Whenever we think of Hollywood celebrities, we think of people who are impossibly beautiful, talented, and living the jet set life. But while there are some celebrities that are naturally beautiful, no matter how old or young they are, there are some that had to either grow into their looks, or go under the knife to make themselves look Hollywood ready. Some celebrities, in fact, look so remarkably different today than they did all those years ago, when they first started out, that they don’t even look recognizable – which, depending on the celebrity, is a good thing.
But no matter what we think of Hollywood celebrities, then or now, we can’t help but keep track of their whereabouts at all times, and we mimic their fashion and life choices in our own lives, whether we mean to or not.
Here, then, is a list of 15 Hollywood celebrities you wouldn’t recognize at the beginning of their careers. Prepare to be surprised!
15 Brad Pitt
Who’s that blonde-haired beach baby who seems to be enjoying his Pringles just a little too much? Why, it’s none other than Brad Pitt, father-of-six, erstwhile husband of Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie, and movie superstar! These days, Brad Pitt is one of those Hollywood celebrities known for his rugged, old fashioned good looks, but back in the 1980’s, he was a struggling actor like so many before him. In between gigs working as a costumed mascot for a chicken restaurant, he booked commercials to supplement his income, and this precious Pringles commercial was just one of many he did in his younger years. In the past, he’s tried to have this commercial scrubbed from the web, but nothing ever dies on the Internet, so here we are.
Legend. Icon. One of the world’s favorite Hollywood celebrities. Known only by her first name. Unapologetic. Fearless. These are just a few of the many words used to describe the woman born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, who turned pop music on its ear almost 40 years ago, when she dropped “Burning Up.” And the hits just keep on coming for Mama Madonna – she was a gay icon before being a gay icon was cool, she has consistently out-sold her male counterparts, and she’s still touring and recording music well into her 60’s. Above all else, she’s still as beautiful as she was when she first started out, even if she still had a bit of baby fat and a darker shade of hair color.
13 Patrick Stewart
Well, hello handsome! And who have we here? Is this a young Hugh Jackman? A young Harrison Ford? No, folks, this is none other than a young, gorgeous, aquiline Patrick Stewart – aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard, aka Sir Ian McKellen’s BFF, aka Professor Charles Xavier, aka Everyone’s Grandpa in Their Head. Before he was making us feel all warm and fuzzy with his questions about pizza (no, Sir Patrick, you may not have a whole pizza – just a slice or two), Patrick Stewart was a struggling actor in England just like many others. It’s really hard to believe that this handsome fellow had to shave off all his hair before he would join the cadre of Hollywood celebrities that we’ve all come to know and love, but let’s face it: Patrick Stewart was hot back in the day.
12 Ben Affleck
Before he became known as the most annoying Batman in history, Ben Affleck – one of the few long-time Hollywood celebrities on this list – was trying to eke out a living as an actor like millions before him. Even though many people think he got his “big break” with Good Will Hunting, he actually got his start in 1989 with his starring turn as a horny teenage boy in this Burger King commercial, complete with a flip phone (who here is old enough to remember those?). We should have known he would grow up to be insufferably annoying with this commercial right here, where – in addition to wearing the dorkiest hairdo in the world, even for the dorky 1980’s – he’s about as seductive as an elephant passing gas.
11 Taylor Momsen
Anyone who saw the live-action film How The Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey as the titular Grinch fell in love with the cherubic Cindy Lou Who and her ability to bring out the good in the Grinch. But who knew that today, she would be one of the most well-known Hollywood celebrities? Cindy Lou Who was played by Taylor Momsen, who went on to play Jennifer “Jenny” Humphrey in Gossip Girl. But after Gossip Girl was cancelled, Momsen took some time off to reinvent herself into a singer, and she formed a band called The Pretty Reckless. They had a number one best-selling hit with “Take Me Down,” and were even featured at Rock in Rio! The Pretty Reckless, though, had a little bit of tragedy to go through as of late, because they were on tour with Soundgarden when lead singer Chris Cornell hung himself in his hotel room.
10 Betty White
She’s everyone’s favorite nonagenarian, and an American national treasure. But before Betty White was one of our favorite Hollywood celebrities, she was known as a model. And what a beauty she was: in her younger years, she hosted the Tournament of Roses Parade, too. And though, today, she’s a renowned animal rights activist and the oldest-ever Saturday Night Live guest, she was first known as Sue Ann Nevins on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and then as Rose Nyland in the long-running The Golden Girls. More than 20 years after The Golden Girls went off the air, it’s still in syndication on many different networks all over the country, including Logo (where it’s often shown unedited) and Hallmark (where it’s shown heavily edited).
9 Nicki Minaj
Who’s that skinny around-the-way-girl with the curls in her hair and the sweet little smile? It’s none other than Nicki Minaj, back when she was known in Queens, NY, as “Mixtape Nicki.” Before she became one of our favorite Hollywood celebrities, known for her butt as well as her rhymes, Onika Maraj was a well-known rapper in the infamous New York borough that also produced Run-DMC and LL Cool J. She was ultimately discovered by a Young Money producer, where she was brought before Lil’Wayne and added to his then-fledgling roster. As she began to break out thanks to strategic partnerships with the likes of The Source magazine, she began changing her look to become more “pop friendly” so she could go mainstream. Now, she’s just as known for her rapping as she is for her singing and her acting, and she has a body for days. Yas, Nicki!
