Surprising jobs celebrities had before they were famous


We know them as glamorous celebrities who star in some of the hottest movies and TV shows, write the biggest chart-topping hits and win some of the entertainment industry’s biggest awards – but that wasn’t always the case. Click through to find out which well-known singer worked as a porter at a mental hospital, which media personality is a former flight attendant and the famous actor that used to sell ballpoint pens over the phone…

Andrew Garfield

Surprising Job: Before he was swinging from buildings as Spiderman and dating Emma Stone on and off, Andrew mowed lawns in his neighbourhood and worked as a barista at Starbucks.

Breakout role: 2010 was a big year for Andrew, who starred in Never Let Me Go with Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan and The Social Network with Jesse Eisenberg. After the release of these two films, Andrew’s career took off.

Biggest accomplishments: Though the franchise has since been scrapped, Andrew was chosen to follow in Toby Maguire’s footsteps and star in the Spider-Man reboot – The Amazing Spider-Man – which saw two movies in 2012 and 2014.


Amy Adams

Surprising Job: Before the radiant redhead stole the show on the big screen she worked as a server at Hooters. “I did it because I needed to buy a car,” she said, leaving the gig after earning the $900 she needed to buy a used Chevrolet.

Breakout role: Amy was nominated for an Oscar following her role as pregnant Ashley in 2005’s dramatic comedy Junebug.

Biggest accomplishments: Following her Oscar nomination, Amy’s career hit new highs with her role as a real-life Disney princess in the musical film Enchanted, which also earned her several award nominations, as did her part in 2013’s fan-favourite American Hustle


Connie Britton

Surprising Job: Before she played the wife of a football coach and a country music icon, Connie worked at American retail stores The Gap and The Limited. “I was appreciative for all those jobs,” Connie told E!. “I probably didn’t do them very well, and I didn’t do them for very long. It’s all about folding. I’m a terrible folder. I couldn’t stay at the Gap for very long.” The star was also an aerobics instructor.

Breakout role: Although she had numerous recurring roles on series like The West Wing and Spin City it was her role as Principal Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights that really shot Connie to stardom.

Biggest accomplishments: Since then the Boston native won a whole new group of fans when she played country queen Rayna James on the TV series Nashville. She also recently portrayed Faye Resnick on The People v. O.J.


Chace Crawford

Surprising Job: Chace’s good looks have always been recognized. Before he hit small screens as an Upper East Sider in Gossip Girl, Chace modelled for Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister. He also studied broadcast journalism and worked as a valet in New York.

Breakout role: His face and name became familiar after Chace secured the part of Nate Archibald, the on-again, off-again love interest of both Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) and Serena van der Woodson (Blake Lively) in Gossip Girl.

Biggest accomplishments: His regular role on the five-season-long Gossip Girl is undoubtedly Chace’s most well-known work, but the actor does have three movies coming out this year and joined Cameron Diaz in the 2012 comedy What to Expect When You’re Expecting.


Brad Pitt

Surprising Job: This Hollywood hottie almost became a journalist, dropping out of the University of Missouri when he was just two credits short of his degree to move to Los Angeles. Here he delivered fridges, drove a limousine for exotic dancers and wore a chicken suit to advertise American fast food chain El Pollo Loco.

Breakout role: Brad turned up as J.D., the attractive lifter in Thelma and Louise – a role George Clooney auditioned for five times. Brad was paid $6,000 for the part, which turned into a lifelong career.

Biggest accomplishments: Since then he’s appeared in the star-studded Ocean’s trilogy, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – which earned him Golden Globe and Oscar nominations – and tried his hand at producing big-screen successes like The Big Short and 12 Years a Slave.


Elizabeth Banks

Surprising Job: In her younger days, this natural comic was an errand girl at her local Catholic youth centre – running the after-school game room, manning the front desk and handing out coffee. When she was a bit older she also worked as a waitress in New York City.

Breakout role: After a number of smaller roles in big name movies like Seabiscuit and Catch Me If You Can, Elizabeth left a lasting impact on audiences when she starred as Beth the bookstore clerk in The 40-year-old virgin.

