Hollywood Celebrities‘ Fame Road, What Were They Doing Then

Mel Gibson

Despite not being as active in front of the camera as he was before, Mel Gibson’s name is renowned the world over. Before making it big, the most acting experience he had was at a theatre in Sydney. That didn’t stop the actor from going to the Mad Max auditions, even if he had just been in a bar brawl the night before!

Director George Miller saw potential in Mel early on but didn’t think of him as fit for the hero role. To Mel’s credit, he managed to change the director’s mind and got himself cast as the lead upon their second meeting.

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle’s discovery story is straight out of a Hollywood flick. She was only four years old when an agent spotted her eating at a restaurant in New York City. Quite the dream, right? Well, things were about to get even better.

Just a week later, she was cast in her first acting job. From there, she continued to get small TV roles—until she was cast as Buffy Summers in the cult-favorite series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show was often given credit for catapulting her to stardom. Throughout the ‘90s, Sarah was one of the industry’s most popular young actresses.

Joohnny Depp

Growing up, Johnny Depp had no real intention of going into show business. In fact, the only reason he even became one is because of one very fortunate incident. He accompanied a good friend of his, Jackie Earle Haley, to an audition for Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street. Jackie didn’t get the part, but fate had other plans for Johnny.

The filmmaker saw him on set and requested that he audition. We’re sure even Jackie was surprised after he found out that Johnny got the part—getting credit for one of the most memorable and horrible death scenes in the entire film.

Charlize Theron

You might think that for someone as beautiful as Charlize Theron, landing roles in Hollywood would have been a piece of cake. However, this was not the case. The actress moved to Hollywood when she was only 18 years old and lived in a hotel room the whole time. The auditions weren’t working out and eventually, her mother had to loan her money.

It was in the middle of an argument with the bank teller who refused to cash the check that Charlize’s “breakthrough” would happen. Talent agent John Crosby stepped in and offered to represent her. Within a year, Charlize would land her first role.

Matthew McConaughey

Even as a young man Matthew McConaughey had his eyes set on the limelight. The actor even had parts in commercials and student films, before finally making it big. So, how did it happen for him?

It started at a hotel bar in Austin where he met a producer who would later connect Matthew with filmmaker Richard Linklater. The director was casting for Dazed and Confused at the time but thought Matthew was too handsome for the part. The actor didn’t let up, however, and managed to land the role with credit to a creeper mustache and some terrible surfer hair.

Jennifer Lawrence

She went from being a little known actress to being the world’s highest-paid one in 2015 and 2016. Jennifer Lawrence was vacationing in New York City when she caught the eye of a talent agent. She got her start as a teen model and found success in the field, before landing a role in the TV series Monk. Given her talent and charm, she continued to land bigger parts—until she was cast in The Hunger Games franchise.

The producers made quite the risky investment casting a relatively unknown actress to portray the role of Katniss Everdeen, but that gamble has certainly paid off!

Eva Mendes

Known for her sultry good looks, most people might assume that Eva Mendes was a model prior to becoming an actress. However, this isn’t so. In fact, she was looking to establish a career in marketing, when a talent agent discovered her by chance. The agent was looking at another portfolio when he spotted a photo of the owner’s friend, Eva, in one of the shots.

Needless to say, this led to her being cast in 2 Fast 2 Furious and Ghost Rider. To her credit, Eva did make a successful career out of that chance meeting and established herself as a talented actress.

Peter Dinklage

Before winning over legions of fans through his performance as Tyrion Lannister in the series of Game of Thrones, actor Peter Dinklage had an office job and was part of the punk-funk-rap band, Whizzy. Yes, you read that right—he is a talented musician on top of being a versatile actor.

As for the office job, Peter jokes that he doesn’t remember what the company even did and that he would call in sick every Friday because he was partying the night before. It may have been a boring occupation for the actor, but we’re sure he’s grateful that it kept him out of bankruptcy.

Meryl Streep

She is, arguably, the reigning queen of Hollywood and the title doesn’t come without good reason. Aside from being known as one of the most down to earth actresses in the industry, Meryl also has an innate talent that many can only try and emulate. Don’t expect online classes to help you learn her methods—the actress is simply a natural. Surprisingly, this career wasn’t something she had always been interested in.

It was while she was at Vassar College that Meryl discovered what she’s capable of. Even a Vassar drama professor attests to her acting prowess, “She really taught herself.”

Pamela Anderson

She’s best remembered by audiences for her role as Lisa on Home Improvement and as CJ Parker on Baywatch, the role often given credit for helping her gain public recognition. Before getting cast on the show, however, someone had to discover the actress first.

Her story is one for the books. Pamela went to a football game in Canada wearing a Labatt’s shirt, nothing too exciting, until she appeared on the big screen. That’s when the crowd went wild and she was called to the field. This was eventually followed with a Labatt contract, a playboy shoot, and then Hollywood.

