Every day, countless aspiring actors wake up and tell themselves, “This is the day; this is the audition that will help me make it big.” Being a famous actor or actress is the dream for thousands, but it’s no walk in the park. The movie industry is a cut throat business and getting that big role that puts you on the map is a highly competitive feat. This is why almost every actor or actress has had a back-up plan in case it didn’t work out. This is where the question arises: what would your favorite actor be doing if he or she never landed that life changing role?
We asked ourselves that very question and came up with some intriguing answers. Below you will find a list of ten famous actors who could have had alternate careers. What would your favorite actor be doing today? Waiting tables, pumping gas, cutting someone’s hair? Find out what jobs these stars could have had if the movie industry never picked them up. Some will come as quite the shock, while others may seem rather fitting considering their personality traits.
10 Alan Rickman - Graphic Designer
Can you imagine Professor Snape sitting at an easel creating beautiful visual representation of ideas for the public eye? Probably not, but at one time Alan Rickman attended Chelsea College of Art and Design and then the Royal College of Art which allowed him to work as a graphic designer for the radical newspaper Notting Hill Herald. He even opened a graphic design studio called Graphiti. After his notable success in plays such as “Romeo and Juliet” and “A View from the Bridge”, Rickman made his way in the acting world. Most famous for playing villains in moves like Die Hard and Harry Potter, this English actor could have been designing logos for some of your favorite products.
9 Meryl Streep - Singer
Three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep made her breakthrough role while playing Robert De Niro’s girlfriend in the famous war film, The Deer Hunter. De Niro himself suggested the actress after seeing her performance in the stage production of The Cherry Orchard. This highly talented actress may have been spotted by one of the greats, but if Bobby never witnessed her talent as an actress, Streep may have very well been a singer. She studied opera for years in her youth before her movie career took off. However, her training as a singer clearly paid off during her performances in movies like Ricki and the Flash, Mamma Mia!, Into the Woods, and many others.
8 Danny DeVito - Hairdresser
Believe it or not, Danny DeVito almost became a hair dresser thanks to his sister. When DeVito was a teenager, his sister paid for his schooling in return for his skills as a hairdresser. But he didn’t just cut the hair of the living; he also worked in a mortuary fixing up the hairdos of the dead! Thankfully Danny made it into the acting world starring in movies such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Terms of Endearment, Romancing the Stone, Twins, and Batman Returns.
7 Ken Jeong – Physician
Best known for his comedic roles in The Hangover movie series and the TV show Community, Ken Jeong is actually a licensed physician in the state of California. After graduating at the age of 16, which earned him Greensboro's Youth of the Year award, he went on to get his M.D. at the University of North Carolina. It’s hard to picture this hilarious actor in a doctor’s office, especially after his performance as Leslie Chow in The Hangover, but he does play a doctor in one of his movies. Ken Jeong actually made his film debut in Judd Apatow's Knocked Up as Dr. Kuni – how ironic – yet this role is said to be his breakthrough performance and led to all the funny characters we now recognize him for.
6 Ryan Reynolds – Police Officer
At first, Ryan Reynolds made his way into acting portraying small comedic roles on TV shows and in movies, but later broke into the public eye by playing the hopeless romantic and eventually starring superheroes in films like Blade: Trinity, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Green Lantern. But Reynolds didn’t always want to be an actor; he once considered becoming a police officer. His two older brothers are police officers and it’s more than likely that Ryan saw this as the obvious path, but he chose to take a shot at acting instead. This Canadian born actor definitely has a knack for comedy/action roles and will be starring as Deadpool in the highly anticipated Marvel film.
5 James Stewart – Architect
Named the third greatest male screen legend in cinema history by the American Film Institute, with an academy award and a Lifetime Achievement award, James Stewart is easily the best actor on this list. Stewart proved his superb acting skills in classic films such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Rear Window, Vertigo, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and many more. But he wasn’t always destined to be an actor.
Stewart’s sights were set on being a pilot, until his father insisted that he should attend Princeton University to become an architect. His path to becoming an architect seemed very bright; he was even awarded a scholarship for graduate studies, after presenting his professors with his thesis on an airport design. He was, however, far more interested in the school’s drama and music clubs and he slowly began to lean towards a career in acting. Thankfully his talent was easily spotted and Stewart went on to become the legend he is today.
4 Steve Buscemi – Firefighter
Before this actor starred in films such as Reservoir Dogs, Con Air, Fargo, and The Big Lebowski, Steve Buscemi was putting out fires in New York City. This brave soul proved he could do more than just act; Buscemi served on FDNY's Engine Co. 55 in Manhattan's Little Italy for four years and even returned after the tragic events of 9/11 to help sift through rubble alongside his fellow firefighters. Steve has been known to play all sorts of characters during his career as an actor, from comedies to dramas; this actor seems comfortable playing whatever role is put in front of him, but his most dangerous was definitely that of of a firefighter.
3 Tom Cruise – Catholic Priest
This high energy movie star was made it big with the 1986 action drama Top Gun, where he played Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. From that point on, he landed wildly successful roles in movies like The Color of Money, Rain Man, and the Mission Impossible series. Although he has been known for his unpredictably nutty behavior, and is an outspoken advocate for the Church of Scientology, Tom Cruise once considered being a catholic priest; yes, you read that right, a catholic priest. In his youth, he briefly attended a Franciscan seminary in Cincinnati on a church scholarship and aspired to become a Catholic priest. This didn’t last long, but it’s strange to think what could have been.
2 Harrison Ford – Carpenter
Can you imagine Star Wars without Han Solo or an Indiana Jones movie without the titular character? Thanks to casting director Fred Roos’s keen eye for talent, we never had to envision those movies without Harrison Ford. Fred Roos landed Ford an audition with George Lucas for the role of Bob Falfa in American Graffiti. Not only did Ford get the part, he built a strong relationship with Lucas that later led to his infamous role as Han Solo in the Star Wars saga. But before this actor's rise to stardom, he worked as a carpenter to support his wife and two young sons. Although he was very skilled at his craft, acting seemed to be his true calling.
1 Christopher Walken – Lion Tamer
With one of the most famous voices in Hollywood, you’d think Christopher Walken could tame a lion without the whip, but that wasn’t the case. Before this actor made his way into what seems like almost every movie to ever be released, he joined the circus in his teenage years. He played the role of the circus owner’s son, who would crack the whip to make the lion do tricks. Walken has spoken of his time spent as a lion tamer, saying he and the lion were actually best of friends and that her name was “Sheba”. This unlikely career choice would have been quite the sight to see and would be a great idea for a future movie. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get to see Walken and Sheba reunited once again?
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