Biggest accomplishments: Though her on-screen part in the Pitch Perfect franchise is small, Elizabeth is involved in a big way, producing the movies behind the scenes. A third film is expected in 2017.


Eva Mendes

Surprising Job: Now she’s a mother of two and girlfriend to Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, but many moons ago Eva worked at a fast food restaurant serving up pizza and pasta at her local mall. She also dished out hot dogs from a stand called Hot Dog on a Stick.

Breakout role: The Florida native scored celebrity status after staring opposite Denzel Washington in Training Day.

Biggest accomplishments: She is rumoured to be reprising her role as Monica Fuentes in the eighth instalment of The Fast and the Furious series, out next year. She also thrilled fans with her comedic timing when she played Will Smith’s love interest in Hitch.


Star: Gerard Butler

Surprising Job: The P.S. I Love You heartthrob began his working life as a lawyer in Edinburgh. However, he quit his job at the law firm to become a casting assistant in London, which ultimately resulted in his first acting gig when he ran into the casting director and begged for the chance to audition. He snagged the lead.

Breakout role: With his fame beginning in the stage production of Coriolanus, Gerard tried his hand at another play – Trainspotting – before making the transition to the big screen by securing a part in Mrs Brown with Judi Dench.

Biggest accomplishments: Although he has since added many acting credits to his name, Gerard is probably best known for his role as King Leonidas in 300. He also also appeared in The Ugly Truth opposite Katherine Heigl and loaned his voice to the animated film series How to Train Your Dragon. The third movie is expected in 2018.


George Clooney

Surprising Job: Before he headed to Hollywood this good-looking charmer was a door-to-door insurance salesman. “That’s hard work,” George has said of the gig. The Money Monster star also cut tobacco while living in Kentucky, tried out for the Cincinnati Reds baseball team and worked in a department store selling women’s shoes.

Breakout role: Still remembered as handsome Dr. Doug Ross from ER, George became a household name during his five seasons on the hospital drama. The role has earned George endless praise, including two Emmy and three Golden Globe nominations.

Biggest accomplishments: Since turning in his doctor’s coat, George has played the lead in an array of films, but the most notable is the star-studded Ocean’s series, which co-stars his good friends Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.


Hugh Jackman

Surprising Job: The Australian favourite has played many surprising off-screen roles, including a gym teacher at Uppingham School in England and a party clown at children’s birthday parties. “I was Coco the Clown and I had no magic tricks,” Hugh told radio hosts Fitzy and Wippa. “I remember a six-year-old standing up at a party saying ‘Mommy this clown is terrible, he doesn’t know any tricks’ – and he was right.”

Breakout role: Staring in the Australian drama Erskineville Kings, Hugh became a recognizable face before landing his career-making gig a year later.

Biggest accomplishments: Snagging his role as superhero Wolverine in the X-Men films, which have earned Hugh a huge following of fans and secured his place in Hollywood. He also earned some serious buzz when he starred in the film adaptation of Les Misérables alongside Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried.


Dame Helen Mirren

Surprising Job: Before she played either Queen Elizabeth or received her own Damehood, Helen was a fairground promoter for the Kursaal amusement park in England’s Southend, tasked with attracting customers to the rides.

Breakout role: The famed English actress began her career on stage in the 60s, and still likes to return to theatre roles from time to time. She became a shining star in Hollywood, however, after playing Victoria in the 1980 mystery drama The Long Good Friday.

Biggest accomplishments: Helen’s career has been long and varied, earning her numerous accolades for a wide variety of roles. Some of the most notable include her seven-season stint as DCI Jane Tennison in British mini-series Prime Suspect and for portraying Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, which examines the royal family’s life in the wake of Princess Diana’s death.


Jennifer Aniston

Surprising Job: Nowadays it’s estimated that the actress is worth something in the ball park of $150 million, but she wasn’t always so affluent. Jennifer served stints as a telemarketer, waitress and bike messenger.“I moved to L.A. and was telemarketing next to a Taco Bell,” she told Self magazine.

Breakout role: Jennifer became not only a household name but an icon when she landed the role of Rachel Green in Friends.

