Most celebrities have had to work for everything they have. You always hear the stories about how many times an actor may have been turned down before they finally landed that first coveted role. For musicians, you hear the stories about performers playing non-paying gigs in small clubs just so they can get their name out, as well as scrimping and saving so they can self-produce their own releases.
The following celebrities didn’t have nearly as hard a time as many others in their field. These individuals are part of that lucky few that get discovered completely by accident, minding their own business until the right person came by and decided they had that indescribable “it” factor.
10. Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron has most recently been seen in the films Prometheus and the Seth Macfarlane comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West. She will also be starring alongside actor Tom Hardy in the Mad Max reboot titled Mad Max: Fury Road. Her most notable role was playing serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster. For this role Theron would win an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild award.
Theron eventually flew to Los Angeles in hopes of turning a modeling career into a movie career. Things weren’t going so well at first and Theron needed some assistance from her mother to pay her rent. When Theron tried to cash the check from her mom, the teller refused, prompting Theron to get into a shouting match with the teller. A talent agent (John Crosby) standing behind Theron was impressed with her display of emotion and the rest is history.
9. John Wayne
John Wayne is best known for his work in the Western film genre, most notably How the West Was Won, the original True Grit, and The Undefeated.
Wayne never intended to become an actor, a surprising fact considering he starred in over 180 films between 1926 and 1976. Originally, Wayne attended USC on a football scholarship and fully intended to be a football player. Unfortunately, an injury while body-surfing would bring his football career to a close.
To make ends meet, Wayne took odd jobs working construction on film sets. In those days, extras were cast based on a tried and true method called “get whoever is standing around on set and put them in the scene.” Since Wayne was built like a football player, this got him put in scenes as football players. Eventually the work as an extra would lead to lead roles.
8. Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton is a an R&B singer most recently known for her single “Hurt You”, which was her seventh single to reach #1 on the Billboard R&B charts. She has recently been seen on the series Dancing With the Stars and her own reality series, Braxton Family Values on We TV.
Braxton was attending Bowie State University to work towards a career in teaching. Her teaching career would never happen. It was once reported that Braxton was discovered while she was singing to herself as she filled up at a gas station. However, she recently stated on NPR that the gas station attendant recognized her from local performances and offered to produce her album. Either way, both are pretty incredible stories.
7. Natalie Portman
Portman is best known for being tied to two huge franchises. She played Padmé in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and Jane Foster in the Thor films which are tied to Marvel’s The Avengers. She won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the film Black Swan.
Natalie was pretty much discovered the way most people hope to get discovered: minding your own business when a talent agent notices you have an “it” factor. A scout for Revlon was sitting in the same pizza parlor as Natalie and decided she had that special something. Natalie was scouted for modeling, but she decided to let the agent know that she was more interested in acting.
6. Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford is an A-list leading man, best known for his role as Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy and as adventure hero Indiana Jones.
Ford had dabbled in acting but had decided to give up on that dream and decided to work in construction, which would be more financially secure than hoping to land acting gigs. Harrison never intended to audition for the part of Han Solo, but a friend of his knew he’d be perfect for the part. The friend sent Ford to work on a door near George Lucas who remembered him from his film America Graffiti. Lucas called Ford over to read lines with another actress and it just so happened he was the perfect Han Solo.
5. Pamela Anderson
Pamela Anderson is an actress best known for her roles in Baywatch and the film Barb Wire. She’s also built up quite the reputation due to her large breast-size, spreads in Playboy, and a sex-tape she made with ex-husband Tommy Lee of the band Motley Crue.
Anderson was discovered when she was attending a Canadian Football League game. A camera caught Anderson in the crowd wearing a t-shirt for Labatt’s beer stretched over her large bust. People were so blown away by her breasts that she was called down to the field, where she received a standing ovation. Shortly after, Anderson would be modeling for Labatt.
4. Channing Tatum
Tatum was once a roofer but decided to leave the job to make more money as a male stripper. Between his work as a stripper, roofer, and a history playing football, Channing Tatum had quite a nice physical build. He was discovered totally by chance on the streets of Miami when a modeling agent walked past him. Opportunity is known to knock, but rarely does it fall right onto your lap like that.
3. Rosario Dawson
Dawson is best known for her roles in the films Sin City, Clerks II, and Kids.
Rosario Dawson was essentially homeless when she was discovered. Rosario and her mother had been evicted from their apartment, but her mom had broken back into the apartment and there they were living rent free, biding their time until the landlord found out. While sitting on the front stoop to the building, Harmony Korine and Larry Clark were out scouting for actual street kids to cast in their film Kids. Korine and Clark saw Rosario and told her she’d be perfect for the part of Ruby. The highly controversial film jump started a lot of acting careers.
2. Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt is quickly becoming a Hollywood sensation. He’s best known for his work portraying Andy Dwyer on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, he was the voice of the lead character in the mega popular Lego Movie, and he recently snagged the lead role of Star-Lord in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
Pratt was waiting tables at a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant in Hawaii. Filmmaker Rae Dawn Chong would be dining at one of Chris’s tables. She was so impressed with Chris’s delivery of his server spiel that she put him in her film Cursed 3. From here Chris would see pretty steady work in television, and then move on to feature films.
1. Danny Trejo
Trejo was in and out of prison for years for various offenses. When Trejo was finally out, he entered rehab for his drug addiction. After some time sober, Trejo would give his number as a sponsor to another member of his rehab clinic. The friend called Trejo for support and asked to meet at his work. It just so happened Trejo’s friend worked on a film set. Needing a scary looking guy to stand in for a role, Trejo, who stilled looked like a scary, tattoo covered, ex-con, took the role. He would get a string of similar roles before finally hitting it big.