buscemi’s career technically started in the mid-80s, but only after his talent was discovered by the acclaimed director, he became a hot-shot in Hollywood.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, before he rose to fame, Steve Buscemi was among New York’s finest: he served as a firefighter for the FDNY’s Engine Company 55 in Manhattan, from the years 1980 to 1984. Once an FDNY firefighter, always an FDNY firefighter, after Buscemi’s acting career took off, New York’s fire department was still in his heart; following 9/11, Buscemi returned for several intense days to help the Engine 55.
46. Harrison Ford
Award-winning actor Harrison Ford was a “late-bloomer,” as he describes himself. It was rather late in his career when he acknowledged he had a talent for acting, and when he got his first job in Hollywood, executives in the industry told him he’d never become a star. But lo and behold, he became one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed actors. It was symbolic that Harrison Ford’s breakthrough role was the adventurous archaeologist, Indiana Jones, since in his childhood, Ford was an avid boy scout.
It was utterly accidental when Harrison Ford first fell in love with acting. It was during college, where he majored in English and philosophy. Young Harrison Ford decided to take a drama class since it was supposed to be an easy A, though it was entirely out of his comfort zone, since he had stage fright, as he admits. However, that’s when he started falling in love with the world of acting as a way of story-telling.
45. Kate Winslet
Unlike many others in the industry, coming from a family of aspiring actors, Kate Winslet knew she wanted to be an actress from a young age. Kate’s grandparents were the founders and managers of the Reading Repertory Theater in England, and her father was an actor. Both her sisters are actresses as well, though not at renowned as she became after her memorable roles in Sense and Sensibility and later in Titanic.
Kate was a talented actress, but for her dismay, New York is full of them, and so as she auditioned to different roles, never letting rejection get her down, Winslet had to find a temporary job. She found a rather interesting one: she worked as a sandwich maker at a delicatessen. Making tasty sandwiches has nothing to do with acting, but it’s a skill that requires talent, and so now we know Kate Winslet isn’t just a gifted actress, but a woman of many talents.
44. Christopher Walken
If you think acting is an exciting career, Christopher Walken’s former career was even more exhilarating. Walken was born in New York, and he has two major inspirations as a kid: his mother, who had dreams of stardom, and the King – Elvis Presley, who was somewhat of a role model for young Christopher Walken.
Judging by his inspirations, it’s no surprise then that as a teenager, Walken worked at the circus as a lion tamer. Working in the circus encouraged his flair for the dramatic, and initially, he trained as a dancer and performer. His first step in acting was a role in Broadway, during his first year of college, and the rest, as they say, is history.
43. Sandra Bullock
Actress Sandra Bullock never shied away from the spotlight, as if she was born for the stage. Her mother was an opera singer and voice teacher, which might partly explain her attraction to the performing arts. She spent part of her childhood in Germany, where she participated in a children’s opera choir. That was only the beginning of her talents, however.
In college, back in the U.S, Bullock was a cheerleader, and she performed in the school’s theater productions, as she worked towards her BFA in Drama. Like almost every other aspiring actor, Bullock moved to New York to pursue her dream of a career in acting. While she took acting classes, she worked as a bartender and a waitress in several Manhattan bars to make a living. This goes to show that even the biggest stars had to wait on tables before they rose to stardom.
42. Danny DeVito
Like so many of us, in high school, actor Danny DeVito didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grows up. He experimented with acting in high school, but it was nothing more than a hobby at the time, and he never considered making a career out of it. Thus, he did what so many of us do after high school: worked at random, temporary jobs, exploring his options until he found his right career path.
The job that eventually drove him to a career in acting (a very successful career, we might add), was a hairdresser. When Devito was out of ideas, his sister said they could use some help at her hair salon, and suggested he’d join the team. After spending eighteen months working as a hairdresser, young DeVito decided to take it to the next level, and applied to a makeup class at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
41. Rachel McAdams
Rachel McAdams grew up in Canada, and she was only twelve years old when she decided she wanted to be an actress. However, throughout her childhood and teens, she practiced figure-skating and competed in regional tourneys, winning several awards.