Biggest accomplishments: Since wrapping the sitcom that made her famous, Jennifer has starred in a number of blockbusters including The Break-up with Vince Vaughn, Bruce Almighty with Jim Carrey and Horrible Bosses with Kevin Spacey.


Jennifer Hudson

Surprising Job: When she was 16, Jennifer worked with her sister Julia at the Burger King on East 87th and State Street in Chicago. Julia has previously said that Jennifer enjoyed singing while she flipped burgers and worked the drive-thru.

Breakout role: The singing sensation introduced herself to the world when she appeared on the third season of American Idol. Although she didn’t win the televised contest, she did go on to make a big screen, musical debut in the film Dreamgirls.

Biggest accomplishments: Jennifer won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Effie White in Dreamgirls as well as a congratulatory message from Simon Cowell. She was also cast as Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant in the first Sex and the City movie and has earned numerous Grammy nominations (and one win) for her music.


Jon Bon Jovi

Surprising Job: Before he made a name for himself in the music industry, Jon sold newspapers, made Christmas ornaments and worked as recording studio janitor, which is where he laid down his first single.

Breakout role: In 1982 Jon recorded the single “Runaway” and shopped it around to big music labels. No one was interested, but he managed to convince New York City’s local station WAPP 103.5FM to include it on a mix CD they were releasing which, eventually earned him a recording contract in 1983.

Biggest accomplishments: During his more than 30 years in the business, Jon has released a number of hits including “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “It’s My Life.”


Jon Hamm

Surprising Job: Relatively speaking, Jon was a little late to the acting game so it’s not overly surprising that he held trying-to-make-it jobs like waiting tables. What is a little more unusual, however, is that he worked for Cinemax dressing soft-core pornography sets. “It was soul-crushing,” he told Vanity Fair.

Breakout role: Portraying Don Draper, the ad man with questionable morals, skyrocketed Jon Hamm from relative unknown to man-to-watch status.The AMC success lasted for seven seasons (with the last instalment being broken into two parts) and saw Jon take home an Emmy for the final string of episodes, despite receiving a nomination every year.

Biggest accomplishments:Mad Men is still a big claim to fame for Jon, but he’s moved on to other interesting and successful projects, including a guest role on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which earned him another Emmy nomination.


Johnny Depp

Surprising Job: The Black Mass star was a former telemarketer who sold pens. “You’re calling people who don’t want you to call them. You put on your best fake voice and try and sell them a gross or two of ballpoint pens with their name printed on them,” he recalls.

Breakout role: Johnny scored his first major role when he starred in the 1984 horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Biggest accomplishments: When Johnny starred in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands in the early 90s he formed a friendship and partnership that has led to endless roles, including Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Ed Wood. Johnny may be best-known, however, for portraying quirky pirate Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.


Jim Carrey

Surprising Job: When his father lost his job – Jim was just 15 – the future Hollywood star took after-school gigs as a security guard and a janitor. He also performed at local comedy clubs a few years later, before his career really took off.

Breakout role: Although most people know Jim from his movie roles, his big break actually came on TV. The Canadian actor landed a recurring role on comedy series In Living Colour.

Biggest accomplishments: Jim is still commonly associated with his first major role, pet detective Ace Ventura. He also gained a strong fan following from his parts in Dumb and Dumber, Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, How The Grinch Stole Christmas and The Truman Show.


Kayne West

Surprising Job: Long before he was Mr. Kim Kardashian, Kayne worked at the Gap. Anyone who’s ever heard the song “Spaceship” knows that it’s not an experience he looks back on fondly.

Breakout role: In 1999 Kayne earned his first official production credits following his work on eight tracks for Chicago rapper Grav and his album Down to Earth. In 2000 he started working for Roc-A-Fella Records and gained wide recognition for his role in transforming Jay-Z’s songs on album The Blueprint.

Biggest accomplishments: Following a near-fatal car crash, Kayne was inspired to write his hit song “Through the Wire” after his damaged jaw had to be wired shut during reconstructive surgery. His first album The College Dropout was an irrefutable success.


