Quit Your Day Job: What 11 Stars Did Before Making it Big


Did you ever wonder what your favorite stars did before they were famous?

Although there are a few rare exceptions, most celebrities did not start as stars. They had standard jobs just like the rest of us.

Some even had extremely unusual jobs. Here are eleven examples.

Harrison Ford Was a Carpenter

You would be hard-pressed to find a person alive who doesn’t know who Harrison Ford is.

The iconic actor starred in some of the most popular films ever, including the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.

The star of 1923 and Shrinking turned 81 on July 13, 2024, but he seems to have no intention of slowing down. That’s no surprise since he has been a hard worker for his entire life.

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Before becoming Indy and Han Solo, he was known as Harry Ford, a self-taught carpenter.

His carpentry skills have served him well during his career, particularly when they helped him meet George Lucas. That meeting eventually led to his roles in the Star Wars franchise, American Graffiti, and other films.

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Whoopi Goldberg Was a Cosmetologist With a Twist

Funny woman Whoopi Goldberg has had many iconic roles, including in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the movie Ghost.

Considering one of her jobs before becoming famous, it’s easy to see why she needed a sense of humor.

Her early job was as a cosmetologist, but not to the stars or average people.

She was a cosmetologist for corpses in a mortuary.

Much like when she got suspended from The View, she needed her sense of humor to get her through doing that job.

Danny DeVito Makes an Entrance - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Danny DeVito Saw Dead People, Too

Whoopi’s fellow comedian Danny DeVito can undoubtedly relate.

The star of the classic sitcom Taxi, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and various films like Matilda and Deck the Halls is no stranger to dead bodies.

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His early job was doing hair in, you guessed it, a mortuary.

It would’ve been interesting to be a fly on the wall in either facility when those two were working.

Perhaps they sometimes practiced their comedic timing by telling jokes to the corpses.

Terry Crews Gives a Serious Stare - Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Terry Crews Was in the News

America’s Got Talent host Terry Crews is a man of many talents.

If you’re a fan, you may have loved watching Terry on Brooklyn Nine-Nine or followed his football career before he got into acting.

He frequently shows off his muscle-flexing skills and has proven he knows how to play the flute, which are well-known facts.

What is lesser-known is that he is a talented artist. He used to sell his creations to his football teammates for extra income, but that wasn’t his odd job.

The odd job was working for a television station before he became famous. He used his artistic talents to produce courtroom sketches during trials for the station’s news broadcasts.

Ashton Kutcher Eye Roll - That '90s Show

Ashton Kutcher Was a “Cereal” Killer

Ashton Kutcher’s most famous role is that of Michael Kelso on That ’70s Show, a role he reprised on That ’90s Show.

Today, Ashton is still acting and is a successful businessman and entrepreneur with a Biochemical Engineering degree from the University of Iowa.

He also raises his kids and champions causes he believes in with his wife and ’70s Show costar, Mila Kunis. The two appeared on That ’90s Show together as well.

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Ashton leads a fast-paced life now, but one of his earliest jobs was far less exciting and glamorous.

As a worker for General Mills, he had to sweep and eliminate excess cereal that fell on the floor. He has certainly worked his way up the ranks since then.

Sylvester Stallone Looking Tough

Sylvester Stallone Looked After Lions

Movie star Sylvester Stallone is a mentally and physically tough guy. He’s famous for his roles in Rocky and Rambo and is now known for his role in the Expendables films.

Before that, his unusual job was cleaning lion cages at the Central Park Zoo.

Had he known about their early jobs, he might have started a circus with his fellow actors, including Christopher Walken, Pierce Brosnan, Patrick Dempsey, and Hugh Jackman.

Walken was briefly a lion tamer, Brosnan was a fire-breather, Dempsey juggled professionally, and Jackman dressed up as a clown to entertain kids.

Rust Cohle Looking Frustrated - True Detective

Matthew McConaughey Cleaned Up After Chickens

Matthew McConaughey’s first TV role was on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries in 1992.

Now a famous movie star and well-known for his role in the series True Detective, he is easily recognizable. However, he probably felt far less seen in one of his earlier roles.

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That role was as a chicken coop cleaner. He performed the job for a short time when he was living in Australia as an exchange student.

Matthew, who frequently collaborates with Woody Harrelson, also rubs elbows with many other A-Listers today, so it’s difficult to imagine him as an unknown raking out chicken coops.

It’s equally difficult to picture him doing another of his first jobs, working as a dishwasher.

Moneyball Actor Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt Was a Mascot

Continuing the chicken-related theme, we have Brad Pitt.

Now a famous movie star known for the Ocean’s film franchise and other films like Fight Club, he once acted in a whole different way.

Brad’s first job was dressing as a chicken mascot for the El Pollo Loco restaurant chain.

He didn’t have to clean out coops like Matthew, but it probably wasn’t always fun to sweat it out in a hot chicken suit while advertising the restaurant.

Still, some of what he learned from that experience may have carried over into his acting career.

Luke Perry as Fred Andrews Questions Archie - Riverdale

Luke Perry Helped People Open Many Doors

Coy Luther Perry III, better known as Luke Perry, was one of the biggest teen heartthrobs of the 1990s, thanks to his role as Dylan McKay on the hit teen drama series Beverly Hills 90210.

He then found a second generation of fans when he starred as Fred Andrews on Riverdale years later.

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Before that, he had worked construction and odd jobs, such as in a doorknob factory.

Fans, including myself, were devastated when he suffered a stroke and passed away in 2019 at the young age of 52.

He was an incredible actor, and we were all lucky he didn’t stay in the doorknob production or construction fields.

Jennifer Aniston Hard at Work - Friends

Jennifer Aniston Hit the Road

Jennifer Aniston has been in the business for decades.

Some of her earliest roles were in 1990s classics like Herman’s Head, the Ferris Bueller TV series, and the quirky and star-studded film Camp Cucamonga.

Yet, she will forever be known primarily for playing Rachel on Friends.

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Before achieving stardom, she hit the road and at least one car door as a bicycle messenger.

During a press tour for the movie Horrible Bosses, she explained that she was just 19 and was a bit of a klutz when that incident happened.

George Clooney Looking Handsome

George Clooney Worked in Tobacco Fields

George Clooney is one of the most famous stars of TV and movies today.

He made a name for himself on the small screen, appearing in classic shows such as The Facts of Life and Roseanne.

As for films, he is one of several men who have donned Batman’s famous cowl on the big screen.

Many people don’t know that George starred in two series about emergency rooms: the short-lived 1980s sitcom E/R and the long-running and wildly popular medical drama ER (1994-2009).

But before all that, George could be found doing several less glamorous jobs, including cutting tobacco on a tobacco farm.

The Caped Crusader Dark and Dashing

Many more stars also had day jobs.

Some had weirder jobs than others, of course.

Do you have a favorite star not on this list you know had an odd job before stardom struck?

Please comment below and tell us about your favorite pre-stardom celebrity odd job. We would love to hear about it!

Jessica Kosinski is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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