When describing Rachel McAdam’s job before she rose to fame, you could use the phrase ‘the end justifies the means.’ She was willing to do anything to make her dream come true, and for her, it meant working at McDonald’s. She worked there for three consecutive years, every summer break from college and during the holidays – this is what we call determination.
40. Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp is perhaps the most diverse actor in the entertainment industry, which is what makes him one of Hollywood’s most valuable actors. He can fit any role from a pirate to a vampire and a mad-hatter, and let’s not forget one of his most memorable character, Edward Scissorhands. He isn’t just a gifted actor, but Depp was ranked (twice) among the sexiest men alive by People Magazine.
However, though it seems as if Depp was born for this profession, as a kid, he had something else in mind. For his 12th birthday, Depp received a guitar, and thus started his dream of being a musician. He moved a lot in his childhood, and at one point, became estranged from his parents, which drove him to join a band and leave for L.A. He still believed in his band and waited for their big break when his girlfriend at the time introduced him to actor Nicholas Cage. This is what got Depp intrigued by acting, and Cage is the one who introduced young Depp to an executive in the industry.
39. Katheryn Winnick
Though her latest role in the T.V hit show Vikings is what put her on the Hollywood map, Katheryn Winnick (42) embarked on her acting career in her early twenties. Perhaps what makes her so perfect for the role of Lagertha in Vikings are her impressive martial arts skills. Winnick has practiced martial arts since she was seven years old, and by the time she reached her teens, she had already obtained her first black belt. In her early twenties, Winnick owned three Taekwondo schools in Toronto.
This background might explain the athletic skills she demonstrates on the screen. In case she didn’t make it in the entertainment industry, Winnick had a backup plan as a martial arts trainer. From the time she was 21, she was a martial arts trainer, and to this day, she still offers martial arts classes as well as self-defense classes to actors. While some actors work in McDonald’s and the likes as they make their way to Hollywood, Katheryn Winnick developed quite an impressive resume as an athlete.
38. Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan was always attracted to arts, but of a different kind. Growing up in Ireland and later moving to London, at the age of 16, Brosnan decided he wanted to be a painter. Brosnan applied to an art school in London and began his training in commercial illustration. He bumped into a fire eater teaching a class of how to eat fire, and on an impulse, he decided to join. That’s how Pierce Brosnan ended up working three years in the circus as a fire eater after a circus agent caught him performing on the street and recognized his talent.
If you thought Christopher Walken’s profession as a lion tamer was unusual, I think Pierce Brosnan takes the first prize when it comes to unique jobs. After working at the circus for three years, Brosnan set off to his next big adventure, and applied to the Drama Center in London, in the hopes of becoming an actor. He says that he didn’t find acting, rather acting found him, and its appeal was that it allowed him to step into a whole other life than the one he’s been living.
37. Julia Roberts
You can say that Roberts was born to the world of acting since her parents were both actors and writers, and her brother and sister were aspiring actors. Though she dreamed of being a veterinarian throughout her childhood, she gave up that dream rather quickly when she realized the science it required wasn’t her cup of tea. Though she was born to a family of actors, she still had to make a living while taking acting classes, and so in the meantime, she worked at Baskin Robbins, scooping ice cream.
Roberts had this path set out for her, and it didn’t require creativity on her side, since after graduating from high school, Roberts followed her brother and sister to New York in their mutual dream of pursuing a career in acting. It didn’t take long until Roberts became a known name in Hollywood, thanks to her performance in the acclaimed drama Steel Magnolias (1989).
Growing up in Barbados, Rihanna didn’t have her career set out for her. She had a difficult childhood, and she’s an example of a celebrity who build herself from nothing. In her teens, Rihanna was an army cadet as part of a sub-military program. Singing was always an essential part of her life since it constituted an escape from her everyday struggles.
At fifteen, Rihanna started an amateur band with two classmates, and they got lucky when Evan Rogers, a music producer, traveled to Barbados with his wife, who’s a native of the place. That’s how young Rihanna was discovered, when Rogers immediately recognized her talent. Since then, it didn’t take a long time for Rogers to invite Rihanna to the U.S to record her first demo tape, and the rest is history. Her two bandmates, to their dismay, weren’t as lucky as Rihanna.
