Sometimes we tend to look at celebrities and think they are larger than life! Nearly everyone has found themselves starstruck at one point or another in their lives. When seeing these people on television or in the movies, they seem almost fictional or imaginary. It becomes almost unthinkable that these people at one point or another in their lives were pretty regular, ordinary folks. They all wake up with messy hair, have to brush their teeth to get rid of their morning breath and put their pants on one leg at a time. But in many cases, celebrities were not only ordinary people, but they worked some pretty odd or menial jobs right before they got famous.
The tale of people moving to Hollywood and busting their rear end trying to get make it as an actor or actress is as old as Hollywood itself. Working two or three jobs to make the rent and keep some food in their stomach is a way of life for many struggling actors. Los Angeles isn’t exactly a cheap place to live either. But when that big role comes along, it can change everything in an instant. While Hollywood giveth and taketh, there are many tales of celebrities that did some pretty shocking things before they made it big.These are 15 of the most outrageous that you simply will not believe!
15 Ashton Kutcher - Cereal Factory
Celebrities are not always born into the business. In fact, most of the time, they are from very ordinary backgrounds. In the case of Ashton Kutcher, he grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to a family where both parents worked hard to provide for the family. Ashton was no stranger to work himself, taking a job while in college sweeping dust at a General Mills factory. In addition to this, he often sold blood for some extra money! He was actually recruited by a modeling agent at a bar and the rest is history. Kutcher was able to leverage modeling success into an acting job on That '70s Show and soon after, major films. But he’ll not soon forget the work ethic he had sweeping cereal dust around a factory!
14 Hugh Grant - Assistant Groundsman
Hugh Grant started his acting on the stage. But before he was able to pay the bills (and at first, I think he barely paid the bills) he did some freelance book review writing, but also worked as an Assistant Groundsman for the Fulham Football Club. Keep in mind that European football is known in the United States as soccer and it’s a really big deal! The British are extremely serious about their football. Grant worked for the club while beginning to test his acting chops. Even after he was able to quit and act full time, his success and stability was questionable. But when he got the part in Four Weddings and a Funeral, everything changed for Grant! He’s had his publicity bumps along the way, but has found redemption with fans and is still seen as Hollywood gold.
13 James Lipton - Pimp
You read that correctly, James Lipton, from Inside the Actor’s Studio was a pimp. Although this is something of an exaggeration. In the 1950s for a year, while living in France, he had a job essentially overseeing the prostitution efforts of a house of women. Keep in mind that the practice was regulated and viewed as perfectly respectable. This was just after World War II and work was very hard to find. Lipton doesn’t hide this at all and is actually happy to recall the tales of his youth. He’s quick to say that the word “pimp” is an American word that has a very negative and abusive attachment. His job was working “for” the women as more of a partnership. After this, he moved back to the United States and began his pursuit of work in the film industry.
12 Sean Connery - Coffin Polisher
Like a lot of people, in his early years after service in the Navy, Sean Connery had to work a few jobs to pay the bills and occupy his time. He worked as a bricklayer, but more interestingly, you might not believe it, but Connery was actually a coffin polisher! Now it’s hard to believe that this was an actual occupation, but as it happens, Connery did this before becoming an actor. It’s pretty safe to assume that such a job isn’t going to pay high wages, so it is doubtful that he was going out for a lot of steak dinners at the time. In his free time, he was a bodybuilder and actually entered the 1950 Mr. Universe competition (where he earned 3rd place!) From coffin polisher to Hollywood royalty is a pretty long trip!
11 Andrew Garfield - Starbucks Barista
While it’s true that many Starbucks Baristas seem to look kind of like Hollywood hipsters, every now and again, one of them actually is! Before Andrew Garfield became the famous Hollywood A-Lister he is today, he was paying the bills making your decaf, non-fat latte. While struggling to make it, Garfield enjoyed his time taking orders and making coffee. Starbucks is a pretty progressive and happening place where all kinds of creative people stop in, or hang out, so it seems like a pretty great environment for an aspiring actor. The folks working at Starbucks always seem to be pretty happy and the tips are probably pretty good too. Surely Garfield isn’t the only Starbucks alum to find fame. Maybe the next big action hero will also have gotten their start saying “Welcome to Starbucks!”
10 Rachel McAdams - McDonald’s
Most folks working at McDonald’s try to get out as quickly as possible. It’s nothing personal against McDonald’s, but it’s not exactly the dream job that people are wanting. But it is good steady work that can pay the bills. In the case of Rachel McAdams who is now a serious Hollywood hottie, McDonald’s was a great place to work for about three years! She claims that she wasn’t exactly the best employee, having broken the orange juice machine and being a bit too compulsive with washing her hands (we, the customers of McDonald’s thank you for that.) But shortly thereafter, she was able to break out into some acting roles that allowed her to ditch the uniform and hair net. But you have to admit that hearing Rachel McAdams voice asking “do you want fries with that” is pretty hot.
9 Whoopi Goldberg - Mortuary Beautician
Whoopi Goldberg is known for a lot of great roles. Today, she is one of the co-star’s on ABC’s The View, but she’s done a little bit of everything in show business. Whoopi has been a stand-up comedian, a regular on Star Trek The Next Generation, played a singing nun in Sister Act and even won an Oscar for her role in Ghost. But before all of this, Whoopi was a licensed beautician and secured a job working as a mortuary beautician, fixing hair and makeup for the recently deceased. She admits that this type of job isn’t for everyone, but she enjoyed her boss and had a real love for people. I guess if this whole celebrity thing doesn’t work out for her, she has a great fall-back occupation.
