Celebrities aren’t like you. They’re the charmed ones, the gorgeous kids recruited out of middle school by modelling agencies, or the high school jocks who were always better-looking and cooler than everyone else. Right?
Well, sometimes. The celebrities on this list weren't always so fortunate. After all, occasionally an awkward kid will hit puberty and things will change – a dorky loser will become a ripped hottie, or a nerdy girl will lose the glasses and develop some assets.
Usually there was something in their childhood photos that suggested the beauties these individuals would one day become, but their styles were all over the place. Want to see Brad Pitt with a bowl cut? Nicole Kidman looking like Miss Frizzle? Geeky George Clooney? These pictures will make you laugh when you realize that some celebrities are just like the rest of us. It only makes sense, really - a lot of the time the kids that were busy looking good and playing it cool in high school weren't focused on the important stuff like honing a beautiful voice or developing the acting chops that would get them noticed one day. Sometimes it's the nerdy, bullied kid who makes it big in Hollywood.
They may not look it now, but before the stylists, the makeup artists and the managers came along, these superstars looked like average kids. Here are fifteen ugly adolescents who grew up to be heartthrobs.
15 Brad Pitt
Can you believe that that little twerp in the front row turned out to be Brad Pitt? The face looks vaguely familiar, but everything else – yikes. That hair! It’s a good thing Brad finally found a stylist, because it looks like when he was thirteen he let his Mom cut his hair, with predictable results. The most amazing thing about this picture is just how ordinary he looks. I guess he’s holding a basketball, so he at least looks a bit athletic, but other than that…yeesh. This man, who would one day be named People’s Sexiest Man Alive and star as the very ideal of masculinity in Fight Club, was a dorky kid who looked, if anything, a bit girlish in this early photo. I wonder what young Angelina Jolie would have thought if she’d met this kid…
14 Kate Upton
Kate Upton might seem to represent the ultimate all-American girl, but Justin Verlander’s wife and everyone’s favourite swimsuit model wasn’t always the babe she is now. While young Kate Upton was certainly still pretty attractive, that wide, goofy smile hardly portends future superstardom. She looks like that girl you thought was a little bit cute in class once, but who didn’t hold a candle next to the prom queen.
Her mouth just looks huge. It’s interesting - sometimes the features that stand out so awkwardly when someone is in their adolescent years become a person’s defining trait after puberty has run its course. Here Kate’s enormous smile just looks weird, but once she grew into it, it became one of the features that made her so unbelievably gorgeous.
13 Megan Fox
Megan Fox might represent most males’ ideal of the perfect girl now, but once upon a time she was just another gap-toothed primary schooler. In this photo, Megan smiles at camera with a cute face, but one that hardly looks likely to take anyone’s breath away. But she grew up real nice. The Transformers star who stunned the world with her turn as Mikaela Banes back in 2007 actually grew up in Tennessee as the daughter of a parole officer. Megan admitted that when she was a middle schooler and teenager she got along better than guys with girls, and was incredibly unpopular. She even admitted to eating lunch in the washroom to avoid being bullied. It’s doesn’t get much more pathetic than that. But Megan eventually showed all those small-town bullies who was boss – now she gets along with every man on the planet.
12 Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe might be the poster boy for ordinary children who grew up to be smouldering superstars. When Radcliffe was picked to play Harry Potter way back in 2001, he was picked specifically because he looked so unspectacular. The whole point of the story was that Harry was an underprivileged, dorky-looking kid who just happened to be the hero and saviour of his magical universe. When Radcliffe was picked for the role, casting directors had to walk the fine line of finding a star who looked geeky enough for the role, but would look good enough through puberty (i.e. no horrible acne) to continue to star in blockbuster films throughout his teens. Radcliffe seemed to get better-looking every year, and once Harry Potter wrapped up its run, he moved onto more adult films where he could take advantage of his looks. He even wound up stripping down onstage for the play Equus. Now Daniel is a gorgeous-looking adult – and looks nothing like Harry Potter.