35. Jim Carrey
While the gifted actor knew from a young age that he belongs in the entertainment industry, it was a long road until he got there. He dreamed of being a comedian, and in particular, he excelled at impressions. At the age of ten, he had enough confidence in his skills to send out a letter to Carol Burnett of the Carol Burnett Show, saying he was a master of mimicry and her show would be lucky to have him. Nothing came out of it, naturally, but it didn’t hinder his motivation.
Since his family struggled financially, while in high school, Carrey had to take on a job as a janitor; his father was a musician, and so he supported Carrey’s dream of being a performer. He managed to find his way to the stage and started his career with what he does best – comedy. He was a stand-up comedian at open-mic nights, and it didn’t take long until his talent was discovered by people in the industry, after his acts were praised in local papers.
34. Brad Pitt
Growing up in Springfield, Missouri, young Brad Pitt was very active in high school. He participated in the golf team, the swimming team and the tennis team, the school’s debate club and the forensics clubs. You can say he was a man of many talents, or else he was a very curious kid. However, all of these activities were nothing more than a hobby for young Pitt, and he saw no future in them.
What intrigued him more than anything else were films. Since he knew films were not made in Missouri, he moved to Los Angeles the same year he was supposed to graduate from college, never completing his degree. When in Hollywood, while he took acting lessons, Pitt worked in some odd jobs, that some people might consider as demeaning, but for him, he was on his way to success. Among those jobs, he dressed up as a chicken for a Polo Loco restaurant in Los Angeles.
33. Charlize Theron
Actress Charlize Theron was born in South Africa and grew up in her parents’ farm near Johannesburg. Although in her childhood she was tending to livestock as part of her chores on the family farm, Theron always had a passion for dancing. At the age of sixteen, she was offered a modeling job and moved with her mother to Italy. She worked as a model for a year, traveling throughout Europe, until her mother and her moved to the U.S and settled there.
While she worked as a model, Theron never lost her passion for dancing, and so when in the U.S, she joined the Joffrey Ballet school. Her dream of becoming a professional dancer shattered when she injured her knee and realized she couldn’t dance anymore. Theron then decided on a new career path as an actress, which wasn’t too different than the one she had in mind. She moved to L.A, where she was quickly discovered by a talent agent.
32. Hugh Jackman
Actor Hugh Jackman was born and raised in Australia. Young Hugh Jackman loved the outdoors, he enjoyed traveling and would travel all over Australia during his summer and holiday break from school. He figured that working on a plane would allow him to travel for a living, and so when he grew up, he dreamed of being a chef on a plane (yes, he wrongly believed that flight companies employ chefs).
However, his dream of being a chef on a plane never came true, only partly because there’s no such thing as a chef on a plane. Instead, Jackman ended up working in different temporary jobs as he found his way to the entertainment business, and his gap year before college he spent working as a gymnastics instructor. At that point, he already knew he wanted to take a shot at acting.
31. Liam Neeson
This may or may not come as a surprise, but growing up, actor Liam Neeson was a renowned boxer. He started taking boxing lessons at the age of nine at a local youth club in his hometown in Ireland, and he practiced boxing for almost a decade, winning several regional titles along the way. At the age of seventeen, Neeson gave up boxing, and instead, he decided he wanted to pursue a career in acting.
However, Neeson had a long way ahead before he could turn this dream to reality. Throughout the way, he enrolled at the University of Belfast to major in Physics and Computer Science, which he quickly neglected for a job in the Guinness Brewery (isn’t it every guy’s dream to work at a beer factory?). He also took a shot at football and played one game for the Bohemian Football Club, but ultimately, he realized his true passion is acting. He experimented with acting in high school, where he participated in some of the school’s plays, and he wanted to make it in the entertainment industry.
30. Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer grew up in California, which might partly explain her attraction to an acting career. It seems as if like most of us, she had very little idea as to what she wants to be when she grows up. Her childhood was fairly normal, as well as her college years. During college, the actress was a member of a sorority, and she worked a temporary job at the large supermarket chain Vons (wish we had photos of her time there, but it’s safe to assume those were burned to the ground).
