12 surprising jobs actors had before they got famous

Terry Crews was apparently once a courtroom sketch artist.

caption
Terry Crews was apparently once a courtroom sketch artist.
source
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

  • Many celebrities have had some unique and not-so-glamorous jobs before becoming famous.
  • Tan France from “Queer Eye” said he worked as a flight attendant for two months before quitting.
  • Actress Megan Fox said she used to work for a smoothie shop and dress up as a banana.
  • Visit Insider homepage for more stories.

Although a few celebrities are born into stardom, many of Hollywood’s biggest actors came from less glamorous beginnings.

Before they were accepting awards, these stars were working at some pretty surprising nine-to-five occupations.

Here are some of your favorite celebrities’ pre-fame jobs.


Christopher Walken has spoken about when he was a lion tamer.

caption
It was part of a circus.
source
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Long before Christopher Walken got his big break on the silver screen, he was just another hard-working 16-year-old looking for a quick buck.

Instead of working at a local restaurant or grocery store, he said he worked with a lion tamer.

“When I was a kid, I worked in the circus. It was a touring circus that was owned by a man named Terrell Jacobs. It was just one big tent, and he was a lion tamer,” he told Vanity Fair in 2012. “When he would finish his act, there would be one lion left, and I used to go in and have this lion do tricks.”


Danny DeVito said he was a hairdresser for his sister’s beauty parlor.

caption
He worked with his sister.
source
Wikimedia Commons

The “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” actor was a hairdresser for his sister’s beauty parlor, according to an interview he did with BBC in 2012.

He said he styled hair for six months before moving on to his next venture.


Steve Buscemi was a firefighter.

caption
He took the FDNY civil service test at 18.
source
Cantor Fitzgerald/Getty Images

The actor returned to his firefighting roots to help search for survivors during 9/11, according to The Independent. He took the FDNY civil service test when he was just 18-years-old.


Terry Crews was apparently once a courtroom sketch artist.

caption
Terry Crews has serious artistic chops.
source
Rich Fury/Getty Images

Actor Terry Crews can apparently do it all. Before he was a professional football player, he was apparently a courtroom sketch artist in Flint, Michigan.

Although he’s since moved on to acting, he still shows off his artistic chops.


Nicole Kidman said she was a massage therapist.

caption
She said she still enjoys giving massages.
source
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

The actress’s stint in massage therapy was actually initially for her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“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,” she told The Daily Beast in 2017.

She also said she still loves giving people massages.


Hugh Jackman used to work as a party clown and a physical-education teacher.

Before he was Wolverine, he was entertaining (and possibly frightening) children as a party clown.

In 2015, he even posted photographic evidence of his former occupation on his Instagram with the caption, “Damning proof I used to do clowning.”

The star was also once a physical-education teacher at a high school, which he confirmed when he bumped into one of his former students in 2013.


Jon Hamm said he worked in the pornography industry as a set dresser and it was “depressing.”

caption
He said it was depressing.
source
Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Way before Hamm got his role as Don Draper on “Mad Men,” he worked in the movie industry as a set dresser.

In a 2012 interview with Anderson Cooper, he noted his disdain for his former career move.

“I guess the most politic term is sort of like Skinemax movies. There was nothing tasteful about it,” he told Cooper. “It was depressing.”


Whoopi Goldberg has spoken about how she worked as a beautician at a morgue.

caption
It wasn’t an easy job.
source
Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Whoopi Goldberg may be one of the funniest people in Hollywood, but one of her first jobs was a bit more serious. She worked as a beautician in a morgue, a job that she said required a lot of empathy and guts.

“It’s a rough gig,” she told Oprah’s Master Class in 2015, per HuffPost. “You have to be a certain kind of person. And you have to love people in order to make them worthy of a great send-off.”

She also told them she had quite a few spooky experiences, but that after she got over her fears, it was totally fine.


Megan Fox said she had to dress in a banana suit

caption
Her past later came back to haunt her.
source
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Actress Megan Fox said the “only real job” she ever had before acting was dressing up as a giant banana to promote a smoothie shop in Florida.

“Once a week, usually on Fridays, someone had to dress up as a piece of fruit and go out and stand by the highway.” she later told “The Ellen Show” in 2012. “I was a banana, a giant banana.”

Of course, when she told Ellen DeGeneres this, the queen of pranks sent out one of her staff members dressed in a banana costume to scare Fox.


Sylvester Stallone cleaned lion cages at a zoo.

caption
Another lion job.
source
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

The second lion-related entry on our list, actor Sylvester Stallone had a myriad of jobs before his script for “Rocky” was picked up, including working cleaning lion cages at the Central Park Zoo, according to an archived 1976 article from The New York Times.


Wanda Sykes said she worked for the National Security Agency.

caption
She said she basically shopped all day.
source
Angela Weiss/Getty

In a 2010 interview with Larry King on CNN, Sykes stated that she was a former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) before her comedy and acting career took flight.

To be exact, she was a “government procurement specialist” for the NSA. “Basically, I shopped all day,” she told King. “Anything from, office furniture to intel equipment.”


“Queer Eye” star Tan France was a flight attendant for a short period of time.

caption
He said he quit the job after two months.
source
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

In his 2019 memoir “Naturally Tan,” the “Queer Eye” stylist and designer wrote that he got a job as a flight attendant when he was 19 years old.

He said he didn’t realize how tough the job would be and that the 30-day training was difficult and made him feel like a “glorified waiter.”

France, who is of British and Pakistani descent, also said that while on the job he dealt with racism a few years after the attacks on the Twin Towers that occurred in New York City on September 11, 2001.

“This was a couple of years after 9/11, and they had no qualms about openly referring to my people as terrorists,” France wrote in his memoir. “The flight would start off well enough, but by the end of the flight, it would be clear they weren’t so happy that I was the one serving them.”

Although the job was meant to last six months, he quit after two. He also told USA Today he doesn’t think he would ever choose to be a flight attendant ever again “because it’s a lot more complicated than anyone thinks.”