Kris Jenner

Surprising Job: The former wife of O.J. Simpson’s friend and lawyer Robert Kardashian and Olympian Bruce (now Caitlyn) Kris spent her early years as a flight attendant for American Airlines and working in a donut shop.

Breakout role: Kris received a little bit of spotlight by association during Robert’s involvement with the highly controversial O.J. Simpson trial, but it was her second husband who really boosted her career. After marrying Bruce, Kris became his manager and launched a fitness line with his name on it.

Biggest accomplishments: In 2007 Kris and her family became a global phenomenon when they teamed up with Ryan Seacrest to create the hugely popular reality TV show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which has resulted in several spinoffs.


Star: Matt LeBlanc

Surprising Job: Good with his hands, Matt thought he was going to be a carpenter before he became Joey on Friends. “I made a complete kitchen and installed it in a house,” he told Jimmy Kimmel.

Breakout role: Landing the gig as womanizing Joey on Friends certainly made Matt a household name. The star earned three Emmy nominations for his portrayal during the show’s decade-long run.

Biggest accomplishments: Although Matt will always be linked to Joey, the funnyman has other accomplishments worth noting. Not only did he win a Golden Globe for his part on TV series Episodes but he’s also appeared in movies like Charlie’s Angels, and in 2016 he started hosting the popular car show Top Gear.


Star: Mariah Carey

Surprising Job: Before the singing sensation began creating her enviable discography, she studied cosmetology and was employed by several different salons before abandoning that dream. Mariah also held jobs as a waitress and a coat checker.

Breakout role: Mariah signed her first recording contract with Columbia at the age of 18. In 1990 the single “Vision of Love” was released from her debut album, shooting the singer to the top of the charts. The song has since been credited with influencing many other female R&B artists.

Biggest accomplishments: Since making her debut the New York native has sold more than 200 million records, won five Grammy awards, held a residency in Las Vegas and released a children’s book based on her hit single “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”


Star: Sir Mick Jagger

Surprising Job: Before he was performing at sold-out shows Mick worked as an errand-runner and porter at Bexley Mental Hospital in London. He also studied business at the London School of Economics and strongly considered becoming a journalist or a politician before he made his official career selection of rock star.

Breakout role: Initially playing for no money in a basement club, the Stones soon hired manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who started to secure them paying gigs in 1962 and had steered them to more high-profile recognition by 1963. This was also the year Mick officially gave up his education at the London School of Economics.

Biggest accomplishments: The world-famous musician is undoubtedly best-known for his role as lead singer of The Rolling Stones. Thanks to his iconic voice and inimitable moves, Mick has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and been knighted by the Queen.


Oprah Winfrey

Surprising Job: The media mogul knew what she wanted to be when she grew up from a very early age – although the enormity of her success was probably not part of the plan – but even she had to work a part-time job before she got her foot the media door. For the talk show queen, that job was a grocery store clerk in East Nashville.

Breakout role: After winning the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant at the age of 17, Oprah attracted the attention of local black radio station WVOL, where she began working during her senior year of high school. She eventually moved onto Nashville’s WLAC-TV where she became the station’s youngest news anchor.

Biggest accomplishments: Oprah is best-known for her hit talk show, which ran for an impressive 25 seasons. She is also known for her personalized network (OWN), her namesake magazine (O) and for the panel of advice-givers she introduced to the world like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Suze Orman.


Star: Michael Fassbender

Surprising Job: Before he made it in Hollywood, Michael dabbled in a number of different jobs, like serving as an altar boy for weddings and baptisms, conducting market research for the U.K.’s Royal Mail and mixing up delicious cocktails while holding one of his many bartending positions.

Breakout role: In his early days Michael could be found on stage or playing a Spartan warrior in the movie 300. He gained wider recognition after starring in HBO’s Band of Brothers and British fantasy drama Hex.

Biggest accomplishments: Since becoming a household name, Michael has earned critical acclaim for a number of his roles, including sex addict Brandon in Shame, cruel master Edwin in 12 Years a Slave and computer genius Steve Jobs in the self-titled film.


