Remember your best friend from high school? The one you would tell all of your secrets to. The one you would skip class and break curfew with just to have a great story to laugh about on Monday. The one you lost touch with in college because they wanted to stay closer to home while you just had to see what life was like four states away? Well, imagine that friend ended up being none other than world famous movie henchman head basher, Liam Neeson (bet that in-state tuition is looking pretty sweet now, huh?) But don’t go questioning those life decisions just yet, because in this scenario you’re Johnny effing Depp. Yeah, pretty crazy right? Despite the slow dilution of your friendship over time you both managed to still come out on top.
Unfortunately, you’re probably not Captain Jack Sparrow. Most likely you’re just some guy secretly reading this at work, but that doesn’t mean this rare circumstance of celebrities chumming it up before their big breaks doesn’t occur. On the contrary, it happens far more often than you think, and to prove it I’ve compiled a thorough list of household names that used to pal around prior to their name being in mentioned in your household. Here are some celebrities that knew each other before they were famous:
15 Chance the Rapper & Barack Obama
You read that correctly. Apparently, before he had his city doing front flips the Chicago-born rapper was brushing elbows with the future commander in chief himself. “Chance is doing just amazing work,” Obama told Sway in The Morning, “I first met Chance when he was 8-years-old, and so we’ve been family for a while.” Apparently, Chance or Chancellor Bennett is the son of Ken Williams-Bennett, present day deputy chief of staff to the mayor of Chicago and former state director to then little-known Illinois senator, Barack Obama. The commander in chief has never shied away from his love of hip-hop and with a way back connection like this it will be difficult to argue his street cred into the foreseen future.
14 Jon Hamm & Ellie Kemper
Jon Hamm’s story is a wild one. His mother died when he was ten and his father followed ten years later. He attended The University of Texas but was forced to leave due to a violent hazing scandal involving a hammer, fire, and a pledge’s genitals (not in that order). After returning back home to St. Louis the Mad Men star took a job teaching eighth grade drama at his former high school and surprisingly enough one of his students was star of The Office and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Ellie Kemper. “He taught me the improv section of my theatre class and everyone loved him,” Kemper told reporters in 2015. Hamm’s former student and future costar even commented on how much of a dreamboat he was back in the day. “In a room full of freshmen girls — he was definitely just as handsome back then, and having this grown, tall man teach you theatre, it was like having a hunk in the class.”
13 Brad Pitt & Christina Applegate
Legend has it the two not only knew each other but even dated. Well, okay, maybe it was just one date, and maybe it was to the MTV Movie Awards, and it maybe it was 1989 so technically Christina Applegate had been on Married With Children for two years at that point. But Pitt wasn’t a household name until the early 90s so back off me we’re going with this one because…dun, dun, dun! Applegate ditched the legendary heartthrob at the show. Oh, yeah and it wasn’t like she had a sudden eruption of the stomach flu, she straight up left with another man whose identity she’s kept her lips sealed about to this day.
12 Jada-Pinkett Smith & Tupac Shakur
Jada and Tupac met at the Baltimore School for the Arts and she’s been pretty outspoken about her “friendship” with the late west coast rapper. “When you have two young people that have very strong feelings, but there was no physical chemistry between us at all,” she recently told Howard Stern. “There was a time when I was like, "Just kiss me! Let's just see how this goes...when I tell you it had to be the most disgusting kiss for us both." The two remained close during their rise to fame in the 90s, but lost touch in the time just before Shakur was murdered in 1996. “I felt just sadness,” she continued to Stern, “for not having the opportunity to tell him that I loved him.”
11 Mick Foley & Kevin James
It’s too bad Kevin James is almost exclusively known for making awful movies. His early stand-up was pretty funny and The King of Queens was a ratings slaughterhouse at the start of the 2000s. Perhaps he should have chosen a career in sports entertainment considering his experience wrestling WWE hardcore legend, Mick Foley. The two were teammates on their high school wrestling team and remained close for twenty-five years after graduating. “He’s the nicest guy I’ve ever met,” James told Katie Couric, “...but also the craziest guy I’ve ever seen in my life. Jumping off the roof of his house.”
10 Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson
At this point, this one might seem obvious. After all, Owen Wilson is in a good amount of Wes Anderson’s movies. Wrong. He’s in all of them. Well, all of them except Moonrise Kingdom and Rushmore, but he wrote the latter, so I’m counting that. The two became college roomies after first becoming bonafide bros in a University of Texas at Austin playwriting class and have never looked back. They broke through Hollywood 1993 with Bottle Rocket and have remained friends and collaborators for over 20 years.
9 Jessie J. & Adele
I dare you to find someone who doesn’t like Adele. It’s honestly nearly impossible to be within a 500-mile radius of a human who isn’t drawn to that velvety voice of hers. This same science could be applied to what attracted fellow UK hitmaker, Jessie J, to Adele’s lunch table when they were classmates at BRIT performing arts school. “I used to have jamming sessions with Adele between classes,” said Jesse. “We used to sing at lunchtime and someone would be playing guitar – it was fun!” Don’t get all just yet, because this one ends salty. Apparently, the two have had a recent falling out. According to Jessie, Adele allowed fame to change her and hasn’t even tried to stay in contact since she made it big. “Whatever,” Adele said in my imagination just now as I’m writing this, “I’m Adele.”
