Who would have thought that before the glitz and glamour, celebrities had to endure the horrors of ‘real’ jobs? From burger flippers to strippers, these future stars clocked in some truly ‘life-changing’ shifts. Get ready to be utterly flabbergasted by the shocking pre-fame careers of your favorite A-listers
Christopher Walken: Lion tamer
Although he’s known for playing the daring Nick in The Deer Hunter, it seems that Christopher Walken has always had an adventurous side. Before he made it big in Hollywood, he worked as a lion tamer. Although this may sound like a pretty dangerous job, he worked with a lion called Sheba, who he said was as tame as a puppy-dog.
Harrison Ford: Carpenter
Harrison Ford actually got his role in Star Wars through his work as a carpenter. Ford got a job fixing doors at the studio where George Lucas was working and he was elected to play the icon role of Hans Solo. As they say, the rest is history.
Rihanna: Army cadet
Back in Barbados, where Rihanna is from, she enrolled in the Army Cadets as a teenager. Famous fashion designer Shontelle was actually Rihanna’s drill seargent! Shontelle told the BBC , “We were both in cadets together — it wasn’t compulsory or anything. But picture me and Rihanna in combat boots and fatigues crawling through mud and things like that.”
Pierce Brosnan: Fire eater
Bet you can’t do that, other James Bonds. Pierce Brosnan became a professional fire eater in his teens and performed under the big top for three years. Brosnan demonstrated his fire eating skills in a 1982 episode of Remington Steele, titled High Flying Steele.
Jim Carrey: Janitor
Before becoming a comedy legend, Jim Carrey honed his slapstick skills as a janitor. Armed with a mop and a dream, he transformed everyday spills into comedic masterpieces. His mop routines were so side-splitting that even stubborn stains couldn’t help but crack a smile. Little did those dirty floors know that they were grooming the world’s funniest custodian for stardom!
Hugh Jackman: Gym teacher
Looking at those biceps, this probably comes as no surprise. Before his Hollywood breakthrough, Jackman donned the whistle and shorts as a gym teacher. With enthusiasm and charisma, he motivated students to reach their fitness potential. Little did they know, their P.E. instructor would later become a cinematic superhero, inspiring millions to achieve their own goals.
Bob Ross: Air force sergeant
Before Bob Ross was a television staple in homes across the country, he was a U.S. Air Force military training instructor. His time in the military wasn’t short-lived, either. He enlisted at age 18 and spent 20 years in the service, ultimately rising to the rank of master sergeant!
Bill Murray: Chestnut salesman
Bill Murray was carrying on an old Christmas tradition, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. . .” by selling roasted chestnuts on the streets of Chicago. Before this Saturday Night Live host was making us all laugh our butts off, he was making a humble living in a job that sounds like something out of a Charles Dickens novel.
Tim Allen: Drug dealer
Santa Claus has a very dark past, it seems. At age 23, before he had starred in any movie, Tim Allen found himself being sentenced to two years in prison for smuggling some ‘snow’. The future star even charmed one of the judges who thought that he had a ‘very promising comedy career ahead of him.’ Good thing that the judge was right!
Jon Bon Jovi: Christmas decoration maker
Before he was making history as a rock legend, he was making Christmas tree decorations. It might sound surprising, but it kind of makes sense; glitter and bright colors are all part of the day-job when you’re a rock star. Maybe this is why they never released a Christmas record, because Jon Bon Jovi had seen enough much festivities to last a lifetime.
Margot Robbie: Sandwich artist
Although the Australian bombshell is now known for her iconic roles in Hollywood, playing iconic characters like Barbie or Harley Quinn, she actually started making sandwiches. On an episode of Hot Ones, she revealed that she feels she was actually very good at her job in Subway, because she always spread the toppings very evenly across the bread.
Meghan Markle: Calligraphy teacher
Before she was an actress or a literal member of the royal family, the Suits star was in fact a calligrapher! She did wedding invites for some familiar faces too, including Robin Thicke’s wedding invites in 2005. She still stands by this career and says that she feels that handwritten notes are a lost art-form.
Channing Tatum: Stripper
It looks like Tatum had some real-life context to add to his role in Magic Mike. With washboard abs like that, what is a struggling actor supposed to do? Under the stage name ‘Chan Crawford’, the then 18-year-old said he earned $50 a night, plus tips!