It was during her training to become a court stenographer that she decided this was not what she wanted to do, and instead, she decided to pursue a career in acting. She made her way into the entertainment industry by her good looks; she participated and won a local beauty contest, and won sixth place at the Miss California pageant, and that’s how she was discovered by an acting agent.
29. Gerard Butler
Growing up in Scotland, Gerard Butler was always fascinated by films and acting. However, like many of us, he wanted to please his parents, and so a career in acting didn’t seem to him like a realistic choice. Instead, he did what most people do when their goal is pleasing their parents, and applied to law school. This could have easily been the plot of a romantic comedy where he plays the lead role, but it was his reality.
He acknowledged that Scotland is not the place where stars are born, and so pursuing this career path seemed unwise, to say the least. Thus, he enrolled to the University of Glasgow and studied to become a lawyer. Everything was going well and young Gerard Butler finished his degree with honors. It was during a vacation he took in California where he started fantasizing of a different life. Back in Scotland, Butler took a trainee position at a respected law firm, but as we all know by now, he didn’t go on to be a lawyer. He was let off his job since he was partying too late, showing up late to work or skipping work altogether. This was a blessing in disguise, since it allowed him to finally pursue his real dream of acting, and live the life he wanted in L.A.
28. Jon Hamm
Like many other actors on the list, growing up, Jon Hamm never considered acting a serious career path. His grandfather wanted him to be an engineer, and though Hamm never followed through on that, it made him discard acting as a career choice. What did seem at a time as a potential career path for Young Jon Hamm was sports.
The Mad Men star was an accomplished athlete back in high school, and he was the star of the swim team, the football and the baseball team. His temporary college job, however, had nothing to do with scooping ice cream or selling burgers. Hamm answered an application for actors, published in his college message board. That was his first serious role, in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, after which he went on to teach acting in high school, and later moved to L.A. to try his luck in the big league.
27. Sheryl Crow
Singer Sheryl Crow is the daughter of two musician, so it’s no surprise she ended up in the same field. Her father played the trumpet and her mother was a piano teacher, and so Sheryl grew up surrounded by music. In college, naturally, she studied music composition, performance and education. upon her graduation, Crow worked as an elementary school music teacher.
This was only her temporary job on her way to achieve her dream, and only few people are lucky enough to have a temporary job that is even remotely related to their passion. Being a teacher also provided her enough free time to engage with singing on the weekends, and Crow sang in local bands on the evenings and weekends. Crow started small, and with the help of a record producer, her first recording job was advertising jingles for McDonald’s and Toyota among others.
26. Lucy Liu
Born and raised in New York, Lucy Liu had endless possibilities ahead of her. She didn’t know she wanted to be an actress until she was discovered by an agent on the subway. You could say her acting career started when she auditioned to her university’s production of Alice in Wonderland and received the lead role, but at that point, she didn’t really make anything out of it.
The actress studied towards a degree in Asian languages and cultures. During her college years, Liu held varied jobs, including a secretary, an aerobics instructor, a hostess and a waitress. Only after that life-changing meeting with the agent on the subway, her temporary jobs took a turn, and she started appearing in small roles in films and T.V shows.
25. Jake Gyllenhaal
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal was born into the industry: his father is an acclaim film director, his mother a producer/screenwriter and his older sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, is a fellow actress. Thus, it seemed only natural that Jake and Maggie should follow their parents’ path and start their acting career at a young age.
Although his parents had the means to spoil and indulge Jake and his sister Maggie, they wanted to teach them responsibility and allow them to have financial freedom, and so they insisted that they have summer jobs. Thus, throughout high school, Gyllenhaal worked as a lifeguard in a local pool, and later he worked as a busboy. He also enrolled in Columbia University in New York, but dropped after one year of studies to pursue his acting career.
24. Jennifer Aniston
Although both her parents were actors, as a child, Jennifer Aniston was discouraged from watching television. Growing up in Los Angeles to parents from the entertainment industry, however, it was almost inevitable that Aniston would end up in this career. At a young age, she moved to New York with her parents, where she studied in a Waldorf school and discovered acting.
While today she’s one of Hollywood’s most successful actresses (with a breakthrough role as Rachel Green in the popular sitcom Friends), when she started her journey, Jennifer Aniston was like any one of us. Despite her parents having connections in the industry, Aniston had to make her way up through minor roles, and while she studied acting in New York and tried her luck in small productions, she worked as a telemarketer.
