Celebrities! They’re just like us. Well, minus the fame and fortune thing. Plenty of celebs were dragged through the mud on their journey to A-list status. Before they were icons, paying the bills meant doing work that was far from glamorous. Imagine having Madonna or Megan Fox take your order at a fast food restaurant! It’s hard to believe but, at one point in time, this was their reality. Though they’re on top of the world, it’s reassuring to know these celebs took a hard day’s work seriously! (Some, at least.)
Before starring in blockbuster hits like Mean Girls and The Notebook, Rachel McAdams spent most of her time asking customers if they would “like fries with that.” Although the job was less than glamorous, McAdams has only positive things to say about the fast food chain. She told Glamour, that McDonald’s was a “great place to work.”
McAdams is used to getting positive reviews for her performances, but it seems that her performance on the grill was quite uninspiring. She recalled, “I was not a great employee; I broke the orange juice machine one day.” McAdams resolves that if her acting career hadn’t panned out, she “wouldn’t mind running a restaurant.”
Before Friends and before getting a haircut named after her character in the show, a 19-year-old Jennifer Aniston was cycling through the dangerous streets of New York City to make sure customers got their packages on time. In the days before package-delivering drones, people like Aniston swerved through oncoming traffic to people’s doorsteps.
Aniston confirmed that this was the toughest job of her life, admitting, “I’m very uncoordinated and extraordinarily clumsy.”
What ended her career in parcel-delivering was a crash into a parked car. Regardless, it looks like she always has a back-up plan in extreme biking.
Oh, you thought Magic Mike was just a role he played once? Nope…
Channing Tatum had the perfect resume for the job. After dropping out of college at 19, Tatum returned home and picked up some strange jobs. He started as a roofer, then left that job to become a stripper and, apparently, he was a top-notch one.
From there, he moved on to modeling and then, a few years later, acting. Tatum has always been up-front with the media about his past, and he admits that he does not miss it. He told PEOPLE magazine, “I don’t miss anything about stripping. I stripped in Tampa for like 25 girls, at best. It wasn’t glamorous whatsoever, so there’s nothing that I miss about stripping.
If you’re going to retain any information today, let it be this. This little tidbit was confessed after a discussion on The View that talked about stay-at-home moms who help bring in extra income by taking on a phone sex operator job. Whoopi Goldberg confessed on the talk show that she’s spent some time on the other side of the phone, saying, “When I was younger, the money was great.”
She admitted that the job was a saving grace for income when she was a struggling actress in Hollywood. Although Goldberg is up front about her past, she has said that she would be unable to do the job now. Why? She has acknowledged that people on the other end would likely recognize her voice.
Johnny Depp could give an entire TED Talk on terrible jobs from his life before acting. He’s done everything from working at a gas station to being a telemarketer.
One of the worst jobs he had? A pen salesman. Depp wasn’t a door-to-door salesman. He had to convince potential buyers to make a purchase over the phone.
“I marketed pens -on the phone. But the beauty of the gig was that you had to call these strangers and say, ‘Hi, how ya doing?’ You made up a name, like, ‘Hey, it’s Edward Quartermaine from California. You’re eligible to receive this grand-father clock or a trip to Tahiti. You promise them all these things if they buy a gross of pens. It was just awful. But I actually think that was the first experience I had with acting.”
If there’s anyone that fits the Abercrombie and Fitch brand to a ‘T,’ it’s Chace Crawford and his SoCal aesthetic. During high school, Crawford also modeled for Hollister before attending Pepperdine University where he studied broadcast journalism and marketing.
After a few semesters at Pepperdine, Crawford dropped out to pursue his acting career while working as a car valet to pay the bills. It wasn’t long after this mild hurdle that Crawford appeared on The CW show Gossip Girl as the clean-cut Nate Archibald. If you scour the internet deep enough, you can still find some of the modeling photos from his Abercrombie days.
Like many of the other celebrities on this list, Taylor Swift’s first job can’t exactly be described as glamorous. Swift spent most of her childhood on the Christmas tree farm where her family lived, and each member of the family played a vital role in keeping the farm going. Swift’s job? She was in charge of knocking the praying mantis pods out of trees.