Ashton Kutcher

Even from the get-go, Ashton Kutcher’s good looks have always gained much attention. He was a simple college student, pursuing an engineering degree when he was discovered by a talent scout. His first taste of the spotlight was at a modeling competition. Despite being a rookie, Ashton ended up winning.

He would go on to a number of other similar contests, gaining popularity in the process. Eventually, he would land huge brand deals for the likes of Versace and Calvin Klein. His big break came after he was cast in That 70’s Show, gaining public recognition and meeting his future wife in the process.

Rosario Dawson

When it comes to luck, Rosario Dawson has plenty. Unlike other celebrities on our list so far, the beautiful actress didn’t even have to leave home in order to get discovered. The then fifteen-year-old was simply hanging out on the porch of their home when she caught the eye of a screenwriter, who was working on the script for Kids at the time.

As the story goes, she took his advice and went to audition. To her credit, Rosario had the talent and was cast as Ruby. This would lead to more roles, including one in Spike Lee’s He Got Game.

Jason Statham

He’s among the highest-paid actors in Hollywood at present, but before he was in movies, Jason Statham was selling jewelry in the streets of London to keep himself out of bankruptcy. It was while he was out and about, minding his business when a talent agent took notice of him. This was a major turning point in his story for that meeting led Jason to director Guy Richie.

Guy was working on his debut feature Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels at the time and saw much potential. With that, Jason managed to land the first of many other high profile roles.

Harrison Ford

Even the actor’s early beginnings could be turned into a movie. Before becoming one of the industry’s most respected actors, Harrison trained in carpentry as a means of supporting his family. As fate would have it, he was hired by Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas to build cabinetry for his home. This led to a friendship between the two and the director would later offer Harrison a role in the film, American Graffiti.

Combined with his innate talent and good looks, we have to credit Harrison’s work ethic as well. He was able to turn their chance meeting into an illustrious Hollywood career.

Wilford Brimley

Some aspiring actors and actresses bus tables while they wait for their big break to happen. In Wilford Brimley’s case, he was so far removed from Hollywood that the chances of him becoming an actor were close to none.

He was working on a ranch as a blacksmith. A real-life cowboy who could ride a horse really well. It was this talent that led to him getting cast in a number of Westerns as an extra. Robert Duvall eventually convinced Wilford to put in the investments needed to build a career as an actor. Fortunately, this advice really paid off in the end.

Estella Warren

The actress was on an entirely different career path before she started getting cast for various productions. Prior to receiving credit for her appearance in Kangaroo Jack and Planet of the Apes, she was part of the Canadian National Swimming Team for years. In fact, Estella began training with them at the age of twelve!

However, competing with the team took a backseat after she was scouted by a talent agent during a high school fashion show. She was offered a modeling job the same day and that led to commercial appearances, as well as acting roles in both film and TV.

Danny Trejo

He’s played some of the most memorable characters in movies and his early beginnings were just as colorful. The actor struggled with personal issues as a young man, with many of his actions leading to prison sentences. With much credit to his efforts, he was able to pull his life back together. Danny even became a boxing champ after!

His ticket to Hollywood came from a screenwriter he did time with. At first, he was hired to provide boxing training for the cast but was eventually signed on to appear in the film itself. Since then, he has made quite a successful career for himself.

Christoph Waltz

Choosing acting as a profession isn’t always glamorous. This is something Christoph Waltz is quite familiar with. He earned a living doing behind-the-scenes stage work and kept his family out of bankruptcy through the small TV roles he managed to land. The Austrian actor consistently works hard, so it isn’t too surprising that his efforts were eventually rewarded.

He got his big break with the help of director Quentin Tarantino who cast him in Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds, where he portrayed SS officer Hans Landa. Since then, Christoph has won two Oscars and has established himself in the industry as a bankable actor.

Alexis Bledel

With her doll-like features, Alexis Bledel certainly stands out from the average mall crowd—this was how she got scouted as a model, after all. While modeling seemed like a great idea at first, Alexis quickly realized that she wasn’t earning enough to pay for her NYU tuition and finish her degree.

Fortunately, her beauty came with an abundance of talent as well. While auditioning for roles, she also worked a number of different jobs—including waiting tables. Eventually, she landed the part of Rory in the Gilmore Girls series, despite the fact that she had the flu during auditions for it!

Alden Ehrenreich

It’s no secret that having connections in Hollywood can influence your success in business. This can be said for how Alden Ehrenreich got his start, but his family connections aren’t the only thing that deserves credit for his blooming career. His father, who worked as Steven Spielberg’s accountant, got him through the door but it was up to Alden to leave a lasting impression.

And that he did. Alden impressed the director so much that Steven immediately got him an agent. His audition piece? A comedy video that also starred Steven’s own daughter. Needless to say, we know who stood out between the two!