11 Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts grew up to star in films like Pretty Woman and Erin Brockovich, but she was actually pretty ordinary-looking to begin with. Julia comes from theatrical blood, as her parents originally met while performing plays together and her three biological siblings are all career actors.
Here we get a look at Julia at what appears to be around age 10, smiling into the camera like the gawky child that she probably was. Her front teeth look huge here – but most notable of all is the ridiculous outfit she seems to be wearing. Did she really make it out of elementary school without being teased for that? Young Julia is also bespectacled and just looks like your most run-of-the-mill little girl.
The funny thing is, we don’t actually think Julia’s changed all that much. She just got a bit better looking, learned how to style herself, and redirect her nerdiness into her film projects.
10 Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t look bad in this photo, but she does look incredibly ordinary. This could be literally any girl at your high school. She’s got the long blond hair, the dangling earrings, and the big smile that just scream out “annoying preppy girl who gets all the grades and gets invited to all the parties” – but there’s nothing about this photo that really says Hollywood. The girl in this photo looks like someone who’s going to have a lot of fun in college, get married to an accountant or lawyer and raise a happy little family in the suburbs.
Instead, she turned into Jennifer Lawrence. A beautiful, award-winning movie star…and someone who apparently likes to have a little too much fun on the side. It's like this average American girl's college partying days wound up lasting her whole life and she somehow managed to make millions in the process.
9 George Clooney
George Clooney might be the poster boy for silver foxes everywhere nowadays, but he wasn’t always so beautiful! In this high-school photo George looks like every awkward theatre nerd in high school. The bad bowl cut is bad enough, but those glasses are straight out of the seventies. This picture offers hope for every dorky kid who ever got laughed at in middle school for having bad hair. I guess it’s true that style really does make the man – Clooney without style is about as ordinary as ordinary gets. Was this haircut ever fashionable, or did some barber just do a really terrible job?
It’s almost like George is a hottie in disguise as an awkward teenager here. The bone structure and the eyes are there, but they're carefully hidden behind a façade of “loser.”
8 Katy Perry
Katy Perry didn’t always sing about kissing girls, make racy videos with Snoop Dogg or play the Super Bowl halftime show – once upon a time, she was just a girl with a nice voice. Way before she hit it big, Katy actually started out as a gospel singer. Her parents were both born-again Christian preachers and she even released an album under the name “Katy Hudson” (no, not that Kate Hudson) which bombed spectacularly in 2001. This picture is probably from even earlier than then – back when Katy was still impressing churchgoers with her hymns.
While we’re sure she did a great rendition of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!, it’s probably for the best that Katy changed up her look and gave us some of the most popular hits of the last decade. She’s grown into herself a lot since this picture was taken…
7 Noah Syndergaard
Talk about going from gawky to beautiful! Noah Syndergaard looks like your average, slightly overweight fifteen-year-old. He’s got glasses and a ton of baby fat, and looks nothing like an athlete who ten years later would possess the rugged chin and long-flowing locks that would lend him the nickname Thor. It’s hard to imagine anyone could go through such an astonishing transformation. He literally went from being an average Joe to being nicknamed after a Norse god! I guess Noah decided to hit the gym in order to realize his dreams of being a millionaire and famous athlete. I mean, if the guy in that picture can do it, anyone can! (Just make sure you have a 95-mile-per-hour fastball.)
Noah really left those awkward teenage years behind. If you look closely, you’ll notice how carefully he’s transformed everything about himself since this picture was taken. Hair: grew it out. Glasses: shed them. Belly: lost the baby fat and got totally ripped.
6 Taylor Swift
Good Lord, are those…cornrows? Apparently, young Taylor Swift had an interesting approach to fashion back before she made it big. It’s interesting that while most of the celebs on this list went from being hopelessly innocent to edgy and stylish, Taylor seems to have gone in the opposite direction. Her handlers want to make her the most boring, straight, pretty girl in the world, and all the time there’s some super-cool chick who rocked cornrows in middle school hiding out inside of her! Young Taylor looks like a totally different sort of girl – the kind of girl who could muck it up with the guys, party hearty, and who could maybe be found behind the shed at recess having a “smoke.” She looks like the kind of girl who knows how to style herself and doesn’t need anyone telling her how to look pretty.