She told Esquire in 2014, “My job was picking the praying-mantis pods off of the trees, collecting them so that the bugs wouldn’t hatch inside people’s houses.” She continued, “The only reason that was my job was because I was too little to help lift trees.” Regardless, we’re sure that customers appreciated Swift’s efforts.
Harry Styles is undoubtedly making dough now that he’s an A-list celebrity, but it looks like he’s been making dough his whole life – he used to work at a bakery. It seems as though Styles has always been a good-natured lad, as his past employers couldn’t get enough of him.
“He was the most polite member of staff we’ve ever had,” said his past employers from the bakery. “Customers really took a shine to him. The shop suddenly had an influx of girls when Harry worked here. Sometimes there would be 12 of them pouring in at one time. Even now, a group of 20 girls will sometimes come in and start taking photos of the shop.”
Meghan Markle had a lot of practice leading up to her own wedding, as she once taught calligraphy, gift-wrapping, and book-binding classes at Paper Source while pursuing acting on the side. She would hand write wedding invitations, and her resume is sprinkled with some famous names such as Robin Thicke and Paula Patton.
Since Markle had the experience, she added some of her own touches to her and Prince Harry’s wedding invitations. Although we can’t be sure that she hand-wrote every individual one, it’s touching that Markle still wanted to be a part of something as small as that when she probably had a lot on her plate.
We can’t imagine the beautiful starlet actually wanting to cover up her incredible looks but, at one point in time, it was literally how she earned a paycheck. We’re used to seeing Megan Fox’s face plastered on magazine covers and movie posters, but there was a time when she made minimum wage working in a smoothie shop.
She said on Ellen, “I worked at a little smoothie shop in Florida, and I mostly worked behind the register. But once a week, usually on Fridays, someone had to dress up as a piece of fruit and go and stand out by the highway. I was a banana, a giant banana.”
We know that Hugh Jackman is incredibly committed to fitness, but we’re not sure if we can picture him teaching Physical Education to a bunch of boys at England’s Uppingham School. Jackman ran into a former student on the red carpet of the Zurich Film Festival and proceeded to make him feel hilariously uncomfortable.
Reporter Rollo Ross, a former student of Jackman’s, was attempting to interview Jackman when the star suddenly interrupted him. Jackman quipped, “Rollo, I’m sorry, mate, but we go way back, I used to teach you at a high school in P.E., and I want to know how your physical education is progressing. It’s very important to me.”
We’re just surprised that Jackman recognized the student first, and not the other way around.
Before this Material Girl was the Queen of Pop, Madonna earned some pocket change by serving up coffee and donuts at Dunkin’ Donuts in New York City’s Time Square. She had just dropped out of college to pursue her dream of fame and fortune and needed some extra cash.
Apparently, she didn’t even last ONE day at the fast food chain before getting fired for squirting jelly filling all over a customer. She burned through a few other fast food and waitressing jobs until 1979, when she was introduced to NYC’s punk rock scene.
It seems Madonna always knew she was meant to have her name in lights.
Patrick Dempsey used to want to join the circus. Hearing that McDreamy wanted to be a circus act may sound like a joke, but it’s true. Before playing the swoon-worthy Derek Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy, Dempsey wanted to pursue a very different form of entertainment.
Dempsey told Entertainment Weekly, “I did a juggling routine when I was 15 and that’s actually how I made a living. I did birthday parties on weekends. So I started off in old school vaudeville actually.”
Dempsey attended clown camp auditioned to be in Ringling Brothers. He was rejected from the program, but got a part on ABC’s Overnight Success, where he showed off his intense juggling and dancing skills.
Before Nicole Kidman was winning Oscars, she was supporting her family as a masseuse. When she was only 17 years old, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, forcing Kidman to drop out of school to help pay the bills.
Kidman told The Daily Beast, “When you go through radiation, you get terrible seizure of the muscles, so I took the massage course and then I liked doing it, so I started to go around to people’s houses and do massages.”
Her mother survived the illness, and the situation remains close to her heart, saying, “I find trying to solve problems and saving lives far more important than my film career.”