Chris Pratt

Most might assume that actor Chris Pratt got started in the business as a model, with credit to his good looks. However, you might be surprised at how he found his way into Hollywood. No, he was not approached at random while out in the streets of Los Angeles or New York. The Guardians of the Galaxy star was working as a waiter at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in Maui when he got scouted.

It was director Rae Dawn Chong who saw potential in the guy serving their table. Right there, she decided to cast Chris in the horror movie she was working on!

Evangeline Lilly

In Evangeline Lilly’s case, acting was never really in the cards for her, but as luck would have it she was meant to be in Hollywood. At the time she was scouted by an agent from the famed modeling agency, Ford, she wasn’t looking to turn it into a career. Instead, Evangeline saw it as a means of getting the money she needed to pay for college without needing student loans.

Her first job? A commercial for a hotline catering to Canadian singles. Not bad for a start, because that led to small TV roles—including her breakthrough performance in Lost.

Kristen Wiig

A teacher’s job often requires going beyond the four walls of their classrooms. The best ones can help put us on the right path, especially when it comes to our future careers. Such was the case with funny gal Kristen Wiig. It was one of her teachers who encouraged the actress to pursue acting after getting her college degree.

She later moved to Los Angeles and became part of The Groundlings improv group. She spent a few years working various jobs, whilst going to auditions, but eventually got the break she needed through SNL. Kristen was 32 years old at the time!

Sharlto Copley

From actors who weren’t keen on acting at first to someone who actively sought a way into the business, Sharlto Copley did the most in order to pursue his dream. Performing in various school productions and even trying for a drama degree in college. His efforts weren’t bearing fruit, however, so Sharlto opted to go into business.

By 19 years old, he had already co-founded several companies. At 24, he was South Africa’s youngest TV producer! It was during this time when he lent, then rookie-director, Neil Blomkamp a few computers. Neil didn’t forget this gesture and repaid Sharlto with a lead role in District 9.

Sylvester Stallone

Cinderella and Sylvester Stallone are polar opposites, but they do have one thing in common. Before reaching the top of his game, Sylvester was a “starving artist” who was struggling to get his work noticed. This was during the 1970s and at one point, he couldn’t even afford to pay his rent—ending up in the streets and looking for a place to sleep.

Like the fairytale, he went from dealing with bankruptcy to being one of the richest celebrities in Hollywood. This is thanks to the script he wrote for Rocky. The best bit? He got to play the lead role in it!

Samuel L. Jackson

His onscreen presence is incomparable and his versatility certainly is one of actor Samuel L. Jackson’s strengths. He has starred in countless blockbusters and highly acclaimed productions, including the Avengers, Pulp Fiction, and Django Unchained. His collaborations with Quentin Tarantino are always highly anticipated and with good reason.

The director helped him reach the level of success he has now. With credit to his role in Pulp Fiction, he was able to introduce his talents to a wider audience. Not only did the film go on to become a cult favorite, it also catapulted him into public recognition. That success still continues to this day.

Morgan Freeman

Even as a young boy, Morgan Freeman had a love for movies. He would always save every penny he could find so that he could watch movies. When he reached his teens, however, the actor had to turn down a partial drama degree scholarship—a decision that must have been very difficult for him to do. Instead, Morgan opted for a much different career, one in the U.S. Air Force.

Acting has always been his passion, however, and after he was discharged in 1959 the actor moved to Hollywood. His skill didn’t go unnoticed, even though his big break didn’t come until he was 52 years old!

Hulk Hogan

Most of us know Hulk Hogan as a wrestling icon, who helped make the sport more mainstream. Before entering the world of wrestling, however, he was a talented Little League Baseball pitcher. So talented, in fact, that he even got the attention of scouts from both the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Yankees!

Aside from this, he also played bass for a band and performed regularly in Florida. Needless to say, his work ethic has always been excellent. No wonder the former actor and wrestler has managed to stay out of bankruptcy and maintain his lifestyle even after he went into retirement.

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman should get a sponsorship from a pizza chain given how she was discovered. The award-winning actress was scouted at 11 years old by a representative from Revlon. In true Natalie fashion, however, she told the rep that she had no interest in modeling—but wanted to get into acting instead. To her credit, she did get what she wanted.

Natalie spent two summers honing her skills in local theater productions. By 1993, however, she got cast for Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional. Initially thought to be too young, she was able to deliver a stellar performance in the role.


On the small island of Barbados, Rihanna cultivated her big dreams. In 2003, she formed a group with two of her classmates, and with a bit of luck, they were able to get an audition with Evan Rogers. According to the famed record producer, he noticed Rihanna the moment she entered the room. “It was like the other two girls didn’t exist.” Despite her young age, the singer and entrepreneur’s presence was already palpable.

For the audition, she performed Emotion by Destiny’s Child. From there, she was flown to the United States to record demos. The degree of success Rihanna has achieved since then is certainly inspiring.

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