8 Matt LeBlanc - Carpenter
Matt LeBlanc is best known for his role as Joey on the smash hit series Friends. He’s had other small roles before and has had some projects after, but he’ll always be Joey to everyone. Before he was Joey though, Matt actually attended a technical high school and studied carpentry! This wasn’t normal boxes and birdhouses carpentry either. Matt build an entire kitchen for someone and even installed it in a person’s home! Matt knew before he got his first few roles that he was going to be a carpenter and was pretty happy with it also. Some other celebrities have also done carpentry work before they got big, including Han Solo himself Mr. Harrison Ford! Matt is not afraid to do manual labor and talks about the experience with fond memories.
7 Hugh Jackman - PE Teacher
Before Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman got into film, he spent a short time working as a physical education teacher for the Uppingham School in London. Teaching is one of the most admirable professions in the world and it’s very cool to see celebrities that have a little of that in their background. In Jackman’s case, he actually ran into a former student when giving an interview on the red carpet! It’s not just every day that a major celebrity remembers you from your class years ago. Jackman’s former student Rollo Ross, a freelance reporter was asking him about an award he was receiving and all Jackman wanted to talk about was Ross and how his life was going. Ross Tweeted out about the experience right afterward. Once a concerned teacher, always a concerned teacher.
6 Demi Moore - Debt Collector
Demi Moore grew up from a very difficult family situation. With a biological father that abandoned her mother before her birth and a mother and stepfather with alcohol problems, Demi had a rocky start in life. She moved out as soon as she was able and got married in 1980. To support herself during this period, she worked as a debt collector and also did some nude modeling. Working in the area of debt collection is not exactly glamorous work and Demi certainly was not excited about it, but you have to pay the bills. She started getting some of her earliest roles in 1981 and by the mid-80s, ended up being cast in the hit movie St. Elmo’s Fire. By this point, she was able to ditch the debt collecting work.
5 Clay Aiken - Special Education Teacher
Clay Aiken dazzled the world with his amazing vocal talent as the runner-up on Season 2 of American Idol. In many ways, he had a more successful career after Idol than the winner, Ruben Studdard. He was such a huge hit that his followers were referred to as “Claymates.” But before Clay Aiken was a household name, he got his start going through college to get a degree in special education. He worked as an aide to an autistic child that gave him his passion for working with special needs children. Clay has formal training in education and it is definitely a passion of his that he still keeps to this day. Today, Clay is a political activist and has run as a candidate for Congress unsuccessfully. Who knows where he’ll go from here.
4 John Legend - Business Consultant
Before he was John Legend, he was known as John Stephens and had a job as a business consultant for a company called Boston Consulting Group. Word is that John could churn out a mean Excel spreadsheet too! He was reportedly quiet and introverted, but worked on his music on the side until he was discovered by Kanye West. Multiple Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award later, and John Legend is one of the biggest things to hit the music industry in years. He’s making quite a name for himself in Hollywood as well. He’s probably still pretty great with Excel spreadsheets and in the world of business, he is nobody’s fool. But it’s that voice and his skills on the piano that pay the bills these days.
3 Diddy - Busboy
Only Diddy can change his name every other year and people still know who he is! Sean Combs is a mogul in the music industry these days, but to his fans, he’s a rap and hip hop pioneer. Combs grew up working hard and isn’t at all afraid to hustle to accomplish goals. He said that he began working at age 12 and never stopped. While he was working on his music and keeping his eye on what he wanted in life, there were a variety of jobs he had to work to keep the lights on. This included working as a busboy at a Mexican restaurant. He’s proud of that part of his life and sees hard work as a badge of honor. These days Diddy still works hard, but doesn’t have to clean up dirty dishes in a restaurant.
2 Jennifer Hudson - Cruise Ship Entertainer
Just before her audition on American Idol, Oscar and Grammy award winner Jennifer Hudson sang for a year on a Disney cruise ship! That’s a pretty interesting gig for sure and definitely one that takes a certain individual. There’s no doubt though that cruise ship entertainers work themselves like mad and do so with a smile on their face. When you are entertaining on a Disney ship, you have to add an element of magic to everything else too! Well just after getting off the boat, she decided to give Idol a shot. She didn’t win, but made it far enough to develop a pretty substantial following and get discovered. She is now both an actress and singer and has had a very successful career. Jennifer can thank the Disney corporation for taking a chance and giving her her first music gig.
1 Sheryl Crow - Elementary Music Teacher
Growing up in the very small town of Kennett, Missouri, Sheryl Crow developed her passion for music early in her life. She knew that she wanted music to be her life and before making it big, she found another way to make that happen. Sheryl went to college at the University of Missouri in Columbia and studied music education. Upon graduating, she taught elementary music in St. Louis schools. It wasn’t long though before the performance itch hit her and she moved to Los Angeles to break into the business. She quickly got jobs singing backup vocals and before long, started the beginning of a very long and successful solo career. But it was her passion for teaching children and sharing her love of music that came before her stardom.
Sources: Biography, Today, US Magazine