Geena Davis is an A-list actress with an immense talent that’s won her numerous awards. Starring in several films such as Beetlejuice, Thelma and Louise, and A League of Their Own, Davis has always spoken outwardly about female representation in the media. Before she was a household name, Davis was a mannequin at Ann Taylor.
You read that right… a mannequin.
Davis told NPR, “One time there was a window display where the mannequins were sitting at a table eating plastic food. There was one empty chair, and I kept looking at the window.”
She asked her co-workers if she should go sit in the chair. They said no, but Davis did it anyways. Eventually, a crowd gathered. People couldn’t tell if she was real or fake, so the store hired her to work the window on weekends. An agent spotted and promptly signed her to a modeling agency.
Before beating up bad guys and getting the ladies on the silver screen, Sean Connery was a humble coffin cleaner. This wasn’t the first unalluring job Connery had in his lifetime. He was employed as a milkman, truck driver, lifeguard, laborer, and artist’s model for the Edinburgh College of Art.
As a coffin polisher, Connery would bleach mahogany coffins to make them look like oak. He has explained that he worked for Mr. Stark, a man who had “an uncanny ability to visually size-up clients for their coffins.”
It looks like Connery certainly paid his dues before making it big time.
This isn’t a terrible job, but John Legend definitely needed the smarts for it! After the velvety singer graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, he worked at the Boston Consulting Group for three years before doing music full-time.
Think it may have been weird for Legend to make the jump from math to music? He doesn’t.
“Music and math and science are so related to each other anyways, so it’s not a leap to connect them. So much about the way music is created with vibrations and frequencies and all of those things, it has a mathematical side to it. They say the people who are good at music tend to be good at math as well.”
Smart, talented AND funny? Legend is a triple threat!
Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice, may seem glamorous now but, at one point, she was paying her rent with undesirable acting gigs. One of the strangest gigs she had was a not-so-glamorous role for a 1986 BBC sex-ed show, Body Matters.
Beckham made sure that children everywhere were informed about the weirdness of puberty by dressing up as a sperm and cruising around on roller skates. Although the costume was probably pretty outrageous, we’re willing to bet that she pulled it off in a “posh” fashion.
We love an educating queen!
Before the Rolling Stones were “the Stones” and Mick Jagger was the iconic frontman that we all know and love today, he was a porter (luggage carrier) at the Bexley Mental Hospital while studying at the London School of Economics.
Back then he earned four pounds, meaning 10 shillings per week. Looks like drinks weren’t exactly on his tab back then but at least he probably has some chilling and exciting stories to tell about his experience.
These days, Jagger is sitting on quite a pretty penny in comparison to the minimum wage salary he used to get.
Christopher Walken is a distinct actor known for his adaptability and unique ability to take on a diverse array of acting challenges. Often described as a peculiar fellow, you may be surprised to find out that he has quite a resume.
Even before becoming an actor, Walken knew that he was meant for show business, and that dream became reality at age 16 working as a lion tamer in a circus. The head tamer, Terrel Jacobs, created an act with Walken where Walken played his son and apprentice. The pair dressed up in matching outfits every night and performed with a dozen lions. Cute!
Danny DeVito is a Hollywood legend. After being in show business for over 50 years, he’s making his Broadway debut at 72-years-old in Arthur Miller’s The Price. Although he has quite a career under his belt, his dream wasn’t always to become an actor.
Originally, he wanted to be a beautician.
His sister, Angela, owned a beauty parlor. When DeVito turned 19, she convinced him to get a job with her. She wanted to sell makeup at the salon and sent DeVito to Manhattan to study makeup artistry at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He watched the students rehearse and became interested in the plays they were reading. After taking some acting classes, he was hooked.
Before Jon Hamm was dressing up in spiffy suits for his role as Don Draper in Mad Men, he worked on sets of porn shoots, and described the experience as “soul-crushing.” Hamm was a crew member who helped cover the scene for the actors and actresses.
He’s admitted that the role was one of the worst jobs he’s ever had. While discussing his past, the actor revealed during an interview with Vanity Fair that he also appeared on a ‘90s dating show (and there’s footage to prove it).
You know what’s soul-crushing? The Big Date footage reveals that he ended up NOT being the chosen suitor.