Puberty affects all of us in different ways, I guess.
Madonna is an icon. She has turned herself into the maven of the recording industry, parlaying her musical talent into millions of dollars and even a movie career as she has become a status symbol. She changes her style seemingly every year and usually looks beautiful no matter how old she gets. But she might have been the most ordinary of them all – born in small-town middle America to an Italian immigrant who worked in the automotive industry. Madonna always wanted to make it big, but she started with almost nothing. This is a picture from her back when she was still a church girl in Michigan – before she was the Material Girl. She’s even got a gap between her two front teeth.
She looks like your typical immigrant kid who will grow up close to home and raise her own brood of children down the road. Hardly at all like the girl who would leave her small town with only $35 and a dream of trying to make it on her own in New York City.
But looks can be deceiving, I guess.
4 Avril Lavigne
There’s nothing “complicated” about this photo – just a fourteen-year-old, slightly awkward-looking teenage girl in glasses in her small-town Ontario school yearbook. Avril Lavigne looks totally lame here, like some girl who would probably correct the teacher when they went over the exam in class, and nothing like a skater girl. For the girl who supposedly became the “pop-punk queen,” she just looks a little boring here. The weirdest thing of all about this photo might just be the hair. Avril’s signature dyed emo look is nowhere to be found in this dorky suburban portrait.
The funny thing is, Avril hit super-stardom when she was only seventeen years of age, which means that she transformed into her public persona only a few short years after this photo was taken. Boy, high school really can change a person, huh? (Hmm…or maybe the record company decided to “invent” a little edge to her personality to sell some records? No…that never happens.)
3 Demi Moore
Of course, we’re not being totally fair to Demi here. The most egregious thing about this photo is the haircut, which make young Demi look like a little boy. Then we’ve got the glasses, which just make her look like a total nerd. The bone structure that would one day make her beautiful is present, but she hasn’t grown into it yet so the jutting chin just makes her look a bit awkward and androgynous.
I guess you don’t have to start out as a cute kid to become an amazing-looking adult! Apparently the people who told her parents not to worry because she would grow out of it were totally right.
2 Orlando Bloom
The man who transformed Legolas (Lord of the Rings) and Will Turner (Pirates of the Caribbean) into classic sex symbols could probably never be seen as totally ordinary – he’s just too-gosh-darned beautiful. Orlando Bloom has the kind of pretty face that makes straight men nod and acknowledge that they understand the appeal – it’s just so weirdly perfect. But once upon a time, Orlando was just a schoolboy, and really, looked like any other schoolboy. In this photo he’s posing for a yearbook photo, and while his features are still near picture-perfect, he doesn’t quite have the bone structure that he would later become so famous for. We can just imagine cute little Orlando running around in the schoolyard, playing pranks on his teachers as they call him a little devil. Come to think of it, even at forty-one, Orlando still has that mischievous glint in his eye. Maybe this one hasn’t changed all that much…
1 Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman may be one of the most famous actresses in Hollywood today (and best remembered for her failed marriage to Tom Cruise), but she wasn’t always a celebrity. In this picture she looks young, cute, and totally…ordinary. The frizzy red hair is being allowed to flow au naturel, and she has the face of a slightly nerdy high school senior posing for a family photo. But what most drives home that this is Nicole Kidman, high school daughter of a professor, rather than Nicole Kidman, world-famous actress, are those clothes. Like, what is with that outfit? It’s boring to the point of being intriguingly dull. I think nuns dress more sexily than that. We get a sense from this photo that Nicole was a demure, bookish teen, and nothing like the worldly woman who would later bare it all in Eyes Wide Shut.