8 Gwen Stefani
These days, Gwen Stefani is one of those Hollywood celebrities known for her glamazon looks and her red-carpet-ready makeup. But back in the early days of her career, when she was little more than the lead singer of No Doubt, she had a tendency to look – and dress – like a Sanrio store threw up in her Caboodles makeup case. There’s no better example of this than this photo, which was taken right before No Doubt hit the big time. We just don’t know where to begin – the bright pink hair, the braces, the squeaky voice, and the seemingly IDGAF attitude on display here make us embarrassed for her. Oh, Gwen, thank God you grew up.
7 Jennifer Lopez
Don’t be fooled by the rocks that she’s got, ‘cuz she’s still (she’s still!) Jenny from the Block! Yes, that’s right, this is Jennifer Lopez, one of those rare breed of Hollywood celebrities that’s an honest-to-God triple threat: she can sing (yes, haters, she can), she can act (yes, haters, she most certainly can) and she can dance her little peach off (and there’s no one on Earth who can deny that). Lopez got her start as a so-called “Fly Girl” on Keenan Ivory Wayans’ comedy sketch show, In Living Color, which also gave its start to Jim Carrey and Jamie Foxx. Few people knew, though, that she would become known by the nickname her ex-boyfriend gave her – J-Lo, which was given to her by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs – and become an entertainment juggernaut. But then again, Bronx girls know how to hustle hard!
6 Carrie Fisher
She was the people’s Princess, a member of Hollywood royalty, and a beloved wise-ass. And when she was younger, Carrie Fisher – one of our favorite Hollywood celebrities – was absolutely gorgeous. Yes, she set young teenage boys loins ablaze when she showed up in that infamous bikini in Return of the Jedi, but before she was even considered for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the world’s most famous space opera, she posed for these photos that served as her casting calling card. She had a bit role in the film Shampoo, opposite Warren Beatty, and went on a singing tour with her mother, the late Debbie Reynolds. But even after she became world-famous for her role as Luke Skywalker’s secret twin, and after the sands of time passed through her hourglass, she continued to show she was beautiful both inside and out as she documented her struggles with addiction and mental illness.
5 Domhnall Gleeson
Look, Harry Potter fans – it’s the scene where William Weasley gets married! Our favorite Hogwart is all grown up! Who knew, though, that he would grow up to become Space Hitler? That’s right – William Weasley is none other than Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, another of the “new” Hollywood celebrities, who is known to Star Wars fans as General Armitage Hux in The Force Awakens, who is as far away from William Weasley as you can possibly get. While Domhnall appeared in the Harry Potter films with his dad, Brendan Gleeson (who played Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody in the films), he really came into his own as an actor with The Force Awakens. He also proved he was an actor with a great deal of range when he starred in Ex Machina with his The Force Awakens co-star, Oscar Isaac.
4 Sam Heughan
Who’s that sad looking man in a room full of beautiful women? Why so glum, chum? Why, it’s none other than Outlander star Sam Heughan, who will soon join the elite cadre of Hollywood celebrities with his upcoming star turn in the Lionsgate comedy film, The Spy Who Dumped Me, opposite Mila Kunis. This photo, however, is from the 2014 independent thriller, Emulsion, where he played a man named Ronny looking for his wife that disappeared. Before this, Heughan also starred in the Christmas feel-good film, A Princess For Christmas, opposite the late Roger Moore. He seemed destined to remain stuck in obscurity and independent films, until Outlander came calling, and the rest, as they say, is history.
3 The Property Brothers
Canadians Drew and Jonathan Silver Scott are often credited with being the twin brothers who turned HGTV from a fringe niche network into an international juggernaut, but these Hollywood celebrities didn’t always look so good. In the early days of their career, when Drew was working as a model and Jonathan was working as a magician, they went a little too heavy on the Sun-In and Aqua Net. Actually, based on this picture, we’re not sure if the boys who would become known as The Property Brothers wanted to go grunge (based on Jonathan’s lumberjack shirt) or go Jersey Shore (based on Drew’s…well…everything). Fortunately for all of us, Drew traded in the Jersey Shore look for a suit and tie, while Jonathan stuck to the plaids and jeans but ditched the Aqua Net in favor of the sculpting gel.
2 Oscar Isaac
Quick! Someone get that beer-guzzling, blue-bandana-wearing ruffian out of the bar before real trouble is afoot! Oh, wait a minute – that’s Oscar Isaac, one of the new breed of Hollywood celebrities who shot to super-stardom after his turn as Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But before becoming known as one of the heroes of the Resistance – and one of the adversaries of the X-Men as En Sabah Nur – Isaac was just a struggling musician in Miami, Florida, with a neo-ska band called the Blinking Underdogs (who are pictured here with him). The Blinking Underdogs had a few interesting gigs, including opening for Green Day, but the band disbanded by default when Isaac uprooted from Florida to New York to study acting and pursue his career. But we’ll always have pictures like this to remember his early career by.
1 John Boyega
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in London, England, John Boyega – another one of the new breed of Hollywood celebrities who got his big break when he starred in Star Wars: The Force Awakens – was trying to get his Hollywood career off the ground, but he took a more casual approach by becoming a stock model for photos like these (that’s him, first from right) which would be used in company brochures, websites, and other promotional materials. Boyega – who will be starring in this summer’s Detroit – used to do gigs like this for day rates until he got his big break in the sci-fi film Attack the Block. After bit parts in Pacific Rim and Half of a Yellow Sun, Boyega’s breakthrough role in the seventh Star Wars film ensured he’d never have to do stock photos for day rates again.