8 Zach Braff & Lauryn Hill
This makes so little sense it’s bound to give you an aneurysm if you think about it too much, so I’ll spare you the brain hemorrhage and explain it simply. Hill grew up in South Orange, New Jersey which is where Zach Braff hails from as well. The two have known each other since middle school when Hill was an attendee to Braff’s bar mitzvah. They also went to high school together. The same high school where a 15-year-old Pras Michel decided to start a hip-hop trio with Hill and his cousin, Wyclef Jean. So, basically, Zach Braff went to high school with two-thirds of The Fugees and doesn’t even mention it in Garden State.
7 Jon Hamm & Zach Galifianakis
Apparently, Jon Hamm was quite the social butterfly before fame because this is the second time he’s showing up on this list. Hamm and Galifianakis go way back, like close to thirty years back. It’s no secret Hamm is a comedy fan. He’s a regular SNL host, and he’s had recurring roles on side-splitting shows like Children’s Hospital and 30 Rock, so it isn’t surprising to hear he used to frequent Los Angeles comedy clubs in the 1990s. Hamm told the LA Times he first met Galifianakis (as well other now famous comics like Sarah Silverman and Patton Oswalt) at a $5 stand-up night and the two have been close ever since. “He’s a great actor but he speaks like a comedian,” Galifianakis said, “he certainly doesn't speak like an actor. He’s really funny and he has a comedian’s mind.”
6 Al Gore & Tommy Lee Jones
A couple of ivy league men right here. Gore and Jones met as Harvard freshman when they were placed across the hall from each other in their dorm. Fast forward a few years and they’re full blown roomies as upperclassmen, hell they were even in a college country band together. To make things even more interesting, the two also shared the gold and crimson hallways with Erich Segul who claims they were the inspiration for the character, Oliver, in his screenplay for the hit 1970 movie, Love Story (which was also the first film Tommy Lee Jones ever starred in). That’s a lot to swallow all at once, so if you need to double back and reread before jumping into number eleven I understand.
5 Jay Z, Busta Rhymes, DMX & The Notorious B.I.G.
This one still baffles me. Four of the biggest names not only in music (yeah, DMX was a really big deal at one point), but in a specific genre of music all went to high school together. According to lore, Biggie wasn’t necessarily present all that often, but Busta and Jay had regular encounters at George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School and, yeah, occasionally these encounters resulted in a combative verbal assault against one another. Jay recounted his time there to Jimmy Kimmel saying “Me and Busta Rhymes actually had a rap battle in the lunch room.” Busta has graciously admitted he lost the famed lyrical bout, but the outcome would be different today.
4 Naomi Watts & Nicole Kidman
These two have been practically sewn together since before they ditched the down under for the bright lights of Hollywood. Watts and Kidman met while attending Phillip Street Theatre in Sydney and they’ve stayed extremely close ever since. They’ve starred in movies together, accompanied each other to award shows, and of course, have made it clear you can’t sit with them. Watts says the pair can either “go to glamorous dinner parties or sit in a room and motormouth each other."
3 John Krasinski & BJ Novak
So, obviously they know each other from co-starring on The Office together for years, but did you know they grew up in the same town of Newton, Massachusetts. They played little league together, went to middle school together and BJ Novak even cast John Krasinski as the leading man in a high school play he wrote. Supposedly, the pair didn’t really stay in touch after graduation. Novak went on to Harvard while Krasinski went to Brown and they only ever really saw each other by chance on holiday breaks. I guess a lot of their post-grade school relationship is based on chance because that’s exactly what it was that got them on The Office together. You would think one of them recommended the other for a role on the show, but no. Two guys from the same small town in Massachusetts getting parts on a major NBC sitcom filmed 3,000 miles away was entirely coincidental. How bizarre is that?
2 Leonardo DiCaprio & Tobey Maguire
Tobey and Leo have been best bros since before The Great Gatsby. In fact, they used to run around Hollywood scouring the bars and boulevards for nightly female companions with an extended crew fittingly dubbed The P***y Posse that also included the likes of Kevin Connolly and David Blaine. But let’s rewind a bit farther, all the way back to the late 80s when the pair continually ran into one another at auditions because that’s where the bromance actually began. “I remember driving back from school and he was outside Hollywood High,” DiCaprio recalled about spotting Maguire in those early years, “and I jumped out of the car and I was like 'Tobey! Tobey! Tobey! Give me your number.' He was like, 'Yeah, who are you again?'" The two have been thick as thieves ever since, and current speculation suggests the posse is back in full effect since Maguire’s divorce, so ladies…keep your heads on a swivel.
1 Val Kilmer & Kevin Spacey
Spacey and Kilmer met when they were classmates at Chatsworth High School in Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California. After graduation Spacey tried his hand at some stand-up comedy in local bowling alleys before Kilmer verbally slapped him across the face and convinced him to join him at Juilliard in New York City. Spacey got into the prestigious school and began the program just as Kilmer was finishing. That’s where the story starts to get a little dicey. Allegedly, Spacey called Kilmer’s father requesting a small loan of $18,000 to pay for a semester of schooling and thinking he was speaking to one of his baby boy’s best buddies, Mr. Kilmer obliged. Thing is, Spacey never finished school and according to Val Kilmer, the American Beauty actor knew he going to be jumping ship before the check was even signed. Spacey’s camp admits there was a loan, but for much less, and they claim it was fully repaid with interest. Needless to say, these loan discrepancies have stopped these two from sharing a couple of cold ones after the game.