In The Shining, when Nicholson’s character chops down the door to get at Shelley Duvall, Nicholson was a trained expert in handling that ax. The reason he was so familiar with swinging that ax is because he was a firefighter, allowing him to take down the set door in a few seconds.
After witnessing the scene, Stanley Kubrick decided to replace the set door with a real one. Nicholson’s first brush with Hollywood was in 1954 when he was 17, taking up a job as an office worker for animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera at the MGM cartoon studio. The pair offered him a starting-level job as an animator, but he turned it down, expressing his dream was acting.
Back in Billy Ray Cyrus’s heyday, it was reported that some of his fans would get a little TOO excited during his sets and throw their undergarments up on stage. The singer thought it would be a suitable job for his young daughter at the time, Miley Cyrus, to pick up all the underwear and bras after his performances each night.
Miley said that it was a way for her father to teach her about the negatives of the entertainment industry. Miley remembers, “I’d get a really big [pair of underwear] and be like, ‘Dad! I found your biggest fan.’”
Before he was playing Rocky and doing famous musical montages, Sylvester Stallone was a boring old lion cage cleaner. To be honest, this one doesn’t surprise us in any way. We can totally see tough guy Stallone doing pretty awful things to make ends meet, and that includes being a lion cage cleaner at Central Park Zoo for $1.12 an hour.
Yes, ladies and gentleman. Stallone was getting paid a whole $1.12 an hour to scoop lion feces out of their cages. He said that many of the lions would often urinate on him while he was scooping, as if the job wasn’t bad enough.
A few years ago, there was a massive buzz across internet platforms when it was discovered that Terry Crews is actually a very talented artist. Crews has been drawing and sketching for most of his life, and he’s even illustrated the cover for Ad Age Magazine’s Creativity 50 issue. Crews revealed that his first job was a courtroom sketch artist.
When Crews first joined the NFL, he used to pass the time by drawing portraits of his fellow teammates. He said this of his college years:
“I had an art scholarship before I had a football scholarship. I would get cut from a team – I played on six teams in seven years, so that happened a lot – so I would go back into the locker room and ask the players if they wanted their portraits painted.”
Before becoming the rap goddess that we know and love, Nicki Minaj was just an average gal trying to get by. To make ends meet, she would wait tables at Red Lobster. She was fired from the job shortly after being hired due to her “discourtesy to customers.”
During an interview with Billboard, Minaj recalled, “I worked at Red Lobster before, and I chased a customer out of the restaurant once so I could stick my middle finger up at her and demand that she give me my pen back. I swear to God I was bad.” Eek.
These days, Amy Adams is a five-time Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner, but back when she was just a teen, she used to wake up every day and slip into the famous orange shorts donned by Hooters’ workers. She revealed to Entertainment Tonight host Nancy O’Dell that she was a waitress at the restaurant as a way to earn money after graduating from high school.
She recounted, “Well, I was like 18, so everybody has the body at 18. But it was a great job out of high school, and I was a hostess at first, and then I waited tables for a while, and it was great. It was a great way for me to earn money for college.”
If you’re ever looking for Eva Mendes, you can likely find her hanging out in the food court. Before she became an actress, she worked at several food stands at California’s Glendale Galleria. She started at a pizza place called Ciao, before moving to Hot Dog on a Stick.
“I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to get my work permit. Because at 15 you get your work permit in California and I couldn’t wait to legally work. I worked at this pizza/pasta place in the mall, and it was great. It was called ‘Ciao.’ There was a sneeze guard so I would serve people – you would have to give it to them over the bar. I could not tell you how many times I would serve that food through the glass.”
Jay-Z is an eight-time Grammy winner, but back in the day, he wasn’t exactly living lavishly. He credits his money-making skills to his past drug-dealing experience saying:
“I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer. To be in a drug deal, you need to know what you can spend, what you need to re-up. Or if you want to start some sort of barbershop or car wash – those were the businesses back then.”
He continued, “Things you can get in easily to get out of [that] life. At some point, you have to have an exit strategy, because your window is very small; you’re going to get locked up, or you’re going to die.”
In 2018, Jay-Z’s net worth was listed as $900 million!