23. Adrien Brody
Academy Award winner Adrien Brody was always passionate about the performing arts, but of a slightly different kind. As a kid, Brody was an amateur magician and performed in children’s birthday parties under the name “The Amazing Adrien.” Though he never had stage fried, he credits his mother’s career as a photographer to what encouraged him to open up in front of the camera.
His parents were the ones to push Brody into acting, as they signed him to acting classes throughout his childhood as a way to keep him out of the streets and out of trouble. Brody was a natural performer, which is why he won his first roles in an Off-Broadway play and a PBS film at the age of thirteen. His most acclaimed role, the one that made him the youngest actor to win an Academy Award, is his lead role in The Pianist.
22. Evangeline Lily
Actress Evangeline Lily didn’t consider acting until she was discovered by a modeling agent of the Ford Modelling Agency and was encouraged by a friend to finally call him and try her luck. Growing up, her interest in humanitarian causes is what led her to study International Relations in college. She had different jobs before and during college, all to allow her to pay her college tuition.
Her notable jobs were working as a waitress, worked in a mechanic shop changing oil and “doing grease jobs on big rig trucks,” and finally, a flight attendant for Royal Airlines. Imagine if she hadn’t been discovered by the agent, she might have worked to this day in oil change and “doing grease jobs” in Canada.
21. Jon Bon Jovi
While today Jon Bon Jovi is one of the hottest names in American music, he started out like the rest of us, and his first job was sweeping floors. You don’t become a star in a day, and so Jon engaged with music from a young age. In fact, he would regularly skip school to practice with his band. By the time he was sixteen, his band had accumulated local popularity, and the group would perform in clubs around New Jersey.
Although he already had performances, the pay wasn’t as high as he would’ve liked, and so to make some money, Jon worked as a paperboy, selling newspapers. That was only one of his jobs, however, as the aspiring singer/songwriter also made money by making Christmas decorations, and he had another job that was somewhat closer to the world of music – he was sweeping floors at his cousin Tony’s recording studio.
20. Bill Murray
You might find this hard to believe, but in his teens, Bill Murray was somewhat of a troublemaker. He is the fifth of nine children, and he had a difficult childhood, which partly explains his problematic behavior as a teen. However, he always had work-discipline and responsibility, and so in high school, Murray worked as a golf caddy to fund his future education. As a hobby, Murray was the lead singer in an amateur rock band.
Murray was rather lost as to what he wants to do when he grows up. He attended college for a short period, taking pre-medical classes, before he realized this wasn’t the path he wanted to take. It was thanks to his brother that Murray found his way to the Second City – an improvisational comedy theater in Chicago. Upon finishing his studies at the Second City, the aspiring actor moved to New York to give acting his best shot.
19. Jennifer Lopez
Acclaimed singer Jennifer Lopez began singing and dancing at the age of five; her parents encouraged her to take on activities such as singing and dancing as a way to keep her sisters and her out of trouble. She took singing and dancing lessons, and her parents encouraged her to practice at home and in her spare time. At the age of seven, the singer took part in her first music tour, when she traveled with her school’s choir to New York.
Although she was singing from a very young age, in high school, young Jennifer Lopez had other interests. She particularly excelled at athletics and was a member of the school’s gymnastics team and softball team. Lopez also competed on national track championships. In a cay, you can say she is a wasted talent, as she could’ve made for a great athlete, but ultimately she decided to pursue her music career, and the music industry benefited greatly.
18. Helen Mirren
Award-winning actress Helen Mirren grew up in London, and according to her, they had no television in their house, and they never visited the cinema. Thus, the first time young Helen discovered acting was when she watched an amateur production of Hamlet. When the first production you watch is Shakespeare, it’s bound to leave an impression, and for Mirren, this amateur play is what got her passionate about the world of acting and make-believe.
Although she was attracted to acting, Helen’s parents didn’t support this passion; rather, they believed she should have a more stable profession. That why she was sent to a catholic school. However, at the school, she was encouraged by a teacher to pursue acting, and finally, at the age of eighteen, she was able to enter this world when she joined the National Youth Theatre.
