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10 Actors With Surprising Side Jobs

Celebrity Money
10 Actors With Surprising Side Jobs

Most of the time, when we hear about actors in non-acting roles, it has more to do with their releasing a perfume, endorsing a skincare product, or maybe a particular brand of watch. But there are other actors who maintain, despite their busy careers, secondary jobs. For some, these jobs are labors of love, for others they’re holdovers from before they made it big. In any case, here are ten actors who have other interesting jobs after the cameras stop rolling.

10. Lucy Liu – Artist 

Lucy Liu is currently dominating our television screens as Joan Watson, Sherlock Holmes’ partner-in-crimesolving on Elementary, but there’s a real life mystery here as well. Throughout the 1990s,  paintings and photographs from a talented young artist, Yu Ling, showed in galleries both in America and Europe. Her skills included both realistic and abstract and showed Asian and western influences. Then, around 2009, the secret came out: Yu Ling was Lucy Liu. She explains that she used Yu Ling, her Chinese name, in her art to keep the focus on her art, rather than her growing celebrity status. Her most recent work, Seventy-Two, however, was shown under the name Lucy Liu.

As if being a talented artist wasn’t enough, Liu often uses the proceeds from her artwork in charitable pursuits. An exhibit of hers in 2006 raised over $267,000 for UNICEF, for whom she is an ambassador, and she submitted some of her photography to their Next Generation Photo Exhibit in 2011. A portion  of the proceeds from the Seventy-Two book launch also went towards UNICEF.

9. Idris Elba – DJ 

Whether you know him as the steadfast cop in the crime drama television series Luther, or as the iconic anti-apartheid activist and politician in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, or just from numerous ‘Sexiest Men’ lists, Idris Elba‘s fame is rising. He’s not just a talented and handsome actor, he has had great success as a singer too. Under the name ‘Driis’, Elba has been singing and DJing for years, an interest that was fostered by growing up in a musical home.

He doesn’t have a particular style, which he claims is due to his DJ sensibilities, but rather experiments with multiple styles. His latest album, 2010’s High Class Problems, shows his range, from the reggae-influenced Please be True to the bluesy Extraordinary Love.

8. Viggo Mortensen – Photography 

Viggo Mortensen is best known for his role as Aragorn, son of Arathorn and rightful king of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings movies. Outside of The Lord of the Rings, Viggo Mortensen‘s gained acclaim for his emotionally and physically demanding roles, in films like Eastern Promises and A History of Violence. Incidentally, as Aragorn, he’s also the man pretty much single-handedly responsible for teaching this generation about how attractive scruffiness could be.  Aside from his acting achievements, he’s also a talented photographer.

As an avid photographer, Mortensen’s work caught mainstream attention after the release of The Lord of the Rings DVDs, which showed the trailer-encompassing collage that he’d created out of photos taken during the fifteen month shoot. In 2002, he and his brother founded Perceval Press, a publishing company that focuses on photography books. Books Mortensen publishes through Perceval Press, usually sell out, leading to demands for reprints.

7. Elizabeth Hurley – Organic Food Line 

Elizabeth Hurley, gained fame as a model and actress, appearing as the sultry spy in Austin Powers and the devil herself in the film, Bedazzled.  Her personal life, namely her relationship with Hugh Grant helped her rise to media attention in the 90s .

Aside from acting, Hurley now juggles two additional jobs. Her Elizabeth Hurley Beach line of swimsuits and beachwear have been featured in Vogue, Hello! and the Times Weekend, as well as in the paparazzi shots of celebs like Katy Perry and Pink at the beach.  She’s also teamed up with Duchy Originals, the organic food brand set up by Prince Charles, to provide organic, in-season beef, pork and lamb from her Gloucestershire farm. She reports that she’s pleased with the partnership, as they share a passion for organic food and sustaining the environment.

6. Dan Aykroyd – Sheriff ‘s Deputy

Dan Aykroyd‘s famous for his comedic films, most impressively Ghostbusters and The Blues Brothers, which grew out of his work on Saturday Night Live. While his acting career has been quiet in recent years, focusing mainly on voice-acting for video games, Mr. Aykroyd has plenty keeping him busy.