Harry Styles: Baker
Harry Styles first burst onto our screens as a 16-year old on the UK talent show, X-Factor. From there, he joined One Direction and launched to super-stardom with a solo career. Before that, though, he worked in a bakery in his small village in England. Harry Styles super-fans have even been known to travel to the bakery and get photos outside.
Brad Pitt: Mascot
Before Brad Pitt was making everyone swoon with his onscreen charm, he worked as a mascot for El Pollos Locos, the popular chicken chain restaurant. This job involved him dressing up as a giant chicken to entice customers into restaurants. Even today, though, he says that he is proud of his past career.
Megan Fox: Mascot
It seems that this is a popular job for aspiring actors looking to find their feet in LA. Before Megan Fox was the Hollywood bombshell that we know her as today, she used to dress up as a giant banana to promote the smoothie store that she worked at! She probably looked better in a banana costume than anyone has, ever.
Kendall Jenner: Dog walker
You might think that growing up as part of the Kardashian dynasty would mean that Kendall would never had to have worked for her allowance, but that isn’t true. Momager Kris is adamant on drilling a good work ethic into her kids from a young age, so Kendall made a living walking the dogs of the rich and famous in Calabasas. There was probably a lot of chihuahua poop to deal with.
Jennifer Lopez: Tax professional
Before she was Jenny from the block, she was Jenny from the tax office! Whilst J-Lo always knew that she was destined for stardom with her amazing voice, she had to work her way to the top. At the beginning of her career, she worked Saturdays doing tax returns in a local tax office.
Gerard Butler: Lawyer
Gerard Butler studied law at The University of Glasgow and and graduating with honors in 1992, the Scotsman secured a spot at a top law firm in Edinburgh until he finally decided to chase his Hollywood dreams. he gained his first role as King Leonidas of Sparta in the film 300 in 2006.
Helen Mirren: Theme park promoter
Before Helen Mirren was known for her iconic English accent, she worked as a theme park promoter for Southend-On-Sea in England back in the 70s. She must have been putting her good old British charm to use as she recounts that she was actually very good at enticing customers to the theme park.
Rachel McAdams: McDonald’s employee
Although The Notebook actress is known to be very talented at her job now, she states that that wasn’t always in the case in her job history. When she worked at McDonald’s, she states that they wouldn’t allow her to work on any other station other than greeting customers at the door because she was a bit of a “dreamer” and didn’t really pay attention.
Tan France: Flight attendant
With the Queer Eye star’s winning personality, it’s not hard to imagine him strutting down an airplane aisle. If you were flying Britannia Airways, a former United Kingdom charter airline, sometime in the early 2000s, he might’ve been your flight attendant. He started this job at the young age of 19.
Jennifer Lawrence: Assistant nurse
Before Jennifer Lawrence became an Oscar-winning actress, she had a backup plan to become a nurse. From the age of 12, she worked as an assistant nurse at the summer camp that her parents ran. Hopefully Katniss Everdeen was able to use some of those first aid skills during her stint in The Hunger Games.
Danny DeVito: Morgue beautician
A pretty odd job for anyone to have, but you’ll be even more surprised to know that he’s not the only one on this list with this job on their resume. Danny DeVito used to doll up corpses before their funerals by doing their hair and makeup. You might wonder how he got into this job? It seems that he just had a knack for dead people’s hairstyles.
Gwen Stefani: Dairy Queen employee
What was her favorite flavor of ice cream, do you think? B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Terrible joke aside, Gwen Stefani did serve up milkshakes before she became a famous singer. On her time there, she told Marie Claire, “When I started there, I fit in my outfit. When I ended there, I did not fit in my outfit.”
Dwayne Johnson: Dishwasher
Before he was body-slamming people in the wrestling ring, The Rock had another job that paid the rent. Dwayne“The Rock” Johnson started developing those biceps at age 13 as a dishwasher at Emilio’s Pizza in Honolulu, where he made a humble $3.45 an hour!
Jennifer Aniston: Telemarketer
Before she became the nation’s sweetheart playing Rachel Greene on Friends, she had a job selling timeshares as a telemarketer. Of this job, she said, “I had moved away from home. I had been on six failed television shows. I waitressed for years in New York before I got anything. And I was a telemarketer selling time-shares in the Poconos. I didn’t make one sale. I was terrible at it.”