17. Tom Hanks
Two-times winner of the Academy award, actor Tom Hanks was always fascinated by acting. That’s why it’s no surprise that his temporary job as a teenager was a popcorn and peanuts vendor at festivals. Hanks shared in an interview that during his teens, he enjoyed going to plays and theater productions, not as a date, but on his own. He would read the program and get swept away by the play and the world portrayed in it.
His job as a popcorn vendor at the festival was part of his internship at the Great Lakes Theater Festival, where Hanks could learn about theater production and get one step close to achieving his dream of becoming an actor. The three years internship is what made Hanks eventually drop out of college, but it wasn’t for naught, as he finally did achieve his dream and went on to become one of the biggest names in Hollywood. He was named by Time Magazine among the Top 10 college Dropouts.
16. George Clooney
Actor George Clooney has tried his hand in almost every possible job before deciding to try his luck in acting. After college, confused about his future, Clooney worked as a shoe salesman, insurance salesman, stocking shelves, construction work and he even worked at a tobacco farm, cutting tobacco. You can’t say he didn’t give it a chance before he started to go into acting.
Since his father was an anchorman and hosted television shows, Clooney appeared on his shows as a kid, and you could say this was his first experience of acting. In college, he started a major in Broadcast Journalism, but he neglected this career path since he resented being compared to his father. He also tried his luck in professional basketball, since he played in high school, but he didn’t pass the player cuts of the Cincinnati Reds and neglected this option as well.
15. Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey’s job as a teenager was the opposite of glamorous. Born and raised in Texas, McConaughey found a job at a farm, cleaning chicken coops. Although he was an acclaimed athlete in high school, he never worked at it professionally. As a kid, he never had this grandiose dream of being an actor, like some other celebrities on the list, but you can say that acting found him.
He considered enrolling in law school, until he decided he had no interest in being a lawyer. Later, he briefly considered attending the Southern Methodist University, until this option was hindered by his brother, telling him their parents couldn’t afford the private school tuition. That’s how McConaughey went with his third option and majored in Radio-Television-Film, which eventually led him to the business.
14. Bradley Cooper
If he hadn’t found his way to Hollywood, Bradley Cooper could’ve made an excellent cook (so he claims, at least). He loved to cook from a young age, and would take pride in his lasagna. Cooper had many dreams as a kid, and although being an astronaut wasn’t one of them, it wasn’t far from it. At one point, he wanted to attend military academy so that he could move to Japan to become a ninja.
What eventually inspired him to become an actor was the film The Elephant Man. Although he excelled in basketball, and he could’ve chosen to pursue this path, which his parents were more supportive of, his passion for acting was evident. What convinced his parents of his talent was seeing him perform the lead role of a theater production of The Elephant Man.
13. Halle Berry
Growing up in Oakwood, Ohio, actress Halle Berry was the ultimate girl next door. She worked at a famous Ohio department store – Higbee’s – and was a cheerleader, an honors student and a prom queen – the most desired title in high school. Before she embarked on her acting career, it seemed safe to assume that Berry was on her way to a very successful career as a model.
During her college years, Berry entered several beauty pageants, winning Miss Teen All American and Miss Ohio USA, and was the runner up of Miss USA. At this point, Berry already knew she wanted to become some sort of entertainer or otherwise work in the media. She moved to New York to promote her career as a model, and she spent her first weeks in the Big Apple sleeping in homeless shelters and the YMCA.
12. Chris Pratt
When he was in high school, actor Chris Pratt had no idea what he wanted to do when he grows up, but he knew he would be famous and make a lot of money. That’s what he told his wrestling coach when asked what he wanted to be when he graduates. Pratt achieved this dream – or prophecy – and we’re left to wonder whether or not his high school wrestling coach remembers this conversation.
Although he was a promising wrestler, he never pursued this path professionally. Pratt found himself living in Hawaii and working as a discount ticket salesman and a stripper, trying to make ends meet. Eventually, he ended up homeless, living in his truck. He later said that if you’re going to be homeless, Hawaii is the best place for that. Still in Hawaii, Pratt was waiting tables at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company when actress and director Rae Dawn Chong discovered him and offered him his first acting job.