Rachel McAdams

Surprising Job: “[I worked at McDonald’s] for a good three years,” Rachel told Glamour magazine of her pre-fame job. “I was not a great employee; I broke the orange juice machine one day.”

Breakout role: The Canadian beauty made a big splash in 2004 when she starred in both Mean Girls with Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Seyfried and The Notebook with Ryan Gosling, which both became cult favourites.

Biggest accomplishments: The Toronto resident has appeared in numerous big-name features since then, but her role as journalist Sacha Pfeiffer in Spotlight (based on the real-life Boston Globe investigation into the Catholic church scandal) was a career highlight that earned Rachel her first Oscar nomination.


Sir Sean Connery

Surprising Job: Most of the world knows him as the most famous 007 but before Sean suited up in the sophisticated wardrobe of Britain’s most beloved spy he made door-to-door deliveries of milk for St Cuthbert Cooperative Society, laid bricks, protected swimmers as a life guard at Portobello’s outdoor pool and, possibly strangest of all, polished coffins.

Breakout role: Looking to make a little extra cash in his earlier years, Sean took a job helping out backstage at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre in the early 50s. Finding that he had an unexpected interest in acting and play production, Sean auditioned for the tour of South Pacific and earned himself a role in the chorus before quickly being promoted to larger parts.

Biggest accomplishments: Throughout his long and varied career, Sean has played James Bond seven times, been knighted by the Queen, won an Academy Award for best actor and forged a lifelong friendship with Michael Caine.


Sheryl Crow

Surprising Job: Today we know her as the chart-topper behind songs like “Soak Up The Sun” and “The First Cut is the Deepest,” but before Sheryl made music her career she taught the skill to youngsters at the Kellison Elementary School in Fenton, Missouri.

Breakout role: Even before she was a headliner Sheryl worked with some of the biggest names in the business, touring as a back-up singer for Michael Jackson in the late ’80s and recording backing vocals for Stevie Wonder, while her songs themselves were sung by people like Celine Dion and Tina Turner. It was when Sheryl started dating Kevin Gilbert in the early ’90s, however, that her first album really began to take shape. Her success was secured with the smash hit “All I Wanna Do.”

Biggest accomplishments: Working with other high-profile musicians remains a constant in Sheryl’s career even though she’s released a number of successful solo albums. Sheryl has collaborated with Michelle Branch, Prince, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, the Dixie Chicks and Miranda Lambert, among others. She also contributed to the theme song for the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and has taken home 16 awards, including 9 GRAMMYs.


Vince Vaughn

Surprising Job: Before he took to the big and small screens, Vince worked to avoid drama as a lifeguard at the YMCA. The gig came to an abrupt end when the star was late one too many times.

Breakout role: Vince began to put some serious weight behind his name after he appeared in the 1996 comedy Swingers. While the part resulted in other roles throughout the ’90s, including playing Nick Van Owen in Jurassic Park, Vince secured next-level stardom in the 2000s.

Biggest accomplishments: Teaming up with Owen Wilson seems to lead to success for Vince, who has starred opposite the funnyman in The Internship and Wedding Crashers.


Whoopi Goldberg

Surprising Job: While pursuing her show-business career, Whoopi held some interesting jobs to help her make ends meet, among them a beautician at a morgue and a bricklayer. Of how the latter came to be, Whoopi told The Telegraph “Well, I needed money and I needed to work, so I figured I would rather lay bricks than lay men for money.”

Breakout role: Staring alongside Oprah Winfrey in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple, Whoopi garnered critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination.

Biggest accomplishments: Whoopi starred in some of her biggest hits in the early ’90s, including Ghost, Sister Act and Disney’s The Lion King, in which she lent her voice to a hyena. The Hollywood icon has still managed to keep her name in the game in recent years as part of the cast on The View.

Biggest accomplishments: Although Matt will always be linked to Joey, the funnyman has other accomplishments worth noting. Not only did he win a Golden Globe for his part on TV series Episodes but he’s also appeared in movies like Charlie’s Angels, and in 2016 he started hosting the popular car show Top Gear.