Eva Longoria: Wendy’s employee
From 1990 until 1994, Eva Longoria worked as a cashier in a Wendy’s. She said that she actually really enjoyed her time working there and even returned for day to serve up fries to customers in 2008 as part of a charity fundraiser. I’m sure the customers didn’t know what had hit them!
Kanye West: GAP employee
We all know that Ye made it big in the fashion world with his Yeezy brand, but the rapper turned fashion-icon had humble beginnings when it comes to style. He briefly worked for the chain retailer as a teen and, by his own account, did not enjoy it. In his 2004 song “Spaceship,”, West rapped that he made “no scratch” at the retailer, so he stole from it and eventually quit.
Barack Obama: Ice-cream server
That’s right, one of our former presidents worked in Baskin Robbins, serving up sundaes to the masses. Obama said that the job taught him some important responsibilities and suggested that, “scooping ice cream is tougher than it looks. Rows and rows of rock-hard ice cream can be brutal on the wrists.”
Nicki Minaj: Red Lobster waitress
Nicki Minaj actually worked at several Red Lobster locations, well, that is before she got fired. She had gotten fired because a customer took her pen and didn’t tip. She subsequently ran out to their car and banged on the windows, demanding for her pen back, prompting her manager to swiftly fire her.
Tiffany Haddish: Airline employee
Before hitting the big time by being, you know, absolutely hilarious, the Girls Trip actress used to work as part of the ground staff for Alaska Airlines. Speaking on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Haddish revealed she was always trying to find ways to crack up even the grumpiest of travellers.
Alec Baldwin: Waiter
Before Baldwin was one of the most famous actors in Hollywood, he had over 60 jobs, one of them being a waiter. Not just any waiter, though, he was a waiter at Studio 54! The iconic New York club allowed him to first begin mixing with the rich and famous, even if he was just bringing them cocktails.
Whoopi Goldberg: Morgue beautician
See, it wasn’t just Danny DeVito who did this mildly morbid job. Whoopi Goldberg spent years scraping by as an addict and drop-out before getting cleaned up at age 20 and eventually landing a job in a mortuary. Who would have thought that Whoopi Goldberg got her start working with the dead?!
Tom Cruise: Bellhop
As one of the most famous actors in the world, the Top Gun star obviously has lots of people to tend to his luggage, but that wasn’t always the case. When he first moved to New York and was struggling to make ends meet as an aspiring actor, he worked as a bellhop in a five-star hotel!
Terry Crews: Courtroom sketch artist
Although Crews is known as an NFL player turned actor, this wasn’t all. “I come from Flint, Michigan,” Crews told. Jimmy Kimmel. “My first job in entertainment, I drew courtroom sketches for the worst murder case in Flint, Michigan history.” His talent with a pencil was such that, when college came calling, it was his art rather than his athleticism that opened doors.
Matthew McConaughey: Exterminator
Although this job first started out as one where McConaughey was maintaining golf courses, he soon had a completely new issue to deal with. The Wolf Of Wall Street star revealed that when the golf course became overrun with armadillos, his manager gave him a shotgun and told him to sort the issue as unofficial pest control!
Melissa McCarthy: Starbucks barista
Ah, the career that so, so many go for when they first move to LA – mainly because there is one on every corner. McCarthy was so broke that she couldn’t afford a car, so had to work somewhere within walking distance. Luckily, even in the famously car centric city, there was a Starbucks right across the street!
Constance Wu: Nanny
When she moved to LA, Constance had no friends or community in the area. Drowning in debt, the Crazy Rich Asians star had no choice but to work several jobs to make ends meet. She told The Cut that she worked as a waitress, a nanny, and a personal assistant. Now, she’s one of the most influential actors in Hollywood!
Mark Cuban: Bartender
Self-made billionaire and Shark Tank judge started making big bucks when he worked his way up a bank chain in Pittsburgh. Before that, however, he worked in a nightclub making cocktails, as well as in a computer store during the day. Ever the hard worker, Cuban credits these two jobs with teaching him the rules of business that he uses to make his billions today.