11. Patrick Dempsey
We fell in love with him in the role of Dr. McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy, but Patrick Dempsey stumbled upon acting completely coincidentally. As a kid, Dempsey was a talented juggler. Juggling was more than a hobby for young Patrick Dempsey, who participated in national as well as international competitions and achieved second place at the International Jugglers’ Association Championship.
His love for juggling and magic (he was also an amateur magician, though juggling was his main interest) eventually boiled down to a passion for performing arts. Dempsey was willing to commit to anything he did, which is partly what made him a good juggler. Only when he received an invitation to audition for the stage production of Torch Song Trilogy did he discover acting and considered it as a possible career.
10. Demi Moore
Actress Demi Moore, the former wife of Ashton Kutcher, was born in New Mexico, but she spent her childhood and teens moving around with her parents, until they finally settled in Los Angeles – the land of opportunities. Like most of us, Moore didn’t have a clear idea of what she wants to be when she grows up, and she tried to find her niche.
At the age of sixteen, she worked as a debt collector for a time, and she also took a shot at modeling. Modeling didn’t bear fruit for her, and that’s when Moore set her eyes on acting. We can’t blame her, as almost every other teenager in L.A dreams of Hollywood at one point or another. To her luck, her first role was in the popular T.V soap opera General Hospital.
9. Ashton Kutcher
It doesn’t happen to many actors that their first role is also their breakthrough role, but for Ashton Kutcher, his first role as Michael Kelso in That 70’s Show was also the role that placed him on the Hollywood map. But Ashton Kutcher didn’t initially intend on being an actor; rather, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in modeling. To earn money for college tuition, Kutcher worked in a General Mills factory in the cereal department, which was anything but glamorous.
He embarked on his short, but fruitful, modeling career when a modeling scout discovered him at a college bar in Iowa and encouraged him to enter a modeling contest. Kutcher won first place, which granted him a trip to the International Modeling and Talent Association in New York. That’s how Kutcher was signed with New York’s Next Modeling Agency and became a model for Calvin Klein, touring in Europe and appearing in commercials.
8. Amy Adams
Throughout her childhood, rather unoriginally, actress Amy Adams dreamed of being a ballerina. She grew up with six siblings, and so described herself as a rough kid who fought with used to fight with other children. Young Amy Adams wasn’t interested in school, but she was a very active kid in every other aspect but academically. She ran track and competed in gymnastics, she sang in the school choir and trained at the local David Taylor Dance Company.
After graduating from high school, Adams, unfortunately, realized she wasn’t a talented enough dancer to pursue a professional career as a ballerina, and instead, she was attracted to musical theater. Wanting to engage with singing and dancing, Adams took on a job at a dinner theater as a waitress, which included getting on stage to perform. She wasn’t keen about waiting tables, but that was her way of doing what she loved.
According to Madonna, her parents left her no choice but becoming a star and a diva when they named her Madonna, so you can say that in a way, from a very young age, she knew she was destined for the stage. Judging by her performance, we all know Madonna isn’t just a gifted singer but a talented dancer as well. She uses every possibility she can to incorporate dancing in her shows, which tells us something about her childhood dreams and aspirations.
Growing up, Madonna loved to dance and took dancing lessons. Her father encouraged her to take piano lessons, which quickly turned to dance lessons, and her ballet instructor was the one who encouraged her to pursue a career in the field. Young Madonna decided to move to the Bog Apple in order to make this dream come true, and it wasn’t only the first time she boarded a plane, but the first time she took a taxi by herself. When in New York, Madonna waited tables in Dunkin’ Donuts to provide for herself while taking additional dancing lessons.
6. Will Ferrell
This might come as a surprise, but in high school, actor Will Ferrell wasn’t the class clown, as you could’ve expected, but quite the other way around: he made a mark on the football field. Ferrell was a member of the school’s football team and held the school record for the highest number of field goals. Will’s father was in the show business, and the instability of his job discouraged Will from going into this business.