Beyond his Crystal Head Vodka range, the luxury, quadruple distilled vodka he and John Alexander produced,  he’s now got something really cool to add to his resume. Dan Aykroyd’s been sworn in as a sheriff’s deputy in Hinds County, Mississippi. The position includes going on patrols, executing warrants, ticketing and investigation of wrongdoing. Aykroyd stated that it was ‘an honour to join these ranks’ and that while he would take part in traditional law enforcement duties, he also wanted to focus on fundraising for the department.

5. Jeremy Renner – Flipping Houses 

Jeremy Renner seems to be making it as an action hero: after an academy award nominated turn in The Hurt Locker, he’s nabbed roles in two franchises (Hawkeye in The Avengers, and Aaron Cross in the Bourne movies), and appeared in a third (William Brandt in the latest Mission Impossible movie).

When he’s not saving the day onscreen, he owns a side business flipping houses with long time friend Kristoffer Winters. They’re good at it too, a recent project flipping a Greek revival estate in Hollywood grossed nearly $2.5 million.  His work is respected by the realtors of the area, as it is both beautiful and with any construction remaining well within budget.

4. Rupert Grint – Landlord

Rupert Grint, is best known for his role in the Harry Potter franchise, where he played Ron Weasley, the hero’s best friend. And, while his acting career is going through a quiet patch, he’s still working.

Rupert Grint has an impressive property portfolio, and he recently set up Eevil Plan Properties, to manage his flourishing housing empire. His properties are valued at 12.9 million pounds ($15.5 million), and are centered around London’s commuter belt. These are added onto several properties Grint co-owns with his father, Nigel. One of these co-owned houses brings in £2,700 ($4,300) of rent a month. The newly formed Eevil Plan Properties, it is believed, will also manage the income from co-owned properties, as well the boutique hotel that Grint’s parents own, where rooms fetch up to £150 ($244) a night.

3. Sandra Bullock – Restaurateur

Sandra Bullock has staying power, and in Hollywood, that seems to be a rare gift. She’s been acting steadily since the late eighties, and has moved easily between lighthearted films like The Proposal and Miss Congeniality to award winning dramas like The Blind Side and Crash (and let’s call it now, Gravity‘s going to win something at the Oscars). When the cameras aren’t rolling, she’s got a booming side business in restaurants.

In 2006, she opened Bess Bistro in Austin, a classically appointed bistro with a wide-ranging menu and an almost perfect Zagat rating, which is hard to get considering the ranking system takes not only food, but also cost, service and decor into account. Not content with a single restaurant, though, she  opened Walton’s Fancy & Staple general store, in 2009.  The store offers not only a bakery and deli, but also a wine selection, flowers, small household items and gifts, in true general store spirit. 


2. Kiefer Sutherland – Music Producer

Kiefer Sutherland‘s a lot more than just the man who survived in the television series 24.  He’s also held his own in the TV series Touch, and made a name for himself in horror movies like Dark City, The Lost Boys and the underrated Mirrors. Outside of acting, though he has a love of music, represented by his guitar collection and his music production company.

Teaming up with Jude Cole, Kiefer opened Ironworks Music, and the two of them are attempting a new form of record label. While others claim the music industry is in its death throes, Kiefer and Cole believe that it’s simply changing, and hope to address those changes in Ironworks Music. Rather than trying to find big pop stars that will explode onto the music scene with a catchy single and then fade into obscurity, they’re focusing on finding and nurturing career artists, who will have steady, slow-burning sales over a long period of time. 


1. Jessica Alba – Company Founder

She’s most famous for her genre roles, Susan Storm in the Fantastic Four, and Max in James Cameron‘s Dark Angel. She’s also made appearances on The Office and Entourage, and the Machete movies. Although at the moment, Jessica Alba seems to be focusing on her other job, as the founder of The Honest Company.

The Honest Company focuses on providing safe, affordable and convenient baby products.  They offer everything from baby clothes to prenatal vitamins, all of them eco-friendly. The work is close to Alba’s heart, involved as she is with charities like Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, ONE and Habitat for Humanity. She’s stated that her goal with the company is to “help moms and to give all children a better, safer start”.

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