However, in his senior year of high school, Will’s interest shifted from football to comedy, and he started writing comic skits with a friend, reading them over the school’s intercom system, and performing in the school’s talent shows. He always had a cheerful disposition and won the title of Best Personality superlative by his classmates. In a way, Ferrell was born to this profession, even if he tried to deny it. He worked shortly as a hotel valet and as a teller as Wells Fargo, but both jobs were a failure and ended surprisingly quickly.
5. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Her stage name “Lady Gaga” she attributes to Queen’s hit song “Radio Ga Ga.” Under her mother’s instructions, Lady Gaga started playing the piano at the age of four – something she resented at the time, but retrospectively she appreciates this as the thing that got her interested in music from a young age.
She practiced these lessons throughout her childhood, and it provided her with the musical ability to create music by ear, which helped her greatly when she embarked on her career as a professional singer. Slowly but surely, Lady Gaga made her way up the ladder to a career in the music industry, while working temporary jobs, namely waiting tables.
4. Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg always had a healthy sense of humor, which explains her stage name Whoopi, which is a reference to a whoopi cushion. She was born in New York City and dropped out of high school at the age of 17, partly due to her dyslexia. She didn’t think anything of being an actress, but she knew she belonged in the show business, and so like anyone aspiring to enter the show business, Goldberg decided to travel to Los Angeles. Before she settled there, however, she spent some time around California, working some pretty odd jobs.
Among other things, Whoopi Goldberg worked as a waitress, a bank teller, a bricklayer (don’t ask us how or why she got this job) and perhaps the oddest one of them all – she worked as a mortuary beautician, preparing corpses before burial. In Berkeley, California, she joined an avant-garde theater troupe, and worked in a number of theater productions. She also taught comedy and acting classes, although she never officially took acting lessons, since comedy and performance were in her nature.
3. Vince Vaughn
Actor Vince Vaughn says his mother was one of his biggest inspirations, and though her job had nothing to do with acting – she is a stockbroker and a real estate agent – according to him, she taught him about commitment and inspired him to pursue his dream. Although he denies it, Vaughn was an acclaimed athlete in high school; he played baseball and football and was a member of the wrestling team, but according to him, he was mediocre in sports.
Perhaps he feels this way since he found acting at the age of seventeen and ever since that moment, decided this was what he wanted to do in life. Vaughn was determined to succeed, and upon graduating from high school, we scored a role in a Chevrolet commercial, and later relocated to Hollywood. To his great luck, Vaughn became friends with actor Jon Favreau, who was working on a script at the time, and his film – in which Vaughn believed he participated in as a favor to a friend – ended up being his breakthrough role in the entertainment industry.
2. Tina Fey
Actress Tina Fey knew she wanted to be a comedian from a young age. According to her, her parents have a big part in her career, since they are the ones who introduced her to this world from a young age: she shared in an interview that the whole family would sit together to watch Young Frankenstein, Saturday Night Live, Monty Python and The Honeymooners, which all had an influence on young Tina Fey.
At the age of eleven, she already knew she was interested in comedy, and so for a school project, she chose to read and write about the book Seventy Years of Great Film Comedians. Since Second City Television was a great inspiration for her growing up, when she graduated from college, Fey didn’t move to Los Angeles like most celebrities do, but instead, she moved to Illinois, in order to join Chicago’s Second City – an improvisational comedy troupe, where she could promote her comedy. During that time, she worked as a receptionist at the YMCA while taking performance lessons and slowly making a name for herself in the business.
1. Tom Cruise
In his childhood, Tom Cruise’s family moved often, and so he attended fifteen different schools. In such an environment, it’s no surprise that Cruise was confused about his future, to say the least, or otherwise he didn’t think much of it. At one point, Cruise attended a Franciscan seminary on a church scholarship, in the hopes of becoming an ordained Catholic priest. However, he quickly gave up this dream, dropped from the seminary, and replaced it with a different one: becoming an actor.
Cruise had already been involved in acting back in elementary school, but he didn’t think much of it at the time. In his senior year of high school Cruise was back on the stage, starring in the school’s production of Guys and Dolls. Upon graduating high school, and with the blessing of his mother, young Tom Cruise moved to New York, where he hoped to start his acting career. He went through the common ritual of working temporarily as a busboy until his big break came along, and little did he know at the time that one day he’d be one of the biggest names in the industry.